Back to the Future opening shot

A truly great shot is one you’ll never notice. It tells a story with no apparent effort, putting the audience right in the space needed to get ideas across with no interference between lens and eye. Filmmakers can take obvious pride in their attention-getting compositions. But I’d wager the shots for which many directors, cinematographers and crews feel the most pride are the ones that audiences never realize are incredibly difficult. One great example is very intricate Back to the Future opening shot.

There’s a lot of great stuff in Back to the Future, but I wouldn’t be surprised if many people have never thought about how challening the opening shot might have been. The /Film readership is a savvy bunch, many of you filmmakers and/or deep enthusiasts of the art of film, so it may be no surprise that the BTTF opening is a beast of a shot. Regardless, there’s something to be learned from dissecting how it was done. In a new interview, the film’s special effects supervisor Kevin Pike explains just how they did that long Back to the Future opening shot. Read More »