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Planning Our Scenes

Lesson 17 from: The Cinematic Filmmaking Workshop

RJ Bruni

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Lesson Info

17. Planning Our Scenes

Lesson Info

Planning Our Scenes

(gentle music) Now we're gonna plan out each scene. This is a super crucial element. Creating these details allows us to show up and know exactly what we need to do. Everything from how are we gonna move our cameras? How long are we gonna hold our shots? Are we asking our subject questions, and doing an interview? That all needs to be cited beforehand so we're not just showing up and guessing. This document will have everything from what lenses are we gonna be using? Are we gonna be using lots of wides or tights? Everything needs to match our story and our energy of the scene. We're gonna be going over just a couple of scenes but you'll get the idea of how we break down each and every scene and how to do it yourself. Let's get into it. So first we're gonna start with scene one, and we're gonna put a title here. This one, I just have the title of the scene being "Intro to Cathy". But later on, we'll see why this is important. Description, opening scene, seeing Cathy on her wheel. I wa...

nt this to feel slow and peaceful and act as if we are slowly creeping into her world as a bystander. We will start with a one take shot where we will start at the door, or even outside the studio and slowly creep into her workspace. Maybe at first she's grabbing a tool off the shelf and then sitting down and starting at the wheel. As we see a tool or her hand first hit the clay. We have a sharp flashback to nature; alluding to the idea that will be touched on later in the film, about this clay products being connected to the land. So that's just a basic description to give us an idea of what we're working with. Location, will be Cathy's studio. Characters, of course will just be Cathy Terryfaki. Props will be Cathy's tools. These are natural props that are gonna be in her studio. Next we'll go into energy of the scene. I want the energy to be very peaceful and slow with sharp cuts to nature. We wanna feel like we are slowly walking into the scene and essentially her world for the next duration of the film. Color of the scene; I chose this color to be blue. She has a white studio and I want to color grade it just a little bit cooler. So I think the scene in general will be a little bit more on the blue cooler side of things. Gray for the clay. And I want to give Kathy's hand to make sure they have just the warm tone to them. This all matches the colors that we chose at the beginning of the project. Wardrobe, we have Kathy's work clothes, so possibly white or gray shirt or dark apron, and we want no logos. So this has to match our color palette that we chose earlier on. We're not just gonna throw Cathy into a red shirt because that's not the color that we chose for the film. So it's important that we follow the color tones that we chose and that'll help us make decisions for everything from color grading, and in this scenario, wardrobe. Next we have the time of day. So this is important based on our lighting and our feel. Do we want the field to be midday and maybe fun and energetic? Or do we want it to be romantic and sunset. For this scenario in particular, midday, morning or sunset will work. A cool element that we can play with, if the weather permits is, possible raining and cozy could work too in her studio. That could be fun just to see the rain coming down and seeing her cozy in her studio but it's not crucial, crucial to the story. So basically for this scene, whatever we get we'll make work. Song, I'm imagining possibly slow ambient song with some drawn out notes or even no music at all, just hearing what's happening. Shot list, so for shot lists, sometimes I go really in depth. If the shot list needs to be crucial for what we're trying to accomplish. If we have a super technical scene with shots that needed to be executed exactly how we needed it planned then we'll develop a really tight shot list. But sometimes we don't know all the elements that we're gonna have to run into and it's okay to leave a looser shot list, if we have things like our energy and our music and all that stuff planned out beforehand. If we have those planned out, then we can show up and know exactly how we need to execute the shots; as far as how long we want the shots to be executed, and the pacing. That's the most important thing. Things like pacing and energy are more important to plan beforehand than the shots themselves. If we know the pacing and the energy, then we can show up and document what's there and all the little details that will match the pacing that we've already decided. If we plan for our scene to be high energy and fast paced then we can show up, see what the environment is like and get a lot of fast paced, moving shots with lots of handheld movement and stuff like that. But if we plan for a peaceful scene, then we know that we're gonna hold our shots just a little bit longer and plan to maybe have a little bit less movement. So that is something that's super important to plan. And sometimes shot lists are very, very important. And sometimes it's okay to leave it a little bit looser. In this scenario, it's a pretty basic scene with only one or two shots, but we write it down here just to make sure that we don't forget anything. So for our shot list, we have steady cam or handheld, one take starting outside or in the door all the way into Cathy's hands on the clay. Pretty basic shot. Don't think I'm gonna forget that but it's good to have down here. So everyone knows what's happening and then maybe some closeups to possibly cut to after the one take; hands on clay and then shavings following. I think that's supposed to say only clay. So we'll fix that. Gear, this is just the