A montage is a group of shots that compresses time to encapsulate an experience or convey exposition or backstory - such as montages showing the development of a couple’s relationship in a short period of time or the hero preparing for the big battle (for instance the classic montage from the film Rocky, depicting the protagonist training for the big fight – doing push-ups and running up the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum.)
When done well, a montage can move a story forward, increase anticipation and even add comedic effect. Where screenwriters can get into trouble with montages is when they forget that a montage is a storytelling device and insert them into scripts with no rhyme or reason simply because they don’t know how else to convey the drama or they want to indicate time passing (such as moving from spring to autumn) You don’t need a montage to do that. A montage should only be used if it adds to the narrative thread. They should be kept to a minimum – one montage per screenplay is usually sufficient.
If you include a montage in your story, ensure it:
1. Contains information that needs to be summed up quickly.
2. Adds directly to the story.
3. Moves the story forward.