Friday, October 22, 2010

3 minute scenes

So is this true, that TV shows are supposed to be a series of three-minute scenes?

I found it on a website that had advice on how to write a script. Three minute scenes.

I saw a guy on TV. He worked on the show Baywatch in some capacity and wrote the script to one episode. People were impressed by this, but he said, "It's just a series of three minute scenes. I can write a three minute scene."

So early one morning, I turned on TVLand.

"What the---" I said.

An episode of Hunter, the old Reagan-era cop show, was on. All the scenes were almost exactly 90 seconds long.

"Maybe this three minute thing was all hooey," I thought.

Then Gunsmoke came on. An intellectual comes to Dodge City to spread high culture. He turns out to be a Confederate war criminal. Doc defends him for some reason.

"He's trying to make amends by doing something good!"

All the scenes were three minutes long. But they were each two 90 second scenes put together. You'd have 90 seconds of people doing or talking about one thing, then one person would leave and another would come in and they'd do something else for 90 seconds.

Scenes filmed in one shot

There was an episode of Barnaby Jones where every scene was filmed in one take. It would start with a master shot, but instead of cutting to a medium shot, the camera would slowly zoom in to a medium shot of two of the people. Then it would slowly zoom out. Then it would slowly zoom in on another actor.

On an episode of Vegas, they did every scene in one shot as much as possible. They did break up a fight scene into two shots, and there was a scene in a cramped office where they had little choice but to cut back and forth between the two actors.

I've read stuff about movies, like those of Joseph Lewis, where scenes are often done in one shot, and there was the cast of Alfred Hitchcock's Rope who talked about how much pressure they were under, having to do such long scenes in one take without screwing it up, but Buddy Ebsen and Robert Urich did it all the time.

Then there was the time I watched a two minute long student film. It had taken the young fellow six months to edit. Shot on film. He was practicing his montage, filmed in short takes. It all took place in one room. If he had filmed it in one shot, he could have made his movie in two minutes instead of six months, although it wouldn't have been very good practice for him.

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