Features and Columns · Movies

Why a Filmmaker Might Choose to Flip a Shot

To flip, or not to flip? That is the question.
Lala Land Flipped Image
By  · Published on April 12th, 2023

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay that explores why some films decide to flip a shot.

I don’t know about you, dear reader, but personally, the first place my mind goes to when I think about continuity is props. You know: vanishing sandwiches, brooms magically switching hands, untucked shirts. That kind of thing.

Of course, continuity is a much bigger beast that touches most aspects of the filmmaking process. And generally speaking, the goal is to maintain a visual flow of a series of images. It’s the reason things like the 180-degree rule exist: to keep things feeling natural and to ensure that our attention is being directed the way the filmmakers intended.

Then again, sometimes rules are meant to be broken … not necessarily because you’re an artistic upstart but because in the whacky world of filmmaking, things don’t always go to plan.

There’s a really excellent example of this in La La Land. As the video essay below argues, Damien Chazelle’s 2016 film features a shot that is flipped to hide a problem. The essay does a great job of unpacking how sometimes filmmakers have to break some rules to preserve others. It’s a good reminder that filmmaking is a lot more like cooking than baking: it’s far from an exact science … and sometimes you need to course correct even if the recipe disagrees.

Watch “To Flip or Not to Flip?”

Who made this?

This video essay on why a director might flip a shot comes from Jesse Tribble, an American video essayist and comic book scholar. You can subscribe to Tribble’s channel and check out his back catalog here. And you can follow them on Twitter here.

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Meg has been writing professionally about all things film-related since 2016. She is a Senior Contributor at Film School Rejects as well as a Curator for One Perfect Shot. She has attended international film festivals such as TIFF, Hot Docs, and the Nitrate Picture Show as a member of the press. In her day job as an archivist and records manager, she regularly works with physical media and is committed to ensuring ongoing physical media accessibility in the digital age. You can find more of Meg's work at Cinema Scope, Dead Central, and Nonfics. She has also appeared on a number of film-related podcasts, including All the President's Minutes, Zodiac: Chronicle, Cannes I Kick It?, and Junk Filter. Her work has been shared on NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour, Business Insider, and CherryPicks. Meg has a B.A. from the University of King's College and a Master of Information degree from the University of Toronto.