Features and Columns

When is a Long Take Just a Gimmick?

We know that a Long Take is always a treat, but if it doesn’t serve the story, it can feel like a gimmick. A new video essay explores why.
Extraction, Jb Nef
By  · Published on May 28th, 2020

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There is a twelve-minute continuous shot in the Chris Hemsworth vehicle ExtractionAt least, it appears to be continuous. As VFX technology has made stitching shots together a lot easier, long takes (or rather, “long takes”) have become increasingly popular. While there are entire films that use this technique, like Birdman and 1917, films with one big showstopping “oner” are far more common. Think the HALO  jump in Mission: Impossible – Fallout, or the opening raid in The Revenant.

Which brings us back to the twelve-minute long take in Extraction. It’s a oner that exemplifies both the potential and the pitfalls of the VFX-stitched long take. A new video essay uses the long take in Extraction as an opportunity to interrogate why filmmakers would lock themselves into a technically challenging, static oner. By comparing the oner in Extraction to its peers, the video essay unpacks the precarity of the VFX-stitched long take. How, without the stakes of a true oner and the technology to truly render cuts invisible, filmmakers need to ensure that their long takes put story first so that an audacious oner is never just an audacious oner.

You can watch “Is the Crazy Long Take in ‘Extraction’ a Gimmick?” here:

Who made this?

This video essay was created by Virginia-based filmmaker and video editor Thomas Flight, who runs a YouTube channel under the same name. You can follow Flight and check out his back catalog of video essays on YouTube here. You can follow him on Twitter here.

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Based in the Pacific North West, Meg enjoys long scrambles on cliff faces and cozying up with a good piece of 1960s eurotrash. As a senior contributor at FSR, Meg's objective is to spread the good word about the best of sleaze, genre, and practical effects.