View Full Version : Montage question

JakeSchuster aka Ostroff
02-01-2004, 09:27 AM
Deus may be able to help me here. Can a montage be a series of discrete (i.e. visually unconnected) shots, or must there be a more obvious connection between them?

TwoBrad Bradley
02-01-2004, 11:51 AM
Jake, do you mean what does a "train going through a tunnel" and "fireworks" and "a chimney collapsing" have to do with a couple making love?

If yes, than that is exactly what a Montage is. The terms "Montage" and "Series of Scenes/Shots" have been "Hollywoodized" and are now interchangeable when used in a screenplay.

JakeSchuster aka Ostroff
02-01-2004, 12:29 PM
Thanks, TB. I think what I'm looking for is presenting, say, three images (think of Roeg's opening to "Don't Look Now"--images that will only make sense at the end) that have no thematic connection.

I've used MONTAGE when showing a number of different characters in the same setting, i.e. a psychologist's office. We see one, then another, etc., and the dialogue seems to flow from one to the next. I'm really looking for more of a disconnect here.

02-01-2004, 12:40 PM
I would think that's one of the best uses of a montage. Get the reader/viewer wondering what the significance is ... actively involved.

Perhaps the thing I liked most about Femme Fatale was trying to figure out what the clues meant. They were sprinkled throughout and easy to pick up, but none of them quite fit together until the end. Makes the payoff much bigger (if you buy it).


Deus Ex Machine
02-01-2004, 12:41 PM
Two brads is right about the difference between montage and series of shots. A montage is an editing practice where the content or dramatic content is provided by the context, as with Jake's example of a couple who make love followed by the images of trains going into tunnels and pile drivers and fireworks. These Montage images have no inherent dramatic content but the context of seeing them after a couple start to make love provides the dramatic content. The shots in a series of shots do have inherent dramatic content and each contributes individually as well as collectively to the advancement of the story like a bank heist that has a series of shots of criminals breaking into the vault.

But like Jake said, these terms are used interchangeably in HW so you can format them either way.

Jake, as far as format goes you can use a montage. The problem I have with this idea is that a montage by nature is a very overt method of story telling and the montage you have in mind will almost certainly disrupt the dramatic unity and momentum of the story because they have no comprehensible dramatic content with which to advance the story.

On a personal level, IMHO these kinds of things tend to violate the POV of the story and seem like a false dramatic beat when they do payoff. But that's just me.


JakeSchuster aka Ostroff
02-01-2004, 04:00 PM
Thanks, all. Deus, I see your very cogent point, but I think that a montage, when used within a proper context (as Nolan did with "Memento", when dealing with memory), can serve almost like a musical phrase: three quick images used very sparingly, that later on will make sense within the narrative flow.

07-27-2004, 09:40 PM
my situation: i'm writing a basketball game scene w/ announcers V.O.'s. If I insert specific plays as actions ie: A makes a pass, B dunks the ball, C gets fouled, etc.
do I (1)insert the V.O. in between and (2) what would this be labled as (montage or cont., or something else) if I am showing 4 or 5 actions over the course of the game. In other words the V.O.'s will be describing the game as a whole, not the individual actions. hope I explained this succinctly....thanx in advance

Keith Kocaine
07-28-2004, 09:51 AM
Crafty. You gotta ask yourself, how IMPORTANT is it that you describe each of these specific actions?

Anyway, I'd format it like this:


A basketball game. Crowded bleachers.

Blah, blah, blah.

Player A passes the ball to player B.

Blah, blah, blah.

And etc. Crafty, it's not a montage. It all takes place at the GYM or wherever. Place the location in your slugline.