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Mamet: ďWhen the film is correctly designed, ... we need to hear what happens next. ... If we donít care what happens next, if the film is not correctly designed, we may, unconsciously, create our own story ... but we are no longer interested in the story that weíre being told. ... Thatís when it stops being interesting. So thatís where the bad author ... has to take up the slack by making each subsequent event more diverting than the last; to trick the audience into paying attention. The end of this is obscenity. Letís really see their genitals, letís really endanger the actor through stunts, letís really set the building on fire. Over the course of a movie, it forces the filmmaker to get more and more bizarre. Over the course of a career, it forces a filmmaker to get more and more eccentric; over the course of a culture, it forces the culture to degenerate into depravity, which is what we have now.Ē (pp. 62-3).

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Film Theory

Parallel Editing -- the interaction of two narrative lines.

Sequence (123 composition a must)

Visual Punctuations:
1. Straight cut
2. An optical (fade out and etc.)

[ Connect the subject with Aristotle (script analysis, action = plot). And "action" in acting. Camera as actor, performer, writer. See The BOOK of SPECATOR. ]

Where did I introduce the Kuleshov's Effect?


2003 Playscript Analysis (textbook) Modern Drama


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Page to return to (1) Scripting, (2) Development, (3) Storyboarding, (4) Mise en Scne, (5) Montage-Editing ... Sound.
2004-2006 updated



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Aristotle (Poetics) equales plot with action, the most fundamental element of drama. Everything about film is about ACTION (that's why we have the name "Motion Pictures").

"To handle a camera, only an efficient crew is need. Far more important to a filmmaker is the ability to handle ideas and concepts." Daniel Arijon, Grammar of the Film Language

Yes, yes, the ideas that rule the action!

In my acting classes I say that ACTION is REACTION. What do I mean? I mean that once you established the situation and the character, all you have to do is to reACT, to follow your own story ...

Well, you have to UNDERSTAND your own ideas, of course. Only by understanding the drama, we can select the PEAK MOMENTS (the only segments we are about to film). You have to know WHAT you want to say -- and give some thought about HOW to do it.

Film is based on polyphonic principle; every film is told by interaction of many stories (subplots) or POVs. This is the dynamic of Action and Reaction; that is the way to the story using film language. Eisenstain points out that this main law of cinema is based on what he calls Montage (also known as Kuleshov Effect).

Think how the sense of suspence (and story continuety) is acheaved: the characters involved in both narraive lines are unaware of what the other group is doing, and only the audience has all the facts. In short, only the public pouts it all together. The final cut is the the spectator's mind only!

Or the information given in both narratives is incomplete, so that the characters have all the facts, but the audience is kept in the dark (to stimulate its interest).

Between the two (parallel) lies the art of film storytelling!

[ image ]

Again, the (Kuleshov Effect) formula: 1 + 1 > 2

... Aristotle? I too place "action" (plot) as the first element of STRUCTURE. Film theory proofs me right -- "action movies" sheilves in video stores! Not character (hero), not message (thought), not the 3 TEXTURE elements (except for the last -- SPECTACLE).

The secret of action: the importance of parallel film editing (textbook, p.6): "an editing priciple: the alternation of twoo or more centers of interest"... Should be said "dranatic centers of interest"! Drama is always in between!

I am posting some fragments from the movies I mention in class. they are different in style. I personally like Bergman's writing -- see "Wild Strawberries" -- here is the openning from the Pulp Fiction by Tarantino. Explain why did he decide to start the story with this episode?

In acting classes I teach that before action we must have "aim" stage (biomechanics cycles); here we have this "aim"!

How does this episode correlate to the title "Pulp Fiction"?

How does this episode work within the entire movie?

Why do we need the waitress in this episode?

What themes are introduced?

How the style of the movie is established?

What elements of exposition you can name?

How can we justify the location? Time of the day? The choice of the characters?



A normal Denny's, Spires-like coffee shop in Los Angeles. It's about 9:00 in the morning. While the place isn't jammed, there's a healthy number of people drinking coffee, munching on bacon and eating eggs.

Two of these people are a YOUNG MAN and a YOUNG WOMAN. The Young Man has a slight working-class English accent and, like his fellow countryman, smokes cigarettes like they're going out of style.

It is impossible to tell where the Young Woman is from or how old she is; everything she does contradicts something she did. The boy and girl sit in a booth. Their dialogue is to be said in a rapid-pace "HIS GIRL FRIDAY" fashion.

                                  YOUNG MAN
                       No, forget it, it's too risky.  I'm
                       through doin' that shit.

