Mamet says deinflect

David Mamet may not be a very good director, but he has something interesting to say about editing:

You always want to tell the story in cuts. Which is to say, through a juxtaposition of images that are basically uninflected. Mr. Eisenstein tells us that the best image is an uninflected image. A shot of a teacup. A shot of a spoon. A shot of a fork. A shot of a door. Let the cut tell the story. Because otherwise you have not got dramatic action, you have narration. If you slip into narration, you are saying , ‘you’ll never guess why what I’ve just told you is important to the story.’ It’s unimportant that the audience should guess why it’s important to the story. It’s important simply to tell the story. Let the audince be surprised.

Mamet has this to say on how this should influence scriptwriting:

Most movie scripts are written for an audience of studio executives. Studio executives do not know how to read movie scripts. Not one of them. Not one of them knows how to read a movie script. A movie script should be a juxtaposition of uninflected shots that tell the story. To read this script and ‘see’ the movie will surely require either some cinematic education or some naïveté – neither of which is going to be found in the studio executive.

So, Mamet is wrong, but his idea is interesting.

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1 comment
  1. scottyus said:

    I write to the reader to some extent. I often find myself caught between making the script the thing, as well as the blueprint. Probably under the suspicion that I’m competing with a long list of things they’d rather be doing.

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