Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Getting Started part 2

Yesterday when I talked about getting started I didn't mean getting the movie started, I meant getting the PLOT started. I worded it poorly so I think almost everybody who commented talked about a kickass opening scene.

I totally agree. Every movie needs to smack you in the face in the beginning, even if smacking you in the face means a really great set of jokes or an intense emotional moment, the first scene needs to plant the theme of the story and wake the reader up.

But I was talking more about getting to the story quickly. You know how James Bond has that terrific opening where he shoots down airplanes and has sex with like thirty women while cracking wise to the bad guy, but all that introduces us more to James than it does to the story. Sometimes it relates, but some times it's just pretty explosions. The story starts later, when James gets back to headquarters and flirts with Moneypenny.

Which brings me to my point. Last night Beefcake and I watched this week's episode of Chuck, and Beefcake expressed annoyance at the fact that there were three stories in the episode, none of which had anything to do with each other. There was no common theme.

That happens all the time on TV shows, but it probably shouldn't. I was thinking about the best episodes of House, when all the stories are connected through theme. The episodes that aren't connected are still good to watch, but when they work together to tell you something, they have a much stronger impact.

So even though I love those big blasty opening James Bond scenes, I think they're stronger when they connect to the plot at large. Like Goldeneye, where the first action sequence was completely necessary to the rest of the story.

Right now my first scene is pretty kickass, but I'm wondering if I can't make it more than just an introduction to my characters and the world they live in.

I'm going to give that some more thought.


  1. Anonymous9:02 AM

    Well put. I think Terry Rossio said on wordplayer.com that, when he was reading coverage in L.A., he got sick every time he read a script that opened by a single pan shot that shows all the crap in someone's bedroom.

    Personally, I'm a big fan of the "two scenes at once" opening. A great example is Shawshank Redemption, which intermingles the courtroom with the scene they're discussing in the courtroom.

  2. You've stumbled onto that which makes the opening the hardest part of the script to write :)


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