F for Fake (1973) – How to Structure a Video Essay

Hi my name is Tony and
this is Every Frame a Painting. So this channel’s been going well,
which means it’s about time -Time for a confession? Yeah, time for a confession. I have stolen more ideas from
this film than from any other -F for Fake
-F for Fake -Ladies and gentlemen,
by way of introduction -this is a film about trickery -and fraud -about lies. Wait sorry I’m doing this wrong.
Can we start over? This is an essay film by Orson Welles.
It’s called F for Fake. And it’s one of my personal bibles. Everything I know about editing,
I learned from this film. But today, I want to talk about
one basic thing: -We found out this really simple rule
that maybe you have all heard before -but it took us a long time to learn it. When you’re structuring a video essay there’s one thing
you really want to avoid. -I think that’s about it.
-And then? -No, that’s it.
-And then? -Then nothing else cuz I’m done ordering
-And then? -If you tell a story that’s -you’re in big trouble. This is the #1 mistake
I make in my own work. Like here.
Watch how repetitive this is. -Choosing to take the money. -Choosing not to fight back. -Choosing to hide their emotions. -Choosing not to trust someone. -Choosing to wait out the discomfort. -Choosing to get– This is a list you could put
in any order. That’s why it’s so boring. -What should happen between
every beat that you’ve written down -is either the word
THEREFORE or BUT. -So what i’m saying is you come up
with an idea that’s like, this happens -What are those?
-My pubes. I got em from Scott Tenorman. -and THEREFORE this happens. -Cartman, you don’t buy pubes.
You grow them yourself. -You’re saying pubes are worth nothing?
-Yeah. -BUT this happens. -And I’ll give you the pubes.
-Sweet. -THEREFORE this happens. -Aw goddamn it! So throughout this movie,
Orson Welles does the exact same thing. Except he doesn’t connect scenes,
he connects thoughts. -You’re a painter.
Why do you want people to do fakes? -Because fakes are as good as the real
ones and there’s a market and a demand -If you didn’t have an art market,
then fakers could not exist. Even though this movie is an essay each moment has the connective logic
of a South Park episode. The second rule in this movie is to have
more than one story, moving in parallel -I’ll quote Hitchcock again. He said
the name of making movies is -He’s absolutely right. -You want to have two things going. -You reach the peak of one,
you go to the other. -I hope you know what you’re doing. -You pick the other up where you want it
When it loses interest, drop it. How does this work in an essay film? -Well, let’s say you have two stories.
Let one of them build up. -When it reaches peak interest,
switch to the other. Let this one build. -And when this gets to the top,
go back to the first. Simple, right? -Except F for Fake doesn’t
just have two things. There’s also stories about
Orson Welles, Howard Hughes a woman named Oja,
and even the making of this movie. And by building each story carefully,
Welles can jump between all six of these without ever losing the audience. So when I’m making a video essay,
this is what’s going through my head. -And then?
-No “and then!” And I got all of that
from watching this film. Which more than anything has taught me:
it’s not about what you get. It’s how you cut it and
what comes out the other end. Remember, video essays aren’t essays.
They’re films. So you want to structure and
pace them like a filmmaker would. Therefore and But.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch. And if you don’t believe me,
you should at least trust Orson Welles who somehow figured this out
over 40 years ago. -Why not?
I’m a charlatan. But whatever. Let’s wrap up this essay. -Now it’s time for an introduction. Hi, my name is Tony and this concludes
Year One of Every Frame a Painting. I’d like to thank you for watching. -and wish you all a very pleasant -good evening. Subtitles by the Amara.org community


  • Revolt

    wow, so great to see someone who has such a passion for the art of film! I watched this movie as a freshman in film school but never fully "got it" until I saw your video. Amazing stuff, I'm really enjoying what you have here 🙂

  • Game Fro

    Your work is masterful.

  • Morteus -

    Aaaaah, the french champagne..

  • Muenni

    This reminds me of GRRM's Song of Ice and Fire.

  • Matt Merritte Reelcuts_Productions

    You use Final Cut X? I think its a good editing software I don't get the hate.

  • Murdock Files

    I can't believe somebody actually found good use of the film 'Dude, Where's My Car?"

