The ultimate free shot list template

The first step to making a great video is having a great shot list. It's a vital ingredient, no matter how small or large your crew or cast is. A shot list is a kind of to-do list that helps everyone stay on the same page.

We’ve created a free shot list template that you can use with Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel. This free download is perfect for any kind of film production – from short films to music videos, and everything in between.

  1. 1. Why a shot list is important
  2. 2. When to make a shot list
  3. 3. Making a shot list
  4. 4. How to use this shot list template
  5. 5. Google Sheets Shot List Template

Why a shot list is important

It’s easy to get lost during a shoot, even with a small team. If you’ve got lots of settings, multiple actors, and a large crew, then things only get more complicated.

A shot list keeps a project on track. Before filming, it helps directors to collect their thoughts and build a shooting schedule. During filming, a solid camera shot list means different departments can work independently from each other. It also makes it easy to keep going if a crew member’s sick one day, or has to leave the shoot.

When to make a shot list

You should make your shot list after finishing your script, at the same time as creating your storyboard. (If you’re looking for tips on how to make a storyboard, check out our guide to 29 of the best storyboards and our free storyboard template.)

Your shot list will help you visualise what you want. It’ll make it easier to organise the cast, crew, equipment, and locations that bring your vision to life. (Side note: you’ll need a few extra documents, like call sheets, tech specs, and license agreements – they all stem from the shot list.)

During production, you’ll add notes to the shot list to help your editor – like which takes to use, detailed comments, and shot / card numbers. Remember to add the clip number or timecode to the shot list during production. It’ll help your editor know which shot is which, and dramatically speed up the editing time.

Making a shot list

A typical shot list includes:

  • Scene number
  • Shot number
  • Location (e.g. interior, exterior)
  • Shot description (e.g. camera angle, camera move, audio)
  • Shot type (e.g. wide shot, close-up)
  • Action / dialogue
  • Actors involved
  • Props needed
  • Extra notes

Remember to organise your shots by location. Putting similar shots together makes shooting easier because you can shoot them all at the same time. (Note: this might not be in order of shot number. And that’s okay!) This makes filming way more convenient – even if you’re not shooting in the order of your storyboard.

How to use this shot list template

1. Scene

This is the scene number, which you’ll find on your script. You might not need it for smaller productions where everything happens in one scene.

2. Setup

Add a new setup every time you reposition the camera or change the lighting. You can use these setups later to group similar setups together, making it simpler to shoot.

3. Shot

Increase the shot number by one every time you start a new shot. (Depending on your personal preference, you might want to reset the shot number for every new setup.)

4. Description

Use this column to quickly explain where you’re at in the script. You should say what the subject is – whether it’s an actor, group of actors, prop, or a setting. Then describe any action that’s happening, any props involved, and what exactly the camera should capture. This description tells your director everything that’s happening in the shot, so that everyone’s on the same page.

5. Equipment

Use this column to list the equipment that’s supporting the camera. For example:

  • Tripod
  • Steadicam
  • Drone
  • Dolly
  • Handheld

6. Movement

Use this column to explain what your camera’s doing when it’s not static, i.e. it’s moving. For example:

  • Static
  • Pan
  • Tilt
  • Dolly
  • Crane / boom
  • Handheld
  • Zoom
  • Rack focus

7. Angle

Use this column to describe the angle of the camera in relation to the subject. If your camera’s lower than your subject, it’s a low angle. If it’s higher than the subject, it’s a high angle. You can also include other terms that help to explain the angle, for example:

  • Eye-level
  • High angle
  • Low angle
  • Dutch angle / tilt
  • Over the shoulder (OTS)
  • Birds-eye view
  • Point of view (POV)

8. Shot size

Use this column to describe the size of your subject in the frame. Varying shot sizes and having them appear in different orders creates dramatically different effects. A scene might start with a wide shot to establish where it’s happening, before moving to a mid-shot of your subject, then a close-up of the action.

However, you might want to mix it up and do something totally different. By reversing the order and starting on a close-up, it could build anticipation as you slowly add more context to the scene.

Here are some examples of shot sizes:

  • WS = wide shot
  • VWS = very wide shot
  • MS = mid-shot
  • MCU = medium close-up
  • CU = close-up
  • ECU = extreme close-up

9. Audio

Use this column to explain how you’re picking up the audio. For example:

  • Boom
  • Lav(s)
  • Lav + boom
  • Voiceover (VO)

10. Lens

Use this column to record which size lens you’re using. For example:

  • 24m
  • 50mm
  • 200mm

11. Time estimate

Use this column to estimate how long it will take to set up (not shoot) each shot, which helps you build your schedule and timings for each day. It’ll also highlight any time-consuming shots, in case you need to cut or change them on the day – like changing a lengthy jib shot for one on a raised tripod.

12. Camera

Use this column to remember which camera you’re using (if you’re using more than one).

13. Cast

Use this column to note down which characters are in the shot.

14. Best take + timecode

If you want to make your editor’s life a lot easier, you can use these columns to note down a great take and when it happened. If you don’t have a timecode, just change that column to ‘clip’.

Google Sheets Shot List Template

Perfect for any kind of film production – from short films to music videos, and everything in between.
Shot list template

Also, if you’re looking for a storyboarding app, why not try Boords? It’s the online storyboarding app for creative professionals. Simplify your pre-production process with storyboards, scripts, and animatics – then gather feedback – all in one place. Creating storyboards has never been simpler.