Alfonso Cuarón, Joe Wright, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Sam Levinson and of course 1917’s Sam Mendes, have also added their names to the one-shot canon – as have hundreds of other filmmakers since 1990. But with so many directors and cinematographers trying to replicate the Copa shot’s greatness, is there a danger that it is becoming overused?
“I don’t think so,” says Brown. “No more than the cut, the dissolve [or] the fade. There are times when such arbitrary continuousness sustains shocking intimacy with the performers and brings us face to face with the gripping, unblinking tension of passing time.”
So is the Copa shot the greatest shot in cinematic history? Well, it’s long been considered one of the greatest, appearing on several lists and rankings placing it up there with the best. “That Copa shot is still famous among moviegoers and legendary for thousands of Steadicam operators,” Brown says, “and for good reason: it’s perfect!”
For McConkey, who went on to shoot Brian De Palma’s famous 12-minute opening one-take for his 1998 thriller Snake Eyes and was the Steadicam operator on such films as Carlito’s Way (1993), The Silence of the Lambs (1991) and Natural Born Killers (1994), the Copa shot is the thing on his CV that continues to resonate most.
“I remember once, being in a cab in New York, and the driver asked what I did. I said, ‘I’m a Steadicam operator; you may not have heard of them,’” he says. “The driver said, ‘oh yeah I know, hey that Goodfellas shot is that thing.’ I said, ‘Yeah, I did that.’”
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