The humble close up. One of the most frequently used shots in film and television. And, perhaps, one of the most underrated. One of the mistakes that first time filmmakers make is not getting close enough to their subjects. When you’re telling a story, it’s important to get close to your actors to share their emotions and the small details of their performance with your audience.
Close ups are an important part of the coverage you’ll need to pick up for most scenes. When you’re shooting dialogue, close ups have the advantage of allowing you to position the microphone close to your actors, whether you’re using a shotgun or just the camera’s onboard microphone.
In Michael Clayton (2007), shown above, director Tony Gilroy lingers on a weary yet triumphant close up of Michael Clayton (George Clooney) who hands a cab driver a fifty dollar bill and simply asks him to drive.
You’ll find examples of close ups in most scenes from most films and television programs. Use them. They’re goddamn important.
When you’re framing a close up, don’t forget to allow an appropriate amount of headroom and look room!