Blocking Operation and Control

Creative Commons image Filmakers in Somerset House by Pavlina Jane at Flickr
Creative Commons image Filmmakers in Somerset House by Pavlina Jane at Flickr


Understand and demonstrate the 5 Stages of Blocking

  1. Block – determining where the actors will be on the set and the first camera position
  2. Light – time for the DOP, or cinematographer, to light the set and position the camera for the first shot
  3. Rehearse – camera rehearsal of the first set-up with the actors and crew
  4. Adjustments – making lighting and other adjustments
  5. Shoot – shooting the first scene (then repeat the process)

Standards, Terms, and Concepts

  • Blocking
  • Movement and Physical Behavior
  • Strong, Winning Attitudes
  • Weak Struggling or Failing Attitudes
  • Stage Orientations and Emphasis
  • Body Positions
    • Full Front
    • Full Back
    • One-quarter Front
    • Three-quarter Front
    • Profile Position
    • Three-quarter Back Position

Blocking Tips from NYFA

  1. Having a shot list will help you during the blocking process. The shot list is like a map: it gives you a path to your destination but you don’t always have to follow it
  2. Let the actors show you what they want to do first, then, when you make a suggestion, it is based on something you have already seen
  3. Where the camera is placed is determined primarily by what is important in the scene.
  4. Blocking is like a puzzle: directors need to keep working at it until the whole scene works.
  5. In Television and low budget films, speed is essential, story and block some scenes so that your action takes place in one direction (to avoid turning the camera around for reverses.)


  • Blog post with embedded video from YouTube of the various blocking choices explained



  1. Watch Directing – The Fine Arts of Blocking and Composition – Dan Fox (12:50)
  2. Watch How Hitchcock Blocks a SceneNerdwriter1 (8:35)
  3. Watch Drive (2011) – The Quadrant SystemEvery Frame a Painting
  4. Watch some other analysis videos
  5. Create blog post titled, Blocking Operation and Control
    • Create headings for:
      • Summary
      • Terms and Concepts
      • Timeline
      • Project Skills Evidence
      • What I Learned
  6. Read and take notes The Five Stages of Blocking – NYFA
  7. Read and take notes Blocking and Movement by Erik Sean McGiven
  8. Examine Blocking Plans for a Film – Sample at SlideShare
  9. Review Blocking Planning Guide (PDF)
  10. Review 5 Stages of Blocking Worksheet (PDF)
  11. Review Blocking and Acting Worksheet (PDF)
  12. Write a script for your documentary film about basic blocking operations include all terms and concepts to be included in your short film
    • The point of the film is to demonstrate what you have learned about blocking operations as a reference for yourself in your blog
  13. Storyboard each shot
    • Storyboard template
  14. Block each shot
  15. Create the shot list for the project
  16. Create an equipment list
  17. Practice each shot, update script, as needed
  18. Gather equipment; camera, lens, shotgun mic, lights, bounce, diffuser, etc.
  19. Create a shot log
  20. Shoot each scene
  21. Catalog shots
  22. Edit shots in Adobe Premiere



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