Movie Making Manual/Blocking

This Module is part of the Movie Making Manual

Blocking is the act of walking the actors through the scene before it is shot in order to make sure the lighting is sufficient and the camera is able to get the desired focus required. That's close: Blocking is for all departments to be sure that they are prepared for the scene to be shot. Taking the extra 3-5 minutes to block a scene can save you time, money and patience later. It's not uncommon for blocking to last days for a big scene, such as the scene in Jarhead where the soldiers all met in a tent "in country". Sam Mendes blocked that scene for 4 days before they shot it. Still closer: Blocking a scene for film also must afford the camera the most aesthetically interesting compositions that flow before the lens. It is not only the movement of actors and props to achieve optimum efficiency on the set. Blocking is simply working out the details of an actor’s moves in relation to the camera.

What happens in an effective scene is a combination of a number of elements, in a kind of gestalt. All these elements together comprise blocking. These include cinematographic details, the physical relationship of the actors to each other, their energy, and the overall sense of where they are going. What is the chemistry or dynamic in the "frame?" Simply put, what is the set-up..especially in terms of the action and how everything fits together, spatially and otherwise?