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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Screenwriting Discussion    Screenwriting Class  ›  scene dissection Moderators: George Willson
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  Author    scene dissection  (currently 1912 views)
leitskev
Posted: April 14th, 2017, 8:23am Report to Moderator
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An invitation for people to pick a movie scene so we can dissect why it works or doesn't work. Many great scenes are on youtube, so leave the link if you find one there. Or maybe Netflix, probably most can get on Netflix.

Can be a scene you love, hate, whatever. Let's just get under the hood and see what's going on.

Jeff, you're welcome to get us started. If you don't want to play, that's fine too.
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LC
Posted: April 14th, 2017, 8:43am Report to Moderator
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I love this scene. I love the pram scene in The Untouchables too... And countless others, in terms of suspense, but I won't get greedy.

Great idea for a thread, Kev.

I can't remember how to embed, if someone can assist... and then refresh my memory on it? Ta.

https://youtu.be/sqLc1ySL5PE

Thanks Pia! Embed won't work on mobile devices unless using the desktop version of YouTube



Munich
Steven Spielberg




Revision History (2 edits; 1 reasons shown)
LC  -  April 14th, 2017, 8:43pm
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Dreamscale
Posted: April 14th, 2017, 9:39am Report to Moderator
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OK, I'll play along...

Great scene, Libby.  It works very well.  Why does it work?  Well, let's see...

First of all, the scene covers a number of different locales, which makes it move and not feel stagnant.

We see the men plant the bomb in the phone and it's very clear what has to happen to make it explode.

We go outside and see the men are set up and ready.  Although we don't know this from the actual scene, it's understood that the father is the target, and the lookout waits until the mother and daughter have left the apartment, and then we're on.

But a big truck comes up and parks right next to the car where the triggerman and his cohorts are.  The lookout worries the signal may be blocked and runs over to check with them.  While he's there, he doesn't see that the mother and daughter have returned and the daughter runs back inside, up the apartment.

Oh no...will the innocent little girl be blown up?

Back inside the apartment we go, and the daughter obviously forgot something, and finds it just as the phone rings.  OH SHIT!  NO!!!

Since she's right there, she answers the phone, an calls her dad in.

Outside the lookout realizes the car has returned and the daughter must have gone back up.

In the car, the triggerman takes out the key to set the bomb off.  The daughter is next to her dad on the phone upstairs.  The lookout runs over to the car to try and stop the detonation.

Will he make it?  Will the daughter get blown to bits?

Ah, yes, just in time..he calls it off...ABORT!!!  The daughter is saved.  Thank God!

She runs back outside, gets in the car and off they go.  We're back on now.  Father is killed and mission successful.

What's so good about it?  Well, an innocent child is in danger and the fact that the killers go out of their way not to harm her, it humanizes them, and even though they're cold blooded terrorist killers, they save the child and the scene works on multiple levels with lots of tension, ending in a bang.

OK?  Are you happy or satisfied with that, Kev?  Looking forward to hearing your take on it.


To ski or not to ski...that's not even a question.
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leitskev
Posted: April 14th, 2017, 10:24am Report to Moderator
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I agree with Jeff's astute observations. I can only add this:

3:10 the truck arrives, the lookout leaves position, things going wrong
3:38 girl returns unseen by lookout
4:38 phone rings and girl moves to answer
5:05 the girl is still answering...the look out man realizes the car returned
5:20 the bombing is finally aborted

This is the key juncture where the tension is established and milked. It lasts 2 minutes 10 seconds.

There are 2 "events" that build the pressure. First is the arrival of the truck. At this point is just the sense that the plan is unraveling. The second is when the little girl returns. We know she's going to be in danger. Then the phone rings and she rushes to answer.

Also note how the time when she moves to the phone and when the attack is aborted is 42 seconds. So they really stretch it out to milk that tension.

Can this be duplicated in the script? Obviously much of that is in the hands more of the director. But it's worth wondering if the same delay can produce tension in the reader.

For example:

INT. SUITE

The phone rings. The girl rushes to answer it.

EXT. STREET

The look out notices the mother's car and scratches his head.

INT. TERRORIST CAR

The red light come on on the trigger.

INT. SUITE

The girl picks up the phone.

  GIRL
Hello? Hello?

EXT. STREET

The look out runs to the car.

A passing hearse blocks his way.

He makes it to the car.

Inside, the trigger man begins to screw in the cap which will trigger the bomb.

INT. SUITE

The girl holds the phone...her father arrives.

  GIRL
Hello?

The father takes the phone, but she stands beside him

EXT. TERRORIST CAR

The lookout screams through the glass.

The trigger man looks up, but continues applying the cap.

  LOOKOUT
Abort! Abort!

The trigger man seems to not hear him.

  LOOKOUT
Abort!

Finally the triggerman looks up, rolls down his window, and puts away the trigger.


The point is to create that delay that allows pressure to build. Once you throw the live grenade, you milk it.
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Dreamscale
Posted: April 14th, 2017, 10:55am Report to Moderator
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Agreed.

The scene moves quickly, even though it is a 6 minute scene.  This is due to the fact that multiple "scenes" are included...multiple Slugs, multiple characters.  It's not stagnant.  Things are happening both inside the apartment and outside on the street and in the car.

This is the real key, IMO.  If this scene played out only showing 1 aspect, it doesn't work.  If the setup was such that it was only in 1 locale, it doesn't work.

Moral of this story, move your action around.  Have action/things happening.  Write it out, don't rely on someone else to work it for you.


To ski or not to ski...that's not even a question.
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leitskev
Posted: April 14th, 2017, 11:35am Report to Moderator
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Yes! We don't leave it up to the director. You can create the delay where the tension builds for the reader. Here, they switch to other locations.

But sometimes that can't be done in certain stories. So are there ways for the writer to still do it?

I think so. The script can be really technical, using POV switches. But that doesn't read well.

What if the bomb was set to go off if anyone picked up the receiver?

INT. SUITE

The girl enters.

Moves to her

FATHER'S OFFICE

And gives him a kiss on the cheek.

The phone rings in the other room

  GIRL
I'll get it.

  FATHER
No, no, let me.

But she runs into

THE SUITE

...and to the phone.

  FATHER(OS)
Let me get it.

She puts her hand on the phone.

But doesn't pick it up yet.

The phone rings and rings.

Father enters the room.

She takes her hand off.

  FATHER
Bring it to me.

She picks up the phone.

Puts her hand on the receiver.

Walks the phone over to him.

He takes the phone in hand. She waits next to him.

  FATHER
Go outside.

  GIRL
Papa...

  FATHER
Go...

The phone rings and rings.

She finally runs out into

THE HALL

...closing the door behind her.

Booooom!


I think there are ways of writing the scene that stretch the suspense. You end up using more lines(though you create more white space). It's worth the price. If you can create that feeling of tension and suspense in the reader, you've strengthened the impression it will make on him.
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Dreamscale
Posted: April 14th, 2017, 12:08pm Report to Moderator
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Yep, that's good and that works, as well.

This way, however, it's a much shorter scene, so the tension, although "milked" for all it can be, is not nearly at the level of the actual scene.

One thing to point out, Kevin, you said something about writing more lines to stretch the suspense (while adding white to the script) as if it's a negative to writing more lines.

I disagree, as one should write as many lines as the scene needs to be as effective as it can be.  And, when "stretching" the suspense, we're also stretching out the runtime, so more lines should be used.


To ski or not to ski...that's not even a question.
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leitskev
Posted: April 14th, 2017, 12:18pm Report to Moderator
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Actually we agree on that. But I know a lot of people think no line should be wasted. I mean isn't that the reason orphans are despised?

But we agree, more lines is a great way to lengthen the scene. This reflects the time of the scene, but it's also a great tool for creating that delay which builds suspense for the reader.
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Angry Bear
Posted: April 14th, 2017, 12:23pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from LC
I love this scene. I love the pram scene in The Untouchables too... And countless others, in terms of suspense, but I won't get greedy.

