Quick Reference Directing List: Staging and Choreography

by Peter D Marshall

Over the past 20 years, I have read many books and articles on Film Directing. As I read, I underline or yellow certain sentences or paragraphs that contain valuable information. I then take these marked sentences and type them into a Quick Reference Directing file on my computer where I sort them into specific categories, print them out and keep them in my binder for quick reference.

The following list contains just a few of the “rules and guidelines” that I have accumulated over the years. Click here to review Quick Reference Directing List: Visual Concept and Colours

STAGING AND CHOREOGRAPHY – dramatic use of the camera and cinematic techniques to illuminate the truth

1. Staging Space
– stage across the frame (left to right / right to left)
– in-depth staging (FG to BG / BG to FG)
– circular staging

2. Staging Methods
– zone (organize isolated groups or individuals in the same location)
– man to man (organize according to the movement of the subjects)

3. Staging Techniques
– static camera
– moving camera
– static subjects
– moving subjects

4. Basic Camera Movement
– move for emphasize (camera approaches the actor)
– move to emphasize one subject in a group
– transferring attention from one subject to another
– connecting and introducing movement (from one space or another)

5. Shot Plan (where the camera is placed)
– whose POV is being expressed
– what distance are we from the subject (size of shot)
– what is our relationship to the subject (angle of view)
– are we comparing points-of-view (cutting or moving the camera)

6. Narrative (specific action described in the script
– narrative logic ( following action of one or more characters)
– eye contact (where an actor looks)
– shot size (closer the size, the greater the intimacy)

7. Dramatic Emphasize (elements which colour our emotional understanding of scene)
– primary concern is shot size and the placement of the subjects in the frame

8. Pictoral Considerations
– composition, framing, lighting, lenses

9. Dramatic Circle of Action
– place the camera in the action
– place the camera outside the action

Copyright (c) 2000-2009 Peter D. Marshall / All Rights Reserved

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