A shot-by-shot breakdown is a useful tool for slowing down a scene. It enables us to better discern the manner in which editing, cinematography, mise-en-scene, and sound function at the cellular level, so to speak. While a comprehensive shot breakdown will include all of these elements in great detail, this assignment is restricted to the salient aspects of editing, cinematography, sound, setting, and staging. Assignments will not lose a point for every single detail missed. Cumulatively, there are roughly 200 relevant details (including shot numbers) that should be noted in this shot breakdown. Therefore, assignments will be graded holistically, based on how close they are to 100% accuracy.
You can review the ‘Reading of the Will’ scene from The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson, 2014) by downloading it from your course Canvas (Modules > Assignments > Shot by Shot Clip). In the clip, you can refer to the lead characters in your shot descriptions as: Narrator, Gustave, Zero, Serge X., Clotilde, Kovacs, Dmitri, Jopling, Marguerite, Laetizia, Carolina, and Old Man.
Complete the assignment in a separate document of about 3-4 pages single-spaced (with spaces separating each shot).
Your breakdown must include the following information in order:
1) number of the shot in the clip
2) distance of framing – use standard abbreviations (XLS, LS, MCU, CU, etc.)
3) height of framing – low, high (ignore normal)
4) angle of framing – low, high, overhead (aerial), or canted (ignore straight-on)
5) editing patterns – note all eyeline matches, match on actions, POV shots, cross-cutting, and/or shot/reverse-shot patterning. (Do not include other elements like graphic matches, inserts/cutaways, shot durations, etc.)
6) camera movement – note any and all movement, including cranes or dollies forward/backward, upward/downward, left/right), pans (left/right), tilts (up/down), zooms
(in/out), and handheld movement (note shaky or Steadicam)
7) action (staging & setting) – briefly summarize what is happening and where for each shot
8) sound – state all incidents and changes in dialogue, narration, and music (but not sound effects). You do not have to state the words in the dialogue/narration, just that there is dialogue, narration, and/or music and in which shots they begin, continue, and end. Note any music volume changes or changes in musical score
9) transition – cut to, wipe to, fade in/out to, iris in/out to, dissolve to (ignore the opening transition for the first shot)
*If the distance, angle, or height varies within a shot (as the camera or primary characters reposition), indicate how and when.
e.g. 22. LS of man standing in front of building. Zoom in to MS of man’s face. Music volume lessens but continues. Dialogue. Man steps closer into CU.
The following exemplifies what your breakdown’s formatting should look like. (Relevant information is underscored here for your convenience. You do not have to underscore in your assignment.)
1. LS, Low Height. Camera dollies backward as George runs on a city sidewalk toward the camera. Music begins. Cut to.
2. MS, Match on Action. Camera dollies left to follow George as he lifts a cellphone to his ear. Man’s dialogue begins and ends. Music continues. Camera then dollies backward to frame him in MLS as he looks offscreen left. Cut to.
3. MLS, eyeline Match & George’s POV, slow-motion, of a police officer watching George from the opposite side of the street.