Great idea for a thread, Kev.

I can't remember how to embed, if someone can assist... and then refresh my memory on it? Ta.

Libby,

when you're at Youtube, click on the share button then chose embed. Copy the embed link.  


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Dreamscale
Posted: April 14th, 2017, 12:29pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from leitskev
Actually we agree on that. But I know a lot of people think no line should be wasted. I mean isn't that the reason orphans are despised?

But we agree, more lines is a great way to lengthen the scene. This reflects the time of the scene, but it's also a great tool for creating that delay which builds suspense for the reader.


You beat me to something I was about to point out, and it's about our little redheaded friends, we lovingly refer to as orphans.

This is EXACTLY why I harp about the little guys all the time - because they are a line waster, and a script can have so much more visual detail, tension stretching action, description.  When one understands how to alleviate wasted lines, by removing wasted, extraneous words, which also includes repetition (like repeating your Slug in passage, you open up space for the things you want to see in a script.

Space on the page is so valuable and also so limited.  Why waste it on things that aren't necessary?



To ski or not to ski...that's not even a question.
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leitskev
Posted: April 14th, 2017, 12:41pm Report to Moderator
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I try to kill as many of the little tykes myself, whenever I can. Started teaching myself that on my first script, before I even had software or knew about SS.

But I don't really sweat them when reading a script. I mean if it's a 105 page script, does it really matter how many orphans there are?
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Dreamscale
Posted: April 14th, 2017, 12:50pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from leitskev
I mean if it's a 105 page script, does it really matter how many orphans there are?


That depends.  If there are orphans on every page, then that 105 page script can be quite a few pages longer than it should be/needs to be.



To ski or not to ski...that's not even a question.
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leitskev
Posted: April 14th, 2017, 1:22pm Report to Moderator
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=szUTBWoRTo0

Scarface

Quick thought on this.

I always look for hinges in a scene, turning points. I find most scenes have either one, or two, where the second turn reverses the first.'

I think in this scene, the first hinge is when Tony tells Frank he will go on the street and raise the money. This tells Frank that Tony has been making moves on his own. Frank no longer trusts Tony from this moment.

The second hinge comes when Frank implies that Tony made a deal with Sosa and is hiding something from him. Tony confronts him, walking closer, saying "you call me a liar?" One half expects them to draw weapons.

But Frank defuses the tension saying "let's just say I want things to stay the way they are." This is the moment when Frank decides to kill Tony. But his way is not like Tony's. Tony is always direct. Frank will hire assassins to do it.

The whole scene is pure confrontation. Frank doesn't trust Tony, and Tony, full of ambition, no longer respects Frank.
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BSaunders
Posted: April 15th, 2017, 3:37am Report to Moderator
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https://youtu.be/ZgYVgKNotVc

Chasing Amy when Holden confronts Alyssa about her past.

One if the rawest scenes I've ever watched. So relevant, so real.

Fucking adore this entire script from top to bottom.


Who dis nigger up on that ney?
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leitskev
Posted: April 15th, 2017, 8:38am Report to Moderator
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Great scene. Which highlights something we've not been discussing: that some scenes just can't be isolated structurally from the whole story.

Also, not every scene has a clear progression from A to B. Sometimes they go from A to B then end up right back in A. Or sometimes they never leave A. Maybe this scene is like that?

Yet it's still essential. It's a scene where the protagonist learns about his girlfriend's history, confronts her, and in the process confronts himself and begins to explore who he really is and what he really wants. So the scene is maybe a turning point within the larger structure where he begins that process of self discovery.

The scene itself works because, as you said, it's so raw. She spills her guts all over the battlefield.

And something else important: she's smart. She sees herself, she sees him better than he sees himself. That matters a lot. It raises her character to a level where we want to see her happy. We want to see them together. That heightens the story goal and the stakes.

And for guys watching this, it prompts our own introspection. How many times have we made such quick and unfair judgments about girls with a bad rep? This makes us uncomfortable...and BINGO!!!

That's why I launched this exercise. To gain insights...and there it is!

This scene creates tension because it causes the audience to look inward. Even women might look inside and wonder if they have judged other women too harshly, though this is more relevant for men in the audience. But making an audience uncomfortable by causing it to take a hard look inside...that's tension!!

Excellent!
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pale yellow
Posted: April 15th, 2017, 7:47pm Report to Moderator
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Great stuff here! Kevin, I always said I think you should write some screenwriting books on the side. You are a great teacher. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us.


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leitskev
Posted: April 15th, 2017, 8:39pm Report to Moderator
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Here to learn, Dena, not teach. I share what little I got and try to get something back. I did today with the Chasing Amy scene.
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BSaunders
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Quoted from leitskev
Also, not every scene has a clear progression from A to B. Sometimes they go from A to B then end up right back in A. Or sometimes they never leave A. Maybe this scene is like that?


I agree with that. Holden approaches the situation with a closed mind and no intention of holding back his frustrations, but throughout he seems to change his perspective until the very last line. He kinda drops the mic and walks off leaving the scene the way it started. Her upset and him pissed.


Quoted Text
Yet it's still essential. It's a scene where the protagonist learns about his girlfriend's history, confronts her, and in the process confronts himself and begins to explore who he really is and what he really wants. So the scene is maybe a turning point within the larger structure where he begins that process of self discovery.


Definitely a turning point. After this scene, an old friend of Holden's tell him of a similar experience and that being bitter towards a girlfriend because of her past was the reason he let "the one" go. Holden realizes the only reason he's disturbed by this is because he doesn't have the same experience as her. He drops the grudges towards Alyssa and wants to make it up to her. (By having a threesome, so they can be adventurous together)


Quoted Text
The scene itself works because, as you said, it's so raw. She spills her guts all over the battlefield.

The writing was perfect here IMO, but it's not only the way it was written but the way it was filmed. There was nothing special about it. That makes it feel so real.


Quoted Text
And something else important: she's smart. She sees herself, she sees him better than he sees himself. That matters a lot. It raises her character to a level where we want to see her happy. We want to see them together. That heightens the story goal and the stakes.

I never realized this. Another approach I can take for building a loveable, or even a hateable character. Thank-you.


Quoted Text
And for guys watching this, it prompts our own introspection. How many times have we made such quick and unfair judgments about girls with a bad rep? This makes us uncomfortable...and BINGO!!!

Too many. When I was an obnoxious, narrow-minded 18-year-old.


Quoted Text
This scene creates tension because it causes the audience to look inward. Even women might look inside and wonder if they have judged other women too harshly, though this is more relevant for men in the audience. But making an audience uncomfortable by causing it to take a hard look inside...that's tension!!

Anytime a flick can move someone so much to really question their own belief, that's what it's all about.



Who dis nigger up on that ney?
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leitskev
Posted: April 17th, 2017, 8:37am Report to Moderator
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S3yon2GyoiM

Gonna go QT again, since I knew this was on youtube. It's from True Romance. What I love about this scene is the structure.

Our hero's father, Dennis Hopper, has been taken for interrogation by the bad guys(Chris Walken) who are trying to find his son, who has his coke worth a ton of money.

Walken asks Hopper if he'd like a cigarette. Hopper declines, saying he quit.

Walken's goal in the scene is to convince Hopper that one thing is certain: he will give them the info he wants. He's a professional for the mafia, he WILL torture Hopper, and Hopper will eventually give up his son's location.

Once Walken succeeds in convincing Hopper, the game for Hopper changes. His goal had been to resist, to pretend he knew nothing. But now, knowing he will eventually spill what he knows under torture, he decides the only way to protect his son is to trick Walken into killing him before he spills the info. No easy task.

What's great is the way we know Hopper has made this decision: he says he's changed his mind and he asks for the cigarette. That signifies that he now is committed to dying here, so no point in quitting cigarettes anymore. Such a great transition.

Hopper proceeds into a long story meant to insult Walken and get him to pull the trigger. It works, and the father protects the son, who had not seen in many years until that morning, making it an even more emotionally satisfying scene.

