What is a shot list

What is a Shot List?

What is a Shot List? Filmmakers spend much of their time utilizing production templates and essential planning documentation to ensure each shot, scene, and the element of the production comes together for perfection.

Whether you’re completely new to video production, or this is something that you’ve been actively involved in for some time, there is a good chance you’ve been faced with a shot list before. Often one of the first documents seen in relation to the film following the script, the shot list outlines several key factors involved in the production of a film. So just what is a shot list?

Let’s take a look at the various elements included in a shot list and how important a shot list is in producing a film.

What’s a Shot List?

Film direction and production involves many different considerations. There are camera angles, shots, and a wide range of individual concerns to figure out and to keep the entire production project organized. A film shot list is where, and what, you will use to keep track of the various shots in a video.

This document essentially outlines each key point for a scene, how the shot will take place, and what sort of checklists or preparation will be required for the film crew in order to carry out the scene.  A shot list is created side-by-side with the director as well as with the support of the camera operator and the first assistant director.

Why Are Shot Lists Important?

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A shot list is a vital piece of the production process that cannot be overlooked. Each shot list provides a place for the many working parts of production to be documented for the crew, keeping the entire process organized and properly documented. Without a shot list, things like budget, schedule, and various individual needs relative to the resources involved in producing a film can easily be overlooked.

Shot lists actually help the filmmaker to recall what they intended of a shot or scene days, weeks, or even months after their initial vision was originally produced. In fact, shot lists are very important because they have the power to appropriately pull together the ideas and expectations for a scene as they are developed by the director, cinematographer, and first assistant.

The shot list actually leads to budgeting and scheduling, therefore it’s important for the crew to receive your shot list early on so that additional planning and appropriate actions in these areas of the production can take place. Producers and those involved in decision making for the film use the shot list together for the planning and execution of the appropriate shots for the movie. Because so many people utilize the shot list for their own filmmaking purposes, it’s important to limit last-minute changes to the list as doing so could create trouble for other members of the film crew.

What’s Included in a Shot List?


So, now that you know what a shot list is and why it’s important, let’s take a look at what you must include. While a shot list may include basic essentials like the scene number and the shot number, it’s important to also include details about the camera angles, method of framing and aspect ratio, as well as the setup times for the scene. Additionally, a shot list should include:

  • A description of the shots.
  • A description of the characters involved.
  • A description of the action taking place.
  • The type of shot (Wide shot, Close-up, other)
  • The camera angle to be used.
  • The camera movement required.
  • The camera equipment to be used.
  • How the shot is framed.
  • The location of the shot.
  • How long it will take to set up the shot.
  • Additional notes regarding the audio, props, or other needs of the shot.

A shot list is a valuable resource that provides key data for each of your crew members involved in the production. Outlining all key details, times, and important information for the production in a shot-by-shot representation, the shot list keeps the crew prepared and organized.

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