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How to Film a Scene Demo

Lesson 14 from: Filming Families: The Modern Family Video

Courtney Holmes

How to Film a Scene Demo

Lesson 14 from: Filming Families: The Modern Family Video

Courtney Holmes

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Lesson Info

14. How to Film a Scene Demo


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


The Spark That Inspired Me


What Are Family Films?


Gear for Family Films


Camera Settings for Video


Frame Rates & Slow Motion


Picture Profiles & Color Grading


Settings for Audio Capture


Lesson Info

How to Film a Scene Demo

What this is, I've taken a scene and I've pulled these as still images from the footage, so this is exactly every clip that you're then gonna see the scene all put together, so you can see how I've put this together. So, I start, and what's happening is they are about to look at pictures together, okay? So, they're about to look at family photos. You can see that down here. They're about to look at family photos together. So, I've got, what happens first is the Dad and the little boy is coming. They've just made ice cream cones and the little boy is coming over with his ice cream cone and he's sitting in Dad's lap in preparation with his one sock on, in preparation for looking at the photos. Mom comes over with the photo box, so I start this, not necessarily with a wide shot, but it's enough, it's not a huge, a really long wide shot, but it's enough to show a little bit of what's going on. It was a difficult angle because I had this couch in the way, so I started with that and then I g...

et in a bit closer when Mom's coming in. I really like getting in close to show, and this is where it really differs, I think, from photography. Sometimes you're pulling back to show the whole story, but you have two clips, so if I can see a person is doing something, I'll film their face and then that, two close-ups, combine them together, and you can see what they're doing, right? So, it's going from here, she's put that down, to that and then they start looking at the pictures, and then close-up of his face where we've just seen his hand in the pictures. Then I move around to a bird's eye view of what they're doing so that I get them all in the frame and then I move, so he's got ice cream, and then I move over here so that I can shoot a little bit of this interaction, which is adorable, happening, and then I do a wide shot to end it. Okay? This is also a lot about camera positions, right? So, you can see how I'm here, then I move over a little bit to here, so if this is my people, I'm right here to start with and I move over here as she comes in. I move back and I'm up at her, then I'm still from that position then shooting down. Then I move a little bit to the right, and I'm shooting up at him, then I go, because I was there, now for this shot, I'm over here, shooting down, so I've moved around them. I like to think of a scene as 360 degrees. I can move around when they're in this kind of situation. The only thing, I'll move and then I'll come back to that statement. Then I have moved from this position to that, in front of them, and then I'm still kinda in a similar position, but further back, and that's okay. So, about the 360 degree thing, there is what's called the "180 degree rule" and so, you have, so there's a line between, if I have a conversation happening between two people, let's say there was a conversation happening between them and I wanted to capture that, which does happen earlier. Let me see if I have a- No, I don't have an example of that. Okay. So, let's say there's a conversation happening. There's an invisible line right between them. It's really best if, when you're filming interaction between people, that you stay on one side or the other and you don't cross over, okay? And the reason for that is it's just this perspective thing. When the person who's watching it back, it just feels better if they're watching it from you being on the same side of the line than the other side. It gets a little bit, it's off-putting for the viewer that's watching it. So, be mindful of that, but in this kind of situation, it's okay to move from that to here because I'm not trying to show an interaction between the two. It's not like I'm filming a conversation between them necessarily, but if I had his face looking at Mom and then Mom's face looking back at him, I'd wanna make sure I was still on the same line because I'd wanna have his face in the frame looking this way and then her face in the frame looking that way, right, because like in theater, onstage, that's what you would see. So, it's similar kind of concept, okay? But it's okay to move around, just when you're doing that kind of thing, be mindful of that line, that invisible line. I usually say it's really good to move at least 30 degrees between clips and that'll make it less jolting when you try to put those clips side by side. Okay? So, enough movement, enough of a change in camera position is gonna give you more to work with and it's not gonna feel like you're too close to the same position that you were in before. It's really important also that, when you change position, your camera position, you're not just changing your camera position. So, let's say if I've got a person here, and I'm moving from here over to here, that's fine, but it's even better if I also change my shot type, if I also am changing my distance between me and the subject, okay? That makes it stronger, so be mindful of those things. And I'm gonna get into and show you examples later of what jump cuts look like, but it's very easy to get a jump cut if you're not moving enough, okay? Alright, but before we get there, I'm gonna show you the example, so that whole scene with all those pictures put together and what that looks like as a scene in a film. (calm music) Is that me? That's you and that's Sebi. You're there, Sebs. Which one is Sebi? Horsey. Yeah, and you're always naked. (Milen laughing) May just be. I think that's Sebi. Is it? That's Sebi. Oh, no, that is Milen. I like this picture. (music stops) Okay? It's a lot and you don't really realize how much goes into it because, when you're a viewer and you're watching that, you're just immersed in it, and that's the point. Like, I don't want it, I want it to look easy. I don't want it to seem, but I'm gonna show you a lot of information and that's gonna make you as a viewer become so much more involved and visually interested in it, and, but as a filmmaker, those are the things that you gotta think about and do it in slow steps. You don't need to have as many clips as that, but that's an example of how many clips would make up, what, that was eight clips that made up 20 seconds, I think? Okay? So, that song was Flicker, Airplanes, licensed through MUSICBED. Are there any questions on the scene part of it? Yup. I was wondering if you have some idea as to what the story or plan to convey is before you go into a shoot or whether you figure it out by filming the event and then looking at your footage afterward. Yeah, that's a great question. A little bit, so I do client questionnaires, which I'm gonna get into later, but that gives me information about what's important to the parents, so I know a lot about the family. I don't go into it with the family not knowing anything about them. That's rare for me, but I also don't go into it with a story in my head because then I'm kind of preconceiving a story that might not be right or real or them, right? So, I gather information as much as I can through questionnaires, and then I shoot the moments and specifically look for the things that were mentioned, as well as other things, and then I put that together afterwards, so kind of I know a little bit, but not the whole thing.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Shot List Worksheet Template
Shot List Worksheet Example
Ideas for Your First Film
Discount Code

Ratings and Reviews

Adam Nicholls

Worth a watch! Courtney provides a clear and organised class, she is also very passionate about what she does which is always nice to see. She has a great back story which is fantastic. This course is good for beginners who have some knowledge in photography and want to learn more about video. I would recommend that people do not refer this class to the bible of filmmaking as I feel you can expand further on what Courtney teaches. Some useful tips for beginners but some methods I personally feel can be taught differently. I feel a gimbal is a useful bit of kit if used correctly. You can still use a gimbal when in manual mode providing you follow the basics rules! Obviously if Courtney prefers not to use a gimbal then that's also fine but I wouldn't discourage students from exploring useful filmmaking tools. Slow motion can be achieved with 50/60fps however I feel other frame rates should have been discussed like 120fps. I liked that Courtney engaged with the students as it gets them involved and will help them remember what they have learned during the class. Thank you for taking the time to share some of your knowledge

a Creativelive Student

Courtney's work is absolutely amazing and inspiring. I feel lucky that she has chosen to share her process and that this class is available! After watching all the videos and trying my hand at this video thing, I am feeling really encouraged and inspired to do more- both personally and professionally. I appreciate the way that she breaks things down in the video and that she shares her thought process. A really great course!


Courtney’s course completes me! I have storytelling “holes” in my film previously, but this course helped fill those holes to create a flow and a film with emotion. Not only is the course wonderful (and well worth every penny) but Courtney is wonderful as well! I had such an amazing experience at Creative Live!!!!

Student Work