The Opening Scene

So you’re sat down to write the opening scene of your script. You know your story but aren’t sure of the best way to start it. You want to setup the rest of your script, capture the mood of the story and hook the reader right away.

Here are several types of opening that you can use to start your film. None of these are mutually exclusive, you can choose to mix and match certain elements from each type.

The Blatant Opening – Within a few moments you know exactly who the hero is and what the movie will be about. The James Bond series are a great example of this type of opening. In this first ten pages of your script you will introduce the hero, the villain and exactly why they oppose each other. The blatant opening works particular well for action films, a fast, intense opening will hook the reader and keep them flicking through the script.

A Regular Day – In this opening you will put over the pace of life in a regular day for your main character. Then an event will happen which breaks the normality of your character’s life, one which they will need to rectify for their life to return to the way it was.

True Beginning – The script starts right along with the start of the story for the main character. They might have just been given a million dollars, or landed in a new country.

Dramatic Irony – This is the only beginning that won’t contain your main character. Instead you give the audience some information that your main character won’t know and will soon affect his/her life greatly. Dramatic irony allows the audience to be in a superior position and sets up both tension and anticipation.

Foreshadowing – This opening takes place before your main story begins and anticipates what is going to happen later in the story. Like the dramatic irony opening the audience is placed in a position to predict what is going to happen. This is often used for doomsday and horror movies.

Narrator – The narrator can be the hero, a secondary character or just a stand alone narrator. The narrator tells the story of the events which happened to the main character at a important time in their life.

Flash forward – The flash forward has two stories running side by side simultaneously. The B story has a narrator who tells the main story, which has already happened. At certain points in the story there’s a flash forward to the narrator who continues with his tail. The A story is the main story, the B story is of the narrator looking back.

Montage – This is a great type of opening if you have a lot of information to get across before the main story begins. Also known as a shotgun, a collection of short clips accelerate through the information until the story proper begins. Then the speed of the story can slow down to a regular pace. In a matter of minutes you can explain years of your main characters life.

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