“One Shot” or a “Single Shot Technique” is when a scene is played out in one continuous shot. This can be done by actually filming everything in one shot or by secretly splicing in cuts. Either way, these shots require a lot of effort and teamwork for everyone on one set. Not to mention, a lot of rehearsing! Every single person in the shot and behind the camera must know what their movements are going to be to get the shot right and not waste any extra time or money. Below are some of the coolest shots from movies demonstrating how amazing using a single-shot technique can be.
Kingsman is a 2014 action movie directed by Matthew Vaughn. This one scene, in particular, is one of the “fake” one-shot shots. Although, most people would never be able to tell. The immaculate way it hides its cuts makes it one of the coolest scenes to watch. The cuts are hidden behind people moving in front of the camera, blurs, and extreme close-ups.
The scene was originally going to be 7 minutes long but they ended up shortening it. Even though there are multiple cuts throughout the scene, it still took a lot of work, especially due to it being a fight scene. It took about “around 130 actors, including 20 stunt men, 30 special actors, and 70-80 extras.” Colin Firth even did most of his own stunts throughout the film.
2. Atomic Blonde
Atomic Blonde is another action/thriller from 2017 directed by David Leitch. This film has an 8-minute one-shot fight scene. Similarly to Kingsman, the scene is made up of 40 shots that were discretely spliced together to make it look like it was shot in all one take. The scene features Charlize Theron’s character fighting in a Berlin building staircase.
Partly due to Director David Leitch’s background in stunts and Theron’s background in ballet, along with her training in martial arts for two to three hours a day for six weeks before filming started, this scene turned out to be magnificent.
3. The Shining
The Shining is a well-known Stanley Kubrick horror film that came out in 1980. Unlike Kingsman and Atomic Blonde, The Shining’s one-shot take was actually taken in one shot. This tracking shot follow’s the son, Danny, as he rides his tricycle around the winding hallways of the Overlook Hotel.
The audience doesn’t know what to expect, just like Danny, as he rounds each corner. Since we know what actually lurks inside the hotel, this shot keeps you at the edge of your seat, just waiting for something horrifying to be around the corner.
4. Children Of Men
Children of Men is a 2006 futuristic thriller directed by Alfonso Cuarón. This one-shot scene, like Atomic Blonde and Kingsman, took a lot of rehearsal to get done right. There’s behind-the-scenes footage of how it was made that is extremely interesting, especially from a filmmaking perspective.
This shot centers around five characters in a car conversating with one another. Everything is normal for a bit until they’re ambushed. The front passenger, the main character’s ex-wife, is shot in the neck and as the driver is trying to get away, we see her bleed out as her ex-husband holds her from the back seat. It’s a brutal, but amazing shot that takes the viewer by surprise. It’s a horrifying reminder of how quickly things can change at any moment.
5. Baby Driver
Baby Driver is a 2017 action film directed by Edgar Wright. The whole movie has a great soundtrack that works itself into every scene. Wright purposely had beats to songs follow along with the actions and sounds we were seeing on screen. Basically, syncing the music to the action. There is one scene in particular that is intriguing. It’s at the beginning of the film and shows the main character going on a coffee run.
According to Wright, it was the first day of shooting and they took 28 shots total in a 10-hour day. They ended up using take 21. What looks to be a simple scene can take that long to get right, especially when so many people are involved.
Gravity is a 2013’s science fiction movie, directed by Alfonso Cuarón. who was also the director of the previously mentioned, Children of Men is our last one-shot scene. Sandra Bullock’s performance along with the dread that comes along to most of us when we think about space creates another terrifying shot.
The 12-minute take starts with astronauts up in space performing some hardware updates to service the Hubble Space Telescope, getting struck by flying debris. Bullock is thrown into space tumbling into the void. This one shot is a bit different, due to it being filmed in front of a green screen, unlike the previously mentioned movie scenes. Similarly, this one has multiple cuts that are hidden, making it a faux-one shot, but it is still majorly impressive.
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