Most of the commercials we produced were thirty- and sixty-second spots for products like Maxwell House Coffee, Vicks Vaporub, Ajax (bum-bum, the foaming cleanser), Colgate Dental Cream, and other household products. Technically speaking, these early ads were the simplest work imaginable. There’s a dancing coffee pot or some such thing with a jingle about Maxwell House exploding flavor buds; cut to a man tasting a steaming cup of coffee while his lovely, crisp wife looks on expectantly; cut to the best take of his reaction (“Hmm, that’s delicious!”); cut to the sign-off; and you’re through. But nothing is ever that simple in the advertising business.
This kind of work was all right for a week or two. It had its curiosities. But after a few months at Tempo, I was morose and close to broken, for I knew I was using almost none of the skills that had landed me the job in the first place. At night bad dreams about exploding flavor buds and foaming cleansers with catchy jingles and forced smiles began to bother me. In the one nightmare I still recall, I was stuffed into a Maxwell House jar and exploded into ten thousand pieces when they poured the boiling water on me.
When The Shooting Stops … The Cutting Begins
Ralph Rosenblum, Robert Karen
Furthermore, screenwriting involves more than mere dialogue and plot. The choice between a cut and a camera movement or a close-up and a long shot, for example, may quite often transcend the plot. If the story of Little Red Riding Hood is told with the Wolf in close-up and Little Red Riding Hood in long shot, the director is concerned primarily with the emotional problems of a wolf with a compulsion to eat little girls. If Little Red Riding Hood is in close-up and the Wolf in long shot, the emphasis is shifted to the emotional problems of vestigial virginity in a wicked world. (To cut back and forth between the two characters is to emphasize their conflict; to enclose them within a circular camera movement is to emphasize their complicity.)
Directors, How Personal Can You Get?, Andrew Sarris
Confessions of a Cultist: On the Cinema, 1955-1969
“A beehive can apparently be moved two inches each night without disorienting the bees the next morning. Surprisingly, if it is moved two miles, the bees also have no problem: They are forced by the total displacement of their environment to re-orient their sense of direction, which they can do easily enough. But if the hive is moved two yards, the bees will become fatally confused. The environment does not seem different to them, so they do not re-orient themselves, and as a result, they will not recognize their own hive when they return from foraging, hovering instead in the empty space where the hive used to be, while the hive itself sits just two yards away.”
– IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE, A PERSPECTIVE ON FILM EDITING. Walter Murch.