F for Fake (1973) – How to Structure a Video Essay
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F for Fake (1973) – How to Structure a Video Essay

October 11, 2019


Hi my name is Tony and
this is Every Frame a Painting. So this channel’s been going well,
which means it’s about time -Time for a confession? Yeah, time for a confession. I have stolen more ideas from
this film than from any other -F for Fake
-F for Fake -Ladies and gentlemen,
by way of introduction -this is a film about trickery -and fraud -about lies. Wait sorry I’m doing this wrong.
Can we start over? This is an essay film by Orson Welles.
It’s called F for Fake. And it’s one of my personal bibles. Everything I know about editing,
I learned from this film. But today, I want to talk about
one basic thing: -We found out this really simple rule
that maybe you have all heard before -but it took us a long time to learn it. When you’re structuring a video essay there’s one thing
you really want to avoid. -I think that’s about it.
-And then? -No, that’s it.
-And then? -Then nothing else cuz I’m done ordering
-And then? -If you tell a story that’s -you’re in big trouble. This is the #1 mistake
I make in my own work. Like here.
Watch how repetitive this is. -Choosing to take the money. -Choosing not to fight back. -Choosing to hide their emotions. -Choosing not to trust someone. -Choosing to wait out the discomfort. -Choosing to get– This is a list you could put
in any order. That’s why it’s so boring. -What should happen between
every beat that you’ve written down -is either the word
THEREFORE or BUT. -So what i’m saying is you come up
with an idea that’s like, this happens -What are those?
-My pubes. I got em from Scott Tenorman. -and THEREFORE this happens. -Cartman, you don’t buy pubes.
You grow them yourself. -You’re saying pubes are worth nothing?
-Yeah. -BUT this happens. -And I’ll give you the pubes.
-Sweet. -THEREFORE this happens. -Aw goddamn it! So throughout this movie,
Orson Welles does the exact same thing. Except he doesn’t connect scenes,
he connects thoughts. -You’re a painter.
Why do you want people to do fakes? -Because fakes are as good as the real
ones and there’s a market and a demand -If you didn’t have an art market,
then fakers could not exist. Even though this movie is an essay each moment has the connective logic
of a South Park episode. The second rule in this movie is to have
more than one story, moving in parallel -I’ll quote Hitchcock again. He said
the name of making movies is -He’s absolutely right. -You want to have two things going. -You reach the peak of one,
you go to the other. -I hope you know what you’re doing. -You pick the other up where you want it
When it loses interest, drop it. How does this work in an essay film? -Well, let’s say you have two stories.
Let one of them build up. -When it reaches peak interest,
switch to the other. Let this one build. -And when this gets to the top,
go back to the first. Simple, right? -Except F for Fake doesn’t
just have two things. There’s also stories about
Orson Welles, Howard Hughes a woman named Oja,
and even the making of this movie. And by building each story carefully,
Welles can jump between all six of these without ever losing the audience. So when I’m making a video essay,
this is what’s going through my head. -And then?
-No “and then!” And I got all of that
from watching this film. Which more than anything has taught me:
it’s not about what you get. It’s how you cut it and
what comes out the other end. Remember, video essays aren’t essays.
They’re films. So you want to structure and
pace them like a filmmaker would. Therefore and But.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch. And if you don’t believe me,
you should at least trust Orson Welles who somehow figured this out
over 40 years ago. -Why not?
I’m a charlatan. But whatever. Let’s wrap up this essay. -Now it’s time for an introduction. Hi, my name is Tony and this concludes
Year One of Every Frame a Painting. I’d like to thank you for watching. -and wish you all a very pleasant -good evening. Subtitles by the Amara.org community

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  1. hey there, am film maker / editor, and F for fake is also on of my favorite inspiration. I would love to discuss more about essay films. Do you have any other tips?

  2. I saw this twenty, maybe even thirty years ago. Have been trying to remember the name of it ever since. No one ever knew what I was talking about and eventually I forgot about it. Until I just watched your essay. Now the dvd is on my Amazon shopping list. Thanks!

  3. I remember watching this video for the first time and being somewhat underwhelmed. I had seen "F for Fake" and I didn't understand exactly what this video was attempting to do. The more I watch it the more I learn. This video multitasks and teaches lessons in story and video essay structure all while reviewing "F for Fake". Great work Tony, this video is valuable for anyone who wishes to make video essays.

  4. I’ve never seen « F for Fake », that I can remember … it would have been back at Princeton, class of 1987 I was … but those year (after my sophomore year began) were a LOT of « and then I got high » 🎬 « and then I got high » 🎬 « and then I got high » 🎬 « and then I got high » 🎬 « and then I got high » 🎬 « and then I got high » 🎬 sometimes with movies thrown in, and only 420 (and χ at least a half dozen time while it was still 100% legal and and as-yet a scheduled substance, which I think happened late 1986 or early 1987, pure pharmaceutical delight and rolling on the manicured lawns) and while I did take a couple film classes, and watched John Ford’s « Stagecoach » seventeen times over in order to write about « Citizen Kane », which Orson Welles had suggested had been an influence … and I got an A+ on the paper, I remember, which was an unusually high mark for just about anyone, but…

    While « Citizen Kane » had been assigned viewing in my particular enrolled course (« Stagecoach » had not been, I remember, nor had « F for Fake »), if I picked up a screening — there were screenings several times a week for various curses back then, and some Friday/Saturday night fare, and all that, and a classmate of mine in Spelman had a VCR and TV (on which I watched « Stagecoach » 17 times, and dropped x on her and a half dozen other people one night, I honestly can’t tell you whether I ever rented « F for Fake », or saw part of it, or just the trailers, or the whole thing… I may have … I may not have….

    I am telling 100% the truth

  5. Well, your "choosing to this, choosing to that" etc. I felt was a bit rhythmic. After all, repetition legimitzes – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oGN4juGQ-0A

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