Updated: Nov 22, 2020
Author: Julia Horcajo Hernández
First impressions count. The opening is the introduction to your protagonist and the world they inhabit, and it is a chance to set up the rest of your movie.
When done well an opening can give the audience all the information that they need, it will tell them about your character’s strengths and weaknesses, or at least some of them, and therefore how equipped they are to face what comes ahead. And last but not least, what it is that they WANT.
The first 10 minutes (aprox.) is your chance to set the tone of the film and to grab your audience.
Let’s look at Sicario (Taylor Sheridan) SPOILER ALERT!
Within the first 3 minutes and with barely any words spoken we already know this is going to be a very tense and action-packed film. We also learn that Kate leads a unit for the FBI and she is fearless.
We get pushed into her world. And once the storm has passed, and we can breathe again, we start to understand the seriousness of the situation. This is not a rescue mission as they thought, this is something much bigger.
As Kate and her team are trying to make sense of what they’ve just seen we get an essential piece of information. It is so small that is could easily be overlooked and quickly forgotten, but it is ESSENTIAL. When asked what they should tell the bosses Kate replies, “the truth”. She leads with the truth, and this is something that is going to bring many problems her way later in the story.
As if an exhilarating raid and a heavy and gruesome body count hidden in the walls weren’t enough, a bomb goes off killing some of Kate’s men, as a not so friendly reminder that this movie won’t let you breathe. Reinforcing the tone.
Kate is brought in for a meeting, and while she waits with Reggie, we get another important piece of information about her.
You did this by the book, right?
Come on, of course
We now know about Kate’s moral code, and what creates more conflict that having your morals challenged?
One would think that crossing the border into Mexico and getting deep into cartel territory will be enough to create that drama, right? But again, if you pay close attention you will see that things won’t be as simple as “good guys VS bad guys” and not all foes are in the opposite side.
What is our objective?
(with a smirk)
Finally, we get to the WANT. When offered the opportunity to join a team to go after the cartel Kate asks, “Do we get an opportunity at the men responsible for today?”
Kate wants REVENGE
To recap, your first 10 pages should have:
Set the tone
An intro to the world
An intro to your character that shows their strengths and/or weaknesses
Set the WANT
As a fun exercise download the below FREE template open up the popcorn bag and review the films below!
A Beautiful Mind
Comment below your thoughts and add #poweropening!
Julia Horcajo Hernández joined Unstoppable Entertainment (now Unstoppable Film and Television) in 2016. Before that she was based in Spain, where she worked in different fields, such as advertising for Zapping M&C Saatchi Madrid; Television, in the production department for different non scripted programmes, under the Mediapro Group; and music, where she joined the A&R department at Universal Music Spain. Since joining the Unstoppable team, Julia has worked on different projects such as TIFF’s selected ‘Brotherhood’ and LFF’s ‘The Fight’ among others.