kortina.nyc / notes / devlog
20 Jun 2023 | by kortina

film devlog #5 // Shot Notes

In The T-Shirt Shop at the End of the World, I talked about the writing process, how non-linear it is, and how I’ve been meandering for a few months.

After I finished up post on Telling Mattresses Stories and Lost Gloves, I returned to the feature script I was taking a break from. But – at least for me – there are only so many hours in the day I can spend writing on the same piece of work.

A habit I’ve had for a long time is I’m constantly writing down snippets of conversations I overhear, passages from books, photographing trash in the street, collecting, cataloging – I talked about this habit a bit in Another Day in Paradise.


While I have done this with film dialog for a while, I haven’t done it as much with visuals and images.

So I wanted to start a little notebook cataloging shots, techniques, and images that grabbed me while watching things.

This is it.

Blue Velvet // Oct 2023

blue velvet photograph

There’s a scene in Blue Velvet where Jeffrey visits Detective Williams to give him a tip about some of the suspicious activity he has observed (finding the ear maybe) – and rather than starting this basic dialog scene with a two-shot, we start with this close up of a photograph of Sandy and the dialog is delivered in V.O.

I believe there’s a similar move in Bi Gan’s Long Day’s Journey into Night.

It’s just such a striking way to spice up a dialog scene with subtext.

Once Upon a Time in America // Oct 2023

once upon a time in america

Prolly my favorite version of a “fall” / temptation scene is in Once Upon a Time in America.

Patsy learns that Peggy will make out with you in exchange for a pastry, so he buys one and brings it to her home. While he’s waiting for her, outside her door, he decides to try the pastry – “just to be sure PEGGY is getting the very best…. She is.”

In a pleasantly languid scene, he does his best to rewrap the pastry, get it back to perfect, like nothing ever happened, but he just can’t resist, and by the time Peggy opens the door, he’s eaten the entire thing.

Something Homeric about this – but fun that it’s a young kid and not a Greek warrior at the center of it.

Tampopo // Oct 2023

tampopo secret egg

This scene from Tampopo feels like an homage to classic silent films – and also I love the way it cultivates this feeling of breaking the rules in a benign way.

Oh, and the eggs look delicious…

I was originally going to use a frame of the eggs cooking in the skillet, but when I rewatched, I liked this one better – it’s completely unrealistic and fantastical, no one would ‘peek’ through the door like this – it draws way more attention to itself than other ways you might peek if you were actually trying to be secretive.

It’s got an almost cartoonish, Looney Tunes vibe to it.

Good Time // Dec 2023

The Safdie brothers are known for using long lenses and lots of close-ups to create a claustrophobic, intense feeling.

Good Time (2017) opens with a drone shot, then cuts to this extreme close up of Nick:


Later in this opening scene, we get this beautiful shot:


Me You and Everyone We Know // Dec 2023

I love Miranda July, I love this movie, I love this moment, and I love this shot:

me you shoes

May December // Jan 2024

These title cards from May December are so cool:

may december title 1

may december title 2

I also like the way they do text messages in this movie. Extremely simple text over the shot, with subtle sound effects of sending / receiving / typing on phone:

may december text treatment

Once Upon a Time in America // Feb 2024

These shots of the boys skipping and dancing under the bridges in Brooklyn are just beautiful (and heart-wrenching, given the context).

once upon a time in america under bridge

Casino // Feb 2024

I remember not loving this movie when I first saw it as a kid, but watching it again, I liked it a lot more – lots of VO, music, montage – very fast moving. These shots are great:



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