I just saw the new Sam Mendes film 1917 and was really impressed with the continuous shot approach, especially given the setting in the trenches of WW1. I've seen this effect done before and know there are different ways of making a whole movie using this effect.

What methods were used in this film specifically to give it the single continuous shot effect?

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    All I knew about this movie was one ad I happened to see while near a TV. Now I want to watch it just for this.
    – Cyphase
    Commented Jan 18, 2020 at 4:46
  • I didn't notice any of them after the first one, other than the shot they basically stole from The Longest Day.
    – Mazura
    Commented Jan 18, 2020 at 18:23
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    This video is a nice complement to some of the great answers here already. As pointed out by others, Alejandro Iñárritu has experimented masterfully with techniques like these in The Revenant and Birdman (my personal favorite). There is also a really interesting scene in season 1 of True Detective that I think is worth mentioning, video here [SPOILERS!]. Commented Jan 20, 2020 at 11:27

5 Answers 5


Quoting from Wikipedia under filming section.

Filming was accomplished with long takes and elaborately choreographed moving camera shots to give the effect of one continuous take.

Careful editing was employed to trick the viewer’s eye into thinking they were watching films unfolding in one unbroken take. (source)

Sam Mendes explained it quite well himself in behind the scenes of 1917.

This one explains too.

As explained in a screenrant article:

Anytime something fills the screen, such as soldiers walking in front of the camera and occupying the entire frame for a split second, a cut can be hidden.


Similar techniques were used in Birdman which was also visualised as a single shot, and the opening scene of The Revenant.

Usually, if you're looking out for them you can see the wipes they use - watch for someone crossing camera in such a way as they completely cover the shot, or in Birdman, they used transitions between rooms, covered by CGI to keep the central actor apparently in a continuous motion.

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    For another less serious but very technically impressive inspiration, the church fight scene from Kingsman was also designed to appear like a single shot. Various people have analysed that scene to break down the cuts involved, such as this link. youtu.be/LEqgDsIGWVI
    – Graham
    Commented Jan 17, 2020 at 19:19
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    Hitchcock did it first in Rope. It was even harder to do back then because a camera couldn't hold more than 10 minutes of film at a time and you couldn't cover it up with CGI, so he used tricks like having the camera pan across the back of a couch just as the reel was ending and continue the pan on the next reel, etc. Commented Jan 17, 2020 at 20:50
  • There are also quite a few black-out scenes in the movie. Those are pretty easy to put in a cut. Commented Jan 20, 2020 at 10:17

Most of the movie is filmed with 8-9 minutes long scenes and then edited to make it look as a continuous shot. Sometimes they pass the camera behind some objects (I remember some rocks and buildings) and cut the scene, then they can continue with the next scene without the audience noticing the cut.

There's an article with most of the process explained.


This youtube video shows how this was accomplished.

Two men run with a camera and video-stabilization is used afterwards. The camera is passed off while shooting.


American filmmaker Rian Craig Johnson tweets the following regarding the 1917 movie in his twitter account.

Last night at the PGA awards Mendes told me 1917 was ACTUALLY shot in one continuous take, if an actor flubbed a line they’d go all the way back and start again from the beginning. They paid Cumberbatch to show up every day and wait in that room at the end. He was there 6 months

They paid him 23 million dollars

They had a production walkie stashed in the bunker. He’d wait in character. A few times a day the walkie would squawk “going again”


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    Interesting. This doesn't correspond with the information in other answers. It also sounds highly unlikely. I would like to know if this can be backed up by another source.
    – Joachim
    Commented Jan 27, 2020 at 10:19
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    Clearly a joke from Rian - there is absolutely no way that Benedict (and the other actors and crew) spent 6 months in a room is there??
    – Longshanks
    Commented Jan 27, 2020 at 22:20
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    google.co.uk/amp/s/www.vulture.com/amp/2020/01/… “Actors like Benedict were only booked for certain days”
    – Longshanks
    Commented Jan 27, 2020 at 22:23

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