John Baumgartner



This is a shot from my dogme-styled feature, a oner that was inspired by the lateness of the day and the large number of actors in the scene, like my theory in the previous post on Willy Wonka.  In the scene, our main character, played by Jonathan Slavin, is throwing a birthday dinner party with Susan Slome and Scotch Ellis Loring.  He’s invited sexually-ambigous Matt (Jason Bushman) from his office, determined to make his romantic intentions clear, until a complication arrises.

This scene was shot at one in the morning after an already long shooting day. We had just filmed a lengthly dinner scene (which proceeds this scene in the movie) with this same group, which meant lots of director-brain-energy had been used to get all the right coverage, let alone make sure the 180 line was making sense.  (Incidentally, around this time I had been watching a lot of, of all things, Spielberg’s dinner table scenes in E.T. – great examples of finessing the line with a group at a table which can be very tricky and easily a disaster.)

Once all the actors were on their feet and it was time to block, I realized that if I designed single shot coverage for everybody I was not only going to have to block five actors standing and moving in a room, keep track of the line vis-a-vis who was talking to whom, and take the time to shoot singles for each of the five actors, but that we’d also be there another two to three hours.  And I was running out of steam fast.  But I also had the realization that this was the perfect opportunity for a oner.

So we blocked with the cast and camera (I was running camera, so it made it quicker) and rehearsed over and over till we got the timing down.  I’d say we blocked and rehearsed for 45 minutes, and then shot maybe five takes.  It’s take two that made it into the movie.

I think the shot plays very fluidly and works well with what follows; the next scene is standard coverage at the dinner table, everyone sitting down. This, I think, offers a nice contrasting intro to that scene, while wrapping for the shooting day well before dawn.

Here’s the shot:



  • August 2, 2011
    Jeremy Cole

    Well done my friend! That’s what I’m talkin’ about. Even if I hadn’t read the blog I’d have sensed what was going on in the scene from the get go. You outdid Bogdanovich and then some. Also an impressive use of the space. All the moves felt right.

  • August 2, 2011

    I concur. This works very well – kudos to your talent, too, for hitting their marks – physical and emotional.

  • August 5, 2011

    Loved it! Thanks for the behind the scenes info as well. Makes one appreciate the scene even more!

  • March 1, 2012

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