Having one of your characters knocked to the ground is a powerful storytelling moment. The audience sees that things are NOT going well for that character and the fight is being lost. Yet performing this is risky for your actors and usually necessitates hiring a stunt performer to double your actor or investing in actor training to be able to perform it safely.
Well here’s a few ways it can be done:
1) One fast and cheap way is to use 2 shots: a – shot of your actor being punched then – cut to a close up of the ground and have your actor fall into frame. This however is NOT as powerful as a single shot without cuts, or 1 long take, and may feel like it’s been staged.
2) The second, and higher production value, way is to use a long lens with a simple camera move all shot in 1 take. Set your camera at eye level behind the attacker.
Show your character being punched then the actor quickly sits gently on the ground.
At the same time, the camera booms down to the ground to the actor’s eye level while using the attacker’s body to shield the actor’s movement from view.
To sell it even better, have the attacker continue to make aggressive movements toward the actor during the move so the audience has something else to watch other than the camera move itself.
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