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What is an Intercut Shot?

Film editing is a complex art that requires many years of experience in order to achieve even basic proficiency. Some of the most valuable motion picture sequences are the result of advanced intercutting. In order to alternate from one scene to another, at the same time. In fact, in film editing, cutting from scene to scene is sometimes achieved with an intercut shot, but what is intercutting and exactly what is an intercut shot?

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What is an Intercut Shot?

An intercut shot is used in filmmaking to cut between two scenes. In order to show actions taking place at the same time, but in different areas.

More commonly referred to as parallel editing. Intercutting helps to build suspense around the narrative and create a sense of anticipation within the audience. 

Altering Between Scenes

Sometimes an intercut is planned within a screenplay. In these instances, the screenplay will alter between scenes, from one to another.

But by identifying the intercut on top of the page to the right, each scene can be outlined individually and the corresponding intercut note will let the editor know that both scenes are to be taking place at the same time and intercut together.

How are Intercuts Used in Filmmaking?

The use of intercuts in filmmaking have many different creative uses. Filmmakers use intercut shots to show relations between various events taking place.

We often see the intercut come into play in crime movies. Particularly when a chain of events are unfolding in which a criminal could be connected to.

But you might see said criminal in a particular place with a group of people. Thus providing an alibi for the individual while the various scenes unfold.

Multiple Scenes Unfolding

Intercut shots are also used to show situations in which multiple scenes are unfolding and expected to all relate in the end in some way. Oftentimes, the scenes are intended to be individual, and on their own. But then the editor will find ways to intercut them in post-production.

This occurs when a film is initially imagined or the screenplay is written without intercuts planned. But upon reaching post production editing, these parallel edits are found to be effective.

Intercuts or parallel editing in films will be used when corresponding scenes that are expected to eventually meet up can be shown, at the same time, in order to create the connection.

So, the most common uses of intercut shots and parallel editing in films include:

  • Alternating between two scenes that are taking place at the same time in different locations. But which are expected to result in similar outcomes that are connected.
  • Alternating between two scenes, taking place simultaneously. Which are intended to show a similar meaning or underlying connection.
  • Alternating between scenes in order to maintain pacing and tempo. To make a particular scene more powerful.
  • Alternating between scenes to convey various dream states within the narrative to create connections.

In Summary

Now that you’re armed with an answer to the common question, “What is an intercut shot?” What ways will you find to incorporate intercut shots and parallel editing into your future film projects?