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How is the scene of two people talking on a phone shot in a film or TV series?

For instance, if person A has to call person B, the scene can be taken in either of two ways.

  • Ask person A to act like person B is on the line and speak all their dialogue.
  • Have two cameras rolling simultaneously so that both person A and person B can talk as if a real conversation, which can be later edited.
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up vote 11 down vote accepted

It's often done filming one person first, using an AD (Assistant Director) or someone else on set to quietly do the reverse dialogue to what's being filmed. Then they use the practical (the first actor's voice) dialogue to shoot the counterpart. Sometimes the other actor will be on set to do a more natural dialogue, but this is not an industry standard. It's more rare that both actors are shot at the same time during a phone conversation.

These scenes are usually heavily scripted and timed and are not open to much improvisation.

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That seems reasonable. After all, the viewers should think the phone conversation is happening at real time. – Ramesh Dec 27 '13 at 19:12

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