gear that we're probably gonna bring on the shoot to give us a good idea. We have the Canon c200, we have the Movi Pro. I'm gonna use the Quarter Promised and get a really dreamlike feel. And it's gonna create a soft image, some atmosphere spray. This is something that we can use to maybe add a little bit more of an environment to her studio. And then lenses, I'm thinking a 24, 35, 50, and then possibly macro lens, but we'll see. Some notes here for the scene. We have shot in real time. So we're not gonna use slow motion. We'll use atmospheric spray for some haze. Cathy needs to look not too happy, not too serious just in a blissful flow. Cozy rain could be cool, just a note that I had. Not sure how that's supposed to say loud. So we'll fix that. Not sure how loud the wheel is, but if it is loud it could create a good contrast when we cut to the quieter nature shots. So if the wheel is very loud that is not an issue at all, and could actually work in our favor to create some really cool contrast. And then last note I said, probably shoot around F2 to F4, 4 to get some shallow depth the field and make sure we have room for focus on that one take shot, but we'll get into that a little bit more when we get into the field. Awesome, so that's the first scene and we're gonna use the exact same template for a second scene. Second scene; the title is The Minor. I chose this title because we're gonna be mining for clay. But when I wrote the title down I got the idea, about when Kathy responded to my email. She said she worked in, I think Australia as a gold miner. So I thought, oh man, this could be a really cool scene to possibly flash back to some old photos of her telling her story of being a gold miner. And also she mentions that that gave her confidence to be able to do whatever she imagines. So that could be a really cool theme of our scene is flashing back to her gold mining days, and then also talking about just building confidence in her work. Let's get into the same template for scene two. We have the description; scene starts with no music, as we follow Cathy into the woods with her tools by herself. Holding shots for long, that's just a note I had; taking in all of the sounds as she makes her way down the ravine, chooses her tool and starts to dig into the ground. When she starts to dig, an orchestral stringy sounding song will start to come in and will have a flashback to her mining for gold earlier in life. That'll be in Australia. We'll see detailed shots of the process, have a moment where she's guiding us through what she's doing; end with a shot of her carrying her buckets of clay out. So pretty basic. The location is the Chalkware Valley. Characters, of course Cathy. Props, will be Cathy's tools and her bucket. Energy, at first slow and immersive, then move towards a medium paced, more contemplative feel as the music comes in. So, when she starts digging into the ground we might add a little bit more of a faster pace and our shots might get a little bit more shaky. Color, we have green for the forest and a blue feel for the color grade. Wardrobe, we have whatever is natural for her, possibly a white shirt or a blue outfit. I'm not sure what is natural for her. So I'm probably gonna call her and see what she'd normally wear. Time of day, we have morning, sunset or overcast midday. So for this scene, I want really good light. So I want the light coming through the forest. So that'll either be in the morning, closer to sunset, or if it's an overcast day we can work with that as well, cause we'll get soft light on her face. Song, we have a slow orchestral song midway through the scene. We talked about that. Shot list, I'm not exactly sure what everything will look like in this forest. So I'm keeping this shot list pretty loose. I have an idea of what the scene is gonna be. I know the pace and I'm totally confident with showing up and seeing what shots will come to life. As long as I know the pacing and the feel, we're already in good shape. So for our shot list we have medium shots as she makes her way to the ravine, highlighting the small details like the gate she goes through every time and her tools. We have a shot of the forest, filling the frame as she makes her way past the camera. Close ups of the whole process of digging, faster pace at that point. Ending here, a shot from behind Kathy, as she leaves with the bucket of clay, and get tripod shots of nature that we can use in the intro sequence. So more close up macro shots. Gear, we have the Canon c200, the Quarter Promise, atmospheric spray and then a 14 millimeter lens, 24, 35 and a 50. And then we'll probably want a lab mic as well. Notes, I have very immersive handheld feel, hold shots to create a strong feeling of peace. Like the audience is there and gather lots of little sounds. So this is how we break down our scenes. It's super important. And now we can show up and know exactly how to execute.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Live Lesson: Feedback and Q&A Session with RJ
RJ's Final Film | SHARED EARTH
Email Questionnaire
Project Breakdown
Scene Breakdown
Creative Deck

Ratings and Reviews


I LOVE this workshop - I have been wanting to film my own 'home life' movies as I am a photographer but I wanted to add even more memories. This workshop has added so much value to how, why, when, and what the process is of film-making for film-making. Thanks to RJ for sharing all his amazing information while being clear, precise, and informative. I am excited to film my next 'home life' film!

Alex Bocajj

Great insights into Rj's process. Really enjoyed it all. Rj is smooth and easy to learn from. Loved the "in-field" BTS and going thru the motions live. Looking forward to more material.

Patti Sohn

Really informative and inspiring. One of the best video tutorials I have watched.

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