Signature Shot

A recurring shot in the works of a film director. Can form part of a Signature Style. The literary/unintentional equivalent of this is an Author Catchphrase, and the actor equivalent of this is just a normal Catch Phrase ("I'll be back").

May be the result of conscious or subconscious Author Appeal.

Does not include overarching Signature Style elements of a body of work, or explicit Iconic Logo trademarks, such as Alfred Hitchcock's silhouette or Walt Disney's signature. We need to differentiate mise-en-scene from cinematography. Is this trope for one, the other, or both? Mise-en-scene is WHAT is shown on screen, while cinematography is HOW it's shown on screen. So Michael Bay's preference for helicopters at sunset is more "signature mise-en-scene" while some walk the line- Tarantino's close-ups on feet are sort of signature mise-en-scene (feet) and sort of signature cinematography (the close-up). We're looking for that cinematography- that particular use of the camera, its focus and placement.

Many of these can be found in trivia sections on IMDb.

Not to be confused with a Pinball designer's preferred table layout.


  • James Cameron: Shots that start at the feet.
  • Quentin Tarantino: Shots from the POV of a car trunk.
  • John Woo: Disturbed Doves.
  • Tim Burton: Tunnel Vision.
  • Sam Raimi: Whip Pan (along with Shaky P.O.V. Cam).
    • He also does that thing where he rapidly zooms in on something in the scene, then rapidly zooms in on something a different detail in the scene, and so on, always using a sound effect with the zoom.
  • Stanley Kubrick: the Kubrick Stare.
  • Paul Thomas Anderson has used Iris Shot in every film he's ever made.
  • Claude Chabrol uses shots of where the camera climbs a spiral staircase in four different films.
  • Yasujiro Ozu really liked to shoot conversations by having the person speaking directly face the camera, rather than put two people in the same shot, or shoot over the shoulder of the person who's listening.
  • Orson Welles famously used deep-focus shots typically featuring three planes- front, middle, and back, all simultaneously in focus, but clearly separate.
  • Alfred Hitchcock used a technique called "cross-tracking", a variation of shot/reverse-shot, in which a character, walking towards a threatening object is intercut with that object.
  • Ingmar Bergman is known for his intense close-ups of faces in despair.
  • Rainier Wener Fassbinder is known for still-shots framing characters in doorways.
  • Robert Zemeckis often uses ObjectTrackingShots.
  • Sergio Leone loves long close-ups of faces and Eyed Screen.
  • Doctor Who director Graeme Harper puts a shot of a character seen through a lens in every episode he directs.
  • Steven Spielberg does at least one reflection shot per film. Also, the "Spielberg Face" is his signature shot where we see a character's face as they look in awe toward some wonder or during some monumental event.
  • Busby Berkley is very famous for his overhead shots. Even today putting overhead shots into your film is considered an homage to Berkley.
  • Wes Anderson always has a Walking and Talking scene where the camera spins around the protagonist as he does a surpsing amount of work.
  • Lucio Fulci often uses a extreme close up of characters eyes, either with or without a zoom. It is present in almost all of his films several times.