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Description: Serious ‘Bourne’ Teching

31 August 2010

The "CRI hub" in The Bourne Ultimatum. © 2007 Universal Studios

Most movies involving government agencies inevitably have scenes set in some sort of control room. And though the technology has evolved, the basic idea is the same: show flashing lights and flurries of activity. This type of scene is a distant cousin of the Walk-and-Talk since both share the objective of making exposition visually exciting.

The simplest method I’ve seen of writing these scenes comes from The Bourne Ultimatum screenplay. The Bourne films are chock full of CIA technicians sitting in front of banks of screens. What do these technicians do? Well, their specialty is teching. “Frenzied teching” to be exact, as used in the Waterloo Station sequence where they are tracking a reporter, Ross, while Bourne tries to throw them off and get him out.

Curiously, the screenplays for The Bourne Identity and The Bourne Supremacy don’t use the word. Frankly, Ultimatum only uses it twice. I don’t think the writers were trying to coin a new word. I can only guess that writer Tony Gilroy and the others who worked on the Bourne series (Ultimatum is also credited to Scott Z. Burns and George Nolfi) got tired of describing techs furiously typing and bringing up images and otherwise describing flashing lights and flurries of activity. Hey, flashing lights can drive a guy crazy…

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