Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Sherlock: How To Film Thought

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Detective fiction always turns on its revelations, on those moments when information

suddenly transforms into cause and effect.

No one is better at achieving those revelations than private detective Sherlock Holmes,

and these days no one is better at

visualizing them than the creators of

Sherlock, the intoxicatingly inventive TV show that uses and imagines film editing as a

function of its main characters mind.

"You said your life turned on one word."

"Yes, the name of the person my father wanted to kill."

Today I want to look at how Sherlock gets from point a to point B, from problem to solution,

mystery to clarity, in one of the show's most

extraordinary visual revelations.

It's a sequence that lasts three minutes and 42 seconds with a fresh weird idea in almost every beat.

It's a complete joy to watch unfold.

"You said your life turned on one word." " Yes,

The name of the person my father wanted to kill."

The background is this: the daughter of famous multi-millionaire Culverton Smith

knows her father wants to kill someone, but doesn't know who it is

"I need to kill someone."

She was told the name once but under the influence of a drug that wiped her memory

all she knows is that it's one word.

"That's the impossible thing, just that, right there."

What's impossible?

"Names aren't one word, there're always at least two."

The added element here, one that's going to spin this revelation into a whole other gear, is that Sherlock Holmes is

on drugs.

He's been shooting cocaine, a reference to the original Conan Doyle stories, and it's accelerating and twisting his mind.

In fact it's the pain of withdrawal from his drugs that puts the entire sequence in motion.

"You're not how I expected you."

"What? What am I?"


"And who?"


In a mystery, a revelation on the part of the detective or the audience only works when it arises from

information already known.

What's new is the perspective, and that change in perspective is triggered usually by something that

doesn't mean to. I mean this kind of revelation is a cliche by now

But what sherlock does differently is stage those perspective shifts in its camerawork and editing in.

The first sub sequence we see sherlock from every possible angle even from one that's

Impossible, thanks to his drug-induced state,

punctuated by subliminal negative shots of the confession paper that Faith was holding and a compliment

"You're not what I expected you. Nicer."

It's not just that Sherlock recontextualizes old informations.

The filmmakers take great pains to choreograph a relationship between old and new perspectives that is

Conversational, like the present and the past are speaking to each other.

In this part for example Sherlock stocks the location of an old episode, the previous one, but now

verything is changed: instead of seeing the street from a different angle we see it from a totally different

camera lens adding to that sense of

attenuated drugged-up disorientation. And here the conversation with the past is even more literal

It's a present shot past

Reverse shot.

"There's only one way that I can solve it."

You've already moved the camera

and you've already changed the lens, why not transplant an entire set from earlier in the episode.

"I need to kill someone."




"Don't think anyone else is going to save him because there isn't anyone."

Even more impressive than how Sherlock arrives at his revelation is how the hero

untangles what that means.

What can only be called a leapfrog scene transition,

maybe my favorite of all time.

Sherlock awakes from his reverie.

It goes like this.

Sherlock realizes where he is, in the middle of a busy street.

A man yells at him.

Reverse shot: Sherlock.

Reverse shot: that man is now his drug-dealing friend on the street

Reverse shot Sherlock.

Reverse shot: his drug-dealing friend is actually speaking to him from Baker Street.

Reverse shot: Sherlock still outside

Reverse shot drug dealer telling him that he's actually at Baker Street too.

Reverse shot: cue the best location transition ever.

Now let's watch that in real time.

"Even know where you are? You drunk!"

"What are you doing here?"

"What are you doing in the middle of a bloody street?"

"You should be at Baker Street."

"I am. So are you."

It's hard to imagine a scenario where more could be accomplished with ten shots

As Sherlock's mind catches up with itself and he grapples with the thought of just how many

serial killers might be hiding behind wealth and fame like

Culverton Smith.

The revelation, the drugs and the sequence reach their crescendo with the set itself

Turning on its axis. It's important

I think to remember that what we've seen here has taken place in the span of only three minutes and 42 seconds

I mean there are full movies with fewer original ideas. There is no cGI in the sequence. No digital fireworks

this is just great filmmaking just the laws of editing embodied brilliantly as the workings of an

extraordinary mind

So the Nerdwriter crossed a million subscribers last week

And that is the biggest professional Milestone in my life in 2017

I want to make a show that

Lives up to the amount of people who are watching and I hope when you tell people about the show you say it's something

That you've never seen on Youtube or TV or anywhere

That's the vision I have in my head, and that's what I'm always thinking about when I'm making new episodes

So thank you for watching thank you for getting me to this place

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That's pretty cool. Thank you guys for watching and I'll see everybody next Wednesday

The Description of Sherlock: How To Film Thought