What Realistic Film Dialogue Sounds Like

What Realistic Film Dialogue Sounds Like

February 14, 2020 | Articles, Blog | 48 Comments

What Realistic Film Dialogue Sounds Like

Selling all the art, dad? Why? One thing I think film can do really well, better than any other medium, is capture the reality of conversations. In a book, no matter how you lay it out, one piece of dialogue always has to follow another. You can’t simulate people talking over each other, which is what we all do a lot of the time. And you can’t really capture the rhythm, speed and tone that a conversation has. Even radio and theater miss some of the nuances that film is perfectly suited to reproduce Of all the filmmakers working right now, I think Noah Baumbach, maybe has the best ear for dialogue as it really is and an ear is what it takes, because there’s a general disconnect between what we all sound like and what movie and TV characters sound like, especially the most articulate ones. You asked me that moronic question and then my world came apart and she came here And I landed in the tabloids, and I got death threats and my job is constantly in jeopardy and you ruined my life Yes. That was me Of course, you don’t have to aim at realistic speech Screenwriters like Aaron Sorkin and Quentin Tarantino have done really great work by writing human dialogue as it could be Finding music and language the same way that Shakespeare did centuries ago. But Baumbach on the other hand seems to be committed to a different principle I think the conversation like this speaks volumes. In one sense just by looking at it You can see that This is a total failure of communication between father and son. The two men are on parallel tracks: Matt is talking about his new business and Harold is talking about his forthcoming art retrospective But in another sense, what makes this exchange so heartbreaking and true to life at least for me is that they really are communicating with each other just not explicitly. Matt brings up a major life change and expresses some of the hopes and fears He has about it and his father immediately brings up his own major life event and some of the hopes and fears he has about that. Implicitly, Matt is asking for approval, he’s asking for reassurance, and he’s asking for consolation. Harold, on the other hand, is denying approval because he can’t bear his son being more successful than he is, while asking for reassurance of his own hopes and consolation for his own fears. It’s like the two men are firing a volley of missiles at each other, some are hitting, some are missing and some are crashing into each other in midair. I think Baumbach understands a key dynamic in conversations, especially conversations with family. When we speak to others we’re often speaking to ourselves, attempting to frame dialogue so that the person were talking to will reflect back the things that we want to believe about us When I was younger I was so invested in his grievances his anger, the world they were mine too, but now that I lived 3,000 miles away and have my own kid thriving business I I don’t even get angry at him anymore, it’s even… just funny I’m sure a lot of people who just went home for Thanksgiving experienced something like this. You feel that you’ve changed, that you have an updated nuanced idea of yourself and you’re gonna show that idea in one way or another to your family. It doesn’t matter how much money I make You make me feel like a big piece of shit because you don’t care about it But you also actually do! You’re primally obsessed with it! You know that I beat you I beat you! The thing we seem to forget is that as we’re trying to get our family to affirm our sense of self they’re doing the same thing to us, and the result is often conflict or a conversation that just goes nowhere Well, maybe not nowhere, just not where you intended. This is my favorite scene in the movie It’s a minute and 30 second long take of two half-brothers attempting to connect. By making it one take, you get all the elements of conversation that I spoke about before including the body language, the projected self confidence of Matt and the nervous insecure energy of Danny, always nodding his head like his father. They’re doing this thing where they agree while also disagreeing it’s a specific kind of non argument that tells you a lot about their personalities and their relationship. There’s so much going on here. On one level, Danny is trying to connect with Matt by literally trying to finish his sentences. He’s also trying to challenge him and assert some dominance by acting like he knows what Matt’s gonna say next. Talk about speaking to yourself, Danny is effectively trying to hijack Matt’s sentences and make them his own. Listen for this the next time you’re in a conversation. People do this all the time. At this point, Matt and Danny are getting out of sync which actually makes it appropriate that Danny brings up ‘arbitrage’ an investment term for when the same asset is worth different values in different places and you exploit that price difference for profit. Exploiting differences in value is a pretty good definition of what it’s like to be in a dysfunctional family or a dysfunctional conversation, for that matter. And there it is: a moment of connection. One minute and 13 seconds into the conversation. In the Meyerowitz family, moments of connection are few and far between, so when they happen, they land with a special poignancy and though this family is perhaps more intense, more insecure than most, I hope, There’s something that rings so true about this to me. When we talk, so often we fly around each other, working out our own shit, thinking about ourselves We try to make our meaning clear, but we can’t quite say what we want, how we want, when we want. That’s because communication isn’t easy. Sometimes movies make it seem like it is but Noah Baumbach isn’t interested in that kind of dialogue. He uses the medium best suited for depicting conversations to show us the truth about them, that we miss the mark more often than we hit it and that it’s a beautiful, meaningful thing when we do One of the questions I get asked the most by far is what kind of software do I use to make these videos To edit I use Final Cut Pro 10 and since 10 is so different from the programs that came before it I actually depended a lot on online videos to teach me the new features these days you can pretty much teach yourself anything this way and Skillshare is the perfect way to do it Skillshare is an online learning community for creators with more than 16,000 classes in graphic design animation web development video game design and more all the classes are professional and Understandable and follow a clear learning curve a Premium Membership begins around $10 a month for unlimited access to all the courses but the first 500 people to sign up using the first link in the description will get a 2 month free trial in those 2 months You could easily learn the skills you need to start a new hobby or business specialized skills like learning After Effects which I’ve always wanted to do and Skillshare has dozens of classes that will help you master that program. What’s the skill that you’ve been putting off learning? Why not sign up the skill share using the link below and start learning right away? You got nothing to lose and a valuable skill to gain. Thanks guys. I’ll see you next time

