Production: How To Film at a High Angle

A high angle is when the camera is positioned high above and over a subject to emphasize the overall smallness within the shot. A high angle also changes the viewer's perspective to symbolically show the meaning of superiority and dominance over the subject. When done correctly, a high angle can prove to be an extremely useful and powerful technique in your projects.

Step 1: Understand High Angles

Before you plan and film your project, you must understand the uses of high angles. There are many techniques to approach your high angle shot, and there is no right or wrong method to film this way. The use of a high angle has been used in various ways. This technique entirely depends on where your scene takes place and the context behind it. You must also determine the degree and affect of your high angle. You can position your angle to natural or extreme heights depending on the tone of your scene. If you are incorporating two people in a scene in which one person dominates over the other one, the level of your high angle must be realistically appropriate between the heights of both people. High angles are not reserved just for your subjects and actors. High angles can also be implemented to showcase a city in which buildings, roads and people look extremely small to the human eye.

Step 2: Determine and Plan Your Shots

All shots, scenes and takes for your project should be carefully thought out and planned prior to filming. You must determine the tone, framing, editing and shot angles of your scene. The use of a high angle should only be implemented when it is appropriate for your scene. Once your ideas become concrete, be sure to visually document your ideas with scripts, storyboards and shot lists. In this situation, the use of a high angle can be explained visually through the use of these visual references. This process will help communicate your ideas to your crew and even work as your own personal reminder. 

Step 3: Filming High Angles

The filming of high angles depends on your subject, location and scene significance. After you have determined the use of this particular angle through careful planning, you are now able to film your scene. If you are shooting a high angle at a reasonable height for people, you must position your camera on the tripod to tilt downwards towards the subject. You can also incorporate the legs of the tripod to create added height as well by unlocking and adding length to the legs.

Another way to shoot at a high angle is to mount your tripod and camera onto a higher level than your subject. You can take your camera off your tripod and shoot handheld on top of a safe and secure ladder. You could also film on top of a building. The techniques to film at a high angle are endless. As long as the camera is panned downwards towards your subject, there is no right or wrong way to film high angles. Be creative, experiment, and have fun while creating a high angle shot.