Importance of blocking - how to do it?

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  • Importance of blocking - how to do it?

    I was having a conversation with Bill Klayer and he was pointing out the importance of blocking and how some directors are good at it and how important it is. I wonder if anyone has experience with this or if they have gone over it in a class and if they might have any pointers or artistic or important guidelines to share?
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  • #2
    I have a video I'm working on addressing this very topic. I'll be sure to share it once I'm done with it.

    But some quick thoughts I have: Make sure to give your character goals even in the blocking. Two people standing and talking at each other is usually pretty boring, I try to give the actors something to try achieving by the end of the scene. Also playing with unique locations can make a scene feel really unique, like one person on the couch and the other in the doorway (goals might be to get the other to leave or to stay depending on the character).

    Those are just a few thoughts I have.
    Last edited by Jared Isham; 06-18-2017, 01:32 PM.
    Jared Isham
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    • #3
      Not to quibble, but "blocking" is a TV term, how to move multiple studio cameras so they don't see each other.

      Planning how to cover a scene film-style is called decopage (the inverse of montage) or simply a director's breakdown of that scene, shot by shot, set-up by set-up, planned in advance with the DP and the Art Director by visiting each location -- a "practical" interior, an exterior, or planning the layout of a built studio set -- to visualize and itemize what's needed cinematically. There is no other way to make all the required electric & grip equipment, set decorations, props, wardrobe, picture cars, or extras magically appear when that scene is filmed, unless the mise en scene, background action, angles, lenses, camera support and lighting set-ups are planned in advance.

      I can understand that young directors like to wing it and have few requirements, other than a couple of actors and somewhere to shoot. Professional work is different, involves department heads, teamwork, and a lot of advance planning. It doesn't matter how big or small the show may be. Rather, it's a question of how to interpret the story in pictures and specific production requirements. This assumes you have a script in hand, with numbered scenes, a certain number of days or hours allocated to stage and shoot each scene, taking into consideration economies and efficiencies of shooting out of sequence -- all the exteriors bunched together, all the apartment scenes with costume changes, all the restaurant scenes with bit players and extras. For reasons of budget, you can't have everything available every day, so drone shots are ruled out on certain scenes where it would be impractical or unnecessary. Same thing with scenes involving special effects (rain, fire, wind) all bunched together on the schedule as much as possible.

      The simplest scene has to be visualized shot by shot in advance for set decoration and props, unless you simply accept whatever happens to be there, windows with no control of sunlight, angles picked on the fly, constrained by a pile of junk pushed aside, no time to consider or rig backlight, no room to swing a cat, much less a doorway dolly. This is how people end up "crossing the line" (the action axis), pulling zooms, working handheld, and doing secondary color correction.

      Mr. Isham has enough experience to know what I'm saying makes sense.
      Last edited by Wolf DeVoon; 06-17-2017, 10:08 PM.

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      • #4
        Good breakdown, there is definitely a lot of planning that is necessary for any film shoot. You bring up a lot of very important elements that even I don't think of, like in art direction and set design. In the indie world those options sometimes don't exist but approaching it as though they do will likely get you far better results. I like to say "improvising is often times just chaos but extensive planning allows for artistic genius."

        Just for fun, though. If we don't call blocking "blocking" in a film-style shoot then we probably can't​ call any movie shoot digitally a film... right?

        Anyway, thanks for sharing, Wolf. Great bit of knowledge! Thanks.
        Jared Isham
        Filmmaker
        Director: "Bounty" - Lionsgate, "Turn Around Jake" - PureFlix Entertainment
        Editor: CW Seed, Nike, Ugg, GoFundMe, Disney, Hulu, Panini and more


        IMDb
        Filmmaking Resources
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        Stage Ham (my production company)

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        • #5
          I am still in NYC. Leaving in the morning. On this trip I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to visit the shooting of a few scenes of "younger" with Hilary Duff at silvercup studios in Queens. The director Andy Fleming set up the scene and did the blocking stuff in the other room. I was in the room with the video village where the writers and directory watched and the DIT station was. He didn't take long at all so he must have had the plan ready in his head. Of course I say this with that being the expectation. I know that things are very well planned and even when there are things that were not planned there are plans for handling them.
          Last edited by Kim Welch; 06-20-2017, 08:18 AM.
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          Kim Edward Welch

          Publisher
          StudentFilmmakers Magazine
          Never Stop Learning - Never Stop Networking

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          • #6
            Finished my new book, Film School In One Lesson, and bowed to US vernacular about "blocking," included it as an alternate term for shot breakdown.

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            • #7
              Kim Welch here are some more thoughts on blocking.

              Jared Isham
              Filmmaker
              Director: "Bounty" - Lionsgate, "Turn Around Jake" - PureFlix Entertainment
              Editor: CW Seed, Nike, Ugg, GoFundMe, Disney, Hulu, Panini and more


              IMDb
              Filmmaking Resources
              YouTube Channel
              Portfolio Website
              Stage Ham (my production company)

              Comment


              • #8
                I love it. Going to share! I think you should enter the summer shorts!
                Summer Shorts 2017 Entry Fee is a Facebook or Twitter post!
                www.summershortscontest.com

                Join over 17000 Filmmakers World Wide Global Filmmakers Network
                http://networking.studentfilmmakers.com

                Professional Network - HD Pro Guide
                www.hdrpoguide.com/networking


                Kim Edward Welch

                Publisher
                StudentFilmmakers Magazine
                Never Stop Learning - Never Stop Networking

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                • #9
                  Shooting a short next week . Will submit that one.
                  Jared Isham
                  Filmmaker
                  Director: "Bounty" - Lionsgate, "Turn Around Jake" - PureFlix Entertainment
                  Editor: CW Seed, Nike, Ugg, GoFundMe, Disney, Hulu, Panini and more


                  IMDb
                  Filmmaking Resources
                  YouTube Channel
                  Portfolio Website
                  Stage Ham (my production company)

                  Comment

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