May 1, 2014

Directing Motion Tour Sneak Peek: Breaking Down a Scene from Spielberg's 'Empire of the Sun'

As a director or cinematographer, knowing how and when to move the camera is an extremely important skill, and it's something that takes a lot of practice to get better at. One way to get a better sense of how camera movement can affect a scene is to dissect what the greatest directors and directors of photography have done with their films. That's partly what commercial director Vincent Laforet is doing with his Directing Motion Tour, which starts on May 6th. He's uploaded a snippet of some of the things he'll be covering during the workshop -- here is a coverage breakdown of a scene from Empire of the Sun, directed by Steven Spielberg and shot by Allen Daviau:

Here's how the idea of this tour started:

For a few decades now, I’ve promised myself that one day I would be lucky enough to have a big home theater, and that I would sit back and watch all of my favorite films and to break them down scene by scene…  Problem is:  I never found the time, and when I did watch them, I would more often than not fall right under their spell:  and out went any chance of analysis.

Then something interesting happened, nearly 3 months ago I broke my arm and suddenly had far too much time on my hands with little to do but stay as still as possible and heal… what to do?

Well that’s how the Directing Motion Tour was born.   I ordered nearly 100 BluRays of my favorite films and a few key TV series, and watched them while taking copious notes.   In all I’ve already spent close to 300 hours analyzing my favorite films and scenes… and I have more than 400 examples to share that I will surely have to decimate down to the very best ones…

More from Laforet on the workshop:

And this won’t just be theory drawn from Spielberg, Scorsese, DePalma,  Welles, Hitchcock, Cuaron,  Gilliam, Darabont, Deakins, Daviau, Deschannel, Hall and so many more.    We’re going to shoot this stuff live with some of the best cinema gear in the business for all of your gear heads… and you’ll be invited to be part of the crew.     We’ll shoot classic coverage on a dialogue scene, a complex one shot wonder with intense blocking and timing queues, as well as a 2 camera hostage scene LIVE as a team, with careful tips and tricks along the way.

And the full introduction of the tour:

The Directing Motion Tour consists of two parts. From 9-4PM is the Daytime Movement & Direction Workshop :

The Daytime Movement & Direction Workshop will teach you to understand the fundamental moves that are available to you by studying the masters’ work, and will also delve into how different camera moves can literally make audiences feel different types of emotion.

From 6-9PM is the Evening Applied Theory Seminar:

The Evening Applied Theory Seminar will show you exactly what a director of a short film or commercial must know. We’ll review writing treatments, the pitch, initial storyboarding, reference selection, location selection, tech scouts, casting, schedules, and glimpse into budgets, and analyze how all of these items are used to further your number one goal: creating the best set of circumstances to tell a story.

Some screenshots from the workshop:

Untcouchables - Vincent Laforet Directing MotionSting - Vincent Laforet Directing MotionBladerunner - Vincent Laforet Direction Motion

He will also be discussing the entire process, from prep to shoot, of his newest Nike commercial:

The dates for the tour, which starts May 6th and goes through July 13:

  1. Tuesday, May 6, 2014 – Philadelphia
  2. Thursday, May 8, 2014 – Newark
  3. Saturday, May 10, 2014 – Boston
  4. Tuesday, May 13, 2014 – Columbus
  5. Thursday, May 15, 2014 – Detroit
  6. Saturday, May 17th, 2014 – Indianapolis
  7. Sunday, May 18, 2014 – Chicago
  8. Tuesday, May 20, 2014 – St. Louis
  9. Thursday, May 22, 2-14 – Minneapolis
  10. Tuesday, May 27, 2014 – Denver
  11. Thursday, May 29, 2014 – Salt Lake City
  12. Saturday, May 31, 2014 – Vancouver
  13. Sunday, June 1st, 2014 – Seattle
  14. Tuesday, June 3, 2014 – Portland
  15. Friday, June 6th, 2014 – San Jose
  16. Sunday, June 8th, 2014 – San Francisco
  17. Tuesday, June 10, 2014 – Sacramento
  18. Saturday, June 14, 2014 – Irvine
  19. Sunday, June 15, 2014 – L.A/Burbank
  20. Tuesday, June 17, 2014 – San Diego
  21. Thursday, June 19th, 2014 – Phoenix
  22. Saturday, June 21, 2014 – Austin
  23. Sunday, June 22, 2014 – Dallas
  24. Tuesday, June 24. 2014 – Houston
  25. Thursday, June 26, 2014 – New Orleans
  26. Saturday June 28, 2014 – Nashville
  27. Sunday, June 29, 2014 – Atlanta
  28. Tuesday, July 1, 2014 – Ft. Lauderdale
  29. Tuesday, July 8, 2014 – Charlotte
  30. Tuesday, July 10, 2014 – Brooklyn, NY
  31. Saturday, July 12, 2014 – Washington, DC
  32. Sunday, July 13, 2014 – NYC

There are three different ticket packages available: $79 for just the evening workshop, $219 for just the Daytime workshop, or $295 for the entire day, which also includes a download of the event. There are also separate download and streaming options available if you can't attend.

