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Using Montages in Your Script: A Good Idea?

The primary reason scripts are such an exhausting endeavor to accomplish has to do with the vast amount of information needed to make a great script. Whether it's formatting, creating great characters, exciting scenes, and pushing yourself to finish a script, it's a daunting task. Not to mention, no script can be started without an idea in the first place.

Plus, there's no guarantee your script will ever see the light of day, no matter how good it is. This is the primary reason that not many people get involved in the scriptwriting world since it's such a delicate manner. What makes this process even more challenging is determining whether certain aspects like a montage are a good idea.

Montages have been used very heavily in films and television series, but some people are against them. Film purists might claim montages take away from the story and are a cheap way of advancing it forward. Although it's true, many novice screenwriters utilize things like montages and flashbacks more than experts, who cares what film purists have to say.

What’s most important is that you create a script you envision. Although listening to others about formatting and crafting a story is important, do what you think is best. Considering it’s your story and what you hope to achieve with it, power through. If you think a montage will work great for your script, then do it. Nonetheless, down below, we’re going to discuss what a montage is, the various kinds of montages, and when they’re a good idea. Let’s take a look!

Still from Rocky. Photo credit: Deadspin


What’s a Montage?


For those who don't know, a montage is a film editing technique that takes a series of short shots and sequenced into a scene. The best example of one is the training day montages from the Rocky franchise. Everyone understands what these montages are, and thus, will know precisely what a montage is.

Although montages are as standard as they are, some people are against them, highlighting how they advance the story in a novice way. Indeed, some films don't need a montage, but anyone who disagrees with the montage in Rocky obviously misses the point. It shouldn't be whether or not if it's cheap to do, but if it's suitable for the story.

In fact, some movies utilize a montage that enhances it greatly. Whereas others, mistakenly use one that feels out of place. The animated film UP uses a long montage that shows the life of Carl and Ellie. This montage is heartbreaking as it shows their beautiful life filled with tragedy and Ellie’s eventual demise. Using a montage like this clearly isn’t a representation of being lazy with a script.


Single Scene Montage


Although a montage is relatively self-explanatory, there are two different kinds of montages. The first kind of montage is a single scene montage. This means a montage occurs in a single scene with the characters or time changing in it. A montage like this can happen at a restaurant while two people are on a date or in someone's living as someone leaves for work in the morning.

This is typically done to show the feelings of characters from a specific event or to show the repetitiveness of a character’s routine. Either way, it’s a great point to consider for montages. They’re a lot easier to write since it’s in one scene and doesn’t require anything more than a begin montage and end montage captioning.


Multi-Scene Montage


On the other hand, a multi-scene montage is a montage that encompasses several scenes into one. The UP montage we discussed before is an example of this. It shows Carl and Ellie in their house, getting married, at the hospital, outside, and several other areas. As difficult as this is to write, this is a great way to show time has gone by.

Generally speaking, most people think of montages to be utilized for this purpose and rightfully so. A multi-scene montage is a great way to show time has gone by. Even if it’s just to show a week or two has gone by, it helps us understand the story as a whole.


Is it a Good Idea?


As far as montages being a good idea or not, you have to ask yourself if it advances your story. If it's to waste time in the script, don't waste your time with it. However, if your story takes place over several years, consider using a montage. On the other hand, if you want to show a single event and how it goes, consider a montage.

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