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A cutaway is when we literally cut to something else. And in some cases, when we cut to something besides where their main action is, it can have a very powerful emotional impact. So in this scene from '"House on Haunted Hill," Vincent Price is kind of in-charge of this scary haunted house. He is basically telling the people here that just kind of came on a fluke just to kind of check things out that they are stuck here. That whoever was in charge of the keys of the door, they are gone.
So we have a regular back and forth. And then we have an emotional cutaway. Let's watch. (Vincent Price: We're all locked in now.) (Female speaker: But I don't want to stay.) (Vincent Price: I'm sorry, my dear, but it's too late now.) So did you see that? We have a dialogue and Vincent Price is speaking to the whole group. He says "we are stuck." Then she's worried. She's afraid. She does not want to be here. She's established as vulnerable. And she says, "I don't want to be here." It cuts back to Vincent Price and he says "I'm sorry." And then he is going to say "it's too late now." Now, the editor could choose to stay on Vincent Price and show him saying that "it's too late now." But how much more powerful was it that it cutaway from him to show her face, just as a reaction shot for when he said "it's too late now?" There is a look of panic.
She turns to the guy, like help me. And it's much more powerful seeing her reaction rather than seeing Vincent Price simply saying that line. So be aware in your edits of times when you could cut away from the main action or the main speaker, if someone else is reacting to that. And if their reaction is more potent and more powerful than the person saying it than by all means do it. Again, this is another trick that was in the editor's hands. It was the editor's decision to choose here whether they would show Vincent Price continuing to say those words or whether they would cut to her reaction and I think that that was a great decision to show her vulnerability and reacting to his words.
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