A shotlist is exactly what it sounds like: a list of every shot in your film from beginning to end. Using a shotlist is a great way to improve the planning of your film. It’s an opportunity to sit down and roll the movie projector in your head, imagining what your film will look like on the screen before committing yourself to the time consuming process of storyboarding. Shotlist also help with organisation.There’s nothing more heartbreaking than returning from a shoot only to discover that you’re missing key shots. Shotlists are a great way to avoid this. Follow this useful video which explains the purpose of a shotlist and how you can use Google Drive to make your own.
For every shot in your film, the shotlist should have the scene number, shot number, shot size, duration, the shooting location and a description of what happens in that particular shot. When creating your shotlist, remember to start a new scene whenever you change location or time.
The duration column is a good way to estimate the length of your film. You don’t have to be too precise, just your best guess will do. The description column is where you explain what will happen in each shot. Make a note of important action, props, camera movement and stage directions here.
If there’s a line of dialogue in a shot, I usually write the character’s name, followed by the first few words of that line so I can easily find it in the script. When filming, it’s a great idea to print out a copy of your shot list so you can cross each shot as it’s completed. After all, there’s nothing more frustrating and time consuming than organising another shoot to pick up material you missed the first time around. You can make your shotlist using any spreadsheet application including Microsoft Excel, Apple Numbers or Google Drive.
If you’ve got a Google account, feel free to use and modify this template. Note: You will need to go to File > Make a Copy. You’ll notice that there is a drop down menu allowing you to select shot size and duration which avoids having to type these in manually. You’ll notice that the spreadsheet automatically fills cells with previous values, helping to streamline the process. If your film is shot in different places, you can order rows by location to streamline your shoot. This gives you an ordered list of every shot you need in that place so you only have to visit locations once and you’re not likely to miss important shots. To do this, click on the drop down menu at the top of the ‘Location’. Select ‘Sort Sheet A-Z’. To reorder the rows by scene and shot number, click on the first column, hold down shift, then click on the second column. Select ‘Sort Sheet A – Z’ from the drown down menu for the first column. One of the advantages of using Google Drive to create your shotlist is that it allows you to collaborate with other people in real time. Click on Share, type in your friend’s email address, press ‘Share & save’, then you’ll be able to work on the document together.
When you’re done, print a hardcopy and chuck it on a clipboard, crossing off important shots as you go. Next time you grab a camera, consider using a shotlist to help you plan and organise your film.