3 Strategies Behind the Best Long Takes

How do you feel when you
see a shot like this? You feel more present,
more in the moment and perhaps even more anxious. Today, we are going to
discuss the unique power of the long take. A long take is when a filmmaker
captures a scene so that it will appear as a single
uninterrupted take in the edit. “Swan dive into the best
night of your life.” When a shot remains
uninterrupted, you are forced to pay attention. How can you determine
the value of a long take? We found three
specific categories that will better your scene,
setting, character and plot. Our first category is setting. The physical location. This scene should fill in
all of the rich details that make that place unique. It doesn’t matter if
it is a battlefield, or a television studio. The viewer should feel as
though they are right there in that place, at that time. Let’s look at a
shot from “Spectre.” In this long take,
we are transported to the setting of Mexico City’s Dia de
los Muertos Festival. You feel as though you’re
walking on the streets, listening to those drums, wearing those masks. At times,
could you say you feel like Bond? Sure. Does it inform the plot? In a way. But the main accomplishment
of this long take is transporting the
viewer to the festival. Let’s look at another one. Our next category is character. The scene should make the
viewer feel like the subject. Take the Copacabana
scene in “Goodfellas.” This is a great example of how a long take
transports viewer into a character state of mind. In the case of the
Copacabana scene, the state of mind we find
ourselves in is Henry`s date. Karen Friedman. “-Nice to see you.
– Yeah, good seeing you.” Henry is already seen the back door, the kitchen,
the restaurant a hundred times, but you know who hasn’t? Karen. And us the viewer. Placing a bunch
of mob movie fans into the heels of
Karen Friedman, is a real genius
of this long take. Our final category is plot. How events affect
the overall story? Where each action
truly informs the next, and if you blink, you might miss
something important. “-We are here for him. Ryan. -Me, sir?” This can show, how simple events
have enormous impact on the plot. Here is an example
from “Touch of Evil.” The scene begins with a
bomb being set to 3 minutes. You know where
the bomb is placed and when it will explode. Halfway through the scene, the attention switches
to Mike and Susan Vargas, as they walk down the street. But we do not feel like
the characters in the scene because we know
more than they do. And there is a great payoff. And that is why,
they are celebrated moments in film. We can all agree that long takes are one of the most exciting gadgets
on the cinematic utility belt. But they can be
logistical nightmares, unless you collaborate and plan out your
shots in great detail. StudioBinder features were created
to streamline your collaboration. Break down your script. Create a perfect storyboard. You’re going to want
a clear shot list. What are some long takes we
didn’t discuss in this video? Which of your
personal favorites? Let us know,
in the comments below. To help you further understand how
to build an effective long take, check out our video
on film blocking. See you in the next one. [Music]

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