Crafting the Scene : Lessons in Storytelling from the Masters of Cinema book cover
1st Edition

Crafting the Scene
Lessons in Storytelling from the Masters of Cinema

ISBN 9780367608811
Published June 2, 2022 by Routledge
212 Pages 70 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Bringing together an understanding of cinematic technique and creative choices, this book explores how directors make the technical choices to tell a story in the best and most effective way. Analyzing examples from films throughout, it demonstrates how to practice analysis and application to take your storytelling to the next level through creative choices.

This book provides a model to bridge the gap between theory and practice by analyzing famous scenes and breaking them down not solely for critical value and within historical context, but primarily for practical value and application. Author Hong illustrates how an understanding of dramatic storytelling and the dramatic context behind scenes allows filmmakers to produce impactful and powerful stories. Foregrounding reading film and media to allow you to engage with films in a critical and perceptive way, this book will help you make films to connect with your audience. Through looking at complete scenes as the primary unit of drama, it teaches how to analyze story movement across a scene to build better stories, pulling practical lessons from these famous moments in cinema to enable better work across preproduction, on set, and during post-production.

Serving as a guide through a single semester-long class focused on direction and production, this book is aimed at advanced students and aspiring filmmakers. It is essential reading for filmmakers wishing to build on their creative and technical skills and enrich their storytelling.

Table of Contents


CHAPTER 1 – Why Scenes?

CHAPTER 2 - The Rules of Enchantment: Aristotle’s Poetics

CHAPTER 3 - The Playground Scene of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds (1963) – Believing is Seeing and Constructing Subjectivity

CHAPTER 4 - The Death of the Thief Scene in Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai (1954) – Space, Time, and Efficient Exposition

CHAPTER 5 - The Dôme Café Scene in Agnes Varda’s Cléo de 5 à 7 (1961) – Real Time and Real Life in the Service of Fiction

CHAPTER 6 - The Wall of Fame Scene in Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing (1989) – Shaping the Scene for Complexity and Payoff

CHAPTER 7 - The Roadhouse Slaughter Scene in Kathryn Bigelow’s Near Dark (1987) – Invigorating Genre Through Subversion and Making the Familiar Strange Again

CHAPTER 8 – Why Bother?

BONUS CHAPTER - Taylor Swift’s Music Video for "Shake it Off" (2014) – Micro Behaviors, Macro Humility, and Moving Toward Real Inclusion





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Will Hong is an Assistant Professor of Digital Media Production at the State Univeristy of New York at New Paltz. He spent two decades in the film and television industry in New York City working on short and feature-length independent films, music videos (including from artists Weezer, Alicia Keys, Black-Eyed Peas, Modest Mouse), numerous TV spots and promos for such clients as ESPN, Phillips-Van Heusen, HBO, Kenneth Cole, Macy’s, HGTV and MTV, reality television shows (HouseHunters International), as well as corporate (silver Telly Award winner) and associated web-based content. He has taught the fundamentals of storytelling and filmmaking at The Lee Strasberg Theater and Film Institute, the New York Film Academy (NYC), the Dalton School, and Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY.


'Will Hong’s excellent Crafting the Scene: Lessons in Storytelling from the Masters of Cinema fills a gaping hole in many curriculums. It is a rich, exhaustive exploration of the role of individual scenes from a film that touches on both how they work on their own as scenes worth studying but also how they fit into the film in a big picture kind of way.'
David Greenberg, University of the Arts