A Guide to Every Behind the Scenes Photo Ever

November 10th, 2016 Jump to Comment Section 4
A Guide to Every Behind the Scenes Photo Ever

Being a behind the scenes, or “BTS”, photographer on a film is a tough job. First, you’re pulling the same long hours as everyone else, but you don’t get to be in the thick of it or play with the bigger cameras.  You’re stuck in a safe spot away from the action with a zoom lens and occasionally, just occasionally, you get to step out into the sunlight and snap a really great picture of the director doing something.

Picture: The Weinstein Company

Picture:  Quentin Tarantino — The Weinstein Company (Inglorius Bastards)

BUT we cannot get enough BTS shots: we eat them up and repost them to garner likes from like-minded cinephiles and show allegiance to our favorite directors and their films. So, here is my exhaustive guide of every. single. type. of behind the scenes photo that exists… At least according to 45 minutes of Google image search, intermingled with a little light Pinterest.

I’ve decided there are five different types of  BTS shots.  Try and spot your favorite:

1) The Frame

Picture: 20th Century Fox

Picture: Steven Spielberg on the set of Lincoln. Credit: 20th Century Fox

Your hands are the camera and what is through your hands is the scene. Many things will happen between the hands and it will be glorious.

Picture: Alamy

Picture: Alamy

Making a little frame with your hands to illustrate a point is a time honored tradition, and it’s a way more interesting BTS photo than a director listening and making choices, like “That cup makes her hands look small”.  This way, a director is an engaged magician.

Dir. Ava DuVernay and actor David Oyelowo Credit: Paramount Pictures, Pathé, and Harpo Films.

Dir. Ava DuVernay and actor David Oyelowo on the set of Selma.  Credit: Paramount Pictures, Pathé, and Harpo Films.

“The Frame” also works with props, such as a folded up copy of the script.

2) The Pointy Finger

Picture: Lionsgate

Picture:  Dir. Denis Villeneuve with DP Roger Deakins.  Credit: Lionsgate (Sicario)

Something is happening over there. Not here, but over there.

Film: The Hitcher, Robert Harmon with Rutger Hauer

Picture: The Hitcher, Robert Harmon with Rutger Hauer, Credit: TriStar Pictures

There is more pointing in BTS than there is in Saturday Night Fever.

Picture: Dir. Elizabeth Banks on the set of Pitch Perfect 2, Credit: Universal Studios

Picture: Dir. Elizabeth Banks on the set of Pitch Perfect 2, Credit: Universal Studios

Sometimes the entire hand is required in order to point effectively.

Peter Jackson on the set of King Kong (2005). Credit: Universal Studios

Peter Jackson on the set of King Kong (2005). Credit: Universal Studios

Sometimes it is wise to let the entire cast point instead of you to give them the illusion of power.

3) Show Them How Hard You’re Working for the Shot

spielbergonground

Picture: Steven Spielberg

“I’m on the floor for you people!”

citizen-kane-filming-low-angle

Picture: Citizen Kane. Credit: RKO Radio Pictures

“I’m IN the floor for you people!”

4) The Thinking Shot

Productions are complicated and much thinking is required. The key is really showing that the thinking is happening.

Picture: Warner Brothers

Picture: Christopher Nolan. Credit: Warner Brothers (The Dark Knight)

Thinking adjacent to a bat symbol.

spielberg

Picture: Steven Spielberg

“Hands on head, peering over glasses” thinking.

 

Picture: Last Days of Ivory

Picture: Kathryn Bigalow on set for The Last Days of Ivory.

“Shattering glass ceiling” thinking.

Picture: Warner Bros./courtesy Everett Collection

Picture: Dir. Soderbergh on Oceans 13 Set. Credit: Warner Bros./courtesy Everett Collection

“Exhausted from doing everything” thinking.

5) The “Touch the Camera You Don’t Use” Shot

Picture: Citizen Kane

Picture: Orsenn Welles — Citizen Kane. Credit: RKO Pictures

For most directors, no aspect of the job consists of actually handling the camera. But when the BTS photographer is around? We must touch the precious.

Picture: Justin Lin on location.

Picture: Justin Lin on location.

Touching the camera is required to show ownership. “My film! Mine!”

THE SHINING, Director Stanley Kubrick checks a camera set-upm 1980

Dir. Stanley Kubrick on the set of The Shining. Credit: Warner Bros.

Stanley Kubrick can be in whatever kind of BTS picture he wants. He can do no wrong and this is clearly his camera.

 

So whether you’re hired as a BTS photog or you just whip out your phone to grab a shot for your Instagram, remember to frame, point, think, sacrifice your body for the shot, and somehow: touch the precious.

I challenge you to find that elusive sixth type of behind the scenes photo. Comment below!

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