In my experience, most movie scenes are built like this: the double hinge. The second hinge might also be the end of the scene. So here, the first hinge, Hopper becomes convinced the only way he can protect his son is to get Walken to kill him. So his goal has changed. The scene begins with this goal for Hopper: he wants to protect his son by not spilling, and he wants to survive. The goal becomes he wants to protect his son by dying.

The second turn comes when Walken kills him at the end of the scene.

So two things hold our attention. First is the stark conflict: Walken wants info, Hopper wants to protect his son.  Then our attention is booted up when Hopper asks for the cigarette. We know something has changed in his mindset, and something crucial is about to happen. Then Hopper goes into his story about "Sicilian niggers", which seems a strange thing to do, provoking your captor, unless we understand why he's doing it, which most of us don't probably figure out until Walken shoots him.

So once again there is the principle of the unexpected. We don't expect this story, we don't expect him to provoke Walken. As with comedians on stage, I think there is great power in creating the unexpected in scenes,
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leitskev
Posted: April 17th, 2017, 2:40pm Report to Moderator
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As I've said many times, I'm a big believer in the larger structure for scripts. I just think it's also possible for a story to have a structure that follows its own logic rather than some standard model.

Something else that I have noticed: often when people fall in love with a script or a movie, it's one memorable scene that makes it for them. Many people like the recent Alien film, Prometheus I think, because of the scene where the woman hero uses an abortion machine to take the monster out of her while she's awake.

Trying to craft scenes that linger in the memory is a huge challenge. Even flawed films and scripts can overcome their flaws with a great scene or two.

I don't think it's crazy to think you can craft a loose-fitting structure around several really good scenes and end up with a good movie or script. Just an alternative way of looking at it. I think that movie directors are more likely to think in these terms. Obviously if you can do both, have the perfect overall structure AND great scenes, that's preferable, but given an either/or choice, isn't it better to have the great scenes?

You can often spot the script written by the guru. It conforms to rules that are widely taught, hits all the structure points right on cue...and is as exciting as watching the ice melt in your drink.

I can write that boring script that hits all the plot points. Most of us can.

I want to learn how to write the scenes that leave the audience cut and bleeding in a way that will leave a scar. Hopefully people will keep pitching in, I'm not here for the free drinks, I'm hungry to learn.
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Dreamscale
Posted: April 18th, 2017, 2:08pm Report to Moderator
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OK, let's jump back to the True Romance scene, as it is indeed a classic...but I really can't agree with everything you said about it, Kevin.

First of all, why does it work so well?  Answer - because it's extremely memorable...and unique.

Why is it so memorable and unique?  The dialogue exchange between Hopper and Walken is simply brilliant, both in how it's written and how it's delivered and performed.

It's played out to the max, in terms of "milking the tension" and just the way that it goes back and forth is amazing.

Like the opening to QT's IB, once again, we have a badass Antag who smiles, jokes around, and is "polite".

For me, it has nothing to do with Hopper deciding his only way to protect his son is to get Walken to kill him, because this character doesn't really give 2 shits about his son.  In fact, he comes across to me that his only real cares are his dog and just getting through his miserable existence.

I think he may actually have thought he could get away with lying to Walken...at first...but more importantly, I think he realized he was going to die anyway, so why not get a big "Fuck You" in before he goes?

Either way, this is 1 of many very memorable scenes in TR, and 1 of the reasons it's 1 of my very favorite movies of all times.


To ski or not to ski...that's not even a question.
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leitskev
Posted: April 18th, 2017, 3:03pm Report to Moderator
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I think the structure of the scene is what gives QT the room to play with his creative dialog. As you say, at first Hopper thinks he can hold out. But once Walken convinces him that he will torture him and get him to talk, he decides to protect his son. The fact that he had not been in his son's life makes this all the more poignant.

See, if Hopper only cared about himself, he would at least try to give the info to Walken and see if it buys his life. I mean why not give it a shot?

Anyway, the however one views it, it's the scene structure that gives the dialog room to flourish. IMO.
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leitskev
Posted: April 22nd, 2017, 8:40am Report to Moderator
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Talking to myself, I guess, but here's an interesting one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wM6exo00T5I&t=33s

It's the Wolf of Wall St scene where Matthew McConaughey mentors Dicaprio.

At first glance, it doesn't fit the model for usual scene construction. But the example BSunders has left us from Chasing Amy has maybe given me a better insight into where the tension really lies.

Normally we build a scene around conflict. That's what holds the audience's attention. Conflict usually comes from characters with opposing goals.

But here, that doesn't seem to exist. McConnaughey is the owner of the brokerage. He takes the green new hire to lunch. Never does he put an ounce of pressure on him. He orders drinks, and when Dicaprio declines, it doesn't bother him. He offers him coke, the same. They both have the same goal in life: make a ton of money. So there's no tension, no conflict, just an entertaining scene brilliantly acted by McConaughey. It's an important scene in the larger scheme of things, as we see a transition in the hero from idealistic and clean to a scumbag. Which is the heart of the film.

However, thinking about Chasing Amy and the scene linked to, there may be more to this Wolf scene. There is no tension between the characters...but there IS a little tension we feel. Not much, but it's the seed of something that will grow. The tension comes from the trip wires of our own conscience being tripped. The mentor explains that it's all about screwing the investor from his money. That no one really predicts what the market will do. This makes anyone in the audience who uses a broker cringe. And it goes further. McConaughey explains the only way to get through the job is to be high on coke. He talks about masturbating on breaks at work. None of this makes Dicaprio's character uncomfortable. But it does create unease in the audience.

Stand up comics use this to great effect. Watch Dave Chapelle and see how he gets audiences uncomfortable with his politically incorrect topics and takes on things. Being uncomfortable is to exist in a state of tension. That tension captures us, we can't turn away. For the comic, every punchline or comical action releases some of that tension, and that whoosh comes in the form of laughter. But without the tension, no whoosh.
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BSaunders
Posted: April 27th, 2017, 7:12am Report to Moderator
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I'm into this topic very much man, but I'm busy, busy at the moment. Will come back with more scenes soon


Who dis nigger up on that ney?
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leitskev
Posted: April 27th, 2017, 8:30am Report to Moderator
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No problem. Pia emailed me saying not to expect much activity during the OWC. I told her it's ok, because forcing myself to post helps me organize my thoughts and sometimes leads to new insights. So I don't mind playing with myself!

I was digging through old files yesterday. I found a document I created a few years back on story building. I had a big section on tension, and I kept a whole list of situations that make an audience uncomfortable. And uncomfortable audience has built in tension. Think, for example, about the King's Speech. He has a stuttering problem. So when he has to go on the radio, or speak in public, the tension is built in, no conflict required. Same with a nerdy high school boy getting a ride to school from his mom and they end up picking up the hottest girl in school to give her a ride. That boy is feeling it, and so do we!

Another thing I have long emphasized in my own understand of story is the importance of the bond between characters. No theorists seem to talk about it, but it's critical, sometimes the most critical element. That comes into play in the Chasing Amy scene. We like both these characters and want to see them together. That creates the stakes of that scene. The Affleck character has to get past his problems with her past, but he can't seem to. We watch the whole scene hoping he will. Even when she tries to get close to him, he can't do it. All of that creates tension for us watching it.

All of the theorists on story and screenplay seem to forget this crucial thing: a story is not just an interaction between characters. A story involves the audience. So an audience might feel tension even where the characters themselves do not. A story has to create anticipation and tension in the audience. The audience is a part of that equation: their fears, their beliefs, their experience.
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BSaunders
Posted: May 6th, 2017, 11:16pm Report to Moderator
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No country for old men coin toss scene.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=OLCL6OYbSTw

I'd like to hear your opinion on this one . One of favs of all times.


Who dis nigger up on that ney?
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Dreamscale
Posted: May 7th, 2017, 5:55pm Report to Moderator
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It's a very powerful and scary scene...very effective.

