Spielberg’s genius – The “oner”

The origins of the “oner”, one scene, one shot and how Spielberg made that technique his own. This is riveting, from first scene to last. [Via Open Culture]

  • Vera Comment

    I’ve seen almost every movie they referred to. surprised they didn’t include what, IMO, is one of the best “oners” – the scene in War of the Worlds with the minivan going down the highway


    Opening scene for the Player is an epic long shot…


    • SockRolid

      That freeway shot in WOtW was heavily green-screened, so maybe that’s why it doesn’t count. And it also doesn’t really advance the story. Yes, the characters are escaping. No, there’s no important plot advancement. It’s just a showy action set-piece.

      But yeah, the first shot of The Player literally pulls you into the film, the story, and the whole bizarre movie studio world. Another impressive “oner” is the hospital musical number in Everyone Says I Love You. They must have rehearsed that for a week.

  • SockRolid

    I think Spielberg mostly did “oners” to save production time. Instead of setting up 3 or 4 different shots, he’d spend a little more time setting up a big long shot. Less wasted time and money.

    Film schoolers and small indies think “oners” are all about art and auteur-ishness, evidently. But when you have dozens of unionized crew members on set or on location, all getting paid by the hour, minimizing the number of set-ups means less time spend and lower production cost.

    • Vera Comment

      if its such a huge cost saver.. why doesn’t everyone do it?

      figure the longer the shot is, the higher the chance something isn’t going to go right (see Private Ryan scene – explosions, tanks, bullet strikes and people all coordinated in front of a cameraman who also has a script to follow.

      do-overs aren’t cheap either – and if you really want the long shot, you do it again if something breaks.

    • Moeskido

      Nonsense. Oners require a huge amount of choreography. And you don’t save a lot of production time if your oner takes you through two or more enormously different lighting and technical problems for your Director of Photography. There’s another shot in “Close Encounters” that I believe required that, and more. As I remember, it takes place at Devil’s Tower, passes through the interior of a helicopter, and switches from dolly track to handheld.

      A good oner immerses the viewer in the story in a way that lots of cutaways can’t.