Created By: KevinKlawitter on April 3, 2012 Last Edited By: KevinKlawitter on April 5, 2012

Cut and Paste Acting

Performances filmed at two different times are edited together to look like a single scene

Name Space:
Page Type:
The filming of a movie can be a tumultous experience. Even if it's not a particularly Troubled Production, different scenes must often be shot at completely different times and locations, depending on the factors such as weather and the schedule of the director and actors.

This is often why film is often referred to as an 'editor's medium'. A skilled editor is often needed to make all of the mismatched footage meld together into a believeable whole. Cut And Paste Acting is when it is necessary to create a dialogue scene when one or more of the actors wasn't available at the time of shooting, and so recorded their dialogue later.

A skilled moviegoer can notice this in several ways: if an actor in a particular scene is only ever shown by themself on camera, for instance, or from the back (in which case it is usually a body double), or if their tone of voice doesn't match the other actors.

Compare Fake Shemp, when an actor's role in filled entirely by a body double and/or stock footage.

  • Frank Sinatra in Cannonball Run II, pointed out concisely in Roger Ebert's review:
    The scene starts in Sinatra's office, and we're looking over Sinatra's head at Burt and some other people... Then we see Sinatra. He talks. We see Reynolds. He talks. And so on, until, if we know something about movie editing techniques, we realize there isn't a single shot showing Sinatra and Reynolds at the same time. Also, there's something funny about Sinatra's voice: He doesn't seem to be quite matching the tone of the things said to him. That's the final tip-off: Sinatra did his entire scene by sitting down at a desk and reading his lines into the camera, and then, on another day, Reynolds and the others looked into the camera and pretended to be looking at him. The over-the-shoulder shots are of a double... This is the movie equivalent to phoning it in.
  • The originaly ending to Oliver Stone's JFK had 'X' meeting with Garrison again after the end of the trial, telling him how he thinks the assassination plot started. This ending was eventually scrapped and some of the lines were added to X's first appearance, making him a literal One-Scene Wonder.
  • Most of the 'firees' in Up in the Air were real-life people who had recently lost their jobs, and their shots were quite obviously filmed separate from those of George Clooney and Anna Kendrick. This was because director Jason Reitman didn't want the firees to be intimidated by the stars or vice versa.

Stand-Up Comedy
  • Chris Rock has a performance video that is the same comedy routine spliced together from different cities in which he performed it.

Web Original
Community Feedback Replies: 2
  • April 3, 2012
    • Chris Rock has a performance video that is the same comedy routine spliced together from different cities in which he performed it.
  • April 5, 2012
    This isn't a trope. If anything, it's trivia. Also, it comes across as "films are edited", which would be People Sit In Chairs. I imagine it happens fairly often, to a point that it's practically a standard. There's a lot of takes and retakes, multiple cameras, movie magic, and rerecordings, and actors playing multiple characters, and characters going through split second transformations and wardrobe changes, that it's ridiculous to expect anything you see on film to have occurred in real time with one take with everyone present, or even in chronological order. I just don't think this is noteworthy enough to deserve even a trivia page. Practically every film in existence would qualify.