Action! And Keep It Rolling!

Recently a low-budget, independent Japanese horror comedy film, Kamera wo Tomeru na! (One Cut of the Dead) directed by first-time feature-director, Shinichiro Ueda created quite the buzz in the international film scene and received numerous awards and high praises in various international film festivals around the world, including:

  • Silver Mulberry Award (Second-place Audience Award) at Udine Far East Film Festival 2018 (the largest festival in Europe dedicated to popular cinema from Asia),
  • Best Film in International Awards category at Fantaspoa International Fantastic Film Festival 2018 (largest and longest genre film festival in Latin America),
  • Second place Audience Award at the 17th New York Asian Film Festival 2018,
  • Fantaland Award (Audience Award) at the Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival 2018 in Japan,
  • European Fantastic Film Festivals Federation Special Mention at the 22th Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival 2018 in South Korea, and
  • Special Mention at the 22th Fantasia International Film Festival in Canada.
  • Best Special Effects Award and Best Film Award at 2018 Yubari Hangyaku Film Festival in Japan

I’ve yet to see One Cut of the Dead so I can’t speak about it too much (watching it soon in theaters!), but reviews after reviews comment on director Ueda’s clever screenplay that revolves around the first act: a massive undertaking that is a 37-minute, low-budget, single-take zombie movie that is nestled within the film.

In anticipation of enjoying this film, I began thinking about famous single-take scenes from past films. Many famous scenes immediately come to mind: the car attack scene from Children of Men, “The Copacabana Shot” from Goodfellas, “The Beach Sequence” from Atonement, the Steadicam Tricycle sequence from The Shining, the entire 96-minute film Russian Ark, and so many others. However, I thought I’d share a few other notable uninterrupted shots that are not as well known:

Subway Fight Scene of Hanna

At 2 minutes 30 seconds, the Subway Fight Scene in British director Joe Wright’s Hanna is not the longest of one-take filming. However, it’s a brilliant example of using one camera, symbolism, sound effects and music to build up the suspense in a way only a single-take scene can. In this interview with film critic Jeremy Smith, aka Mr. Beaks, actor Eric Bana reveals that there was a limited 45-minute window of time to film this airport-to-subway fight sequence because Wright wanted to capture it during the sunset golden hour. The continuous shot also affirm that Bana did his own stunt during the fighting scene.

 

Day for Night (La Nuit américanine)

I love this opening of Day for Night (starting at 1:50) because it gives the viewers a glimpse at how there are so many intricate pieces that need to fit in place to successfully film a one-take scene (there must be more than 100 extras!) Comparing the first and the second takes (from 5:15) gives us an understanding of how difficult it is to get all the moving parts perfectly together, as well as the role the director has to orchestrate the difficult task of getting it all right.

 

Behind the Steadicam During Filming of Hugo

Here is an actual behind the camera perspective of what it was like to film the final one-take scene for the 2011 film, Hugo. Similar to the fictional director in Day for Night, you can hear director Martin Scorsese yell out exact cues to the actors and extras as the Steadicam operator expertly navigates around the small room. My favorite part of this clip is audible “Whew. Wow” and the heavy breathing of the Steadicam operator as soon as the filming is completed. It reveals just how much energy and concentration is necessary to keep rolling for long-takes. Here is what the actual scene looked like in the film:

 

The Secret In Their Eyes

When I first saw this scene from The Secret in Their Eyes I couldn’t believe my eyes. How did director Juan Jose Campanella and his crew pull off this breathtaking continuous tracking shot?? Well, it actually wasn’t a continuous take, as you can see in the “making of” video below, but it’s a masterful example of how expert filming and editing techniques can put the viewer right in the middle of the action in the most captivating way.

“Onnanocos” Micro Drone Single Take

This is not from a film but it’s so incredible I had to share. This is a promotional video created for a Japanese teenage girl models group called “Onnanocos” (Girls). As high definition cameras become smaller and new advancements in filming tools like drones become more common, can you imagine what oners of the near future will look like?