Occassionally, I do these little exercises. I got inspired looking at Hans Bacher's blog. He is just so amazing with screen composition and design. So I took a situation, a Western stand-off, and quickly did a few different ways to stage some of the action. There is no continuity in these thumbnails, I just put the camera around a few different places to see what kind of composition I could come up with and find out what kind of mood each one created.
That was the real goal, creating mood. I am against "cool shots" just for the cool factor. If you're just showing off your camera rig or your layout skills without regard to enhancing the story, you are wasting your time and distracting the audience. Cool shots work best when they enhance the mood of the scene.
No. I'm not working on a wetsern, I just picked this situation because it had an immediate conflict that I didn't have to set up. Again, I wasn't considering continuity or building a story, I just wanted to see where all I could place the camera and approximate lenses (some are very wide, some are long). I did all of these sketches pretty quickly. I tried to see how many I could do in an hour and how many of them I liked. (I'm not showing you all of them)
Now a single shot (or screen composition) can't create a mood as well as a series of shots. Like single chord in music isn't as effective as a series of chords. The same way a color standing alone looks diffferent than when it surrounded by either analogous or complimentary colors. Dramatic change (from shot to shot) creates more drama and tension. Try it sometime. Cut from three or four very flat, straight on shots to a strong 3-point perspective shot and feel the drama. Or try the opposite: create a scene from several dramatic perspectives, camara moves even, then cut to a very flat staging. The flat shot gets suddenly very dramatic because it stands out.
Oh, and go visit Hans Bacher's blog. You will be inspired. http://its-a-wrap.blogspot.com/