Technique of the Week: Scenes of Preparation and Aftermath

Scenes of preparation and aftermath heighten suspense and infuse emotion into films, and it’s too easy to forget about them and instead opt for jumping around to the next set piece.

Scenes of preparation are notorious in heist and con artist films. The first half of Ocean’s Eleven is just a preparation for the heist. Scenes of preparation are also where the coach makes the big speech before a big game.

Scenes of aftermath show the consequences of a battle, or the result of a bad date. Scenes of aftermath show a defeated hero, or an elated team, or the consequences of a crime. Scenes of aftermath is where the hero tells a sidekick that this could be the start of a very beautiful friendship as they walk into the fog.

Scene Spotlight: The Matrix

The phrase, “screenwriting is a storytelling competition, not a writing competition” holds true in many aspects of this craft. Clarity is prized over flowery prose — especially when writing action.

But that doesn’t mean you can neglect the writing aspect of screenwriting. The opening scene of The Matrix shows that clarity and fantastic writing should be used in tandem to create the most engaging story possible.