Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch… Welles’ ‘F for Fake’, ‘South Park’ and Video Essays


F for Fake

Even though video essayist Tony Zhou criticizes his own work in his latest video essay (a bit of self criticism is never a bad thing), he remains one of the more fascinating video essayists working right now and this latest not only calls to attention a great documentary — Orson WellesF for Fake — but delves into how to structure video essays to keep ’em moving with a bit of snap, crackle and pop.

With commentary from John Sturges (The Great Escape) quoting Alfred Hitchcock‘s story structure utilizing the narrative trick “Meanwhile, back at the ranch” to keep the action moving in parallel with other portions of the story. Items such as Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, F for Fake, “South Park” and even a little Dude, Where’s My Car?

Everything Zhou is talking about here, however, is actually far more complex than he makes it sound, at least to someone that’s never tried it, especially when you consider the six things Welles has going on in F for Fake as he points out. Nevertheless, it’s a good lesson in structure and editing and even offers a suggestion of how a bad movie might be elevated by the editing alone.

Good stuff…

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If you want to make video essays, there’s no better film to study than Orson Welles’ 1973 masterpiece, F for Fake. There are a million lessons to take away from it, but today, let’s see what it has to teach us about structure.