Cinematic Techniques in Film Narrative
How do movies carry us from scene to scene? The answer is in the screenplay as well as the cinematic techniques used in the film. Scriptwriters will start their script with a series of meaningful cinematic techniques. Cinematic techniques such as the act structure, choice of shot, scene transition, and camera movement, can greatly influence the structure and meaning of a film. These techniques include the hook, establishing shot, montage, leitmotif, foreshadowing, transition, ‘MacGuffin’, ‘red herring’, ‘bus’, flashback, climax, and twist ending, and will be discussed in detail. The first and most important technique is the hook. The hook is the core of both a film and its screenplay. It is what grabs the viewer's attention, usually in the first 5-10 minutes. It is used to captivate and take hold of an audience, blatantly speaking, ‘hooking them in’. If a film does not have a strong ‘hook’ then audiences can lose interest in that film, so a good scriptwriter would use this technique to captivate the audience, and retain their interest throughout the entire film. Almost every film contains a hook, but a great film will have an astonishing hook, for example, ‘Three days of the Condor’, 1975, directed by Sydney Pollack. Another example would include, ‘National Treasure’, 2004, directed by Jon Turteltaub. Knowing the importance of a good hook, many screenwriters write their hooks first. Conceivably, the life of a screenplay might evolve from hook to 1-page synopsis, to 4-page treatment, to full treatment, to scriptment, to screenplay. Another great cinematic technique is the establishing shot. The establishing shot is a long, wide-angle or full, shot at the beginning of a scene intended to show things from a distance. It is used to inform the audience with an overview in order to help identify and orient the locale. “An establishing shot in film and television sets up, or establishes the context for a scene by showing the...
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