In this week’s Friday Fundas I chose to discuss an interesting part in a movie or something the producers look for in a script. This is called Money shot or a Payoff shot.
Originally the money shot was a term referred to the shots for which maximum money was spent. This term was mainly used in the pornographic movies. However later this term was used for mainstream genre of movies and also changed its meaning to relate to the shot in a movie which had the most commercial value of the movie. This is the shot after seeing which the audience says “Paisa vasool” (worth the money spent). This has also become a standard practice when reviewing a script the producers look for the money shot which usually is the most dramatic part of the movie. This need not be restricted to the shots with the greatest special effects. Also this shot need not occur in the climax of the movie.
Let us look at some of the examples, in the English movie Avatar the sequence in which Jake connects his mind to the Toruk is the most high point of the entire narration and this would be the money shot of the movie in my opinion.
In the English movie swordfish the bomb blast scene is a very well shot scene and it is the money shot of the movie.
This also applies to Indian movies as well. In the Hindi movie Zindagi Naa Milegi Dobara the sky diving scene of the 3 friends is the money shot of the movie.
In the Tamil movie Baasha the medical college sequence is the money shot of the movie. This shot occurs in the first half of the movie. This does not have any great visual effects but the high point in utilizing the potential of the star value of Rajinikanth makes this one the money shot of the movie.
Identifying your money shot in the movie is very much important. Every successful movie has a money shot, but every movie with a money shot need not be successful as the success depends on the entire movie and the money shot being the highest point of the movie which elates the audience.
In this week’s Friday fundas we would see a popular technique used in screenwriting called foreshadowing. Foreshadowing is a technique screen writers use in the screenplay that gives a hint or clue to the audience as to how the plot would unfold. This is a very useful technique in preparing the audience for the upcoming events in the plot and when they occur it is convincing. In a good screenplay you always find a foreshadowing event placed in the first act or the beginning of the second act of the script (see 3 act structure for more information on three act structure).
Let us look at some examples of foreshadowing in popular movies
In the movie Avatar Jake Sully is shown running out of the base first time he is connected to the Avatar. Later in the movie he becomes part of the Na’vis and fights against the humans. You find this convincing as he is not connected to the mission and would do what he believes in.
In the Tamil blockbuster Baasha, there is a scene where Manickam played by Rajnikanth is negotiating for a medical seat for his sister. He tells his name is Manickam but he has another name… and after so muted dialogues you see the dean of the college very frightened of him. This is a very good pre-cursor for his past life which would be revealed in the second half. Imagine if this was not there and all of a sudden he becomes a don in second half it would not have been so convincing.
In the movie 3 Idiots there is a scene where in Virus is displaying a pen that can be used in the space and it has been given to him by his professor. Rancho stuns him with a question as to why pencil was not used in space. Towards the end of the movie we see him giving this pen to Rancho and also explaining him the logical reason of why pencil was not used in space. This simple scene conveys how Rancho has become the best student ever for Virus. It is so effective due to the foreshadowing sequence in the beginning of the script.