Monday, March 28, 2016

TODAY'S NUGGET: Spellbound (1945) - Connecting Scenes Help Flesh Out World

[Quick Summary: A female psychiatrist falls in love with an amnesiac who has seen a crime.] 

In my own writing, I have a bad habit of hitting only the big story points and rushing through connecting scenes.

It results in a horribly confusing, bumpy read.

Connecting scenes are vital to fleshing out an imaginary world for your reader.

For example, in the scene below from Spellbound,* Hitchcock uses them to show what is happening in the world while Constance is sleeping and unaware.

Note that the writer takes the time to include:

- What is written on the note.
- The note slipped under the door.
- The note appearing on the other side of the door and Constance sleeping.

ex. "INSERT J.B.'s hand writing a note.

We see the note:

"I cannot involve you in this for many reasons. One of them being that I love you. When the police step in, tell them I am at the Empire State Hotel in New York. I prefer to wait alone for the end. Goodbye. J.B."

His hands fold the note and put it into an envelope. He writes her name, "Dr. Petersen" on it in his bold, heavy script.

DISSOLVE:

INT. CORRIDOR - SEMI-CLOSEUP - NIGHT

We see a man's shadow and hand insert the envelope under the door to Constance's room.

INT. CONSTANCE PETERSEN'S OFFICE - CLOSEUP - NIGHT

The envelope appears on the other side of the door. CAMERA PANS UP from it and we see through into the moonlit bedroom. We can just discern the recumbent figure of Constance, sleeping."

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: I would've axed the last scene as unnecessary since the next scenes tell us Constance was sleeping.  However, there's more visual impact because it's included.

When in doubt, err on the side of more visual impact. 

Spellbound (1945)
by Ben Hecht
Suggested by the novel, "House of Dr. Edwards," by Francis Beeding

*Not one of my favorite Hitchcock films.

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