  • capfogful

    I love everything about the show but the title. Because every artistic product has the same goal. The only differnce is the way how you communicate that. The difference between a movie and a painting is that a movie is a les condensed medium. One frame is not able stand on its own as an art piece, and it doesnt even has to. But a painting have to stand on its own. I know what you were trying to say with this, but it is really devolving, that one second in a movie is 24 times more than a painting. sorry for my poor english

  • Isami Yuzuriha

    "And then?"

    "And nothing! You belong to me, now."

  • Alec Nolan

    What kind of software do you use? Videos look great. Well Done.

  • zleepydude224

    This is my favorite video essay ever it inspires me so much.

  • Trey Roque

    Yeah, a great movie – predicting the 21st century. AND his girlfriend was also 21st century hot. The reality is even stranger.

    Congrats on your anniversary! Roque!

  • Yaofu Zhou

    IMHO the later Game of Thrones is overdoing this, and made all the episodes before the finale a series of trailers, and in tuen losing the sructure 😀

  • John Bedolla

    Man I wish I'd run into this site earlier. This guy really understands the language of cinema and how to explain it. Please keep the videos coming!

  • John Bedolla

    How about some Kieslowski or Tarkovsky or Svankmajer?

  • Jake Conner

    This can also apply to sheer camerawork, with each camera movement or cut being motivated. An example is The Revenant, where there are long takes, but each camera movement used to keep the take long feels motivated by something in the frame, whether it follows a person running or where someone is looking. This way, camera movement feels motivated and flows well instead of feeling like a waste of time used to keep the camera rolling instead of cutting. It always flows and never gets boring.

  • Zed Theorem

    I think what you are basically saying is don't make a to do list story telling, rather bounce between the to dos. You talk about one, then jump to another and then back to the other. So in essence you have a group interlaced short films that weave one story. It sounds fascinating but difficult. Would you be able to show us some good examples of this or even cutting your Scorcase piece into this format as you indicated you had messed it up before. It would be great to see the difference.

  • calliph

    the rap song choices in your video alone is badass. just found this series and am super impressed!

  • Thomas Christopher White

    And this is why movies like Batman V Superman face plants.

  • sleepysloth

    easily one of the best channels on youtube

  • Serious Taco

    Who else read the title as For Fuck's Sake?

  • Nelumbo Nucifera

    I hope you revisit F for Fake in future videos. There's a lot to learn from it.

  • marpazm

    I'm studying architecture and your videos has made me a better designer

  • Morty's Trap House

    how cool was Welles man… what a world

  • InoChi Gurei

    I'm having a hard time grasping this pacing idea of but and therefore, but I'm guessing it works like this:

    Instead of "A is attracted to B and then A asks B out. Then B turns A down and then A is sad"
    It turns into
    "A is attracted to B, but B has commitment issues.Therefore, B turns A down. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, C coaches A on dating techniques "

  • Nicholas

    and then?

  • Maddie Siegmund

    I just watched the Netflix Amanda Knox documentary. I wasn't even too interested in the subject, but I'm so glad I watched it because the construction of that piece was OUTSTANDING as well as the directing and cinematography and sound design. It is led by the connection of ideas, and avoids any feeling of "and then" even though it is telling a linear sequence of events! It is seriously a masterpiece little documentary.

  • Knox Morris

    What is the music you used in the beginning of the video?

  • Rubén Esperanza

    I love your videos mate! Thanks for sharing!

  • Maggie Corrigan

    This is awesome! I love how you break things down so clearly. Have you considered doing a video about Brian De Palma's "Blow Out"? I think that would be really interesting. Keep making videos!

  • Gregory Bogosian

    Steven lost his job. Therefore, he started selling meth to pay the rent. But the police arrested him. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Steven's ex-wife mortgaged the ranch to put their son through college. Does that work?

  • Roy Darling

    this is a great advice for story tellers. thank you

  • nalanan

    Man, this is the coolest channel I've seen in a while. I've watched every video except for the ones where I don't want the movie to be spoiled.

    A big thumbs up from a fellow Vancouverite.

