SHOOTING AND EDITING DIALOGUE UNIT
Pay attention here to four things: camera height, how frame size progresses through the scene, who the camera is focusing on when the speaker is talking, and creating frames within frames.
Why do the camera operator and editor make these production choices?
Pay attention here to four things: camera movement, breaking of the 180 degree rule, cramped look space, and the sequencing between shot sizes.
Why do the camera operator and the editor decide to compose the production in this way?
Shoot the entire scene in one continuous wide master shot first. Shoot it closer in one continuous shot two shot. Shoot over the shoulders of both actors in one continuous take. Perhaps shoot additional OTS's that are closer or further than the previous ones. Shoot singles of the entire scene for both actors. For this last one, make sure the off screen talent is still acting the lines, so the person on screen can react to him/her. All in all, you should have at least have six camera setups. Last, record 30 seconds of room tone. You'll need to make the audio sound like it's not been cut.
Use longer focal lengths to shoot your conversation scenes. This compress the Z space and makes the speakers seem closer to each other to creates intimacy. Also, when you do this it can create a shallower depth of field, when paired with certain apertures. The blurriness in the background is great for certain narrative purposes. The one challenge with shooting longer focal lengths however is that you need to be further from the subjects to shoot. Given the space you are shooting though, that becomes challenging because you may not be able to move the camera where you need to, to get the subjects framed correctly. Maybe there is a lamp or wall in the way, get it? Last, avoid shooting the same scene with different focal lengths. The changes in Z space just look weird and you won't be happy with your film at all.
Embrace the J and L cut. Think of editing a dialogue scene as if you're watching the action unfold on the sidelines. If you were to watch a conversation, your eyes would wander from one person to another between sentences. The J & L do what our eyes naturally want to do when watching a conversation.
Last, don't get to caught up in the rules of editing. Choose the takes that tell the scene the best. Break a rule if you know that in the breaking, it will create tension in the viewer that will amplify the moment in the narrative. Professionals break rules, but not haphazardly. They know when and how the breaks will help them tell the story.