                                  YOUNG WOMAN
                       You always say that, the same thing
                       every time: never again, I'm
                       through, too dangerous.

                                   YOUNG MAN
                       I know that's what I always say.
                       I'm always right too, but --

                                  YOUNG WOMAN
                       -- but you forget about it in a day
                       or two --

                                  YOUNG MAN
                       -- yeah, well, the days of me
                       forgittin' are over, and the days
                       of me rememberin' have just begun.

                                  YOUNG WOMAN
                       When you go on like this, you know
                       what you sound like?

                                  YOUNG MAN
                       I sound like a sensible fucking
                       man, is what I sound like.

                                  YOUNG WOMAN
                       You sound like a duck.
                            (imitates a duck)
                       Quack, quack, quack, quack, quack,
                       quack, quack...

                                  YOUNG MAN
                       Well take heart, 'cause you're
                       never gonna hafta hear it again.
                       Because since I'm never gonna do it
                       again, you're never gonna hafta
                       hear me quack about how I'm never
                       gonna do it again.

                                  YOUNG WOMAN
                       After tonight.

        The boy and girl laugh, their laughter putting a pause in
        there, back and forth.

                                  YOUNG MAN
                            (with a smile)
                       Correct.  I got all tonight to

        A WAITRESS comes by with a pot of coffee.

                       Can I get anybody anymore coffee?

                                  YOUNG WOMAN
                       Oh yes, thank you.

        The Waitress pours the Young Woman's coffee.  The Young Man
        lights up another cigarette.

                                  YOUNG MAN
                       I'm doin' fine. 
        The Waitress leaves.  The Young Man takes a drag off of his
        smoke.  The Young Woman pours a ton of cream and sugar into
        her coffee.

        The Young Man goes right back into it.

                                  YOUNG MAN
                       I mean the way it is now, you're
                       takin' the same fuckin' risk as
                       when you rob a bank.  You take more
                       of a risk.  Banks are easier!
                       Federal banks aren't supposed to
                       stop you anyway, during a robbery.
                       They're insured, why should they
                       care?  You don't even need a gun in
                       a federal bank.
                       I heard about this guy, walked into
                       a federal bank with a portable
                       phone, handed the phone to the
                       teller, the guy on the other end of
                       the phone said: "We got this guy's
                       little girl, and if you don't give
                       him all your money, we're gonna
                       kill 'er."

                                  YOUNG WOMAN
                       Did it work?

                                  YOUNG MAN
                       Fuckin' A it worked, that's what
                       I'm talkin' about!  Knucklehead
                       walks in a bank with a telephone,
                       not a pistol, not a shotgun, but a
                       fuckin' phone, cleans the place
                       out, and they don't lift a fuckin'

                                  YOUNG WOMAN
                       Did they hurt the little girl?

                                  YOUNG MAN
                       I don't know.  There probably never
                       was a little girl -- the point of
                       the story isn't the little girl.
                       The point of the story is they
                       robbed the bank with a telephone.

                                  YOUNG WOMAN
                       You wanna rob banks?

                                  YOUNG MAN
                       I'm not sayin' I wanna rob banks,
                       I'm just illustrating that if we
                       did, it would be easier than what
                       we been doin'.

                                  YOUNG WOMAN
                       So you don't want to be a bank

                                  YOUNG MAN
                       Naw, all those guys are goin' down
                       the same road, either dead or
                       servin' twenty.

                                  YOUNG WOMAN
                       And no more liquor stores?

                                  YOUNG MAN
                       What have we been talking about?
                       Yeah, no-more-liquor-stores.
                       Besides, it ain't the giggle it
                       usta be.  Too many foreigners own
                       liquor stores.  Vietnamese,
                       Koreans, they can't fuckin' speak
                       English.  You tell 'em: "Empty out
                       the register," and they don't know
                       what it fuckin' means.  They make
                       it too personal.  We keep on, one
                       of those gook motherfuckers' gonna
                       make us kill 'em.

                                  YOUNG WOMAN
                       I'm not gonna kill anybody.

                                  YOUNG MAN
                       I don't wanna kill anybody either.
                       But they'll probably put us in a
                       situation where it's us of them.
                       And if it's not the gooks, it these
                       old Jews who've owned the store for
                       fifteen fuckin' generations.  Ya
                       got Grandpa Irving sittin' behind
                       the counter with a fuckin' Magnum.
                       Try walkin' into one of those
                       stores with nothin' but a
                       telephone, see how far it gets you.
                       Fuck it, forget it, we're out of

                                  YOUNG WOMAN
                       Well, what else is there, day jobs?