For more information, head on over to the websites below.

Links:

Your Comment

29 Comments

I'm sorry if I will sound as a douchelord but I'm not interested to know how Steven Spielberg's DP moved his camera. Or let's do not accociate this article with Steven Spielberg but with this DP at that film.
I'm really interested how Steven's mind works while he directs the story. And on the one scene example to show how he makes the conflict works and we see not a boring show but a film with some real fever.

May 1, 2014 at 10:37PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Pete Polyakov

Because at the end of the day, that makes a film -> FIlm, not DP/light/sound/vfx/etc work (even yes, all these stuff are important) but the story and the right way how this story told. At least it's really important for me.
50k movies come out per year, how many of them I would watch? or commercials on national us tv. I'm sorry, you tried to be funny, but you ARE NOT. 99.99% of them. And I'm asking myself who is the audience of this dumb stuff? Hopefully nobody.

May 1, 2014 at 10:43PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Pete Polyakov

Pete, deciphering your broken English was fun. No one is saying a story is not important. This workshop is directed at DP's and filmmakers that want to learn something and strengthen their skills. If you think a good story and a pair of Ray Bans is all you need to be a filmmaker and that cinematography, blocking, camera movement, etc. are not important... well, then you clearly have a lot to learn.

May 1, 2014 at 11:11PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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stephen

Yes, I am using broken english because I don't really know your language that good to use it on the level that may I would want to use. But if you have nothing to say else. So..

May 2, 2014 at 11:32AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Pete Polyakov

Not sure what you're getting at, Pete. When you say, " film -> FIlm, not DP/light/sound/vfx/etc work (even yes, all these stuff are important) but the story and the right way how this story told", that's kind of like saying you want to be a novelist, but don't want to bother learning syntax, verb tenses, passive versus active voice, character, setting, plot, point of view, theme, etc. All are tools of the novelist, just as blocking, framing, effects, and sound are all tools of the filmmaker. In either case, you can't build a story without the proper tools.

May 1, 2014 at 11:32PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Trey

Pete, undo a couple more buttons on that shirt. You don't "mean to sound like a douchlord" but you really, really do.

May 2, 2014 at 12:33AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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pable

I'm ok with that.

May 2, 2014 at 11:34AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Pete Polyakov

Pete, I'd be more concerned If this workshop promised everything you were asking. Workshops are tailored to be very specific. I don't think anyone expects to be the next Kubrick or Spielberg from one workshop but we do expect to walk out with the ability to make more conscious decisions with camera moves which is what is advertised. No need to get defensive about it.

May 2, 2014 at 1:12AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Chris

Exactly, I won't be investing in this workshop because it is not the right fit for me. Simply not my line of work yet, although it is extremely interesting.

May 2, 2014 at 8:21AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Joe

Hey Chris. It's all important no doubts. But I think 99% of the audience have no clue how to tell the story and keep people at least up. They trying to catch something that maybe they not need yet.

If you want to be a DP go to school, there is professionals that will give you all advices that you need and then, maybe, all master classes and etc. would work for you. But when you don't have the base, no sense even in all these "guides". And I'm sorry, when I watch the movie I don't need "explanation", I analyze camera work on air, I believe any DP able to do this without problems. Because it's our work.

People talk about cameras years and years, but numerous can tell the story on the screen. All these discussion, let's move camera to the left, to the right just sounds...

Last month I went on a festival in New York.. everybody knows which one. lol I saw how a very very famous producer in jury had his iPad and headphones on and he was watching some Chinese action movie while a festival film was screening. It's shows a lot.

I see a lot of commercial articles, self promotion and etc. here and numerous really interesting pieces. I wish there could be more.

May 2, 2014 at 11:51AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Pete Polyakov

Steven Spielberg never went to film school.

May 2, 2014 at 5:13PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Also Spielberg is very involved with his camera moves, it's not just his DP.