It's played out and milks the tension and even terror.

I liked the entire movie, although it is rather slow in places, but with great characters and great performances, it just works.


To ski or not to ski...that's not even a question.
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Lightfoot
Posted: May 7th, 2017, 9:06pm Report to Moderator
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Recently watched Fracture again for the umpteenth time .... one scene really stuck with me though. Unfortunately I can't find a complete clip of this scene on Youtube, but the entire movie is on there.



Scene starts at 47 minutes, may have to use the 1.25x time speed ... it's slowed down a bit.

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leitskev
Posted: May 8th, 2017, 9:22am Report to Moderator
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The No Country scene is a classic scene. It has what I consider the most common structure and I try to use this structure in most of my scenes. I call it the double hinge.

The store owner angers the killer by mentioning the killer is traveling from Dallas. The killer doesn't like nosy people who pay too much attention to him, this endangers him of course. So right away he begins deciding whether to kill the man.

We know this is what the killer is thinking, so this loads the tension. Once loaded, the directors indeed milk the tension for all its worth. Imagine how less effective this scene would be if they went right to the coin toss?

The coin toss is the second hinge, the pivot that determines whether the killer will let the man live.

Outside of that basic structure, the scene is great because it gives a strange insight into the mind of the killer, whose world has its own set of internal rules. I'm not sure, but he seems to believe that all lives and events are subject to a kind of predetermined fate. He sees himself as merely a tool of that fate, an enforcer of fate's rules.
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leitskev
Posted: May 8th, 2017, 9:25am Report to Moderator
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Lightfoot, if you tell me what scene and when it starts it would help. I don't have time to watch the whole film.
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Lightfoot
Posted: May 8th, 2017, 4:22pm Report to Moderator
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I did ....


Quoted Text
Scene starts at 47 minutes, may have to use the 1.25x time speed ... it's slowed down a bit.


It's the interrogation room scene
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leitskev
Posted: May 8th, 2017, 4:42pm Report to Moderator
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Ah, I didn't see it below the caption.

Found the movie on HBO, so I think I'm going to watch the whole thing later. I'll comment after, thanks.
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Lightfoot
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Quoted Text
I'm not sure, but he seems to believe that all lives and events are subject to a kind of predetermined fate. He sees himself as merely a tool of that fate, an enforcer of fate's rules.


I like his reaction later on in the scene when the clerk tells him this was his father-in-law's place and that he married into it. It's as if he thinks there is a certain order to this world, perhaps he believes a man shouldn't be marrying into anything and instead make his own way. He seems to be hung up on that anyways because he cuts off the clerk's life story with " You married into it" and soon afterwards does the coin toss with everything that man has at stake.
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leitskev
Posted: May 8th, 2017, 9:37pm Report to Moderator
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Hmm, yeah, maybe. Certainly it serves the purpose of raising the tension as it's like he's accusing the owner of something, puts him on the defensive.

As for the fractured scene, I just watched the whole movie. Good film. In that scene, I'm not sure if there was one specific turning point, but Hopkins has a clear goal: he wants to make Gosling overconfident. That's his weakness. He wants to provoke him so he'll be hasty and he wants him to think Hopkins has no possible defense.
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Lightfoot
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I like to think he was attempting to recruit Willy over to his side and if he can't ( like you said) make him overconfident. Could Willy refusing to become his lawyer be the turning point? He sends all the evidence Willy has made against him back to Willy's desk waving them off as nothing but a "box of papers", he has Willy investigated, knows about his 97% conviction rate, and even tells Willy face-to-face that he has nothing to prove he killed his wife. Seems like he is telling Willy that he is on a path to failure then offers him an exit by becoming his lawyer. When Willy refuses this offer that's when he tells Willy he knows his flaw. I believe this was meant to get Willy to start questioning his chances of winning this case ....


Quoted from SPOILER
  In this entire scene he was toying with Willy, Hopkins knows there is no evidence that Willy could find to prove he is guilty, his confession is invalid due to the detective's affair with his wife and the gun that Willy is hunting for is with the detective.
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leitskev
Posted: May 9th, 2017, 6:38pm Report to Moderator
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I don't think he wanted Beachum to question things at that point, although it's understandable to think that because of the dialog. I was actually going to mention this. I think the dialog got away from the writer. They lost sight of Hopkins goal and they slipped in stuff meant to show us...the audience...Beachum's flaw. To be consistent, Hopkins should have kept that quiet.

Remember early in the trial? Hopkins pretends he doesn't know what he's doing. Later when that no longer matters he shows how well he knows the law. See, Hopkins wanted a lawyer who was cocky and eager to move on to his new job. He wanted a lawyer who would not ask questions. Beachum didn't. He knew Beachum wouldn't accept the job offer.

It's a good movie because there's a good twist/mystery and two very compelling actors. I think, what do I know.
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BSaunders
Posted: May 10th, 2017, 5:33am Report to Moderator
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I love this thread. It's my favorite one on this site. If I wasn't so focused on finishing my current script I would be a lot more responsive. But..

Do GOOD writers disect each of their scenes like this? Or

Do they just write a cool story and let the audiance take what they want away from it.

I understand writers (most of the time) are trying to put a message across as a movie in a whole, but in every scene?

Do i need to start doing this?


Who dis nigger up on that ney?
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leitskev
Posted: May 10th, 2017, 9:38am Report to Moderator
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I'm just an amateur, I have no idea what film school people or pro writers do. But on youtube you can find all kinds of examples of QT and other directors discussing scenes. So I would guess that they do this kind of stuff all the time. Writers, actors, directors...they dissect scenes. I really don't think professional people in any field take a casual approach. They look at what other pros are doing, they try to understand.

Can someone who doesn't do this stuff write a good scene? Sure. But it's less likely. And it's hard to be able to do it consistently, which is really what pro means.

As far as the overall message of a film or story, I actually think that's less important. Much less important. Not that finding a theme or a message isn't interesting, it is, but it's much more important to make film that grabs and holds our attention.
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leitskev
Posted: May 10th, 2017, 12:21pm Report to Moderator
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=szUTBWoRTo0&t=206s

Frank is pissed about the deal Tony made with Soza. Worried how they can come up with the cash. Tony says if they have trouble, he can make some moves and come up with it. Frank learns from this Tony is making moves on the side, which borders on treason.

I always look for turning points in a scene, and as I've said, there's often a double hinge of them. This is the first turning point. Frank now doesn't trust Tony.

When Frank finally expresses that to Tony, Tony steps forward and demands to know if Frank is calling him a liar. This is the second turning point. Tony confronts him, and Frank seemingly backs down, but he's really decided to cut ties with Tony. It's possibly the moment he starts to think he'll have to kill Tony, but his style is not to do it right there. His style, because he lacks balls, is to pay for an assassination.

The scene has great tension because up to this point Frank has been a friendly mentor to Tony. So it's their first confrontation. Frank believes Tony has betrayed him. Tony believes he has been loyal, but he also believes Frank's lack of balls stands in the way of what he wants: going big time.

The double hinged scene has two turning points. The second is a reversal of the first. It comes near the end of is the end of the scene.

For example, Bobby, a high school student, has a crush on Jane, but is afraid to talk to her. But then by luck of fate they get stuck sitting together on the bus. At first Bobby can't say anything. We know how Bobby feels, so tension builds. Finally he speaks, but it's clumsy, not going well. Shit! But then she notices his tattoo. She admires it, has always wanted a tattoo. They begin speaking on friendly terms. We feel his hope and excitment grow! That tattoo discovery is the first turning point.

But then she asks why he got that particular tattoo. He explains he had a silly crush on some girl freshman year. He's all over it now. She asks him which girl. He doesn't want to say. We don't want him to say, we feel something bad will happen if he does. But he feels he has to keep her trust, so finally he comes clean. but it turns out this girl used to be Jane's best friend. She's horrified by the fact he got the tattoo for that reason and won't talk to him anymore.

