October 27th, 2023

Setting up the opening shot for 'Get in'.

How we view the world is a matter of perception. Everyone perceives the world differently. When watching a film, even more so. It's subjective in many ways. Choosing certain shooting methods can therefore be tricky at times. Which methods will you use and what kind of framing, to be able to convey meaning to an audience? Doing breakdowns during pre-production can help with that. 
As a cinematographer I've done a lot of script breakdowns for TVC's, music video's and (short) films. Even with some documentary work, a certain form of a breakdown is often done. Often breakdowns are important and particularly useful when prepping complicated sequences, scenes and/or specific shots. 
And this may sound weird, but I often do this (at one point or another during the pre-production phase) with LEGO and other toys within a Co-Creation session; collaborating with relevant stakeholders, such as the Camera and (heads of the) G&E departments, the production designer, director, producer and sometimes the client. 
NOTE: You don't want to waste anyone's time. So, it's probably a good thing to think about who you really need for these kinds of breakdown sessions.
Overall, by doing this with LEGO and other toys, it will create a playful dynamic for the collaboration process. Everyone is able to get into a creative mindset faster and easier and it also creates a certain form of ownership between the collaborators/different departments early on in the creative (and technical) process for the film that you're going to make. 
There's often discussions regarding budget, creativity, etc. and this way you can get rid of all that early on. And last but not least: It can actually be a lot of fun.
Camera on a dolly. Yes. Playing with LEGO really works!
Camera on a dolly. Yes. Playing with LEGO really works!
Okay, okay. It's not all up to scale ;)
Okay, okay. It's not all up to scale ;)
By demonstrating it with LEGO, I am able to show, motivate and elaborate on what kind of movements I have in mind for specific shots. From the camera movements themselves, to everything that moves in front of the camera, in and out of frame
Basic blocking options can be mentioned here already as well; Where will the talents be? How will a car drive by? How will the light be shaped? How will the light (and shadows) move? Etc. What happens when within the frame and outside the frame (behind the scenes)? Who and/or what is where and why and at what given time? What type of gear is needed for these shot(s)? Etc.
Once I'm finished showing things from a certain point of view, we can discuss it further and/or come up with new (hopefully better!) ideas and develop them further by co-creating with the various departments. So you can  for instance let the grip department motivate and elaborate on their ideas based on your initial plan, make suggestions for improvements, tweak it or even change it completely, e.g. to make it more tangible and feasible, etc.
Basically, the LEGO pieces on the table become a Conversation Piece. The co-creation session becomes a kind of table-top RECCE, that costs next to nothing. It's a great way of getting some of the main issues out of the way early on in the pre-production phase. You're basically Ideating,  Prototyping and Testing your principal photography.
NOTE: Sometimes you can bring LEGO or other toys during principal photography to visualise a complicated shot you're about to shoot with the cast & crew present.
When you do these LEGO sessions, it not only gives you an early insight into the possible look & feel of your project from a technical perspective (where you can base your shot lists, storyboards, etc. on), it also gives an early estimate of how much something is going to cost; meaning you can solve technical, creative and budget issues together within one co-creation session. 
And all of that is important. Because no matter how you perceive the world and films in general, this is one way of getting on the same page for the project you are working on, which will help you push your project forward.

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