This is the first post of the series ‘The Shot Tells the Story’ using the movie Wall-E as my lesson plan. You can find the whole list of shots in the introduction post.
Now, you may not find the term ‘extreme wide shot’ in any film making books (or maybe you will…who knows?). It’s kind of my own term. Because I think ‘wide shot’ has too many variables. Therefore I’m breaking up wide shots into ‘extreme wide shot, ‘long shot’ and ‘full shot’ (you may not find that term in any book either).
They’re all wide. They can all be used as establishing (or re-establishing) shots. You don’t have to use all of them all the time. How wide you need to go will be determined by the story you’re trying to tell.
It’s all relative. And I’ll try to explain that.
But what all of these ‘wide shots’ have in common is one thing. They are answering the same question:
“Where are we?”
This is the first question you generally want to answer for your audience. Now, I’m not saying a wide shot has to be the first shot. But it should be pretty darn close to first. Again, it depends on the story and if there is something you’re trying to hide from the audience on purpose.
But I’m going to keep it pretty basic for these lessons. So I’m saying give your audience a wide shot very close to the beginning.
Or as your first shot.
Or in the case of Wall-E, the first five minutes of your film. That’s right. Except for one sequence where we see Wall-E scooping up the garbage, almost all of the shots in the first five minutes are ‘extreme wide shots’.
Because of the story they’re trying to tell us. The shot tells the story and here’s what these shots are telling us.
Above: “Space. Gotcha. We’re in space. Space is big.”
“Earth. Cool. This story is told on Earth.”