Monday, June 17, 2013

Screenwriting Bullet #15: Flashback

In my screenwriting bullet series, I break down key screenwriting terms and techniques into quick and easy bullet points. Today, it's flashback.


Filmmaker D W Griffith is alleged to have created the flashback technique.

Flashbacks are used to dramatise events that have happened prior to the main storyline (while the main storyline is still ongoing).
Their primary use is to fill in backstory and, when done well, they enrich character, story and plot. When done badly, they're dull, indulgent and unnecessary.

*photo from Pulp Fiction


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Tom said...

Surely this photos is from Pulp Fiction, no? Do I win a prize?!

Anonymous said...

You sure it's not Pulp Fiction? ;)

Danny Stack said...

Gah, where's my head at? Although, now that it's fixed, anyone coming to these comments fresh will think you're a couple of right lunatics. :)

Lina Talbot said...

Always worrying because of their bad reputation in screenwriting. But if you have a storyline in the past which influences that of the present, and of course you don't want to reveal what happened in the past till near the end of the whole... what can you do? As in "Stoker" - stoked full of flashbacks!

Danny Stack said...

Hi Lina - thanks for leaving a comment. I saw Stoker and struggled with it slightly but the latter half perked up! I'm a fan of flashbacks/non-linear but it has to be justified (which is the tricky part!).

Lina said...

Yes, do you think Stoker made the grade - or was particularly self-indulgent? He was there having a flashback of one nasty incident, whilst recalling another from his childhood! Flashback within flashback!

Lina said...

Yes, but did you think Stoker somewhat indulgent, flashback within flashback? Or did they get away with it, to your mind?

Danny Stack said...

Just about got away with it, as it built all its intrigue (although took its time, too!).