Are you a fan of horror movies? What about heist movies? Follow this simple filmmaking guide to shoot your own thrilling escape room sequence!
To take part in this filmmaking guide, you’ll need:
• A video camera (this can be a phone/tablet camera, or a camcorder, etc)
• Editing software or an editing app (see the Technical section at the end of this Filmmaking Guide)
• Paper, pens, scissors and glue
• Torch (optional)
How to use this Filmmaking Guide:
Sparks Film School helps young filmmakers to develop their skills and knowledge in filmmaking. This filmmaking guide is designed to be used by filmmakers at home to produce their own chilling escape room sequence.
Simply follow the steps in this filmmaking guide to make your own unique sequence.
This filmmaking guide is designed for young filmmakers aged between 7 and 14, but don’t worry if you aren’t in that age bracket! You can still use this filmmaking guide to help you produce your own escape room sequence. The more, the merrier!
1. Planning Your Escape Room Sequence
Lots of films have sequences where characters are trapped in a room and need to solve a puzzle to escape.
There are lots of examples of this, that include secret codes, cryptic riddles, hidden passages and often special keys that have been broken into pieces and need to be reassembled.
For your sequence design a puzzle that needs to be solved. Aim for it to be something visual. This will look best on screen.
Show Don’t Tell!
When planning a film, bear in mind that sequences are much stronger when we show the audience something rather than have characters say or read them aloud. For example, if your characters need to find a key – include a close up of the key, and then a close up of the lock.
Plan and design a puzzle that your chracter needs to solve. Use your paper, pens and scissors to design visual clues that you can hide on your set. Remember to keep details big and bold, so that your audience will be able to understand and read them.
2. Storyboard your Sequence
Think back to all the basic shot types you can include in a film. You can also refer to our filmmaking guide on all the basic shot types.
When planning your sequence choose the most effective shots for each moment of your story. Aim to include a good range of shots.
Plan your sequence to use 6-10 shots. Try and include the following:
• 1-3 shots to establish the scene and tell the audience what’s happening
• 4-6 shots to show the character(s) solving the puzzle
• 1-3 shots of the character managing to escape
Storyboard your sequence using the storyboard template here.
3. Get Shooting!
Now it’s time to shoot your Escape!
Here are some practical tips to make sure your sequences sizzle…
Keep it Landscape
Make sure you film with your phone or tablet in the landscape ratio (so the image is wider than it is tall) – this will avoid you needing to convert your footage later. It will also mean you have a film that looks more professional.
Keep things steady
Aim to shoot your shots as steadily as you can. You can use a tripod, but don’t panic if you don’t have a tripod. Aim to find something sturdy you can lean your camera against: a pile of heavy books can work really well.
When you’re composing your shots, see if you can experiment with focus. In the image above, the boy’s face and camera are in focus and the yellow flowers are blurry, because they are out of focus.
Try creating a shot where the important bits of the shot are in focus, and the background of the shot is out of focus. The easiest way to do this is to do this with a close up, and arrange things so the camera is close to your object and the background is further away. Experiment with your camera’s manual focus modes to see how you can vary the look of your shots. Give it a go!
Let there be Light:
Experiment with lighting in your shots. You can create a silhouette by filming an object against a window or bright light. This is great for creating suspense and a sense of mystery.
Also try using a torch to create some extreme shadows, this is a brilliant way to add atmosphere to your shots. Be careful not to have your scene so dimly lit that your camera struggles to capture it.
4. Edit Your Escape
Now you’ve shot your film, it’s time to upload it to your editing app. (See the Technical part of this Filmmaking Guide – at the end – for our suggestions).
Sequence your film by inserting the clips into the order that you want your audience to watch them.
Trim off the beginnings and ends of the clips so the audience can’t see the bits before Action and Cut.
Watch your sequence back, and think about the order of the clips – decide if there are any moments that take too long, or any changes to the order of the sequence that you’d like to make.
Use your editing programme to add music (see the Technical part of this filmmaking guide) into your sequence. Aim to use tense and suspenseful music. Check the volume so you can still hear important dialogue etc.
Consider adding effects and filters to your scene to add atmosphere. Watch your film back and make sure you’re happy with it!
Happy Movie Making!
We would love to see your escape room sequences! You can share them with us via any of our social media channels, either tagging us in your video, or by using the hashtag #SparksEscapeMovies.
Filmmaking Guide – Technical Guidance:
You can use any camera that will record video for this activity, such as a phone, a tablet, or a camcorder.
You only need basic editing software for this video.
Look for Windows Movie Maker on a PC (it should come free) or iMovie for Mac (which comes included).
If you’re working on a phone or tablet, you can download iMovie from the App store.
You can find copyright free music from the YouTube music library, or we also love Kevin McLeod’s collection at
www.incompetech.com. You can use all of these tracks for free, just remember to credit the creator.
Exporting and Sharing
Check with your adults before you publish anything online. When it’s time to export your movie, check your programme’s settings for best for online sharing – this will keep quality high, but file size low.
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