Are you facing a tough challenge or change at work? You might get frustrated if you expect steady progress or quick resolution. None of us is going to glide smoothly from start to finish. So, what do you do when you hit a rough patch? Your answer can mean the difference between success and defeat. Change your perspective to realize you’re collecting footage for your montage.
The montage is one of my favorite cinematic storytelling devices. A montage is an edited series in a movie wherein a main character advances through scenes in quick succession. In the best montages, we watch the character transform from awkward novice to confident badass, while a catchy pop tune engages our emotional response.
Famous Montage Examples
Think about your favorite movies. In Rocky (1976), director John G. Alvidsen didn’t have the time to show us every workout and every sparring practice that built a champion; he used a montage to show incremental improvement, setbacks, and small triumphs along the way. In the 1984 bromance hit Footloose, we cringe at Willard, Ren’s best friend, who enters the montage as an uncoordinated oaf, unable to stomp to a simple beat. In a steady-but-edited-for-time progression, we witness his miraculous transformation into a teenage dance floor sensation. And in Disney’s animated feature Mulan (1998), we watch as the main character pushes her way through military training. She fails at first but slowly gains competence, ultimately overcoming the “impossible” challenge set for her by Captain Li Shang.
As you read the last paragraph, did you catch yourself singing “Eye of the Tiger,” “Let’s Hear It for the Boy,” or “Be a Man”? The songs, too, are often edited for length so that you felt the whole transformation take place at warp speed. Think about how many hours of planning, rehearsal, costumes, makeup, raw footage, B-roll, retakes, camera angles, animation, sound effects, and editing went into create your favorite movie montage. All of that for less than three minutes of concentrated storytelling!
Get to Work!
While you’re doing the hard work – when this whole ordeal seems like it will never end – remind yourself that you’re collecting footage for your montage. The planning, practice, pain, and frustration are all fodder for the montage memory you will someday have of going through this challenge. So, pick a catchy soundtrack and get started.