The First Shot

Lesson Details

Subject: Shooting

Title: The First Shot


Why Your First Shot is The Most Important

In this lesson on how to shoot video we are going to concentrate on the significance of the first shot. When you film anything, the first shot is your most important and you should take the time to make sure it is perfect before you press the record button on your camera.

When you go into any filming situation you will need to decide what your first shot will be and this is where your instincts are really important. Ask yourself the question, what draws my attention? Where do my eyes go? 

In this lesson, Michael Rosenblum takes you through the steps to finding and filming your first shot and explains why it is so important.

He shows you how to capture a shot that will draw your viewer in and spark their interest in your video. If the first shot is intriguing then you're off to a great start.

This lesson is the foundation of the Michael Rosenblum 5 Shot Method®, our unique filming technique that is used all over the world to film compelling footage. Once you have mastered this technique, you will be able to go into any filming situation and be confident of acquiring high quality, professional footage every single time.

As you will see when you take our courses on Storytelling and Editing, the first shot is the basis for the entire process of creating great content. The first shot is your point of departure. If that is right, the story will fall into place.

The next time you are watching television or video, pay close attention to the first shot you see and ask yourself whether it is compelling and whether it would make you want to keep watching? You'll see how essential it is to the success of any project.


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OK, so now we know the seven events that we want to shoot and this seven thing, it’s an abstraction. Maybe there’s twelve but what we don’t want to do it we don’t want to fall in love with one thing and spend the entire day shooting the chef doing one thing. So this notion of seven is going to drive you to find other things that are interesting on location so you don’t get sucked into the thing. So now that we know the seven events we want to shoot, how do we shoot them? How do we proceed with the camera to record prefect shots.

Now, the funny thing here is, like with everything else you already know how to do this. You just don’t know that you know. And it’ what I’m going to show you how to do. How to take perfect shots every single time. And it’s just about like finding the seven events. It’s about following your instincts. The camera is a substitute not just for your eye, but for the eye of every one of your viewers at home. It’s the only way they get to see stuff.

And what you have to do is you have to get in touch with your own instincts and say to yourself, “Where does my eye want to go?” Now, let’s walk back into our figurative restaurant and if we walk in the restaurant and we have complete access to everything, where do we want to go to get the most interesting, the most dynamic, the most compelling, that filet mignon of shots? We’re probably going to go to the kitchen.

If you look at most food shows, cooking shows or even travel shows. You see they’re in kitchens all the time. And the reason they’re in the kitchens is that stuff is happening there all the time and all you have to do is show up to capture it. So if we go into the kitchen, and we walk in the kitchen and we look around we’re going to look at one of the chefs doing something and there we find a chef chopping carrots, you see that?

And that’s where your eye naturally goes, right to that action. Now, if you’re looking at chopping the carrots, where does your eye go while the chef is chopping the carrots? Your eye goes not to their face but to their hands. It goes to their hands. So that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to take the camera and we’re going to put it down there right in a really close shot of chopping those carrots. When I say close, I mean close, what I don’t want you to do is stand across the room and zoom in and pretend that you’re not there. You have to be integrated into the action. So shove yourself into it. Jam yourself into it. Walk up and shove that camera right up next to those hands.

This is not a secret that we’re making video. So don’t be shy, this is not a business for shy people. You have to be really aggressive here. Walk in, jam that camera up and put that lens right there up on those carrots being cut. And what I want to see is that beautiful silver blade chopping through those orange carrots. I want to see the spatter of the carrot juice. I want to hear the crack of the blade going through.

Now, you know what I’m talking about because you’ve seen this on TV and in movies a dozen times anyway. That beautiful extreme close-up shot like from a Dole carrot commercial. A beautiful shot of that silver blade going through those orange carrots like that. Cut, cut, cut and you’re going to find that shot, what you see in the monitor, in the viewfinder is what the viewer is going to see at home.

You see how easy this is. So don’t record anything until you see that perfect shot. And when you’ve got that perfect shot in the viewfinder, then I want you to hit the record button and I want you to count to ten, to yourself. We’re recording audio also. Hold the shot for a count of ten. And then we’re going to have the very perfect first shot.

© Michael Rosenblum & Lisa Lambden 2015 to 2020