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Shot/Reverse Shot

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A common method of shooting dialogue: repeated shots of each speaker's face, interrupted by the occasional Medium Two-Shot, usually framed as the point of view of the other character.

This technique is often employed as a method of convenience; if it's impossible to get both of the actors together to film a shot, Over the Shoulder can be used with stand-ins who look, from behind, similar to the absent actor to complete the scene. It's also often used as an example of the Kuleshov Effect in action. The viewer will naturally assume each shot is the point of view of the opposite character to the one speaking.

This is a standard technique from The Golden Age of Hollywood. Pick a major-studio film from the era before Cinemascope, any of them, and you'll find an example of this technique.


Examples:

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    Films — Animation 
  • Turning Red, uses this for the scene where Mei's friends try to convince her to go karaokeing with them and the following scene where Mei talks to her mother thus comparing and contrasting the dynamic Mei has with her friends vs. her mother.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu had a variation on this, filming conversations in shot-reverse shot sequences where each person in the conversation was centered and looking straight at the camera, rather than the over-the-shoulder style that is seen far more often.
  • The prevalence of this approach in '30s-'40s film noir movies made it possible for Steve Martin to "act" with Bette Davis, Humphrey Bogart, Charles Laughton, etc. in Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring gets across Galadriel's ability to see into the Fellowship's mind by cutting between an Extreme Close-Up of her eyes and then a member of the Fellowship. This goes on for each of them until we cut back to her from Frodo's face, when we hear her speaking telepathically into her mind.
  • Done to excellent effect in Mulholland Dr. as seen in the page image — unlike most movies, the camera is not stationary on a tripod, but ever so slowly floats eerily up and down through space, as if the film itself is slowly becoming entirely detached from reality.
  • Some highly anticipated movies film actors in roles meant to be a surprise for the audience with Shot/Reverse Shot so the actor can be filmed separately from the rest of the cast and crew, dramatically decreasing the chance of a leak. This is probably why a scene from Spider-Man: No Way Home featuring a surprising new character was shot this way. The character in question, Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man, is never seen in a wide shot of the house he's supposed to have walked into.
  • Star Wars:
  • Used to illustrate the Psychic Link between Rey and Kylo Ren in The Last Jedi. Each is filmed as though talking to the other in the same location, even when separated by vast distances.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Any scene that involved both twins interacting in The Patty Duke Show.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • The episode "Lie to Me" from the second season features this ad nauseam in the outside-the-school discussion between Buffy and Ford.
    • Angel's appearance in the series finale was filmed that way because David Boreanaz was only available for a short time.
    • There was a Buffy/Giles graveyard scene which used Sarah Michelle Gellar's stunt double accompanied by looped lines for the shots that were over Buffy's shoulder.
  • Michael and Hurley's conversation in season 6 of Lost were filmed this way, presumably because they only had Harold Perrineau for a short time.
  • The field interviews in The Daily Show with Jon Stewart are usually filmed this way.

Alternative Title(s): Over Over Two Shot, Shot Countershot

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