• Brett Cramer

Shot / Reverse Shot: Paul Thomas Anderson

By this point, PTA has cemented himself as one of the best (if not the best) director working today. I could easily write a dozen posts about his command of cinematic language. But instead, I'd like to focus on one of the most simple filmmaking ideas that everyone learns in film school:


Shot / reverse shot.


PTA stages his movies with incredibly unique displays of camera direction, music, sound design, and blocking –– he's literally good at everything. But he's also good enough to know when a scene calls for something simple. Sometimes, you need to stop moving the camera and let the performances take center stage.


In THE MASTER, his camera settles into a shot / reverse shot cutting rhythm for one of the most important scenes:



He does the same thing in PHANTOM THREAD:



When the script and performances call for it, staying simple with blocking and technique can be the right choice. The best directors know when to add with the camera and when not to.

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