The Edit

First take finesse: How to prevent re-shooting scenes


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Filmmaking treads a fine line between artistic expression and problem solving. Regardless of the size of the project, there will invariably be a range of complex logistical issues which crop up throughout the shoot. And there's nothing worse than realising you've done it wrong and need to set up the whole scene again. 

So if you're new to filmmaking, there are a few important things you might want to consider to avoid having to head back for a reshoot.


I can't emphasise this one enough. Perfecting continuity between shots is an essential habit you'll need to master right away, or you'll find yourself reshooting far too often. Scenes that might have been shot days or weeks apart, will be fresh in your viewers' minds as they watch your film and they will notice if you mess up the details.

Rehearse your actors

While you might have written the perfect script, it's hard to know exactly how you actors will inhabit the lines and characters until you see them. Sometimes, scenes you thought would be simple 'linking' moments wind up feeling more powerful, and vice versa.

The worst thing for you would be to discover how the drama feels once you get to post-production, or you might find yourself needing to reshoot. One way around this? Plenty of rehearsals. Sitting everyone down to do numerous read-throughs of your script will definitely help you spot any issues.

Storyboard everything

It's always good to let things develop organically on set, but the best way to minimise reshooting is to know exactly what you're going to shoot on a particular day before you get there.

Storyboarding every shot (or a video animatic, if that's your style) will give you a very good idea of how your movie is going to flow well before you've gone anywhere near a set. Iron out any flow issues in your board, and you won't need to fix them later. And for extra points, review what you've shot as soon (and as often) as possible, even before you move on.

Shoot more than you need

Once you're on set, make the most of every second you're there. If you find you have a few extra minutes to spare at the end of a take, shoot again, for safety. No need to go overboard, but the more options you have to work with in edit, the better. And always remember visual effects and compositing is there to help too.

You won't catch everything, but these pointers should give you a good head start. The important thing is to remember that if you spot a major error or problem with your dramatic flow, you might not even need to reshoot. You always have the option of removing the troublesome scene entirely during the editing process or, if you're feeling particularly brave, leaving it for the rest of us to spot once your work is released!

Don't be scared of making cuts: it's a lot easier than setting up a whole new shoot! 

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Demis Lyall-Wilson is a London-based writer, photographer, and Hollywood visual effects artist, who enjoys blowing up planets for cash (and a line in the credits). 


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