Film School: ‘The Move To Stanford’ Montage in ‘Hot Fuzz’ (2007)

A case study in storytelling through composition, repetition and sound effects – in 30 seconds.

In this sequence from action comedy Hot Fuzz (2007), director Edgar Wright moves police officer Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) from the big city to a small town – and through careful shot selection, tight editing and sound design, tells us a whole bunch of amusing story in just half a minute:

Every single shot in this sequence helps to tell the story, both in content and composition.

If you were to storyboard each shot, you’d see that whenever a shot is “repeated”, the changes in its details tell us the progression of the character, both geographically and emotionally.

Cinematographer Jess Hill breaks down how the types of shots are part the cinematic language of the films which Hot Fuzz references – or how playing with genre conventions means playing by genre rules (via Cooke Optics TV):

The creativity and sophistication of the visual storytelling in this sequence is explained really well by Every Frame A Painting in their video essay on Edgar Wright (the analysis of this scene starts around the 1:16 mark, but the entire video essay is excellent – and full of good lessons for film-makers of all levels):

Further Viewing

Who do the greats revere? Edgar Wright’s Top 40 favorite films (via Eyes on Cinema):