NYWIFT Blog

Notes from a Screenreader

image

photo via Go Into the Story

A vast majority of spec scripts submitted to competitions open with mundane images.

It seems like a logical choice. Establishing normal life is an explicit instruction in many structure templates. Filmmakers often open with shots of unremarkable details. That is misleading to writers. It’s one thing to watch eggs frying and hands tying neckties in mirrors, but it is a world of Proustian hurt to read pages of familiar things meticulously described.

You can make a reader eat right out of your hand with an opening engineered to make them pay attention.

  • Show inside knowledge, preferably in action. Give readers a backstage pass by revealing a trick of a trade, a behind the scenes peek, a lifestyle out of the mainstream.
  • Lie. Give the reader a strong impression of a character or situation, then reveal it was false. If you can fool them, they will love you.
  • Create questions. Set your characters in motion without explanation. Hidden motives pique curiosity.
  • Be unique. If you have ever seen it running under credits before, give it a twist. 

The opening is your grand entrance to the ballroom. Please do not use that opportunity to describe loading the dishwasher.

-ANNIE LABARBA @annelabarba

PUBLISHED BY

nywift

nywift New York Women in Film & Television supports women calling the shots in film, television and digital media.

View all posts by nywift

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

*

*

*

Related Posts

NYWIFT Women’s History Month Spotlight: Leah Curney

We continue to celebrate our creative members who are making innovative impacts through entertainment, media, film, and television, with a special spotlight our NYWIFT Women Crush Wednesdays Podcast team members. Today writer, director, producer and performer Leah Curney discusses her latest short film, her introduction to NYWIFT through the New Works Lab, women's history inspirations and more.

READ MORE

NYWIFT Women’s History Month Spotlight: January Green

Happy Women's History Month! At NYWIFT as we continue to celebrate our creative members who are making innovative impacts throughout entertainment, media, film, and television, we would like to spotlight our NYWIFT Women Crush Wednesdays Podcast team members. Today's spotlight is January Green, a Manager of Digital Marketing Copy, SEO & product description pages, aspiring screenwriter, and imaginative feature film writer.

READ MORE

Wild Nights with Emily: A Retake on What You May Have Believed about Emily Dickinson

What happens when an esteemed comic actress like Molly Shannon, a screenwriter with a quirky perspective and a penchant for cinematic originality, political causes and literary scholarship, and a legendary American poet who some say has been misunderstood and misinterpreted by decades of academic critics collaborate?

"Wild Nights with Emily" happens. The unique film, thoroughly original and entertaining, is inspired by the life of Emily Dickinson. It’s also a creative spin on a literature professor’s reinterpretation of Emily Dickinson’s life and personal relationships. 

READ MORE

The Business of Adaptations: Top Takeaways

Movies like Brokeback Mountain, The Irishman, and Little Women have more in common than mere artistry, critical acclaim or commercial success. They were all adaptations of literary works. But before getting your pens out, there’s more to it than you think. Literary works are great resources for screenwriters in search of stories, but to negotiate the business end and avoid pitfalls or potential legal liabilities, you need advice from experts. The NYWIFT Business of Adaptations for Film and TV virtual program brought a panel of industry powerhouses to weigh in.

READ MORE
JOIN OUR NEWSLETTER
css.php