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Continuity: The Key To A Successful Movie

Apr 25, 2008
The reader may sigh at the abundance and variety of things the full use of continuity, the proper development and connection of motion-picture sequences to create a smoothly joined, coherent motion-picture story, requires - the special shots to take, the cut-ins and cut-aways, the things to watch out for: screen direction, clean exits and entrances, and so on and on and on. All to make a simple home movie.

You may be convinced of your ability to handle continuity from the viewpoint of ideas or technique, but you may at the same time wonder whether you can afford enough film for all! the various continuity touches. "Doesn't it require far more footage," you may ask, "than if I just aimed the camera from one or two positions and banged away, getting everything in with one or two shots?"

The answer is unequivocally "No!" The motion-picture shots of the average non-professional are individually much too long. He will start his camera from one position and simply let it run on far longer than necessary to get that one scene over to the audience. The unnecessarily exposed film in any one of these overlong shots would easily be adequate for breaking it down into separate scenes, with cut-ins and cutaways, overlap, and other refinements of continuity.

It is a common fault of a cameraman untrained in the uses of continuity to expose twenty feet or more in a single shot from the same position - as, for instance, in a sequence showing the family gathered around Junior's birthday cake. He lets his camera run on, he explains, because "I can get almost everybody in from this spot and since there are quite a few people in the scene, I want to let the shot run long enough so that the audience has a chance to see everyone!"

Then - since a few people were left out - he moves his camera to an angle from where he can get them into the picture too, and makes another shot as long as the first or longer He has by now exposed forty or fifty feet of film - of very dull film. (Much more than that, if he is using 35mm instead of 16 or 8mm film.)

How much better that picture will be if, with his first twenty feet, he shoots a real sequence: eight feet on an long shot, five feet on a medium shot, a close up of Junior cutting the cake for another five feet, with a two-foot insert of the knife as it plunges through the frosting!

Then, with the remaining footage, he can still "get everybody in" - and make the picture far livelier - if he takes a reestablishing shot about seven feet long showing Junior handing out slices of cake, then several closeups, two or three feet each, showing the individual guests happily gorging themselves, and ends with a final long shot - using what film remains - of Junior looking ruefully at the empty cake plate while his guests contentedly lick the crumbs!

The ultimate truth about applying continuity to a picture is this: Not only does it require no more than the ordinary amount of film, but it actually leads to more economical usage! The unplanned, blind act of just "shooting a roll" changes, through it. to a careful appraisal of scene lengths, to the use of proper tempo and emphasis for each shot.
About the Author
Long Lost Manuscript Resurfaces Revealing The Secrets Of How To Make a Movie On A Budget And Not Have The Film Script Suffer!

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