How many shots are in the average movie?

Last week, I experienced the latest Transformers movie.  The constant fast-paced action and frenetic editing got me thinking just how many shots were in that movie.  

Sadly, I lost count during the screening but afterwards, I resolved to look into the broader question: How many shots are in the average movie?

How many shots are in the average movie?

Let’s start by directly answering the question which started this research.  Across all the movies I could find data for (released 1997 to 2016), the average number of shots in a movie is 1,045.  But I’m sure regular readers know that I’m not going to end the article purely because I’ve answered the original question!

Unsurprisingly, there are huge variations between movies.  Russian Ark …

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How to become a film director

Last week saw the publication of my report ‘Cut Out Of The Picture‘, which looked at gender inequality in the UK film industry.  In the process of researching and writing the report, we spoke to over 200 film professionals about how someone becomes a film director.  I thought aspiring film directors may benefit from a distillation of what we discovered, so please find below a mix of data and advice.

Our study looked at every film produced in the UK over a ten-year period (2,591 films), and we then conducted detailed interviews with 6% of those directors (121 directors).  The career paths detailed below only relate to people who actually directed a feature film in the UK between 2005 and 2014, inclusive.

There is no one route to …
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How many Assistant Directors work on UK and US movies?

A couple of years ago I looked at the number of Assistant Directors on Hollywood films.  I want to return to the topic as I now have more data, I can add the UK figures into the mix and because I have conducted interviews with over 30 working 1st ADs in the UK and US to get the human perspective.  Today, I’ll be looking at the data and next week I’ll share the views and opinions of 1st ADs.

The Assistant Directors department are the people who make sure the film actually gets shot and that the whole production stays on schedule.  The role is typically split into three classes…

  • First Assistant Director (1st AD) runs the department and is one of the most senior ‘below the …
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    Are movies getting longer?

    Either I’m getting older or movies are getting longer… and longer … and longer.   So which is it?  I took a look at the numbers.

    I studied the running time of the top 100 US-grossing films since 1994 (2,200 films in total) and all films shot in the UK 2005-14 (2,142 films). In summary…

    • The median length of a top 100 US-grossing films between 1994 and 2015 was 110 minutes
    • Running times have increased in six of the past seven years
    • The longest films are historical and western films and the shortest are animations and documentaries.
    • Peter Jackson makes the longest movies in Hollywood, with a median running time of 169 minutes.
    • The median running time of UK feature films (2008-14) was 94 minutes.
    • Films with lower budgets have shorter running times
    • The complete extended …
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    What percentage of directors are writer-directors?

    On the face of it, writing and directing a feature film are two very different jobs.  The clichés are of the introverted writer squirrelling themselves away in a quiet room while the loud, bombastic director strides confidently on set and orders hundreds of people around.  However, when you look a little closer you see that there is plenty of overlap. Both involve the creation of worlds and characters, both require creative imagination to craft stories and both require communicating your vision to the team around you.  

    Hollywood is awash with writer-directors, including Peter Jackson, Christopher Nolan, James Cameron, Wes Anderson, Joss Whedon and Alfonso Cuarón to name just half a dozen.  But how often is the director of a film also one of the writers? …

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    How old are Hollywood directors?

    Last week, I looked at the average age of action stars and as an aside, I shared data on the average age of action film directors.  Since then, I have been contacted by a number of people asking if the average age of action film directors (45 years old) is also true for other genres.  

    So I took a look at the top 100 grossing films each year for the past 21 years (2,100 films) and the top grossing films of twenty genres (2,000 films).  In summary…

    • The average age of a top grossing director in 2014 was three months shy of 50 years old
    • Only 2.6% of Hollywood directors are under 30 years old
    • A third of all directors of the top grossing …
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    Are heroes in action movies getting older?

    Last week there was a long and well-written piece in The Guardian commenting on the recent trend of stars in action movies getting older.  It covers a number of topics but its main thrust is that action stars are getting older because we want different things from our action heroes than we once did.  The author, Adam Mars-Jones, posits that increasingly the most important attribute for an action heroes is ‘gravitas’. He writes…

    Gravitas is the indispensable element in this context: the moral stature that can complement physical power and even make it irrelevant, which seems to be viewed culturally as a male preserve. This quality is hard to define, though, even as it applies to men. Perhaps it is simplest …

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    The best and worst ever films at Cannes

    As the weather cools and the faces become ever more haggard, it’s clear that we’re past the midpoint of the Cannes Film Festival. The reviews are in for about half of the selected ‘In Competition’ films at Cannes and speculation is rife about who will win the coveted Palme d’Or.  

    To mark this moment, I have looked back at what film audiences and critics made of past nominees and winners. In summary;

    • Pulp Fiction is the highest scoring film with audiences to ever have played in Cannes
    • Pan’s Labyrinth is the best reviewed Cannes-nominated film ever.
    • The worst Cannes nominated film, according to audiences, was Utomlyonnye solntsem 2: Predstoyanie
    • Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me received an average Metascore of just 28 out of 100
    • The film with …
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    5 useless (yet interesting) film industry facts

    It’s becoming a bit of tradition the my last blog before Christmas is a collection of fun nuggets.  This year I sought out five film industry facts which I initially found interesting, but which I struggle to find any practical use for. In summary…

    • It’s a provable fact that Tyler Perry is excellent at attracting the ladies
    • The average running time of all British films 2003-13 was 98.4 minutes
    • In the past nine years British films have been getting short (2005 = 106 mins, 2013 = 95 mins).
    • Animations and documentaries are the shortest (87 mins & 89 mins)
    • In 1994 29% of the top films were shot in 2.35 ratio, by 2013 it was 79%
    • 21% of all jobs on UK films were given to people called David, Paul, …
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    The most employed women in the British film industry

    Last week I looked at the most employed people in the UK film industry.  This week I thought I would merge this approach with a topic I have written a lot about previously, namely gender. I took a look at the women in the British film industry who have the most credits over the last 10 years across all UK films budgeted over £500k. In summary…

    • 11% of the people who have directed two or more UK films 2003-13 are women
    • Women in the British film industry are far better represented in producing than in writing and directing
    • 25 of the top 104 UK producers are women
    • Novelist J.K. Rowling is the woman with the most number of writing credits in UK film 2003-13
    Directors

    Just 11% of …

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