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Hot Fuzz (Edgar Wright, 2007)

An over-ambitious police officer is relocated to the countryside where he soon finds himself on the trails of a brutal murderer.

I watched this on a popcorn night but nevertheless I couldn't quite enjoy it like Shaun of the Dead. It has its funny parts, but somehow the story felt a bit too contrived.

Instead I wanted to give a shot at analyzing the camera positioning/editing: the first scene in the police department. I am becoming interested in shoot-reverse-shot scenes and alternatives to them, so maybe it's good to start with a standard setup.

The scene is important as it is presents the protagonist with his big obstacle - being transferred to the country side. The viewer learns that officer Angel is quite oblivious and stubborn. His character traits will get him into loads of trouble later in the story. (He still felt a bit flat, though)

Here is the setup as I see it: (click to enlarge)

  • C1, C2 are closeups - one whip pan on C2/OS2
  • OS1, OS2 are over the shoulder shots (coming in two framing sizes and one lift-shot in OS2) - they are also dollying later in the scene.
  • P1, P2 are profile shots (long lens)
  • P3 (not in the diagram above shows the room from the middle of P1,P2) 
  • D1, D2 are dolly shots (D2 is above eye level)
  • D3 (not in diagram) is the final shot, where Angel gets confronted with his office mates (last shot) 
  • S1, S2 are "special" - S1 is a low shot wide-angle, S2 is a close-up of the phone
Thinking about production: 12 setups, three of which are a bit more complicated to setup, either because of dolly or because of additional extras - I assume that production had approximately 3 hours for this scene planned, maybe an hour more.(??)


In terms of editing the scene has four "emotional build-ups" - which rely heavily on musical cues. The "special shots" are used at the end of each part, except for the dolly shot D1, which is in the middle of the first part.
  1. The "promotion", which turns out not to be one: A musical cue announces "happiness", but there is the vinyl-turntable-stop effect, when Angel realizes he is being transferred to the country.
    The part ends on C1/C2 very close.
  2. When the ouraged Angel demands to talk to the inspector, there is "tension" music as he is ordered to the office via phone. The inspector repeats the exact same line as his sergeant.
    This part ends with S1 and S2 (Sergeant calling the inspector)
  3. When Angel asks for the chief inspector, again musical tension. Payoff: The CI has been waiting outside the door. (and repeats the same line)
    This part ends with the whip pan of C2, and P3 the CI entering.
  4. A comparatively long buildup with tension music, when Angel resorts to his last method: the team! Payoff: The team has prepared a fare-well party.
    It builds up tension by dolly on the CI and Angel. This part ends with D2, D3.
I assume that the shooting was planned in such a way to keep the 'special shots' reserved to one of the punchlines/end-of-buildups. Morale: it's all in the preparation. :)


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