How to Find the Subtext in Your Scene: A Look at Martin Scorsese’s ‘Taxi Driver’

by Peter D. Marshall

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A good exercise when you’re storyboarding, or at least beginning to think about the shots in your film, is to try and boil each scene down to one shot. If you were only allowed a single shot to shoot an entire scene, what would that shot be? As a director, this is perhaps the most important technical question you can ask yourself in pre-production. The answer is: you identify how to find the subtext in your scene, and you shoot it. If you do this successfully, you may not need any other shots to convey what the scene is about. This was true for Martin Scorsese in “Taxi Driver.”

In “Taxi Driver,” there is an uncomfortable scene in the middle of the movie when Travis Bickle calls Betsy, the woman he is courting, from a pay phone in the lobby of his apartment building. The trouble is, when he took her out on their first date, he took her to see a porno flick.

Read the rest of this article from Film Slate Magazine.

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