Shot Breakdown

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“What he used to make me memorize was the shots. He’d say, “Ok, learn that movie!” – by learn that movie he meant; you sit down with a bunch of pile of paper and pencils and write – shot for shot – the movie from memory. I learned a bunch of movies that way. I learned 8 1/2 that way which is a very complex film. I learned Clockwork Orange…His notion was that if you really wanna become a filmmaker, you have to get that conversant. You have to be able to carry that much in your mind. . . .he made me learn to think of movies as a chain of images where you would fashion the entire chain of images. Just like a music student could hold a concerto in his mind, you should hold the movie in your mind; the images – nevermind the words, the images – “Where is the camera for that shot. What kind of lens was it? What was the camera doing?” – on every shot, on every one of – well most movies have about a thousand shots.” – John McTiernan


  1. HEAT (1995)
  2. THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE (1970)
  3. DIE HARD (1988)
  4. BOARDWALK EMPIRE (S4E5)
  5. MANHATTAN (1979)
  6. BETRAYAL (2012)

13 thoughts on “Shot Breakdown

  1. Pingback: Shot Breakdown 001: HEAT (1995) | filmschoolthrucommentaries

  2. Pingback: Shot Breakdown 002: The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970) | filmschoolthrucommentaries

  3. Pingback: Shot Breakdown 003: DIE HARD (1988) | filmschoolthrucommentaries

  4. Pingback: Shot Breakdown 004: Boardwalk Empire | filmschoolthrucommentaries

  5. Pingback: Shot Breakdown 005: MANHATTAN (1979) | filmschoolthrucommentaries

  6. Pingback: Shot Breakdown 006: BETRAYAL (2012) | filmschoolthrucommentaries

  7. Thank you for this site, this is really great material for filmmakers !
    As you ask for requests, here is mine : AI from Spielberg.

  8. what basically u used to write on papers-whats in the shot or about the camera movements and lenses?
    did u take screenshots of the shots and write about them or did u first watch the film and then break shot by shot?
    what did u do of the screenshots?

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