                                  YOUNG MAN
                       Not this life.

                                  YOUNG WOMAN
                       Well what then?

        He calls to the Waitress.

                                  YOUNG MAN
                       Garcon!  Coffee!

        Then looks to his girl.

                                  YOUNG MAN
                       This place.

        The Waitress comes by, pouring him some more.

                       "Garcon" means boy.

        She splits.

                                  YOUNG WOMAN
                       Here?  It's a coffee shop.

                                  YOUNG MAN
                       What's wrong with that?  People
                       never rob restaurants, why not?
                       Bars, liquor stores, gas stations,
                       you get your head blown off
                       stickin' up one of them.
                       Restaurants, on the other hand, you
                       catch with their pants down.
                       They're not expecting to get
                       robbed, or not as expecting.

                                  YOUNG WOMAN
                            (taking to idea)
                       I bet in places like this you could 
                       cut down on the hero factor.

                                  YOUNG MAN
                       Correct.  Just like banks, these
                       places are insured.  The managers
                       don't give a fuck, they're just
                       tryin' to get ya out the door
                       before you start pluggin' diners.
                       Waitresses, forget it, they ain't
                       takin' a bullet for the register.
                       Busboys, some wetback gettin' paid
                       a dollar fifty a hour gonna really
                       give a fuck you're stealin' from
                       the owner.  Customers are sittin'
                       there with food in their mouths,
                       they don't know what's goin' on.
                       One minute they're havin' a Denver
                       omelette, next minute somebody's
                       stickin' a gun in their face.

        The Young Woman visibly takes in the idea.  The Young Man
        continues in a low voice.

                                  YOUNG MAN
                       See, I got the idea last liquor
                       store we stuck up.  'Member all
                       those customers kept comin' in?

                                  YOUNG WOMAN

                                  YOUNG MAN
                       They you got the idea to take
                       everybody's wallet.

                                  YOUNG WOMAN

                                  YOUNG MAN
                       That was a good idea.

                                  YOUNG WOMAN
                       Thank you.

                                  YOUNG MAN
                       We made more from the wallets then
                       we did the register.

                                  YOUNG WOMAN
                       Yes we did.

                                  YOUNG MAN
                       A lot of people go to restaurants.

                                  YOUNG WOMAN
                       A lot of wallets.

                                  YOUNG MAN
                       Pretty smart, huh?

        The Young Woman scans the restaurant with this new
        information.  She sees all the PATRONS eating, lost in
        conversations.  The tires WAITRESS, taking orders.  The
        BUSBOYS going through the motions, collecting dishes.  The
        MANAGER complaining to the COOK about something.  A smiles
        breaks out on the Young Woman's face.

                                  YOUNG WOMAN
                       Pretty smart.
                            (into it)
                       I'm ready, let's go, right here,
                       right now.

                                  YOUNG MAN
                       Remember, same as before, you're
                       crowd control, I handle the

                                  YOUNG WOMAN
                       Got it.

        They both take out their .32-caliber pistols and lay them on
        the table.  He looks at her and she back at him.

                                  YOUNG WOMAN
                       I love you, Pumpkin.

                                  YOUNG MAN
                       I love you, Honey Bunny.

        And with that, Pumpkin and Honey Bunny grab their weapons,
        stand up and rob the restaurant.  Pumpkin's robbery persona is
        that of the in-control professional.  Honey Bunny's is that of
        the psychopathic, hair-triggered, loose cannon.

                            (yelling to all)
                       Everybody be cool this is a

                                  HONEY BUNNY
                       Any of you fuckin' pricks move and
                       I'll execute every one of you
                       motherfuckers!  Got that?

                                                        CUT TO:


                                PULP FICTION
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For the filmmaker the action-reaction pattern dictates all the formulas for camera placement and sequence construction and the needs of editing.

Beats of action on the screen (screen event). Compare with the stage even.

Anatoly, what do you call "ideas"? The choices!

Form = Message!


Translate scenes from script to picture we must control two things:

1. The distance from which we record the event.

2. The motion of the subjects performing that event.

How the two are related? The SHOT and movement.



1. A master shot registers the whole scene (several techniques for editing "within the film, frame or 'in camera'.")

2. A master shot is inter-cut with other shorter takes (to provide emphasis on key passages of the scene).

3. Two or more master shots are blended together in parallel.

In class I simply break it into: Exposition -- Climax -- Resolution

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