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  1. YuTube Spitter

    Season 3-6 of Archer gets dialogue perfect too. But it’s more quick comedic wit that shoots when you don’t expect it. It’s hilarious


    Yah…he became my favorite writer and director because of this.


    I hope you review Marriage Story

  4. Jesse Rochon

    Even not so smart people like me can automatically tell screenplay dialogue from real life dialogue. There's just a different cadence from one to the other. Our ears are very good at noticing it even if we can't explain why.

    I can hear people talking on the TV from a room away, no music, no sound effects. Nothing but people simply talking and can automatically tell if it's screenplay dialogue or real life dialogue. Why is that?

  5. Matii Stiles

    am i the only one who thinks this dialogue is far from realistic?

  6. tim macdonagh

    Louis C.K. is unbelievable for writing dialogue, watch Horace and Pete

  7. benjy6868

    Kylo Ren joins the chat

  8. matt kline

    "People talking over eachother and driving at cross purposes is always more realistic."

    No, it isn't.

  9. MediocreHaddie

    I liked a lot of points made in the video, and although I haven't seen this movie, the little that I've seen of it here makes it morbidly satisfying to watch because it reflects the communication in my family. Talking over each other, waiting for the other to finish so you can talk next instead of actively listening to what they're saying, feeling like you have two parallel conversations, feeling the other's disinterest and disrespect from them only bothering to make eye contact when they are the ones speaking, and so many more . My communication with my family has been gradually declining into completely dysfunctional over the years.

    At this point almost every interaction and conversation, even the most mundane ones, end in exhaustion and frustration, and there's always this surreal moment of "I swear that if I didn't know any better I'd think we are speaking two different languages!".

    ETA: Oh, and if I am to also make a mention of realistic dialogue, there's this scene in "See you in Valhalla" (and other scenes too, there were some good scenes in that movie) where brother and sister meet after a long time and try to have an innocent conversation, to reconnect a bit and learn about each other's lives. But it backfires spectacularly because she has no interest in learning about his life or sharing hers, and the whole family is incredibly petty and vicious towards each other. It really spoke to me, that exhaustion, feeling as if you're done with the interaction before it even began, the miserable struggle of navigating the simplest of conversations, having to suffer through small talk when both you and the other person know it's a pathetic attempt at safe topics whilst avoiding landmines.

  10. Isaac Salvatico

    Does anyone know what song is playing in the background?

  11. Blinkysaurus Rex

    It’s a step in the right direction, but there’s simply too much talking over each other, blatant overdubbing someone else’s sentence. When people talk over each other, it tends to be more of an overlap at the tail end of someone’s speech with the other persons response, or interjections of agreement, disagreement, approval or consolation. Plus, there’s a near total absence of umming and ahhh’ing and pausing, or stumbling over words.

