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Want to Direct? Then learn the Directing basics.

This is a Re-Post of my Monday’s Blog that went viral (was told “it trended”) and I’ve opted to reconfirm the info with a Re-post for those who didn’t read it on Monday.

Making a Movie is like building a Building. After the Blueprint (aka: script) get the Floor & Walls how you layout/design the floor & walls is what’s called “style” or “art” and I can’t teach “art” or “style” but poor the foundation, get the floor and then put up the walls.

Now, let’s talk filmmaking and directing. After you have the Script (aka: Blueprint) for each scene you are about to direct start with the Master Shot and then get the 2 Mediums.

Get the Master. Then get the scene’s 2 OTS (Over-The-Shoulder) Mediums. In the old days (50s-60s) this was called the Master & 2-Pops and it was perfected by the genius Filmmaker/Producer Roger Corman who mastered moviemaking with little-to-no-money.

Below is my Monday’s Post. Enjoy… and get the basics of directing and shot selection.


A long time ago (mid-80s) I worked for a man, Roger Corman, who was called “The King of the Bs”.

The “Bs” are those tacky, visual, low-budget genre movies that starred “nobody” but always had the word “Blood”, “Zombie”, “Slime”, “Nightmare”, “Fatal” or “Final” or “Massacre” somewhere in the title with a lot of blood, cleavage and car chases.. that you all laughed at and ridiculed as Mr Corman walked to the bank with 2 bodyguards. 


(Roger Corman produced over 700 Feature Films and has a 5-minute Directing Course)

Mr Corman’s movies were all called “Million Dollar Features”, but they were made for only $150,000-$200,000, and when done took them to the Cannes or AFM where he sells (actually “Licenses”) them to 35 nations (Spain, Israel, Germany, Australia, France, Turkey, Malaysia, etc.) or territories (Scandinavia, East Africa, Benelux, Middle East, etc), who want American Movies, for $10,000-$70,000 each. 

When you multiply 35 sales times $10K-$70K for a movie that he made for $150K-$200K, you discover he made a profit. Then in North America he would release it D-T-V (Direct-to-Video) for additional profits.

Smart man.

Plus Mr Corman is credited with launching 100s of directing careers from Scorsese, to Cameron, to Coppola, to Sayles, to Dante, to Demme to… who made these tacky movies… And he gave each one a “5-Minute Directing” course.

I should know because I was his Production Manager on several shoots and I noticed that he let the first-time director, that he knew understood little about the mechanics of low-budget filmmaking to direct a movie for him… but first he would always ask them a question…. Get ready for the Roger Corman “5-Minute Directing” course.


Mr Corman, once he hired this first-time director he would allow him/her to run around for 3-4 weeks doing pre-production then he would come to the set, about 10 minutes before first shot was scheduled, and ask the director, who has never directed a feature film before, “Do you know how to get a Master & 2-Pops”?

The young director would usually look at Mr Corman with the gaze of a dear caught in headlights mumbling “Master? 2-Pops?” and Mr Corman now understood the kid knew close to nothing about directing except theory, theory, theory…

Mr Corman, now 10-minutes before first scheduled shot, on Day-1 of the shoot, now knowing the director knew nothing about getting a “Master & 2-Pops” would explain it in 5-minutes leaving 5-minutes for a question…and this became the “Roger Corman 5-Minute Directing School”

It is simple. 


As you approach each scene, in a low-budget movie, your priority is always… get it DONE! 


(Michael Bay directing a Master Shot)

Thus, start with a Master Shot which is (A) pull the camera back (B) put on a small number (18mm-30mm), almost wide angle, lens that (C) sees the entire set and all the actors and props that is on that page of script typing and say (D) “action”…wait till the scene is done and (E) say “Cut”.

You got the Master.

The scene is covered. This is not Rocket Science.

It might take you 2-3 Takes to get an excellent Master Shot, of the entire scene, but do not attempt any other shot until you first get a good Master.

1st Get a Master. Remember that… “1st Get a Master”.

2nd GET 2-POPS

Once, you have a good Master (do not proceed to a Medium or a Close-up until you first get a Master) you have a small sighe, because the scene is covered with a Master… then you the same scene again, from beginning to end a 2ndtime, but this time with a Medium Shot frame using a 35mm-50mm Lens of the scene/actors and then, once gotten, reverse the camera 180-degrees with the same 35-50mm Lens from the beginning to end a 3rd time and you now have 2 Medium Shots, from reverse angles, with the same actors and same dialogue that is in the Master Shot.


(Eastwood is a pro about getting 2 Mediums after 1 Master)

You now have the 2-Pops… or the 2 O-T-S (Over-The-Shoulder) Medium Shots

That is the Master & 2-Pops…. 



Close-Ups can be shot with 100-150mm Lens showing just the actor’s face… These are “Action Close-Ups”

And, Close-Ups shot with 100-150mm Lens can also be quickies of extras or atmosphere people in the scene who are doing a physical gesture (no dialogue) that shows them reacting to the acting close-up… These are called “Cutaways” (need something to cut-away-to) and are also called “Reaction Shots”.


(Spielberg frames Close-Ups to intercut with 2 Masters)

Now turn on tv. Watch a one-hour drama and you will notice that each scene has a Master & 2-Pops, plus, a bunch of close-ups, and you will go “Oh, OK, I got it”.



This is merely a 5-10 second wide-angle shot that shows the Building, the Town, the Street, the Valley, etc. where the entire scene, covered with a Master, 2 Mediums & numerous Close-ups is about to take place.

(Minghella directs extras & atmosphere people for an Establishing Shot)


Hello Directors… Do not reinvent the wheel, especially when you have little money to afford little time to direct a scene and make your mind think in this order to maximize your coverage… Thus…


(Once you have a Master, then get your Mediums, your Close-ups and an Establishing)

First get a Master.

Second get the Mediums (2 Reverse Angle Over-The-Shoulder)

Third get the Close-Ups (Action & Re-Action)

Four get an Establishing Shot before you leave the area.

That’s it… “it ain’t Rocket Science”. 

When building a house… first get the Floor, then the Walls, then the Roof and some Windows & Doors.

When directing a movie… first get a Master, the get the Mediums, the Close-ups… and don’t forget an Establishing Shot.

Happy Filmmaking,



Want to Produce, Write or Direct… even Act?

Want a program that gives just the facts… not the theory.

Then my 20-hour Film School in any of 3 affordable formats is perfect for you…

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