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Walk and Talk
aka: Sorkin Walk

"Five-oh! Everybody, West Wing!"

Having the characters walk from one end to the other of a large, contiguous set while talking to each other, while a Steadi Cam operator walks backwards in front of them, allowing for a continuous, moving, Medium Two Shot. Can take a lot of takes to get right, but can give us some impressive examples of The Oner. However, they never seem to watch where they're going.

Also known as a pedeconference (by analogy to teleconference), especially on Television Without Pity. May overlap with En Route Sum-Up.

According to a Buffy the Vampire Slayer director, they use these to give the scene more energy and convey how busy the characters are.

This shooting technique was popularized by Aaron Sorkin, who used it first on Sports Night and developed the technique further on The West Wing. Works deliberately evoking Sorkin's style will tend to have the characters using Mamet Speak as they go. It's also common in computer-animated works, where it appears to serve as a 3-D alternative to the Wraparound Background.


Examples

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    Film 
  • Parodied by The Rutles - in All You Need Is Cash, a reporter is giving a walk and talk to a camera on the back of a van. However, the van slowly accelerates, until the reporter is breathlessly sprinting after the camera.
  • Parodied and lampshaded in Johnny Dangerously when Johnny and Lil go on a walk... and talk. After a very long time, they stop, look around and realize they must have left the city hours ago and are now out in the middle of a field in the middle of nowhere.
    Johnny: "Where the hell are we?"
  • Used in the film Brazil when Sam Lowry is trying to catch up to his new superior after a promotion and gets lost in the crowd of people following him. His new boss's name, Mr Warrenn, is a reference to the network of corridors.
  • Ghostbusters II combines it with Suit Up of Destiny on route to fight Vigo in at the New York Museum of Fine Art.
  • Used extensively in Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet. In the director's commentary, they claim The West Wing was ripping them off.
  • The 1997 film The Peacemaker anticipated The West Wing by having walk and talks in the White House. Director Mimi Leder was a former producer and director for ER, and steadicam operator Guy Bee had also worked on ER.
  • Serenity, the Firefly movie, does this to (re)introduce the main cast and the layout of the ship. It's somewhat different, in that while everyone talks, the only one doing the walking is Mal, and the Steadi Cam follows him.
  • Used in Something the Lord Made, a biopic about African-American medical pioneer Vivien Thomas, to help establish the Jim Crow-era setting. An early scene has Thomas and his friend, also black, walking and talking along a footpath — but they have to keep pausing the conversation and stepping off the footpath to let white folks past.
  • Used in Night at the Museum. In the director's commentary, it was admitted that in the scenes with Ben Stiller and Robin Williams' characters on screen together, this mechanic just seemed to fit.
  • Happens quite a bit in the Star Wars prequels, except since the pace is more sedate, it dampens the energy of the scene.
    • In the beginning of Star Wars A New Hope Darth Vader and an Imperial officer have a more brisk "Sorkin style" one on board Tantive IV discussing Princess Leia and the stolen Death Star plans.
  • 80% of Before Sunrise is Walk and Talk. The sequel features a bit less of it and the third film has only one scene where they walk to the hotel and agree how much they've missed doing this.
  • An unconvincing version in the film adaptation of A Sound of Thunder, thanks to the view suddenly switching to the actors walking against a dramatic CGI background of the future city once they've finished talking, with the actors walking at a completely different speed now they don't have to worry about running over the camera crew.