    I feel like he went overboard, and over engineered the dialogue.

  12. Veronika

    Noah Baumbach is a great director and this is exactly why I love his films. Plus he picks great actors to act his dialogues. Adam Driver is one!

  13. Diego Martinez

    Hey, sometimes books can juxtapose dialogues and even thoughts

  14. Fizz O'Donnell

    What an insightful video. Nice.

  15. Ron Tomkins

    Indeed. Noah Baumbach belongs to the filmmaking school of "Realistic Dialogue but with weak or no plot".
    If I want to hear realistic dialogue, I can just…. go outside and listen to people talk.

  16. onionface

    reminds me of Gilmore Girls speed talking. no breaks, no pauses, makes my brain tired.

  17. fitnesspoint2006

    Never understood why humans sit around wasting precious hours of their lives watching other people act their life. Never got into movies.

  18. Rose Juliette

    Transactional Analysis is also a useful tool for understanding this kind of communication

  19. Kyle Cheney

    Just rewatched Iron Man, it does this really well

  20. Jeff A

    Wow, amazing work putting this together. Funny how hearing some of this stuff summed up makes so much sense even though I hadn't considered any of it before. Thanks for making this content


    Nerdwriter recognised Noah before he was big

  22. angel

    they're talking at eachother it triggers my fight or flight

  23. juan torres

    Now that I watched "Marriage Story" I've come to revisit this video. The dialogue during arguments was so spot on that it unsettled me.

  24. Jon Doe

    white people really talk like this? Wow!

  25. Calle Silver-Granhall

    About the first point, I think this is why James Joyce is so interesting. I'm not saying he's realistic, but he captures a realistic part that is uncommon in prose.

  26. sicklygreyfoot

    Mmmm…correct in what you say, but The Meyerwitz Stories isn't the best example. A bit too much of it is establishing a rhythm–the fast-talking New York Jew. A lot of those rhythms seemed fabricated. The best example is Altman's M*A*S*H. Truly realistic dialogue.

  27. Francisco Gutierrez


  28. inigojuancarlos

    Noah’s films always had these style that are so ordinary they’re almost practically realistic. His recent film, “Marriage Story” — really one of his best work yet —personifies that style.

  29. Ciaran O Brien

    The Sea by Joey Pecoraro at 00:00

  30. Jovis

    I found the movie The Judge (2014) to have realistic dialogue also.

  31. KyleJPie10

    Richard Linklater and Martin Scorsese are also masters of realistic dialogue.

  32. Vina Le

    And now Marriage Story

  33. Joshua Goldberg

    Curb your enthusiasm

  34. MayumiSaegusa- ShibaXX

    i say phoebe waller-bridge's dialogues sound the most natural. fleabag felt so personal yet so theatrical at the same time.

  35. Elias Noel

    This is fantastic! Thank you!

  36. Joseph Chen

    Reminds me a lot of marvelous mrs. maisel, would love an analysis from any part of that series

  37. Don Substance

    Try this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RItBflEQqZ4

  38. Quantum Dune

    You do realise you are stating the bleeding obvious right?

  39. AnthonyDutter

    What can i say about that?

  40. tombolo

    Reminds me of Kaufmans Synechdoche New York.

  41. Matty J

    This isn't how normal people talk, it's how some dysfunctional family members talk to each other. Real dialogue is typically even more boring. Real dialogue in a film would be as real life and therefore not worth watching…

  42. Sooraj Mechery

    Your videos touch my heart. They make me feel. I am always in the pursuit of videos that make me think. But I realize how much more engaging and heartwarming is content that speaks to your emotional side when I watch your videos.

    Thank you.

  43. zawarudo

    Personally I find this style of dialogue incredibly annoying, in movies and in real life.

  44. Xotiik JLCMUZIK



  45. Jerome Alday

    Just watched Marriage Story, Everything clicks when I saw in the credit who's the director. Immediately came to this video.

  46. ddfann

    This kind of dialogue is far from natural even with work colleagues let alone families. Entertaining in a film but would lead to fights if they happened for real.

  47. prod. jp

    a wild adam driver has appeared!

  48. William Healy

    "Cheese Royale"

  49. Felipe Olivares

    Watched this movie on a whim… liked a lot more than I expected.

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