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(Barely) Controlled Chaos: Capturing This Single-Shot Scene from “Birds of Prey”

The shot “required the camera to physically switch hands three different times, chasing [Margot] Robbie as she weaves in and out of view.”

According Birds of Prey director Cathy Yan, capturing the below scene, set in a nightclub, “required multiple camera handoffs, in a cinematic feat of coordination that begins at the 1:15 mark,” reports Jordan Crucchiola. “Originally written as a more conventional montage of Harley [Quinn, played by Margot Robbie] getting obliterated over the course of one night, Yan and her director of photography Matthew Libatique decided to embark on something more technically challenging than a series of stitched-together vignettes.

“They wanted to convey an entire party arc succinctly, while maintaining the whirlwind tone of a film that’s as hyperactive as its anti-heroine,” Crucchiola continues. “The resulting single shot required the camera to physically switch hands three different times, chasing Robbie as she weaves in and out of view, disappearing into a throng of extras, some of whom were actually essential below-the-line staff members.”

To read how Yan and Libatique developed, designed  and delivered the sequence, click here.

Read More on These Single-Take Sequences

1917: How Sam Mendes and Roger Deakins Made Their “One-Shot” War Epic 

The Illusory (and Insanely Innovative) Long Day’s Journey Into Night

Sebastian Schipper on His 134-Minute Single Take Film Victoria

1917 Isn’t the First (Supposedly) One-Shot Film. Here’s a Timeline. (The New York Times) 

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