    Live-Action TV 
  • This is called the "Walk and Talk" on Farscape.
  • The West Wing is not above lampshading its use of the device, though: as early as the fourth episode, Josh and Sam realize that neither of them had any idea where they had been going, and each thought he was following the other. "Let's not tell anyone about this," Josh concludes. Also Lampshaded during a flashback episode to their first days in the White House when Sam asks Josh, "Do you mind if I talk to you while we walk?" and Josh says that they'll have to get used to having meetings in the hallway (due to not being able to read the White House maps).
    • When Will Bailey first arrives at the White House he comments to Josh that "...you get a pretty good aerobic workout talking to someone in this building." Josh responds that he's heard the jokes.
    • Toby and Sam had a walk and talk outside going to a breakfast place. Toby stops and wonders where the place is. Sam points behind them and says it was on the last street. He didn't want to stop their discussion.
    • There's also one where Josh asks Donna her opinion on the topic of the meeting he's about to have. She begins to respond, but isn't done before he reaches the meeting place. He turns around and says, "You've got to go faster next time, I'm here already."
    • Then there's the one where Josh, Donna, and Josh's intern are walking and the intern falls over and asks if they always walk so fast.
    • When Martin Sheen appeared on The Graham Norton Show, they did a Walk And Talk homage to The West Wing. Watch it here (starts about 2:48 min in).
  • The Bill has been doing this for years, predating The West Wing. The fact that the Sun Hill set is one continuous set makes this possible.
  • ER also uses the Walk and Talk extensively. Thomas Del Ruth, director of photography for the pilot episode of ER, went on to be cinematographer on the pilot of The West Wing too.
  • Factors heavily into the Law & Order shows. A Saturday Night Live sketch joked that the first rule for an extra on that show was "never stop moving."
  • This method also appears often on House, and has been lampshaded on at least two occasions, one in which Wilson points out they ended up back where they started, and another where House explains to a camera crew filming his team trying to diagnose the patient of the week that their walking around creates the illusion of the plot moving forward.
  • 30 Rock has also done the walk-and-talk-that-ends-up-back-where-they-started gag. May or may not have been a Take That to Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.
  • Countless times on Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis. Corridors are the ubiquitous set for this, often while giving Techno Babble.
  • Used and played with in Scrubs. JD is apparently so familiar with his Walk and Talk with Dr. Cox that he can run off to check on patients and get back without him noticing.
  • Parodied on The Armstrong And Miller Show. One recurring sketch has a Pointy-Haired Boss character marching down a corridor while his subordinates dash up to him with obviously nonsensical information or bits of interesting trivia.
  • Any show that takes place inside a school, if they have the budget for a long enough hallway.
  • From Star Trek: The Next Generation onward, a good third of any given episode is dedicated to exposition, which is commonly done while walking down seemingly endless corridors on whatever Ship/Station/Planet the story is set on. The original show didn't have it as much, but it was certainly present.
    • What they did have, though (including the later series), was the "stand and talk" variation where the characters would board a turbolift that would conveniently take exactly as long to reach its destination as it took for the conversation to end. In certain episodes of the original series, it's laughable how long the turbolift can take to get from the bridge to a deck that is only 3-4 stories down in the ship.
    • In early designs of the Enterprise-D, they were going to have a transporter room right off the bridge, but Roddenberry wanted the characters to have conversations en route to the transporter, so this was dropped.
  • Happened regularly in The West Wing's Evil British Twin, The Thick of It.
  • Done to death (heh heh) in nearly every episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (Las Vegas) as the investigator-Expositioners walk through the hallways of the lab. Which is such a maze that Television Without Pity calls it the "Labitrail".
  • Done frequently on NCIS; and almost as often lampshaded for humour value. Especially when someone new shows up.
  • Canada knows this trope via its usage in Rick Mercer's Rants from This Hour Has 22 Minutes and The Rick Mercer Report. Most of the time it was only Mercer himself in the shot, giving the impression that the audience was the second person.
  • Aaron Sorkin's first use of it was pretty much Once per Episode of Sports Night. Notably subverted in one scene of one episode, where two characters, about to have a very private altercation, take a long walk to one's office...and barely a single word is spoken throughout the entire trip.
  • Happens in an episode of Seinfeld, when George is walking and talking with Wilhelm, his boss at Yankee Stadium. Wilhelm is in the middle of giving George an important assignment when he abruptly steps aside into the restroom. George politely waits outside for him, only to eventually realize that Wilhelm just kept on talking while using the restroom. George spends the rest of the episode trying to figure out what his assignment is.
  • The Big Bang Theory does this in spirit if not a continuous take. Typical sitcoms will have an outside hallway to the characters apartment or just a porch to someones house. The show puts Leonard and Sheldon as neighbors across the hall from Penny, also in the stairwell set on the fourth floor of a building that doesn't have a working elevator. Thus, to give room for conversation, it shows them walking the stairway, each floor except the lobby just marginally redressed from the main set.
  • Done frequently on JAG; both at the headquarters building in Falls Church and on board Navy ships.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer often in the hallways of SHS and UC Sunnydale. Played for Laughs in the Musical Episode where three of the Scoobies have a conversation while walking down the street while the residents of Sunnydale sing and dance in the background and foreground.
  • Grey's Anatomy featured the same lampshading as The West Wing, with the protagonists ushering Alex the long way around to avoid meeting the girl he's crushing on, ending up with Meredith wondering: "Where was I going?" Might also be subtle foreshadowing because Meredith is at risk of developing Alzheimer's syndrome.
  • Game of Thrones. Lampshaded by Olenna Tyrell: "If I have to take one more leisurely stroll through these gardens, I'll fling myself from the cliffs." Of course there are practical reasons for her doing so in the Deadly Decadent Court of Kings Landing, as walking makes it difficult for anyone to listen in on your conversation.

    Web Original 
  • The TV Tropes original webseries Echo Chamber did an episode called "Walk And Talk" where Tom invoked Walk And Talk by tricking Dana into illustrating the trope. The show also regularly uses Walk And Talk as a device, even in episodes that aren't named for the trope.

    Western Animation 
  • Parodied in Family Guy, when the Griffins watch Aaron Sorkin's new show, The Kitchen, where the characters walk in their kitchen and have a fast-paced dialogue about buying milk.
  • King of the Hill parodied this in "Board Games," when Peggy is "briefed" by Bobby while going to meet with Minh and Nancy.

    Real Life 
  • Aristotle called his philosophy school the Peripatetic school after the peripatoi or colonnades of the Lyceum in Athens, where the members used to meet. However, peripatetikos also means "wandering", "walking about", and so, after Aristotle's death, the (false) notion emerged that Aristotle's school was named for the master's habit of walking and talking. The myth, however, is Older Than Feudalism.
  • Often happens when a reporter tries to get a comment from a subject who has no interest in talking. Sometimes it can backfire[1], though....


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alternative title(s): Sorkin Walk; Pedeconference
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