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Plants & Payoffs

Planting Information
Early on in a story, a well constructed film can invisibly provide specific context needed to derive meaning from future events, much like foreshadowing in literature. When audiences use the planted information to discover these meanings as the visual story develops, it is called payoff.

An example of foreshadowing in the book Julius Ceasar by William Shakespeare, the soothsayer says, “Beware the ides of March.” It is a hint that Julius Ceasar will die in the story.

In a film such as Spiderman 3, Peter Parker finds a suspicious black substance from outer space and takes it to a professor. The plant is that the substance is black and mysterious, which already gives it negative connotations, and the professor tells him to leave it alone. However, he does not, and the payoff is that he eventually becomes destructive. Often times bad weather is also a sign of troubled events ahead.

It is important to have a throughline, which is a main idea not a theme, that goes throughout the story. A throughline is like the skeleton of a plot that links all the events in the story and stay focus. It helps you to eliminate things in your story that does not somehow relate to the throughline. Character, catalyst, and conflict are vital to create a strong main idea.

When you direct your actors, it is important that they should not only understand what their character is doing, or trying to do, (their objective) in any given scene, but should also strive to understand the throughline which linked these objectives together and thus pushed the character forward through the narrative.