Saturday, September 29, 2012

TODAY'S NUGGET: Hoffa (1992) - Transitions & Emotional Impact

[Quick Summary: Jimmy Hoffa gives his life to and for the Teamsters.]

I once heard someone ask a famous screenwriter, "What separates a good writer from a great one?"

"Transitions," he said.   It's always stuck with me.

As I read this script, I noticed that the transitions were not just a location change.

ex. "ANGLE
In a long shot, the armed strikebreakers thrashing their way into the line of the strikers.

ANGLE
A young woman screaming.

ANGLE
INT. THE R.E.A. BUILDING. The businessmen we saw in the previous sequence, pressed forward in the window of a paneled board room, looking down. [This smooth move from the freightyard to the boardroom is a reaction shot.]

ANGLE
Their POV, the slaughter in the freightyard below.

ANGLE
In the freightyard. Ciaro, clubbing a man to the ground. Looks around. [We move back to the freightyard to see the action.]

ANGLE HIS POV
Hoffa. Being set upon by two strikebreakers....

ANGLE
INT. THE BOARDROOM.  A man's hand closes the curtains on the fight below. [Back to the boardroom for another reaction shot.]

INT. UNION HALL. NIGHT.
A line of long drawn faces. Men and women dressed in their "best'. Nodding at the camera, moving on. There is a break in the line, to reveal, behind them, a huge floral [funeral] wreath...." [This scene is the consequences of the fighting.]

WHAT I'VE LEARNED:  You can use transitions to drive an emotional point home.

In the example above:

- Action in freightyard --> Boardroom's REACTION is to panic
- Action in freightyard --> The funeral is the CONSEQUENCES

[By the way, this is something the reader is not even conscious of (but the writer should be!)]

Hoffa (1992)
by David Mamet

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