  • Shlomo mit herz


  • TheEtherny

    Artis was a man of color who grew up with a blind mother, she was very protective of him but needed to trust him, therefor she being so helpless made it easier for him to lie to her face, making her believe he was a full time business man but in reality the money he brought home was from other kind of business with dangerous people who didn't even know each other's name, he protected his mother with his anonymity but his thirst for trouble and money would end up back lashing in the end. It's a little story I'm still working on. I'm just nor sure how to make it fit in 4 minutes because there are many details in Artis' character and 4 minutes is too short to really understand him but 4 minutes is all I've got. Also, Artis' mother has a backstory which is really hard to fit here so I guess I'll have to do some smart editing to convey it without actually showing it. Wish me luck. Those who do their research might already know the name of this and can tell what it is 😉

  • micro wave

    honestly on this channel I click videos without any expectations, because my interest in film isn't that great…. but then I learn something profound and I never regret any minute spent watching

  • Z Moon

    Therefore or but instead of and then. Meanwhile, back at the ranch.

  • Sam Egan-Sheardown

    Nice. Great film. Good work.

  • Stein

    never loosing the audience? are you kidding

  • Daft Rebel

    I subscribed to this channel, then unsuscribed for the lack of conetnt it got… I like the storytelling, the voice treatment, but you can watch 10 minutes episodes and not "learning" nothing new from the 20 seconds it started… I know you have to make longer videos to get more watched time and relevance on the youtube algorithm… But that leads you to the start of this statement. Music is great by the way. Start making music essays.

  • C A Vision

    Thank you.

  • daniel claro

    I really recommend reading the film crit hulks book for more on this topic. If you are remmotely intrested in movies or scriptwriting, he really boils down and explains this and many other core concepts of storytelling

  • Mido the Great

    tribe over the credits??? nice

  • Mike Jones


  • Johannes Grosz

    it was not boring it was tremendously powerful to the uninformed viewer (like me) and thanks for this one

  • Viva Wakanda

    Just how do you get good quality movie clips for video essays? That's my only question

  • Adam Park

    When does a film become a video essay and NOT a documentary?

  • HitechProductions

    Outstanding. As I'm trying to put together a little video essay this is perfect for me. I have been struggling with how to put it together. I've completely started over three times. That's because I didn't have a structure for a video essay, only for a short story. Thanks so much for this!

    BTW, I found this from This Guy Edits. 🙂

  • Michael Tkaczevski

    The therefore/but doctrine is good, but what about a film with one story, whether it's one person or one event, etc.? How broadly do you define multiple stories? And do films really always need multiple stories?

  • Malibu Barbie

    Big word, big word, big word.

  • Robert Crown

    I love F for Fake. Orson Welles is amazing.

  • James A

    heck this is good

  • Andres TheJeff

    This is about the same than "overlapping ideas" instead of one idea, then the next, then the next. I learned that in animation school. Just it makes more sense and it's clearer after this.

  • Bianca

    The whole parallel thing makes sense, I used to always remember wondering what the side-plot was going to be in my disney sitcoms as a child

  • Francis Lalonde

    I think I follow (and will have to figure it out for myself). Meanwhile, back at the ranch – I'll go on a trek to find a copy of "F for Fake." While doing that…

  • Checkered Flag Films

    Knew Elmer back in the day. Funny story that I always wanted to related to Orson and should have looked him up before he died. Interesting movie/time capsule of Ibiza and how it used to be.

  • Cameron Grow

    I've always thought of Essay writing an creative writing to be very different things, so this video really blew my mind

  • Eric Spratling


  • DrTheKay

    …I literally have absolutely no fucking clue what in the actual flying mother of fucking fuck this video is talking about.

  • 0cer0

    This is a good place to thank you for your lucid, brillant, and entertaining essays on film! As a starving cineaste, I devour every frame. Thanks for doing this in such a good manner.

  • M. June

    and then?

  • Samuel Raji

    I think 'meanwhile back at the ranch' is used a lot in comics.

  • JapanesePeaceLilly

    Rick and morty definitely does it right

  • zebalz


  • Hedwig's Suite

    This video in of itself is a video essay, right? If that's the case, what is the connective logic of this video? What is the "meanwhile back at the ranch" moments of the video as well?


    How do U use coopyrighted material?

  • Silas Sousa

    subtitles in portugues, please.

  • Andrew Guerrero

    Come back…

  • Danial Khastalani

    This reminds me how samandniko structures their vlogs… I guess that's how I get engaged in their vlogs when I don't for others

  • Rice Niceman

    Only year one? You're already an essential.

