How to find the best camera angles even when you’re shooting in your own living room.

How to find the best camera angles even when you’re shooting in your own living room.


In my last video I showed you the 10-step
formula to getting the best camera angles for your feature film or short film. In this
video I’ll show you how I used those tips practically for my experimental short film,
Fight Night. If you haven’t already, please watch it first, I’ll put a link in the description. Fight Night is divided into four main scenes.
Living room, washroom, dining area, where the majority of the action happens, and finally
back to the living room again. It was made primarily as an exercise in shooting a dialogue
scene well, where nothing really happens but the suspense and tension needs to keep building
through the sheer use of camera angles and editing. In the first scene we are introduced to the
characters and the situation. Movi, the male lead, sits on the floor, in sort of a limbo.
It’s hard to place his position, but he is darkness. This gives him an air of secrecy.
What’s he hiding? When we cut to Maya, she is looking away from
camera. I mentioned in the last video how important point of view is. This scene, and
mostly the short film, is from his point of view. We want to see how he reacts to things,
and we identify more with him. Maya is a mystery. That’s why she looks away, and Movi appears
again and again, we watch his reaction, something must happen here. Also, notice how I introduce new information
in every shot. Maya has different looks, while Movi sips once, then when he sips again the
glass is empty. Learning to eliminate redundant information is an important skill. The shots
should either reveal new information, or advance the story. Dialogue is also used in exactly
this way. In this particular scene, the only important thing is for us to know “he”,
presumably Maya’s boyfriend, was supposed to arrive at nine, and she is waiting for
him. Once this information has been received, Movi
gets up to leave. When he leaves, notice how he crosses Maya’s path, as she looks. This
is to unite them in one physical space. There was actually a two-shot master planned for
this scene that I didn’t shoot. That would have given us more information about the precise
nature of their physical space and relationship. Movi leaves to a door and knocks. We raise
the question: What door is this? The answer is to further the story by raising
another question. Who is this woman? I take my time in revealing her face, and she is
also Maya. But is she her twin sister or a doppelganger or a ghost or what? We don’t
know. Movi repeats his dialogue about having dinner.
Again notice how we hold to his reaction more, which is one of confusion. Neither of the
two Maya’s respond to him. Of course this time, there’s a twist, the
knife. Now the story takes on a more serious tone. The knife must play a prominent part
in what’s to come. We break the spell as he sits down to eat
at the dining table. This is in a mid shot so we can watch the body language and understand
the physical space of the dining area. Then we cut to a close up of the wine glass, and
Maya has magically appeared again, pouring a drink. Finally, Movi can relax for a bit, because
it seems like Maya has relented to join him. But the over the shoulder shot maintains the
tension. There’s something not right about it. The choice of a single close up vs an
over the shoulder shot is important here. Before things can settle down we hear the
toilet flush. It’s intentionally loud, as if the second Maya, let’s call her Maya
2. The first Maya is Maya 1. The flush is intentionally loud as if Maya 2 is announcing
her arrival. She wants Movi to take notice and be on edge. Otherwise why have the toilet
flush at all? It’s like an alarm bell. When she exits we use a combination of mid
shots to watch everyone’s body language and also the physical relationship between
all three characters. When Maya 2 sits down we finally know where each person is seated. The 180-degree rule is followed here, with
Movi at the center. He is chosen as the center because it’s his point of view we are concerned
about. Why are there two Maya’s? What’s really going to happen here? All these questions
get raised subconsciously even though nothing has been said. Movi’s screen direction is maintained in
relationship to Maya 1 and Maya 2. In the master mid shot we can see how he is cornered
by both of them. At this point it’s time to advance the story,
so we have a few lines of dialogue about the party. The dining table has been set and the
candles are lit so they are waiting for someone. We learn how Movi doesn’t like “Him”,
who is presumably Maya’s boyfriend. This is the thread we carry from the previous scene.
He was supposed to be here by nine, Movi makes fun of Maya’s waiting for him, and now we
learn he doesn’t like the guy. Maybe he has a thing for Maya? To answer that question,
he says: [ So both Maya’s now know Movi’s intentions.
Their looks to each other signal they are in this together. They hold hands, something’s
brewing. And to raise the tension to the next level, Maya asks him how he knew about the
boyfriend coming at nine? We quickly go a solo close up here. Movi is
being observed like an animal in a cage. He is struggling for space. Maya 2 brings out
the knife, which we knew she had. Movi is scared, and he tries to wiggle out of the
situation. Ultimately we stretch the moment with these shots to raise the tension as high
as possible, before the release – like a bow and arrow. In the last stretch, Maya 2
goes behind Movi, and when the arrow is released there’s a flurry of shots symbolically showing
his death. I don’t actually show any blood or his body, because the story is not really
from his point of view. Of course, once the two Maya’s are done, Maya 2 returns back
to her seat. She is now in just a bra, which is nothing more than new information about
her character. And finally, Maya 1 smiles. In the last scene, it’s dawn, and Maya is
sleeping. I used a top angle slider shot because that’s what came to me while I was writing
the screenplay. The camera is pointed down, but the character is also lying down, so it’s
more of an observational shot. When she finally learns the truth, we learn it too, which is
the twist at the end. I think you can see how I’ve used the 10-step
formula to make this short film interesting, even though we have no clue what is happening
until the very end. The key here was the dialogue scene in the middle, which forms the majority
of the story. I’m putting together a guide about how to nail the dialogue scene and I’ll
tell you more about it in my next video. What is my next video about? It’s about
something that every director struggles with at some point. How do you deal with bad actors
or non-actors? Is there something you can do? Of course there is. This video is coming
the day after tomorrow, I think you’ll like it. If you haven’t already, download my 10-step
formula to finding the best camera angles. You’ll find the link in the description.
Bye now.

