‘Well begun is half done’. Film-making doesn’t give you much scope these days. With the rapid exposure to all kinds of cinema, the audience is getting much more than expected. Every other week, some new film is churning out. Different genre, different language, different countries. As a result, the audience is turning astute. A little bit of negligence as a filmmaker, and you might have to suffer. Hence, it is really important that you start you film well by writing good opening scenes.
So let’s discuss how can we write good opening scenes:
Always begin with action:
A tried and tested formula. Be it Memento, Mission Impossible films, Munnabhai series, Kahaani, Gangs of Wasseypur, Dangal, Bahubali, Sacred Games, The Family Man, Udta Punjab, Kabir Singh or Gully Boy- all of them have one thing in common and that is ‘great opening scenes’. Rather than telling what your character can do, just show him in middle of an urgency or a dilemma and how does he counter it, tells a lot about his character.
- Strange World
Introduce some strange world:
The opening of ‘The Matrix’
If you remember, we are thrown into a strange computerized world by showing a CLOSE UP of a computer (an intelligent foreshadowing by the writers). The way the scene is written, it doesn’t show anything but the computer screen and we can hear human voices in VO (voice-over). Undoubtedly, This method works great for Sci-fi or futuristic films.
What it does is that the audience is left with so many questions? What time are we in? Whose voices are these?
Introduce some photographs:
A great example is ‘Chinatown’ (1974) which starts with EXTREME CLOSE-UP of some photographs showing a couple making love. With each photograph, we can hear a moaning sound of man in distress. As an audience, we think that a couple is making out and hence the moans but the writer tricks us and we realize there is something else to it. Also the scene foreshadows different elements in this scene- betrayal, revelations, sex, etc.
Also, in ‘Memento’ (2000), the shaking of the photograph in reverse was a brilliant move by the director. As if, the memory is slowly fading out just like how the protagonist’s mind is also wiping out every few minutes.
- Catchy Dialogue
Begin with a catchy dialogue:
In addition, do not let your audience settle. Give them a thunderous punch through some lines that not only are creative but, also establish the mood of the film and the character. Remember the opening dialogue of ‘Omkara’ (2006)- “Bewakoof aur chutiye mein dhaage bhar ka farak hota haiga bhaiya. Dhage ke ingay bewakoof aur ungay, chutiya. Aur jo dhaaga kheeche lo, to kaund haiga bewakoof aur kaund hai chutiya, carod rupiye ka prasan hai bhaiya.”
In conclusion, next time, do not spend too much time in establishing the location, character and setting. Just think of the craziest way of beginning your film that can serve as a ‘hook’ and can allow your audience to be at the edge of their seat.