How to Make a Shot List Like Paul Thomas Anderson

Want to shoot like the Master?
By  · Published on July 13th, 2017

Want to shoot like the Master?

A month or so ago we brought you a video from StudioBinder that demonstrated the purpose and practicality of a shot list – a step-by-step guide to where and when to use the camera including angles, height, movement, distance from subject, duration of shot, etc. – particularly in regards to how such a thing is used by director Terrence Malick.

Well, this month StudioBinder is back with another shot-list video, one focusing on the specific shots frequently used by Paul Thomas Anderson. What you’re about to see are clips from Anderson’s filmography grouped cinematographically – wide shots, medium shots, and close-ups – to reveal the versatility Anderson employs within these confines. Most all of the films featured here were shot by Oscar-winning cinematographer Robert Elswit (accept The Master, which was shot by Mihai Malaimare Jr.), but make no mistake, Anderson has always been a hands-on director firmly in charge of his own aesthetic, to the point on his next film, rumored to be called Phantom Thread, he is serving double duty as director and director of photography. Press play below to figure out how he visually creates films that are, as StudioBinder notes, “sweepingly grandiose yet personal.”

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