32 Comments

  • A Condido Verona Joint says:

    Thanks for posting champ!

  • Ledrin Colemaninga says:

    I love the use of colours, amazing video as always…

  • tylerfranta says:

    this was way more interesting than the actual short film

  • NV Creators says:

    Hi
    Nice work. Good grading. Nice explanation of shots, as many people here are unaware of these technical stuff. Proper grammar for names of shots. Lighting mood is good. Its dramatic. The mood of the scene is aroused and it ads to the drama and suspense. Should be appreciated. Keep it up.

  • __ says:

    Thank you, sareesh! You are my film school.

  • Le Reckless Badger says:

    Hello, I think you might be suprised by the point I raised.. but I just hope you find it valid… You have an international crowd here, but I had some difficulties to distinguish your two females protagonists… They were alike but not totaly alike which was the point you were trying to make, right?… The effect intended did not really work for me because well into the story I was still wondering if they were two different actors! That prevented me to enter the story…. They should have had the same jewlery earings or some other distinctives features to anchor me in that reality.. but for to long I kept going back and forth. IMHO Thank you for your work.

    That would be interesting anyway to see if others had the same problem. How Kurosawa introduces characters and make sure they are distinguishable from each others? Was the linguering effect detremental in your experimental ? I think so : I would have like the mystery but i was lost for to long I think. Nice to see that you are trying to push the bondaries and do daring narratives in which the viewer has to think… A wardrobe or make up issue?

  • DoranArtMedia says:

    I guess we all ( at low budget/no budget level) deal with very unexperienced actors a lot, once they trust you they listen, and they can go places, the Kubrick approach ( on a tiny level) is best for me, just push and push then when they click its this tiny moment and then you pull, pull it out of them while it briefly exists. its quite exhausting for both director and actor, a very deep psychological chess game of trust.

  • Steeven Paul says:

    Keep going Sareesh Bhai <3

  • Nicolas Waldvogel says:

    Visually this film worked very well for the most part, great job! The only thing you could've paid more attention to is eyelines. I felt for most of the shots in the first scene for example, the camera was too detached from our main character because we weren't on his eyeline. Other than that, the cinematography is stunning and you made the GH5 look like an EVA or Red. The film's biggest flaw was def the sound, which is poorly done imo. The filter you put on the dialogue makes it sound artificial/overproduced and there is an overt lack of atmos missing between the sentences. Sound is after all almost more important to filmmaking in either drawing the viewer into the story or pulling them out. Hope I wasn't too harsh, you def have a lot of potential man!

  • m says:

    I couldnt watch this more then 3 minutes. And it was painfull 3 minutes. Shut it off. Its awfull. It didnt hold my attention at all. I sense the problem here is you trying to play a director role and shoot movie instead of being a director and shoot what you actualll would wanted to do. I dont see sincerity here completely. Its good as a traning. But its very bad as a product. This scene should be 2 minutes long. Not 7 lol.

  • Nishant Aggarwal says:

    Why is he eating bread toast in dinner ?

  • DPRO VISUALS says:

    thanks for your time and for shearing

  • Hema Swaroop says:

    Would you also make videos on blocking techniques of top directors?