  • CynicalBroadcast

    F For Fake is second only to Bruce Conner's A Movie in editing genius.

  • Juanfer Aguilar

    INCREIBLE! Gracias me ha ayudado bastante!

  • youdbettertube

    F for Fake is such a weird fucking movie. Orson Welles hit juts the right balance of being crazy enough to try something like this and competent enough to pull it off.

  • Tavish Sharma

    Christopher Nolan is a master of this… I mean just take Memento

  • black

    what movie is 1:27?

  • Steven Parker

    Tried to watch this off Vimeo and it choked…

  • Technicality

    Press F to pay fake

  • furripupau

    This is one of the most useful videos in this series, I don't know why it has fewer views than the others.

  • Centro Educativo Las Americas

    Probably your best essay…an you have some really good essays on this channel

  • Irene Sinou

    hey there, am film maker / editor, and F for fake is also on of my favorite inspiration. I would love to discuss more about essay films. Do you have any other tips?

  • Larinda Nomikos

    I saw this twenty, maybe even thirty years ago. Have been trying to remember the name of it ever since. No one ever knew what I was talking about and eventually I forgot about it. Until I just watched your essay. Now the dvd is on my Amazon shopping list. Thanks!

  • Howard Ho

    Brilliant! Wish you still made these.

  • Mark Weyland

    G for Gay (1973)

  • Dominik Budzyński

    Pozdrawiam z Polski dzięki z napisy! 🙂

    Greetings from Poland thanks to the subtitles! 🙂

  • Hagane Shiny

    I miss them so much, these videos are everything I need in life

  • Film Diagnostics

    I remember watching this video for the first time and being somewhat underwhelmed. I had seen "F for Fake" and I didn't understand exactly what this video was attempting to do. The more I watch it the more I learn. This video multitasks and teaches lessons in story and video essay structure all while reviewing "F for Fake". Great work Tony, this video is valuable for anyone who wishes to make video essays.

  • TopNotchCrotch

    Please come back one day, Tony <3

  • David Mehnert

    I’ve never seen « F for Fake », that I can remember … it would have been back at Princeton, class of 1987 I was … but those year (after my sophomore year began) were a LOT of « and then I got high » ? « and then I got high » ? « and then I got high » ? « and then I got high » ? « and then I got high » ? « and then I got high » ? sometimes with movies thrown in, and only 420 (and χ at least a half dozen time while it was still 100% legal and and as-yet a scheduled substance, which I think happened late 1986 or early 1987, pure pharmaceutical delight and rolling on the manicured lawns) and while I did take a couple film classes, and watched John Ford’s « Stagecoach » seventeen times over in order to write about « Citizen Kane », which Orson Welles had suggested had been an influence … and I got an A+ on the paper, I remember, which was an unusually high mark for just about anyone, but…

    While « Citizen Kane » had been assigned viewing in my particular enrolled course (« Stagecoach » had not been, I remember, nor had « F for Fake »), if I picked up a screening — there were screenings several times a week for various curses back then, and some Friday/Saturday night fare, and all that, and a classmate of mine in Spelman had a VCR and TV (on which I watched « Stagecoach » 17 times, and dropped x on her and a half dozen other people one night, I honestly can’t tell you whether I ever rented « F for Fake », or saw part of it, or just the trailers, or the whole thing… I may have … I may not have….

    I am telling 100% the truth

  • verushka bogus


  • _ doomkr6ft

    "you're telling me these pubes are worth nothing?"
    Fucking DEAD

  • Cinema Amour

    Please come back

  • Santiago Rojas Piaggio

    Hey, I loved The Art of Silence video!

  • Youngblood

    wait, what?

  • Greco Cabanero

    So that's why …


  • pinche cookie

    Well, your "choosing to this, choosing to that" etc. I felt was a bit rhythmic. After all, repetition legimitzes – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oGN4juGQ-0A

  • 12234d

    Avengers Infinity War does editing the best.

  • Sim JY

    Great video, thank you!

  • dinofinger

    year 1… its year 4 now..am still waiting uwu

  • enkidude •

    Yep, southpark. But if anyone here hasn't seen F for Fake, please do.

  • noisepuppet

    aAaAhH the French


  • Alex T



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