Home of Professional Cinematography since 1996
class="style5" Shooting Ratio
Published : 15th November 2004
>I have recently had the great fortune to be asked to shoot my first feature film. It will be a low budget film ($200K) to be photographed on 35mm. From experience I know that the director I will work with, usually asks for a maximum of three takes. I was asked how much raw stock will be required to shoot this 90 to a 100 minute film, and after discussing this issue with some peers I came to realize that most first time feature DoP's seem to underestimate the amount of stock required, because coverage is often forgotten in the calculation.
>I would therefore like to ask the experienced feature film cinematographers amongst you how you go about estimating your shooting ratios?
>I thank you very much in advance for your feedback.
>On a low-budget feature, it's not the director who determines the amount of stock needed because of the way he directs, it's the way he directs that is determined by the amount of stock he can afford to buy. In other words, he may LIKE to shoot a lot of takes, but the reality is that he has to TRY and work within what the budget can afford.
>From my own experience, a typical under 1-mil 35mm feature shoots on average 100,000' of 4-perf 35mm stock if the coverage is typical, tight (two to three takes) but not super restrictive.
>The smallest amount I've shot for a feature was 72,000', but that was a director who only shot exactly what he storyboarded with no real coverage and minimal takes. I've heard stories of people who have shot whole 35mm features for 50,000' but that's REALLY tough.
>On many of my low-budget features (like "Twin Falls Idado", half-mil budget) we shot 100,000', which is easy to calculate because it works out roughly to 1000' (1 can) for each script page (typical script being 100 pages / 100 minutes.)
>Now I've been shooting 35mm features where we budget for 200,000', which is less restrictive. 2 cans per script page!
>Directors used to shooting on video will tend to want to shoot more footage. I did one HD feature where we shot 70 hours of material, whereas 20 hours of material is about what you get when shooting 100,000' of 35mm 4-perf stock.
>David Mullen, ASC
>David Mullen wrote :
class="Paragraph">>The smallest amount I've shot for a feature was 72,000', but that was a >director who only shot exactly what he storyboarded with no real >coverage and minimal takes. I've heard stories of people who have shot >whole 35mm features for 50,000' but that's REALLY tough.
>I shot 68000 feet for a feature and we were definitely pinched for stock. I wouldn't recommend trying to shoot less. This BTW was a 250 K principal photography budget.
Oh Seven Films
143 Grand St
Jersey City, NJ 07302
>Well I must admit (though with embarrassment) that I've shot three features with right around $100k budgets and less then 40,000' of 35mm film stock.
>I shot a music video with almost that much footage once.
>Roderick E. Stevens II
Director -o- Photography
class="Paragraph">> I shot a music video with almost that much footage once.
>Hell! I've shot commercials with more
>Geoff Boyle FBKS
Director of Photography
class="Paragraph">>Well I must admit (though with embarrassment) that I've shot three >features with right around $100k budgets and less then 40,000' of >35mm film stock.
>The scuttlebutt I was hearing (at the time) was that Kevin Kosner supposedly shot over a million feet of film when he was directing "Dances With Wolves".
>Is there any truth to this or is it an idle rumour?
>147 takes of Kevin saying the word "No", the priceless look on the editor's faces when they saw a million feet of film being delivered... "make my movie, guys...."
freelance shooter and editor
>Roderick Stevens writes :
class="style7">>Well I must admit (though with embarrassment) that I've shot three >features with right around $100k budgets and less then 40,000' of >35mm film stock.
>Last year some friends of mine completed a 35mm feature for a little over US$1M, and in my opinion blew it by skimping on coverage. I don't know what their film budget was, but I think even 10-15% more coverage would have made a huge dramatic and aesthetic difference.
>Having the luxury of a close-up here, a wide shot there, and so forth would have rescued this otherwise creditable film from a pit of mediocrity.
>Dan "that's showbiz" Drasin
Marin County, CA
>Dan Drasin writes:
class="style7">>Last year some friends of mine completed a 35mm feature for a little >over US$1M
>Every day I pass by what used to be Roger Corman's studio lot on Main Street in Venice, CA (now it's ugly "lofts" for lawyers who wanna be artists). He used to shoot features on 35mm for as low as $150K, if I remember correctly, mostly on beat to hell Arri IIc's. Sets had to be usable for at least three different shows, and only the editors seemed to be getting a living wage (though I heard of actresses getting an extra $25 bucks for taking their tops off).
>Say what you will about him - I did titles and opticals for one or two shows only - Concorde/New Horizons paid what little they paid on time without a fuss (as opposed to some other mid-1980's low-budge producers I can think of).
SFD vfx & creative post
>I would like to thank everyone for the helpful replies!
Cinematographer, Los Angeles