  • Casper Hedegaard says:

    Many of us have suggested, that you should have done this or you should have done that. My guess is, that you probably have considered a lot of those options yourself. It could be interesting to hear your critic of the critics and why you chose not to do, what the comments suggest. I am sure we can learn a lot from your comments on our critic and suggestions too. You have the personality to do it the right way. With regards

  • Peeping Hole Entertainment says:

    is there any email address of you, where i can contact you as i have some questions which i need to discuss with you

  • Arka Mukherjee says:

    Really looking forward to your next video!

  • MunyRags says:

    Great video as always! Couple things – –

    1) I couldn't tell the two girls were supposed to be the same at any point. Their makeup and hair made them look very different.

    2) I thought the guy had the knife during the bathroom scene because you cut from his face to the knife insert which linked the two in my mind. I realize her nails and clothing should have given it away but I was so focused on the flowery pattern of the knife that I didn't notice those details. Could also be because the light did not change drastically between the two shots.

    Mind you I could just be total idiot here and everyone else didn't have these confusions, but I hope this brings you some value. Thanks for all the great content!

  • Vilkan Visions says:

    Personally I didn't get everything what was said in film because of their english accent, I don't speak very well eaither so it's hard for me to understand non-native actors. If You could add subtitles it will be nice 🙂

  • Roger Karmacharya says:

    We need more films from you.. great job

  • Abdullah5 says:

    نايس

  • Bikash Lakra says:

    What was the story 🤔 ek ladka ata hai thaka manda, 2 ladkiyon se mulakat karta hai, table pe baith te hein, wo ladke ko pasand nahi karte aur uska murder go jata hai, phir aram se apana routine kaam karte hai ladkiyan to yaha pe story kahan hai.. Otherwise camera angles, characters expressions, lighting all good

  • apna andro says:

    Few years from now when Sareesh anna gets acclaim and loads of assignments as a DP we will all reflect back to this video & C which angles he stuck with….gr8 quality content😍✌️👍Thanks

  • Steven Jensen says:

    I like the theory breakdown. it would be cool if you could do a technical break down also. focal lengths camera settings and maybe some behind the scenes of the camera placement

  • Alex Murphy says:

    I really liked the way you approached this shoot. Pacing might be a little faster like a 15min Netflix thriller/horror. But you're flexing your film muscles and having fun. Again bravo!!

  • Neon Lotus says:

    there was nothing interesting except for the opening shot nad last shot. WHen he is sitting on the floor he looks like hes in a dark spaceship completely underexposed. Hes looking at her from another space? WB, skin completely off, sound, lighting. I know you are a knowledgble guy and u break down interesting things including dps. But man oh man you need alot of work including color corection and grading

  • truefilm says:

    Very thorough analysis of your choice of camera angles – and very helpful. Being a nut about classic cinematic techniques, I love your focus pulling work (incuding how deep or shallow the depth-of-field actually is (something more tricky with an optical viewfinder) lighting and color grading.
    Again: who am I to criticize you, please do no take anything as critique, so I will phrase it as questions. Why so much negative space in some shots? 1:57 for example and the following close up. The bathroom door (IMHO) needs either some texture or some kind of shadow to make the image content a little more interesting. You probably tried (I can see a lot of care in other shots to get negative space just right: a touch of a shadow or some object out of focus.
    Also: did you consider including a slow tracking shot? I think the dining table ( 2:48 ) would have been perfect and a slow side tracking shot or a slow dolly-in would add 'cinematic' depth. I am almost sure you considered that as well.
    Anyway: can´t wait for your upcoming video! Thanks for sharing your knowledge. It truly helps a lot and is very inspiring since you do not talk about how things are done in high end productions (which is of little to no help for the small or no budget filmmaker).

  • balaram anand says:

    …..CINEMATOGRAPHY IS TOP NOTCH…THE USE OF CAMERA ANGLES … THE BALANCE OF COLORS… THE RHYTHM OF CUT ARE SOME THING TO BE LEARNED OF…… THANKS

  • apna andro says:

    Anna one request, could you please do a camera / filmography analysis of movie "8 Thotakal"

  • smack daddy says:

    00:58 I see that wonderful Rembrandt triangle 🙂

  • kuber cine vision says:

    wich camera use in this video ??

  • FIRST CUT MOVIES says:

    What is the core idea of this movie

  • Norman Weichel says:

    I really love how the lens compression looks on the mid-shot of Movi and the close-up to the wine glass. Did you simply move closer with the same focal-length lens for these two shots? I am considering a Pocket 4k and have no experience with 4/3… just curious what lens gives that compression on a MFT system. Bravo!

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