That's a reversal. A second turning point.

The Scarface scenes is not quite a reversal, but close. The first turn causes Frank to mistrust Tony. The second turn comes with the confrontation when Tony asks if he's calling him a liar. Frank does not reverse his conclusion, he still doesn't trust Tony, but he keeps it to himself. He backs off, but inside he's planning Tony's demise. So it only appears to be a reversal as Frank backs down.
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leitskev
Posted: May 10th, 2017, 2:42pm Report to Moderator
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gDadfh0ZdBM

This famous Matrix scene has one turning point. In effect the scene itself is a turning point. But the turn is not sharp. there's no reversal. Neo chooses truth, as we expect him to, and as Morpheaus expects him to. So there is no conflict. The driving force here is intrigue, mystery. We want to know what is behind the matrix.

I think every scene has an engine. Usually either it's a question we want answered, such as mystery or whether a character achieves his goal.

Or it's driven by conflict. Two or more characters that want contradictory things and we watch to see how it resolves.

So question, or conflict. Or both.
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leitskev
Posted: May 11th, 2017, 9:32am Report to Moderator
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stumbled on this analysis of No Country

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VkZeBTNtoXs

I don't think the kind of analysis above is necessary to study screenwriting, but it is interesting and everything helps.

I do think studying scene construction is absolutely necessary, however.

Here's a different type of scene from Seinfeld.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vnqBAuehmhM&t=3s

In this scene, Kramer is planning to leave for California and he tries to enlist George to go with him. He fails, so there is no essential change as the result of the scene(thus proving Robert McKee's thesis in Story is highly flawed. He insists that every scene must involved a change from positive to negative or negative to positive. I always cringe whenever I hear "Every...". Like "Every story involves the changing of the protagonist".)

Anyways, there are no turning points in this scene, so there is no structure to it. It's a simple scene, one character wants to convince another character to do something, and he never makes any progress in that regard.

However, what drives the scene is comedic tension, a form of conflict. Conflict is usually the result of two characters wanting opposing things, as is the case here. Kramer tries to convince George by making him see the emptiness of his own life. And though he never gets close to convincing George to go with him, he does make George miserable in seeing his own empty life. The comedy comes from that tension.




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Lightfoot
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Quoted from leitskev
He fails, so there is no essential change as the result of the scene(thus proving Robert McKee's thesis in Story is highly flawed. He insists that every scene must involved a change from positive to negative or negative to positive. I always cringe whenever I hear "Every...". Like "Every story involves the changing of the protagonist".)


I had the same thoughts, I know from memory i have read scripts and watched movies that had scenes which didn't have the negative/positive change. I think in key scenes this should happen, but not every scene in the script.


This is a great idea doing these scene dissections, almost should have it's own section on the site.
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leitskev
Posted: May 13th, 2017, 7:45am Report to Moderator
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4iWJoKc3_k

Magic act, Penn and Teller.

Magic is a form of storytelling. The key element, as in most storytelling, is to build anticipation, and in this case, the put the audience squirming on the edge of their seat. That creates tension, compels our interest.

Note how Penn begins to build anticipation by "reassuring" us that though this is the first time he's done the trick on TV, they've practiced it many times. This creates an anticipation of danger. Maybe something could go wrong. He has our attention now.

Around 4:28, a twist! He seemingly makes a mistake! This ups the danger! Very smart.

He then proceeds to use the trick on Teller in what seems to be very dangerous.

The whole thing is so simple, yet so effective. Not even close to the greatest magic you've ever seen, but that's not the point. The point is to show the key ingredients to holding an audience's attention. Anticipation(in this case of danger) and an unexpected turn(here it's when something seemingly goes wrong, upping the stakes.)

How does this help in scene construction? We look at our scene. Have we SET IT UP properly with enough ANTICIPATION? And do we have a point where something UNEXPECTED happens which UPS THE STAKES?
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eldave1
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Quoted from BSaunders
I love this thread. It's my favorite one on this site. If I wasn't so focused on finishing my current script I would be a lot more responsive. But..

Do GOOD writers disect each of their scenes like this? Or

Do they just write a cool story and let the audiance take what they want away from it.

I understand writers (most of the time) are trying to put a message across as a movie in a whole, but in every scene?

Do i need to start doing this?


To me, the key words are - "disect each of their scenes".  Replace "each" with "major" or "key" and okay. Whenever there is an absolute (e.g., never, always), to me it screams script guru rather than story teller.

I know it will sound anal, but I kind of view a script like a ladder. There are scenes that represent the individual steps of the ladder and scenes that form the sides of the ladder (something that logically holds the steps together). I dissect each steps but not some much the sides.  

By way of example, let's say I am a Spy. I'm in my home waiting for a package.

So the first scene is a step. I'll build tension there - talk about a mysterious package that is coming. I don't want something pedestrian like Dave waits for a package. I'll want tension - describe or at least hint at some mysterious importance of the package.

Now it has to get in my house - it's  just not going to be inside. SO maybe the next scene is a UPS truck pulling up to the curb outside my house. - That's part of the ladder tail and I'm not going to dissect the shit out of that one  - it's only purpose was to forecast the delivery. Now, I am going to make sure it is well written - efficient, concise, no typos, proper format blah blah blah - but I am not going to dissect it per se. It only serves as a logical anchor to move the story forward and allow me to add the next step.



My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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leitskev
Posted: May 13th, 2017, 12:31pm Report to Moderator
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Yeah, I don't think we need to dissect each of our own scenes. I think from dissecting scenes from other movies the process becomes ingrained in our own writing. Not in a one size fits all kind of way, of course. That's why we need to analyze as many types of scenes as we can. It's a process that should never end.

Any scene, any scene, that is not grabbing your reader by the throat and making her want to read on to the end of the scene, and on to the next scene, puts your story at risk of failure. Any single scene. Of course, not all of our scenes will be that successful, but that doesn't change the fact...any scene not grabbing the reader is giving the reader an excuse to stop reading.

In the package scene example...taken in isolation, the shot of the UPS truck coming up the street is boring, but viewed in context it is not, because we're building towards answering a question about the package,

But let's say the writer didn't set that up effectively. Let's say we get a glimpse of Dave the Spy making breakfast, and then of the truck. That could lose the reader.

And I've seen amateur scripts do this! All the time! No anticipation is built. Stuff is just happening. I've seen bad movies do it too. Set ups and pay offs. I think any scene or point in one's story where no anticipation has been properly set up, there is a risk.

I'd like to add something to that: often amateurs set up the anticipation but they do it weakly. And sometimes this is the result of a fear that the scene will not feel "real".

Fuock real! Make us feel!

Make the stakes high, even if it means asking the reader to buy into it a little. These are movies, there isn't much time to build stakes, so make them sharp. The paid readers will complain. But those guys are making $3 an hour reading scripts, they don't know anything about making movies.
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leitskev
Posted: May 13th, 2017, 3:54pm Report to Moderator
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3UG8jP3A8M

Standup comedy uses many of the same principles of storytelling. Create anticipation, create tension. Andy Kaufman uses these with unique style.

Here, the anticipation comes from the fact that by this point he's pretty famous, and the host gives him a big intro, he's probably the headline act, so the audience comes loaded with some anticipation. Then Andy starts by telling the audience he's going to his "own" comedy, raising curiosity and expectation.

Then he launches into a series of awful jokes. Which he tells awkwardly. There is little laughter in the audience and it's nervous laughter. The tension is heavy. People aren't sure what is real and not real.

Then he seemingly breaks down and leaves the stage upset.

None of it was real. It's not funny...but you can't turn away. Which was his whole plan.

The act gets more creative after that. Not riotously funny, but that's not Andy's goal. He just wants to grab and hold the audience's attention, and then try out his experimental material. He wants to push the edge.
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leitskev
Posted: May 14th, 2017, 7:14am Report to Moderator
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Don hasn't asked me to stop posting yet, so here's one more.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSZ-vSrFhZE

This is the opening of a Doors concert.

