Action Sequence


Your assignment: Write, Direct and Edit an action sequence in class. This builds off of the documentary we just watched, “The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing” and is preparation for the next assignment, a narrative short film you will shoot outside of class.


  1. Form a crew of 3
  2. Come up with an idea for your action sequence; type up a treatment
  3. Draw up a storyboard for each shot in the sequence. (The storyboard form is at the bottom of this post, and is handed out in class)
  4. Scout locations, find props as needed, and cast actors from class (pre production)
  5. Shoot your film during class time, somewhere on campus
  6. Edit


  • No weapons, sexual references, drug references or profanity. No fight scenes. No blood.
  • Characters: Two characters. You may get students in the class to act in your film.
  • Plot: The film should start with an “instigating event”–some situation that starts the action. The chase ensues. The chase must resolve or end in some way with a final short scene
  • Dialog: You must have at least one line at the start and one at the end of the sequence.
  • Shots: 30 shots minimum (see list of shot types below)
  • Length: 2-4 minutes total
  • Music: Edit the chase to music
  • Finishing: Titles and credits

Shot list

You need at least 30 shots total. You may not use them all in your final piece. You should cover each moment of the action with at least two angles. You must storyboard and shoot the following at some point in your sequence:

  • At least 5 close ups of faces
  • At least 3 close ups (details) of things (other parts of the body, props, cutaways)
  • 1 swish (fast) pan
  • 1 follow (over the shoulder, or push back)
  • 1 extreme low angle
  • 1 extreme high angle
  • 1 point of view shots
  • 1 extreme wide angle (zoomed all the way out)
  • 1 telephoto (zoomed all the way in)

Choose your shots for the right moments in your film. 

The storyboard form is here:

Mother Jones Magazine photo essays

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Mother Jones is a magazine that presents stories about social responsibility and activism. Their blog of photo essays is terrific! The magazine gets contributions by the best photographers, working all over the world. Be warned–some painful social problems are depicted in these photographs. Some of the images may challenge your assumptions or bring tears to your eyes. Others will make you laugh. Check it out…

Link: Mother Jones photo essays

Portrait Assignment (Intro to Photo)

National Geographic - Steve McCurry - Afghanistan

Afgan Girl by Steve McCurry (for National Geographic Magazine)

For our first Introduction to Photography assignment shot on film with 35mm SLR cameras, students will be shooting portraits.

A portrait is by definition an image of a person.

But “portrait” implies something more formal or thought-out than a “snapshot” or street photograph. It implies a collaboration between subject and photographer, and an interest by the subject in getting their photo “taken.” Sometimes the relationship is complex, and is as much about the photographer–their point of view and the message they are trying to convey–as it is about the person in the photograph.


Migrant Mother by Dorthea Lange, 1936


  1.  Use available light!
  2.  Learn to work with a subject!
  3.  Use the location / environment!


On your roll of film, you must shoot:!

* A complete stranger!
* Someone you know well! * A much older person!
* A much younger person! * Someone your age!
* Yourself!

In the darkroom, you must print:! * One contact sheet !

* Five 5×7” prints!

Download a PDF of the Portrait Assignment here: Lecture – Portrait assignment.