15 Tips for Directing Motion

Here are just a few tips (of the many) from the latest MZed seminar Directing Motion with Vincent Laforet.

Directing Motion workshop with Vincent Laforet
Recreating a scene from Schindler’s List


  1. Remember there is a shared cinematic language, no one owns a camera move. If it adds to your story, use it.
  2. Establish rules of etiquette with the crew before the start of filming. For example:
    Vincent Laforet at the Directing Motion workshop.
    Vincent Laforet at the Directing Motion workshop.

    – When ready, start with the person furthest from the Director and call in order (“set”),
    – camera person says “speed”, and
    – last the Director calls “action”.

  3. Motivated vs Unmotivated Movement
    – Motivated movement is when an actor gets up and goes, the camera follows them.
    – Unmotivated movement is when the camera moves without reason. Does it add to the sorry? Usually the story and sound are what motivates the camera.
  4. Storyboard: you don’t get what you want when you don’t do the prep.
  5. Blocking: single most important thing you can do to add value to your film without adding to the cost.
  6. Coverage principal 3×3: the wide shot sets the geography, medium shot sets hero focus, and tight shot for a connection. And don’t forget to get the reverse.
  7. Start with the wide shots and move in.
  8. Usually get the best performance a few takes in. This means the actors will likely be able to give their best performance on the shots that will show their facial expressions the most.
  9. You build tension the tighter you go with the shots.
  10. Hitchcock’s Rule: the most important person in a scene is the biggest.
  11. Suggested App: Shot Designer
    – https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=air.us.hollywoodcamerawork.shotdesigner
    – https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/shot-designer/id556342711?mt=8
  12. Rules of the episotic:
    – set the geography,
    – shoot the action beats and background, and
    – use short cuts, snap zooms, and motions.
  13. Less than 2% of a blockbuster film budget is for the cameras.
  14. Elements of a proposal include information on the: story, transitions, locations, photos, scale, and closing thoughts.
  15. Firm bid: set a price, if the film company is under they keep the extra, if the film company goes over they eat the additional cost.
Directing Motion with Vincent Laforet
Same shot, 2 different rigs.

In addition to lots of great information on directing motion in film and video, Vincent took the group through a series of “hands on” film set examples. We recreated the zolly shot from Jaws, a scene from Schindler’s List, and did a short action sequence. The last two were shot in the day class, edited, and shown in the evening.

Vincent LaForet’s Directing Motion workshop can be downloaded at MZed.

O'Connell Design
O’Connell Design

O’Connell Design is a creative studio dedicated to film and motion, game cinematics, and engaging visuals. For more information on our studio and to view our portfolio go to www.oconnelldesign.com.