Over the last several months I've tried to make a study of rhythm in language. What makes something rhythmic, and what makes it pleasing to the human ear. Rhythm begins with a repeating pattern. But that alone does not constitute language. The sound of a train rolling is rhythmic, but it's not language...or music. It's like a base beat. A base beat becomes music only when you layer in something less predictable, though consistent with the base rhythm. Then it feels alive. It feels conscious. It feels like language.

When the base beat goes on too long without the insertion of that "voice", which could be an electric guitar, the vocals, or some other instrument, tension builds.

In the Doors example above, Jim Morrison stands visible but behind the keyboard. The eye is drawn to him in expectation. Meanwhile, the band plays a base beat. Morrison eventually moves around, but doesn't sing. After a minute, the base beat simplifies to just the keyboard. And then the keyboard simplifies to just a couple of notes. It's almost grating. And it goes on and on while the audience waits. This increases the tension, the need for something to break it.

Morrison moves to the side of the stage. Finally he runs into the mic with a primal scream and the base beat morphs into more complex song.

Could this be translated into scene?

Building audience expectation into a need for the tension to break. One example is to show a kid getting picked on until we are desperate to see him fight back...and finally he does.

But I think there might be more subtle ways too. Imagine a character that keeps doing the same thing and after a while it drives us crazy, we want him to break out of it.

Or even just maybe we want our dialog to feel more rhythmic. There's an underlying beat, but within the context of that beat there is variety. To the best of my primitive understanding, this is how Jazz works. It's even more identifiable in the blues, which are simpler, so you can locate the base rhythm easily, then note changes in pitch, tone, or lyrics.

Amusing myself on a Sunday.
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eldave1
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Quoted Text
Any scene, any scene, that is not grabbing your reader by the throat and making her want to read on to the end of the scene, and on to the next scene, puts your story at risk of failure. Any single scene. Of course, not all of our scenes will be that successful, but that doesn't change the fact...any scene not grabbing the reader is giving the reader an excuse to stop reading.

In the package scene example...taken in isolation, the shot of the UPS truck coming up the street is boring, but viewed in context it is not, because we're building towards answering a question about the package,


Kind of changing the point. The truck scene does not need to be dissected - it by itself does not need to grab a reader by the throat (in my vernacular - it is a rail rather than the step). It can be very pedestrian and still be effective simply because the tension of moving forward was already established in a key scene that preceded it.  


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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leitskev
Posted: May 21st, 2017, 12:33pm Report to Moderator
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_rKLiUgCMXs

Another magic trick piece on Penn and Teller's show. The interesting part about this bit is that the magic is pretty lame, probably something taught in like Magic 101. And building anticipation is not something this trick is strong at. There's no danger or suspense. But one thing makes the story telling/magic somewhat effective: theme.

The magician uses theme to bind his tricks up into a narrative. In this case, he uses the theme of time, the idea that time is only human perception. Penn sits as the judge of the magic, and he explains that he has always hated this particular trick, which involves an egg and is apparently old and familiar. But Penn also approves of the presentation, which in this case is wrapping the whole trick into a discussion of time. He

Years ago, we had a long discussion here about theme. I looked into just what theme is and what it does. It wasn't necessarily what I had thought, and really no one here actually had a correct understanding of theme. Theme acts to unify a story around a core concept. It holds the story together. Often, the true theme of a story does not emerge until after the first draft is written, or perhaps it becomes apparent only during the writing. It's usually not a beginning point in a screenplay or novel. This was kind of surprising, but most pro writers agreed on this point. Theme can also be useful in holding together a magic act or stand up comic routine. And when it comes to screenplays, I suppose there can be sub-themes that work to hold together an individual scene.

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leitskev
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oGfvV3Syud8

Follow up scene from No Country. Again the coin toss is offered.

Some observations. As soon as the wife sees Chigurh, she does not try to run. She says she has no more of the money. When he replies "it doesn't matter", she knows that he is there to kill her. She doesn't run. She says she has to sit down, which is how we know she knows what's in store.

She tells Chigurh that killing her is his choice. He offers the coin toss. She refuses to call it, again insisting it's his choice. This baffles him. He says the coin has taken the same path to this moment that he has. To him, her fate was determined. The universe is completely deterministic.

Why does he hold this view? Could be more than one reason. We've seen he enjoys killing. Adopting a view that everything is pre-determined allows him to enjoy his killing without pain of conscience or guilt.

There may be larger undercurrents being explored though, and it probably requires someone smarter than me to discuss. Chigurh seems to have a strange view of the world where people make choices, and he is just part of the machinery that deals out consequences. Because certainly he believes the woman's husband had a choice...he gave the man one. Chigurh maybe sees the world not as a continuum of free choice, but rather as a set of individual story lines dotted by key moments of choice. He sees himself as merely a mechanism producing the consequence of choice. He himself is outside of choice.

A final interesting observation: we don't see him kill her. The camera shot goes to a distance from the house. Kids ride by on a bike. We expect to hear the explosion of his cattle weapon from inside, and to see the boys turn towards the house. That's very clever...adding the boys on the bike, creating that expectation, heightening it...then denying it to us. He walks out. We wonder...did he kill her? Very subtle escalation of tension.

But it doesn't leave us hanging. He checks the bottom of each boot. This tells us what he did.  
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eldave1
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I would add two things (in addition to your assessment) - the scene works:

- Because it contrasts what one would normally expect with what is happening on screen.

One is supposed to be panicked/screaming when facing death. However:

The Wife was as cool as a cucumber, rational, analytical.

A killer is typically angry, riddled with Adrenalin, etc.

Our killer is calm - almost robotic.

Life is the most precious thing

And will be determined by the most mundane thing - a coin toss.

All of these things and more move this from a routine, you've seen it a hundred times killing - to one that you will remember.

Foreshadowing

This bit starts the clock ticking -

SHE
I don't even have enough money to pay for my Mom's funeral.

HE
No reason to worry about all of that....

Is an effective holy shit - she's going to die -  moment .


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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leitskev
Posted: July 7th, 2017, 10:08pm Report to Moderator
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Right on. The fact that the killer makes no effort to rise from his chair makes him more scary. There is no escaping him. The fact that she makes no effort to escape confirms it.

Of course, though he seems robotic in this scene, we know he loves the kill. Think of the strangling scene in the sheriff's office, or the scene where he barges into the office and shoots a man, calmly watching him die, knowing the the accountant behind him is no threat. He watches the dying man gurgle in blood with an ecstatic look. He loves watching men die.

Also interesting how she refuses to call the coin toss. She insists he choose, but even when it's clear he won't, and that her only option is to call and win, she still refuses. It's as though she too accepts that her path is predetermined. She knows she will lose the toss, and her only hope is convincing him to choose.
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eldave1
Posted: July 8th, 2017, 10:07am Report to Moderator
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Agree with most of this except a slightly different interpretation on the coin toss. I did think so much as her believing it was predetermined - more of you can steal my life, but you can't steal my dignity.


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Angry Bear
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Quoted from eldave1
you can steal my life, but you can't steal my dignity.

I agree with that. Also, letting him know that regardless of the coin, it's really up to him to choose if she lives or die.



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Angry Bear  -  July 8th, 2017, 10:43am
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eldave1
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Quoted from Angry Bear
[quote=eldave1 you can steal my life, but you can't steal my dignity.

I agree with that. Also, letting him know that regardless of the coin, it's really up to him to choose if she lives or die.

[/quote]

Exactly - she flipped the coin on him so to speak


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James McClung
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I agree her refusal to accept the coin toss was to preserve her dignity, not to plea with Chigurh. He wouldn't have come all this way not to kill her; he was committed to doing so before he arrived. Indeed, she could win the coin toss, but it's shitty odds for one's life, and even if she were to win, it's still on his terms. The power belongs to Chigurh, not fate, randomness, or whatever higher power he would like to subscribe to in using the coin. In not cheapening her life so as to play his little game, Carla Jean dies with her boots on, so to speak, but also gains a small victory over Chigurh: the coin toss is revealed as the facade it's always been and Chigurh must leave the house wholly responsible for her death.

