Action Sequence Cinematography: Deliberately Breaking The Rules: Pt 3

THIS LESSON INCLUDES:  11 minutes of video instruction, script analysis & breakdown    –Supplied w/English Subtitles

IN THIS LESSON YOU WILL LEARN:  This lesson is Part 3 of a 4 part series in understanding what it takes to shoot an action sequence.  From pre production discussions, preparing floor plans and schematics to communicate your vision.  One of our hardest jobs as an artist is to communicate what is in our heads.  This lesson gives you the step by step process to do this, as well as using specific types of camera motion to educate and immerse your audience.

  • Understand your script and where you are in the drama of the sequence. In this moment, the damage was done and O2 was left in the street alone. I wanted to make sure the audience felt that.
    • Consider slowing down your camera movement to create the lull (Shakespearean Pause). This will give your audience the opportunity to breathe and let them soak in what happened. It’s almost if they were put in O2’s shoes.
    • Hold on some wider shots to take in your surroundings and use POVs to see through the eyes of your character.
      • Utilizing a blurry POV helped cement O2’s state of mind and confirm that what unfolded in the last few minutes “did” happen.
  • Understand how to break the rules:
    • For Vondie and me, breaking the rules was a big part of the delivery of this film. We wanted to confuse the audience and try different ways to feed information.
    • Before applying any of these techniques, always, always, ALWAYS do your homework and see if it’s the right choice for what you’re trying to do.
    • Every great filmmaker does their homework and this is exactly the place where you’ll need to devise the right plan to execute this.
  • Utilize the 180 Degree Rule and its restrictions to your advantage:
    • Understanding the 180 Degree Rule and how to bend it can garner interesting results. Vondie was a genius on how he went about doing it.
    • Switching on different sides of the line can help create confusion. Utilizing it in spurts can help achieve the desired results.


<<<Anton>>> Great explanation! Your work is fantastic!
<<<John C>>>The Key words being ‘Understanding the 180 Degree Rule’ .
<<<Thaddeus S>>>I have my first script where we have designed a fight sequence and it will be my first filmed fight sequence. This approach couldn’t have come at a better time. Thank you Shane, this is exactly what I needed to learn!
We are directing all comments and questions to our New Forum, please find the related course in the forum’s categories to submit.

Danielsilvafilms 3 days ago

hi Shane how are you? I am recording a fight scene in a parking lot of a friendly studio. and they only released 2 days to finish recording. We’ve already recorded two days Our team has 3 people: me and 2 more friends. What can I do to speed up this process? Is there a productivity technique I can use? Or any other technique? In total there are 6 min of fight. I didn’t want to have to cut anything out of the fight, because it looks really cool. Have a nice day! 🙂

Chase Gardiner 1 days ago

how did you achieve the blurring and multi frame effect of his POV? and would you do this differently with digital sensors?

    • Shane Hurlbut, ASC    23 days ago

      @Chase Gardiner Hi Chase, How we did this was go around our actor several times and did several takes, by doing this we did an optical process where we layered these images over one another to get that effect. I loved the effect, I do not think I would do it any differently, it really puts you in his head emotionally and that was what we wanted.