activity reel: CALL THE SHOTS

Storyboarding, framing & more!


Storyboarding is the way film makers plot out their films, with a combination of visuals and written descriptions or dialogue. A storyboard looks kind of like a comic book. There’s a box for each scene or shot and a section underneath for a description or dialogue. Choose from the following prompts and make your own!

Storyboard Prompts
Materials Needed: Storyboard template (click to download), pencil

Storyboard the movie you saw. A storyboard is a great way to understand the film that you just watched because you can break it down into visual chunks.

Storyboard your own version of the movie that you just saw – change the plot or the ending!

Storyboard your own movie!
Option A: Make your own documentary. Even when your film is about something real, you still have to plot out how to tell your story! Make a storyboard about a year in your life or a year in your classroom. What are the important plot points and events?
Option B: Create your own fiction film by plotting it out using the storyboard. It can be a live action film or an animated film!

frame your shot: be the cinematographer

Cinematography is the art and technique of making motion pictures. This includes how the film uses light, shadow, color, movement, and composition within the frame. These activities let you step into the role of a cinematographer!

Cardboard Camera
Materials Needed: Cardboard or paper and scissors, PCFF Film Glossary

1. Cut out a rectangle in the center of a piece of paper or cardboard. This creates a frame.
2. Hold the frame up to imagine it is your camera. Use your cardboard camera to plan the content inside a camera shot.
3. Practice a variety of different shots and a variety of different angles. For descriptions of camera shots and angles, go to PCFF Film Glossary.

Framing Tips!
• Pay attention to what’s inside of the frame and what’s cropped from (or outside of) the frame.
• Pay attention to where things are inside the frame. Cinematographers sometimes follow the rule of thirds. This means framing the shot so that people, objects, or background elements are placed along the “rule of thirds” grid lines.
[source a “ rule of thirds” image showing grid lines right below last tip]

Make a Shot List
Materials needed: Video or cell phone camera, or “Cardboard Camera” (from
above); shot list template, (click to download); PCFF Film Glossary:

Before filmmakers start shooting they make a shot list and write out the different kinds of shots and angles they plan to use. Make a shot list for the opening scene of your movie! You want to make sure you have a mix of establishing shots (wide angle shots which show where you are), close-ups (to zero in on your character), and a range of shots in between. For a summary of types of shots, reference the PCFF Film Glossary.

Hint: Think about which type of shot or angle will convey your message best. For example, you might want a close-up shot of your main character so your audience knows that s/he is important. Or, for your opening image you might want to use a wide shot to establish your location.

Optional Film Activity: Once you’ve written your shot list, shoot your opening scene with a camera (if you have one) or with your rectangular frame! You can even sketch out on paper the shots you capture with your rectangular frame!

Click on the PCFF Activity Reel film strip for more ideas!

Activity Reel Film Strip