I honestly think this interpretation justifies the car crash that comes after. Otherwise, it's just one last cheap thrill, random and superficial. For the majority of the film, Chigurh weaves in and out of the story like an enigmatic, perhaps even supernatural agent of chaos, an image of himself that he's actively helped shape, consciously or not. The car crash leaves him shaken and wounded with a bloodshot eye and a bone sticking out of his arm, all too human. An excellent metaphor for what came before.

From there, I think there's a lot of fun to be had dissecting the themes of the film. There's the idea throughout that the strangeness and brutality of the new world can be difficult to reconcile by those who came before it, as distilled in Sheriff Bell's opening monologue. Chigurh could be seen as an embodiment of that elusiveness, but by the end of the film, he's reduced to just another person who has to live with the choices they make one way or the other. I'm not sure how much confidence I have that I'm reading into this stuff all that carefully, but it's the depth and complexity of the material that makes it so intriguing to take apart. The fact that you can see it play out in sequences like the exchange between Chigurh and Carla Jean is a credit to the Coens' and McCarthy's abilities.


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leitskev
Posted: July 8th, 2017, 12:37pm Report to Moderator
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Probably the point of the film, and many a good film, is to provoke discussion such as this. I'm not confident my interpretation is correct, or that there even is a correct one.

The Coens are precise, and so everything in this last Chigurh scene must be purposeful. He's driving, approaching an intersection where the traffic light is red. For some reason he studies the kids on the bike in the rearview. We actually see the shot in the mirror. The light turns green...then he's hit by the car.

Is there a significance to the changing light?

Why is he looking at the boys on the bikes?

The changing light almost reminds me of the flipping coin toss. Here, it is his fate that is determined by someone else...someone who apparently ran a red light. Did the woman he just murdered somehow break the chain of predetermined events by not calling the coin toss? This disorders the world, and now cars go through red lights, at least this time. Maybe he himself set it in motion by offering her the coin toss instead of merely fulfilling his promise. Or perhaps both...he offered the toss, knowing that fate had determined she would lose. But by not choosing, she broke the chain of events. Had he not tossed the coin, or had she chosen, all would have continued along the deterministic path, and the car would not have run the red light.

Why look at the kids on the bikes? There is no reason to think he wanted to kill them. Nothing in the film shows him killing random innocent people without purpose. So why this look in the mirror? The boys portray innocence. When he offers the boy money for his shirt, the boy says he'll give it for free to help him. But he pays them $100, and when we last see the boys they are arguing over the money. Greed has suddenly been introduced. They have been corrupted by Chigurh.

But why was he looking at them in the mirror? Perhaps it represents a kind of instinctual passing of the torch. In Blood Meridian and in No Country for Old Men, Cormac McCarthy explores the topic of evil in the world. This evil is tangible and personified, in this case in the character of Chigurh, in Meridian it's Judge Holden. These are Satanic characters that seem endowed with a kind of purpose. Things they touch tend to turn to evil. Maybe he had a sixth sense that he was supposed to effect these boys on the bike in that way.

I have no idea. I look forward to other theories.
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eldave1
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I just took it as attention to detail. The dude was totally aware of his surroundings and that - coupled with unquestioned ruthlessness - made him the vanquisher. So, I think he looks at the kids, the light, the kids because he pays attention to all details - even ones that on face value appear innocent and harmless - this time - the details didn't matter.


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leitskev
Posted: July 8th, 2017, 11:56pm Report to Moderator
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Stumbled on this one about batman and elevating conflict. It's excellent. This is the kind of thing I suspect is taught in the better film schools, but which many writers surprisingly have no interest in.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xsz2pakgeXs
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leitskev
Posted: July 20th, 2017, 7:42pm Report to Moderator
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j8EhwCIYAwY

This scene shows the double hinge I've talked about, where there are two turning points, the second one being a reversal of the first, which is also a reversal from the direction of the scene.

Here, Sonny is determined to go to war to avenge his father and destroy their enemies. His consigliere, Tom Hayden, advises restraint. Sonny doesn't want to hear about. But as the meeting continues, we come to the first turning point.

TP 1: Tom tells Sonny that their enemy, the man who ordered the attempted killing of the Don, is guarded by a New York police sergeant. To kill a cop would bring down all the families against them. This finally convinces Sonny to back off. He agrees to wait until things cool down.

But this decision by Sonny is also the turning point of the film. Because it results in Michael, who has stayed out of the family business(mafia), deciding that they can't wait, if they wait the bad guys will finally get to the Don. The only thing to do is to kill their enemy, and the only way is for Michael himself to do it, since they requested a meeting with him.

A cool thing is how Coppola highlights the importance of this moment. As Michael argues his plan, the camera begins with a distant POV and slowly closes in until it is on his face.

But the others are against Michael's plan. Especially Sonny, who doesn't want Michael mixed up in this. But ironically, the second turning point of the scene is again caused by Tom Hayden, a reversal.

TP 2: Tom changes his mind about the killing of a cop when Michael suggests they could use friendly press to plant stories about a corrupt cop. With Tom convinced, the others start to come along. And Michael has unknowingly set himself on the path to become Godfather. He does it not for greed or ambition or lack of ethics...but out of love and loyalty to his father.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBl_gvTBO9g

The shooting scene comes a few scenes later. There's no turning point in this scene, if by turn we mean reversal. The scene is a turning point in the overall structure in that if Michael succeeds, he has crossed a personal Rubicon. A point of no return. Because he can no longer escape his destiny.

Some notes: for a time they speak Italian, and there are no subtitles. This allows the pressure to build without the interference of words. We know what he's here to do and the only question is whether he succeeds. After returning from the bathroom with the gun, again they switch to Italian. We don't understand the words, and Michael is not really hearing them, as we see in his nervous eyes. He's only focused on what he's about to do.

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eldave1
Posted: July 21st, 2017, 7:06pm Report to Moderator
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Good analysis - like the double hinged terminolgy


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leitskev
Posted: July 24th, 2017, 7:55am Report to Moderator
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x6Ed-62k3DY

Sopranos. TV is obviously different than a feature film. But this still shows that not every scene moves the story forward, not every scene has turning points, not every scene is filled with conflict.

There is mild conflict here as characters misunderstand each other and do some teasing, but the conflict is very mild.

Irony is the major theme. The gangsters count piles of money while watching a show where the mafia is described as broken.

I would say the main purpose of the scene is simply to make the characters more dimensional. One is reading about cloning and has an interest in science. Another does Godfather impressions. Another makes a jibe at one of the crew, then repeats it to make sure another member heard it.

Dimensionalizing characters can be an end in itself, but it also serves a purpose in narrative formation. When building a story, we have to create stakes. But the stakes have to matter to the audience or they are empty, not really stakes. Making the audience care about the characters is essential to stake building. And dimensionalizing characters makes an audience much more likely to bond with them.
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leitskev
Posted: July 25th, 2017, 1:09pm Report to Moderator
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This analysis was selected for me by youtube's algorithm.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5dX64cBuPbw

A scene from Casablanca.

Rick approaches Ilsa with this goal: he wants to know why she left him cold in Paris, breaking his heart. He doesn't find out until the end of the scene. However, his real goal, perhaps unconscious, is to re-unite with her.

Conflict when setting up scenes comes from opposing goals. What was her goal? She has put herself in a public place, presumably hoping he will come around. Her conscious goal is to explain to him why she left. Then why the conflict?

Because that explanation requires more than words. It requires deeper understanding. And it means her having to explain something very difficult: that she was married when they had their affair and never told him. She does not want him to conclude she was a slut, or that she was using him. And she knows that his anger will prevent him from ever understanding.

When she refuses to give Rick the explanation, he forces the situation by accusing her of cowardice. This is the turn towards her eventually telling him. But she still resists, calling him in effect a fool.

