Learn How the Experts Shoot Captivating Mirror Shots

'Last Night in Soho'Credit: Film4
I'm looking at the man in the mirror. 

One of the images that always makes me smile in a movie is when we see captivating uses of mirror shots. Whether it's that medicine cabinet run in Contact or the work Edgar Wright did with doubles in Last Night in Soho, mirror shots never cease to amaze me.

We get messages all the time asking us to describe how these people shoot them, and now we're more excited than ever to break it down for you. Check out this video from Insider and let's talk after. 

How Do They Shoot Mirror Scenes in Movies & TV? 

Have you ever tried to hide an entire camera crew in a mirror? It's a bit of a challenge. No matter the size of your production, mirror shots in movies are especially challenging. Hollywood has many visual tricks to avoid catching a reflection and to help keep you in the mindset of the movie, while also showing off clever trickery.

So how are all these shots accomplished? The answer is a variety of ways, depending on the production, time period, and access to CGI. Or even the desire to do everything practically. 

Movies like The Lady from Shanghai and It: Chapter Two used two-way mirrors to do these shots. That means shooting through one side of a mirror and catching the reflection on another side, as illustrated in the video above. 

But there are lots of other choices you can make. Terminator 2: Judgment Day didn't use a mirror at all. As the legend goes,  Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton stood on one side of an open frame looking into a double set with body doubles mimicking their every move. Hamilton's double was actually her twin sister! So with an idea like this, you're just shooting clever angles that never quite get someone's face in view, and then using the two actors for the coverage and close-ups. That's pretty smart! 

Of course, CGI helps a lot in modern filmmaking.

Better visual effects on movies like Birdman shoot real mirror shots and then easily erase the camera later. That feels kind of like cheating, but if you have the time and money, it requires a lot less staging. Finally, for Last Night in Soho, Edgar Wright used a combination of all of these techniques,  so Thomasin McKenzie and Anya Taylor-Joy could mirror each other's movements. He weaved different angles, two-sided mirrors, and used each actor to play off one another as their double to work itself into the story. 

What are your favorite mirror shots? And what are some strategies you've used to shoot them? 

Let us know in the comments. 

 

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