Scenes 16-1 to 16-5

Jump to Commentary

Scene 16-1 Board Scene 16-1-A Still
Scene 16-1-B Still
Scene 16-2 Board  
Scene 16-3 Board Scene 16-3 Still
Scene 16-4 Board Scene 16-4 Still
Scene 16-5 Board Scene 16-5 Still


The day before we shot here we lost our location. Fortunately, our make-up artist came to the rescue and found us another location. But it meant that when I walked on set that day, I had never seen it before. I hadn’t seen a picture, a drawing, a floorplan, or even heard an anecdotal description. This is why it is so necessary to have storyboards. The process of creating storyboards, whether you can or can’t draw, whether they only ever exist in your head, is that they teach you what you need. I was able to come up with a new shooting plan for the space after one quick high-speed walk-through because I had done storyboards. I knew the values the scene needed, so I was quickly able to find new ways to achieve those.

Storyboards are the biggest favor you can do for yourself. They allow you to gestate creatively and once you’ve done that you know what’s really important. Then if you lose your location, or you realize that you’re only going to get four shots instead of six, you can still make a great movie. You have what you need to adapt to circumstances and not sacrifice quality. In fact, sometimes circumstances forcing you to reevaluate your shot plan in this way can help you realize how you can make an even better movie.

This was one of my favorite scenes to plan and to shoot, and it’s one of my favorite scenes in the movie. I felt this moment had to be a real confrontation. We started with the tracking shot of her in the hall to create a real sense that she was finally being proactive, that she was finally doing something. And in the same shot we introduced the obstacle in her path—Melissa. I wanted to build tension between the characters hard and fast. So we put Melissa and Katie in totally equivalent shots smack in the middle of the frame. Then, when Katie won, I wanted all the tension to drop away, I wanted her to really win. So we cut away to the wide two-shot, and revealed just how far apart, and how much smaller Melissa is than Katie. Someone—I can’t remember whom—mentioned that I’d shot the scene like western. I thought that was a really good description.

I must also mention that for the longest time the scene wouldn’t seem to gel in the cutting room. And then Gary, the editor, did something and suddenly the scene worked. I still have no idea what he did. It didn’t change the scene in any obvious way, I think he must shifted something just a few frames, but suddenly the characters were really talking to and fighting with each other. Gary still refuses to tell me what he did. I would think that he was making it up in an Emporer’s-new-clothes kind of way, but everyone else saw the difference immediately as well.

Next Page