Media Production Mentoring

Free online film school designed with beginning filmmakers in mind.


Lessons from Harold Crick - Part IV

Today's lesson: Recurring Themes

Stranger than Fiction has a couple elements that are introduced early in the film but make absolutely no sense.

And then they come back periodically, still without explanation.

Who are these characters? What do they have to do with the film?

By the second time they come around, they start to make sense. But they're still not explained. They are a recurring theme that doesn't make sense... yet.

I remember watching a film when I much younger and the beginning contains a guy looking out over an African sunset and we hear a woman yell, "Henry!"


When I saw the beginning a second time--after I had seen the whole film--it finally made sense. But had I not watched the opening again, I'd still be wondering what was up with Harry. That's because that particular moment was more of a "bookend" than a recurring theme. Bookends absolutely have their place, but they need to be a little more significant than a person's name... unless you wanted to use: Stella!

What makes these completely unexplained recurring themes work in Stranger than Fiction is how they are tied to the story as it unfolds. You slowly realize what is going on.

So remember: Your story elements don't have to make sense ...yet.

Just be sure they are clearly linked to your story by the time everything wraps up at the end.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor

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