He tries his next trick, inviting her to his room. She turns away. While it might be clear to us that she still has feelings for him, he reacts in anger to her turning away. He then says she will lie to her current boyfriend too.

Which completes the turn. She finally gives him what he wants, or thinks he does: the truth. That she was married before and Lazlo is her husband.

Mckee describes scenes as going from negative to positive or positive to negative. Does that apply here?
Yes, in this sense: Rick comes into the scene wanting explanation...but really hopeful of getting her back. He gets the explanation...but it leaves him hopeless of ever winning her.

This highlights the difference between conscious goals and subconscious ones, or between goals and deeper needs.

One part of the analysis that McKee and film gurus tend to leave out, IMO, is that you can never subtract the audience from the equation. What I mean is this: what matters is not just what Rick wants but what the audience wants. If Ilsa had been played by Rosie O'Donnel, the effect of the scene is not the same. These are acrtors with great appeal, and the film has already set their characters up as being the type 1940s audiences will fall in love with. So WE in the audience want them to get together again. All the things that go into making us want that are critical to every scene. We have met Rick and we know he was once gallant but is now a wisecracking drunk that owns a club. He could be that hero again, but he's broken. We soon learn why: he was jilted by a lover. And when we meet her, we see a woman of incomprehensible grace and beauty. We get why his heart was broken. So we really want to see them back together.

As a screenwriter, we have to know how important the set up is in making the audience feel what we want them to feel.

The tension in the scene comes not just from the conflict between Rick and Ilsa, but from within ourselves because we want them to be together, and the more they seem to be in love, despite their harsh words, the more we want it to happen.

They contrast this scene with a quick one from Pearl Harbor, a scene which is awful by contrast, Part of this is the lousy acting of Affleck, but part of the problem is the on the nose writing.

Back to McKee to conclude: yes, this scene goes from negative to positive, but most importantly this is done with the audience's hopes. At the start of the scene, we hope Rick at least opens the door to getting Ilsa back, but by the end, they are further away. She is married, was married before when they had their affair, and she is determined to leave and never see him again.
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Mr. Blonde
Posted: July 25th, 2017, 2:27pm Report to Moderator
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I have one of these, today, although this is less about analysis and more about the fact that I believe you can never truly know how good or bad a movie will be, on paper.

I'm going to note that this is in my top 3 favorite movie scenes of all time list:





Why pick this scene? It's not exactly ripe for analysis, everything's spelled out for you (even more so in the scene prior).

I'll tell you why. This scene is terrible on paper. I've read the PDF of this script and always got hung up on this scene. This is the one that doesn't flow in any conceivable way. It keeps getting interrupted by unnecessary asides that distract from the read, there's no tension -- in fact, there's no reason this scene needs to exist Seriously, go back and re-watch the last of this movie and tell me this scene needs to exist...

...But it's incredible on film. All the intangibles that you can't note in a script, all the things you can't plan for, they're in the scene. You have the tension of Thomas Jane surprising Marky Mark and John C. Reilly by bringing a gun to the deal, the tension of "We need to get out of here before the guard tests the drugs", the tension of the firecrackers sounding EXACTLY like gunshots, the tension of Marky Mark, John C. Reilly and Thomas Jane being coked out of their minds (and sleep deprived, in real life), the tension of the music being so loud that you can't even think, the tension of realizing the guard has a gun, the tension of Alfred Molina bringing ANOTHER gun into the scene. Tension, tension, tension. I've read some scripts that try to emulate that sort of tension, but I'm on the opinion that such a thing is impossible in a screenplay. Somebody else may have a different opinion, but I consider that such a thing can only happen on screen.

Now, we do the flip side and speak briefly about editing. In full, this scene is a shade over 9 minutes in length (including a 1:02 shot of Marky Mark's face as he forgets that he has to say a line). About five years ago, I did a test where I removed the music tracks from this scene and let it play out as is. I will spare you the details and say that the scene was excruciating, but not without its merits.

First of all, it feels more real. While I love the drug deal scene, that is a "movie" scene and it's hard to immerse yourself in something that feels so manufactured. I have a similar reaction to Tarantino stuff. I love it, but it's got this thing where it never feels like something real. When you have coked-out Alfred Molina dancing around, singing songs that nobody else can hear, it sells the idea that this is a bad place that you never want to be and the music takes away from that feeling. In addition to that, during Marky Mark's staredown, that shot, without music, feels like it goes on forever... at the same time, hearing Alfred Molina still singing in the background is hilarious.

If, for some reason, P.T. Anderson re-did that scene without music, it would also have to be completely re-edited, as well, because the length of the scene was absolutely determined by the length of the music, something else that couldn't possibly have been calculated in the screenplay. Only estimated.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Now, this is the part that makes this very difficult for me to say. This scene is so unnecessary. Let's briefly go over why. There were only two people in the entire scene with a purpose: Marky Mark and Thomas Jane. Thomas Jane set up a fake deal so he could rob Alfred Molina and take over his business. Marky Mark wanted enough money to fix his Corvette. Well, it was certainly messed up when they drove to the house, but I don't recall it getting damaged at some point. Oh, wait, yes, I do. It happened in that deleted scene that wasn't in the final cut.

So, now, we're down to one purposeful character, Thomas Jane. John C. Reilly had no reason to be there (he didn't have a reason in the previous, set-up scene) and Marky Mark doesn't need to get the 'Vette fixed. They're even more useless since it's stated in the scene (and earlier in the movie) that Thomas Jane was the one who previously knew Alfred Molina. Since our primary two characters don't need to be there, we're wondering why Thomas Jane is. He's there to be the one that hooks Marky Mark on cocaine, which speeds his downfall. So, the movie really did create a pointless subplot in order to explain why Marky Mark gets fired.

This, in addition to the fact that it was already juxtaposed two scene prior that Marky Mark fell back below the point where he started: jerking off for $10. Honestly, that sequence (which is a great sequence, too) should have been Marky Mark's realization that he should go back to work for Burt Reynolds. If they had gone that route, the drug deal scene never would've happened and nobody would've missed it, because there would've been no trace of it being set-up.

_________________________________________________________________________________

In case you skipped over this whole diatribe, I'll spin it for ya quick: I love this scene, great scene, terrible without music and entirely unnecessary. Also, in my mind, proof that you'll never know how good or bad a movie can be by reading a script.


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leitskev
Posted: July 25th, 2017, 3:48pm Report to Moderator
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Thanks. I've never actually seen this film. Just watched both scenes. Harder for me to follow without knowing the set up.

As for writing tension into a scene, sure, hard to create on paper the same that is in the film. Like you said, the firecrackers and loud music really add to the tension.

But I would say that figuring out ways to create this tension on the page is what separates the paid writers from the rest of us. And this where a pro writer is willing to break and bend rules. This is also what many amateurs and gurus don't understand, no matter how long they've been writing.

There are also kinds of tricks for doing this. That's where a writer's creativity into play. You will likely need to use some asides, maybe some fragments, create some white space.

As for the scene construction, again, not knowing the movie, it's hard. I would try to understand what triggered the character with the gun to make his demand on the guy who owns the house. Was there some turn in the scene that made him do that? Why did the home owner pull out his special gun in the box? Was that just a trick by the director to add tension?

We see the character with the gun all nervous as he walks to the house. He tries to look loose, but he's all wound up. Does he feel he has something to prove?

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Mr. Blonde
Posted: July 25th, 2017, 4:06pm Report to Moderator
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Aw, Kevin, you've got to see Boogie Nights. Put it on the list. =)


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leitskev
Posted: July 25th, 2017, 5:22pm Report to Moderator
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Lol, ok, get me one more scene and you'll hook me!
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Mr. Blonde
Posted: July 25th, 2017, 7:16pm Report to Moderator
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Sure. I'll get you the Little Bill scene. I was going to do the nightclub tracking shot, but this one's a lot more fun. Also, like above: spoilers...



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