May 2, 2014 at 1:21AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Chris

I had a chance to see couple times Steven in the school, he was talking about conflict. It was really interesting.

May 2, 2014 at 11:33AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Pete Polyakov

This Pete guy is a fucking moron. Clearly the article is talking about the workshop targeted at cinematographers - their job IS to move the camera to fulfill the director's vision. If this were a director's workshop, then maybe his comment could be taken a little more seriously (minus the terrible grammar).

May 2, 2014 at 9:49AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Dante

I'm sorry but for Director of Photography this article is not something new. Maybe for "wedding shooters/fired managers" or "award winning" directors (Deli Grocery at the corner Awards.. you know)..
But if you easy to say in internet that somebody is moron, you have some balls man. really. small.

May 2, 2014 at 11:55AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Pete Polyakov

These shot breakdowns seem to be a killer filmmaking instruction hack. I'm totally down for this. It would be cool I LaForet was a little more Socratic in his delivery of the material but it's not really conducive to getting the points across quickly.

May 2, 2014 at 1:04AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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earnestreply

I went to Alex Buono's thing this year when it came through. It was great. This might seem like a beating because he is so boring and you can tell what he's getting at very quickly but he mulls on for so long about one thing.
I might pick up a DVD later and fast forward through it.

May 2, 2014 at 9:47AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Josh

Ugh, the comments section on this site is exhausting.

May 2, 2014 at 10:04AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Brandon

+1 my friend

May 2, 2014 at 10:34AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Kent

Brandon, It's consumer feedback. This is paid for by the exact same people who paid for Alex to travel all over and the workshop is going to look almost the exact same with the exception being that Vincent is a boring human being. It seems as though he will take several hours to cover only a handful of ideas and advertise Freefly.
Also, the DVDs that are produced from these workshops offer almost the exact same experience. Sorry for exhausting you.

May 2, 2014 at 1:31PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Josh

Sorry Brandon, I thought you were replying to my comment.

May 2, 2014 at 1:33PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Josh

probably, I'm having this sick idea to help people for no reason especially they don't ask about it.
and since I'm very straight person and if you are doing bad, I'll tell you that and won't wrap it in some candy wrap paper.
and if you can't tolerate it and trying to understand why other person have different opinion about the subject we don't have really anything to talk about. cheers to everybody.
won't bother this website with my presence. everybody will feel more comfortable.

May 2, 2014 at 12:23PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Pete Polyakov

probably, I'm having this sick idea to help people for no reason especially they don't ask about it.
and since I'm very straight person and if you are doing bad, I'll tell you that and won't wrap it in some candy wrap paper.
and if you can't tolerate it and are not trying to understand why other person have different opinion about the subject we don't have really anything to talk about. cheers to everybody.
won't bother this website with my presence. everybody will feel more comfortable.

May 2, 2014 at 12:23PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Pete Polyakov

Listen to the deep V, DP's beat poetry folks. Everything you need to learn about total douche's in the industry is only display right here. This is the type of person no one wants to work with so take note of the name, I know I have.

May 2, 2014 at 1:37PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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trew

Wow this got out of hand quick lol

But yup bought my ticket, will be in the Chicago Class on May 18th. And I am Excited.

May 2, 2014 at 5:13PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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PayDro

Great breakdown of the Empire scene. Wondering why the comment section is getting so rowdy and rude

May 2, 2014 at 5:59PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Cause some of us are outraged that a guy who did 3 Canon shorts and
a Nike commercial and the guy who shoots the SNL comedy sketches/titles
are coming out and scamming people for $$$. Go to Film School if you want
to learn...These classes are NOT Film School.

May 5, 2014 at 11:45AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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sammy

WAY back in the day, on DVXUser and his own blog, a guy named J.R. Hudson did a few posts exactly along these lines. He looked at particular scenes from Steven Spielberg, John Carpenter, and others and studied their coverage and editorial choices in a scene. It was fascinating, and makes it much easier to see how a particular director not only covers a scene, but gives you a good idea of how he can make his day with a limited number of setups. There's still one scene discussed on the DVX boards - http://www.dvxuser.com/V6/showthread.php?24235-Coverage-Blocking-Cuts-an.... I wish he would repost his other posts. They were great.

May 3, 2014 at 1:56PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Trey

Bummed I missed the workshop, but I just downloaded the day portion and can't wait to check it out. I'm a pro storyboard artist and Director with an obsession with camera movement. I study films all the time like this, but I can't wait to hear your insights.

Cheers!

August 19, 2014 at 3:50AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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