One of the most stylized shots in cinema can be recreated with these three things in your backyard.
Dollies are one of the most essential tools in filmmaking. Using a dolly in film and music videos is extremely common to create a smooth movement that follows the actor or artist. No dolly trick is cooler than Spike Lee’s double dolly.
The double dolly, invented and popularized by Spike Lee, creates a slight break from the reality of the film while it heightens the mood of the scene. To recreate the shot, a traditional dolly has a camera attached to one end while the actor is placed directly across from the camera on either the same dolly platform and a separate dolly. If you’re looking for a more practical way to recreate the double dolly shot at home, The Art Department showed us how to do this sick shot at home with a trailer, truck, and a traffic-less road. Check out his full video here:
To start, it is important to know why you are using the double dolly shot. Lee even said that when he first started using this technique, he only did it to show off his skill. It was only later in his career that he started to be more intentional with the shot to enhance the mood of the scene. Do the same when planning to use the double dolly for your shoot.
Once you’ve decided to go through with the shot, here is what you'll need to recreate the double-dolly look:
- Truck with trailer attachment
- Camera with 85 mm lens
- An empty road
Have your camera placed near the front of the trailer and the actor wherever looks best in the frame. The Art Department used an 85mm lens to capture the background while creating a detailed portrait. To create movement, have the truck pull the trailer down a traffic-less road and hit record. The shot may be a little wobbly, but you’ll get the shot you’re looking for after a few readjustments. Maybe the person is too far back or the truck isn’t moving fast or slow enough for the camera to capture what you envisioned. Play around with it.
It’s a simple trick, but the simplest of tricks can have the biggest impact. Creating movement in your projects makes the whole thing feel a little more cinematic. Not everyone has the luxury of two dollies, let alone one, so using the tools you have at home will save you time and money while performing the visual trick that you desire.
Let us know what you think of this DIY double-dolly tick in the comments below!