A shot list is the text version of a storyboard. It’s a table that is 5 columns across and, depending on how many shots there are, a lot of rows. This allows you to plan your shots out before getting on set so you don’t have to think up every shot when you are there. In my case, this is great because I can’t draw, I’m really bad, so showing people what I want in a way that’s understandable is great. It’s the best way to get everyone on the same page as you. I made the one below but hardly used it, I only used it as a little reminder of what I was wanting and then from there I went full on Guerrilla filmmaking.
The first column is the shot number which is the order the shots go in.
The second column is for the shot types. To be able to do this properly, you’ll need to learn all the shot types so you can describe exactly what kind of shot you want. Below, there are 8 options I could have chosen. Starting from the first on, they are; Extreme Long Shot, Long Shot, Medium Long Shot, Medium Shot, Medium Close Up, Close Up, Big Close Up and Extreme Close Up. The last one would need to be even closer to be counted as an Extreme Close Up but it gives you an idea of what they are.
The middle column is the angle of the camera when shooting. The easiest is eye level, where the camera stays completely flat. The next one is the low angle, which means the camera is low down to the ground looking up showing the character in a dominant or powerful way. The final one is the high angle, where the camera is up high looking down, which can signify when a character is weak. Each angle can tell the audience different things about the character and what their personality is like.
The fourth column is for movement, how the camera is behaving. There are three main options. The one I use often is handheld meaning the camera isn’t on a tripod but is shaking because when you are holding the camera by hand, it’s never going to be still. I used handheld when a character is confused to be able to signify, through the camera, that he is unsettled.
The last column is the description, which I copied and pasted from the script, explaining what the shot is showing.
A shot list, for me, is the best way to show what I want from a shot and what I want to portray in how the camera is positioned.