by Graham Sheldon | 10th November 2016
Being a behind the scenes, or “BTS”, photographer on a film is a tough job. First, you’re pulling the same long hours as everyone else, but you don’t get to be in the thick of it or play with the bigger cameras. You’re stuck in a safe spot away from the action with a zoom lens and occasionally, just occasionally, you get to step out into the sunlight and snap a really great picture of the director doing something. Picture: Quentin Tarantino — The Weinstein Company (Inglorius Bastards) BUT we cannot get enough BTS shots: we eat them up and repost them to garner likes from like-minded cinephiles and show allegiance to our favorite directors and their films. So, here is my exhaustive guide of every. single. type. of behind the scenes photo that exists… At least according to 45 minutes of Google image search, intermingled with a little light Pinterest. I’ve decided there are five different types of BTS shots. Try and spot your favorite: 1) The Frame Picture: Steven Spielberg on the set of Lincoln. Credit: 20th Century Fox Your hands are the camera and what is through your hands is the scene. Many things will happen between the hands and it will be glorious. Picture: Alamy Making a little frame with your hands to illustrate a point is a time honored tradition, and it’s a way more interesting BTS photo than a director listening and making choices, like “That cup makes her hands look small”. This way, a director is an engaged magician. Dir. Ava DuVernay and actor David Oyelowo on the set of Selma. Credit: Paramount Pictures, Pathé, and Harpo Films. “The Frame” also works with props, such as a folded up copy of the script. 2) The Pointy Finger Picture: Dir. Denis Villeneuve with DP Roger Deakins. Credit: Lionsgate (Sicario) Something is happening over there. Not here, but over there. Picture: The Hitcher, Robert Harmon with Rutger Hauer, Credit: TriStar Pictures There is more pointing in BTS than there is in Saturday Night Fever. Picture: Dir. Elizabeth Banks on the set of Pitch Perfect 2, Credit: Universal Studios Sometimes the entire hand is required in order to point effectively. Peter Jackson on the set of King Kong (2005). Credit: Universal Studios Sometimes it is wise to let the entire cast point instead of you to give them the illusion of power. 3) Show Them How Hard You’re Working for the Shot Picture: Steven Spielberg “I’m on the floor for you people!” Picture: Citizen Kane. Credit: RKO Radio Pictures “I’m IN the floor for you people!” 4) The Thinking Shot Productions are complicated and much thinking is required. The key is really showing that the thinking is happening. Picture: Christopher Nolan. Credit: Warner Brothers (The Dark Knight) Thinking adjacent to a bat symbol. Picture: Steven Spielberg “Hands on head, peering over glasses” thinking. Picture: Kathryn Bigalow on set for The Last Days of Ivory. “Shattering glass ceiling” thinking. Picture: Dir. Soderbergh on Oceans 13 Set. Credit: Warner Bros./courtesy Everett Collection “Exhausted from doing everything” thinking. 5) The “Touch the Camera You Don’t Use” Shot Picture: Orsenn Welles — Citizen Kane. Credit: RKO Pictures For most directors, no aspect of the job consists of actually handling the camera. But when the BTS photographer is around? We must touch the precious. Picture: Justin Lin on location. Touching the camera is required to show ownership. “My film! Mine!” Dir. Stanley Kubrick on the set of The Shining. Credit: Warner Bros. Stanley Kubrick can be in whatever kind of BTS picture he wants. He can do no wrong and this is clearly his camera. So whether you’re hired as a BTS photog or you just whip out your phone to grab a shot for your Instagram, remember to frame, point, think, sacrifice your body for the shot, and somehow: touch the precious. I challenge you to find that elusive sixth type of behind the scenes photo. Comment below!Read more
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