Perfect Storytelling – Nothing Superfluous Left

It is said that true Art is when there is nothing superfluous. True Art is a perfect balance, when adding or subtracting any part would ruin the whole. The same applies to perfect storytelling, to the best filmmaking.

I recently heard an editor saying” “I experimented trying to take out that shot, but watching the scene without it… I felt something was missing”. Or “I took out that shot and, I don’t know you but I didn’t miss it at all”. These are the moments I fully realize how much I am still learning from the people I work with. I always think of why I am choosing a shot, what is its purpose in telling the story. Yet, I never thought about taking out a shot and seeing if I miss it or not.

For the most part, I believe that there is a tendency in filmmaking to leave too much in. Like an extra shot to explain how two characters entered a room when, maybe, what is really important to the movie is what happens when they are in the room and not how they got there.

At the same time, there is also the opposite tendency, especially in North American. The tendency to take out a quiet moment, taking away breathing room for our characters to develop, worried that the audience will get bored. And so, even in those rare occasions when that moment is not taken out, they swing again to the opposite end of the spectrum and add. “Quick! Add a soundtrack to fill the silence before the viewer change channel!”

In our ambition to strive for meaningful and perfect storytelling, we need to reflect on our creations and ask ourselves if we need to add an element or take it out in order to reach our goal. Or consider if we found the perfect balance. True Art.