Telling the story through editing

There were three major film movements in the twenties that were pivotal in making cinema what it is today. Each movement dealt with a different aspect of filmmaking.

  • German Expressionism: using mise-en-scene to help tell the story.
  • French Impressionism: using the camera and distorting the image to help tell the story
  • Soviet Montage: Using editing to help tell the story.

Lev Kuleshov came up with the Kuleshov effect. When given two images, they each have their own respective meaning. However, when edited together, the edit creates a third meaning.

In my short film, I use editing to help tell my story — whether it’s to fill in gaps of time or to reflect a character’s state of mind.

The first use of editing — or lack thereof — in my film is the first scene. The first scene is a long take, or uncut footage. The film opens on an argument, so I decided that it would be appropriate to film it in a long take. Since the characters are stuck with each other, why shouldn’t we be stuck with them?

The next significant use of editing in my film is a few moments later when a the wife in the film is trying to leave with her son. The son runs to his dad and hugs him. Immediately, I cut to a close up of each character and putting them into their own frames. This creates the feeling of distance between each character from everyone else.

As the wife is about to drive away a few moments later in the scene, I implement jump cuts to reflect the protagonist’s inner turmoil. Jump cuts were something innovated in the 60s with Jean-Luc Godard in his breakout film, Breathless.

The final use of editing that I’d like to look at is a cut toward the end of the film. It is the best example of the Kuleshov effect in my film and I use it to help fill in a story gap. There are two shots: (1) the couple’s son runs to his dad and hugs him before going around the car to apparently get in and (2) a shot of the dad closing a door down a hallway. Each cut has its own meaning. The first one shows that the father and son are happy to see each other and the son gets in the car. The second cut shows that dad closing a door — pretty self-explanatory. When put back-to-back, the cuts imply that the whole car ride home and the process of getting the son ready for bed and put to sleep. Even though non of it is actually shown, the audience can imply everything that happened in between the two cuts and figure out what is happening in the second shot.

Although editing is used consistently throughout my film to help tell the story, these are the most significant uses of it.

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