What is a jump cut in a movie?
A jump cut in filmmaking is an edit to a single, sequential shot that makes the action appear to leap forward in time. To fit the textbook definition of a jump cut, it must break a continuous shot into two parts. This causes the subject in the video to abruptly “jump” to a different position — hence the name.
After the cut, the subject may appear in a different position or attitude, or the camera position may be slightly different. This cut style is a significant departure from the standard conventions of continuity editing, which dictates that the camera angle should change by at least 30 degrees from one clip to the next. The jump cut ignores this rule.
What is a jump cut in a screenplay?
Say you’re not just editing and directing a movie, but you’re writing the screenplay, too. The scene transitions that you envision are an essential part of the storytelling. A jump cut in a screenplay is like any other editing direction you’d write into your script.
While there’s some debate over the best way to write jump cuts into screenplays, the point is to clearly communicate your vision to everyone reading the script. There are two simple ways you can do this:
While not as specific as JUMP CUT TO, you can also use SERIES OF SHOTS. This is exactly what it sounds like — a series of shots indicates multiple, often quick-cut shots of a scene. Depending on your preference, you can use your series of shots as jump cuts or even a montage. Indicate each new shot in a list format using a double dash (--) in your screenplay.
Just remember that for a true jump cut, your camera angle can’t move by more than 30 degrees, if it moves at all.
A brief history of the jump cut.
In the early 1900s, filmmaker Georges Méliès discovered the jump cut and used it to portray magic tricks. With cuts that appeared seamless, Méliès made characters magically disappear and reappear.
Jump to 1959 and Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless. Godard broke the rules with obvious jump cuts in the same sequence. During a driving scene, the camera angle remains the same, over the shoulder of the character Patricia in the passenger seat, but the scenery in the background changes abruptly.
The effect of the discontinuity is to disorient the viewer and draw attention to the artificial nature of film. Some claim that the producer forced Godard to make drastic cuts to the film, so he cut it haphazardly out of spite, accidentally creating one of the most influential films of the French New Wave.
Since Godard, filmmakers have used jump cuts in countless creative ways. These cuts can work with dramatic or comedic effect to show the passage of time as a character changes positions in a single shot. They can use a single camera position to show a character covering a great distance without making the audience watch every step. Jump cuts can also portray the point of view of a disoriented or confused character without resorting to special effects.