Screenwriting : Your best opening scene by Craig D Griffiths

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Craig D Griffiths

Your best opening scene

There was a post here about opening scenes. It had a video of the first few minutes of the thing. It prompted me to go back and look at my opening scenes. A have polished up some. Remember, no second chance at a first impression.

My person favour is from my script “Amy”. We see a young woman completely disinterested in the police interview she is being put through. Slumped in her chair not even listening to what is being said. That is okay, because all the dialogue and sound is from another scene. It is a series of telephone conversations played over the top of the video of the interview.

We finally cut to the people in the telephone conversation. One of them is the girl being questioned by Police - Amy.

So what is your best opening. Why? And what would you change? If anything.

CJ Walley

It's the opening to my pulpy 70's-esc carsploitation script featuring two country girls who pickup a couple of hitchhikers who turn out to be drug dealers and end up in a car chase down dirt roads with the local sheriff.

It's special to me because it marked a big turning point in my writing. Picturing it was the point when I realised what really motivated me to write. Even though it was only my second screenplay, it captured a lot of my true voice, which I lost and regained as I continued working on my craft.

The same script got me on the Top List on the Black List, featured by Amazon Studios, and pulled a director out of retirement to work with me.

Always follow your voice.

Rutger Oosterhoff

Check out the first 5 pages of "The Gavel". It's fun.

Hank Biro

My favourite opening scene is the one I most recently finished. It is for my short script titled Power Struggle!. Two police officers, Parsep and Jamisun, pull up across the street from a dingy drug den and then a monitor inside their vehicle displays photos of the criminals inside the building. The officers learn the threat level of each drug dealer and Parsep is surprised and happy to learn one of them is a level nine, meaning he is allowed to use his full force if need be to arrest the perps.

Phil Clarke

Glad to hear my opening scene post got you thinking about your own. My work here is done! :)

Dash Riprock

I'm re-doing a script from long ago that I still kinda like. It's action. It's fun. It's sci-fi. Here are the first 5 pages of "Henry Plotz":

Rutger Oosterhoff

Good read Dash. A lot happening. Good action with some sutile humor.

Nelson Christian Amador

Oh on opening Scenes. Well for me which I believe is a habit of mine, I always start script out with the studio logo presentation and if' it's a specific movie then I always add in some key details about the studio logo presentation intro as well. And always write what song is playing as well to get mode of movie going as well.

Craig D Griffiths

Nelson Christian Amador people will tell you “that isn’t your job”. But if it works for you in setting up your story, why not. What about something other then visuals. What is the best start of a story you have written?

Dash Riprock

Much obliged, Rutger.

Craig D Griffiths

Phil Clarke I forgot how much I love a great opening for a film. I have stuck in a script at the moment. About 50 pages in and the characters are showing me a new direction. Great for the story. But I have booked marketed going back and rewriting a great opening shot.

Craig D Griffiths

Kay Luke a single shot can tell so much. You know that it is set in an incredibly contentious area of the world.

Which is a bit of a redirect in a way, because all the action takes place later. It also sets up a conflict which doesn’t involve the people in the opening shot.

Have you seen Steven Knight’s ‘Dirty Pretty Things’. It opens with a couple talking in a Taxi. You think it is about them. Then they get out of the taxi. The driver is the protagonist.

Craig D Griffiths

CJ Walley Just like your experience. When you write your first great/confident/cinematic opening is like riding a bike without training wheels. You know “I can do this”.

Craig D Griffiths

Kay Luke a single shot makes your script 7 days. You’re correct a word in a conversation can make all the difference.

Rosalind Winton

My screenplay begins in an attic and an 11 year old girl is looking for a tool box for her father. In among all the rubbish around the attic floor, she spots a cardboard box with old black and white photos of family members, she's curious and looks at one photo in particular that becomes the link to the rest of the story. In the corner of the attic in the darkness is a pile of books covered with an old blanket, the girl does not see the books, but one of the books has an importance that is revealed at the end of the screenplay.

Surina Nel

My current play begins with Liam, sitting on the edge of his seat, shaking his head in disbelief. His hands is covered in blood. Infront of him a table, littered with drug paraphernalia. The cops knocks on his his door but he doesn't repond. After an unanswered 2nd knock, the door flings open ripping the hinges from the door. Liam is apprehended and while being cuffed the second police man discovers the body of is wife knife in hand, in the kitchen. While calling for help he hears a faint cry from an adjacent room, where he finds a tiny infant, with a big gash on her neck

Jim Boston

Craig, I'd have to say that the best opening I've been able to come up with thus far is the one to "Jingle Belles."

"Jingle Belles" starts out with Kirby walking along Broadway and stopping to hear the singing group that eventually became known as the Doo-Woppers. (Gotten some positive feedback about the script...especially from Nick Holle, the very documentary codirector I inherited my Power Mac computer from: "Jim, I could really feel 'Jingle Belles.'")

Stefano Pavone

From my own works:

1. The prologue to "Vox Populi" - we are introduced to our Robin Hood-like "protagonist" and his modus operandi (and his justifications for doing so). First thing he does is beat up an academy principal (a "headteacher" in the UK) for assaulting a pupil who indirectly violated the school's dress code policy (he threatens the headteacher with a return visit if he abuses his power again and warns him to let the pupils wear whatever the hell they want, since it doesn't impact their learning).

2. The opening sequence to "Icon of the Defender" (my 3-part novel, which I later adapted into 3 separate screenplays and is my precious magnum opus) - not only do we meet our trio of lead characters and how their polarising personalities (identifiable by the colours of their clothing) complement each other and drive the story (one is an angry no-nonsense rifleman, another is a sympathetic but manipulative ex-Gendarme and the third character is a civilian with a weakness for damsels in distress who mediates between the two), but there is a sense of genuine companionship and even brotherhood present.

Craig D Griffiths

Jim Boston you tease, I started painting a picture in my head and you stopped.

A single sentence and I saw it. Nice

Jim Boston

Oh, man, thanks, Craig!

Brian Fitzgerald


It’s a quiet and peaceful scene. Until… YELLING! Lots and

lots of yelling, getting gradually louder.

SPLASH… A pair of small wheels plows right through a huge

pile of donkey shit lying in an open sewer. A tired, high-pitched

engine sputters with all its might.

A RED MOPED comes into focus. A thin, athletic Gringo is

riding the beat-up contraption. All he has on is a

makeshift cape, American flag Speedo underwear, cowboy

boots… And a BEER BOX… He’s wearing an empty Tecate 24-pack

over his head!

Craig D Griffiths

Stefano Pavone nice. I like opening that tell you exactly what you are in for if you keep watching. Like the start of Pulp Fiction two cool dudes talking “gangster shit”. You know the type of film you are getting. To start with one guy beating another guy senseless is confronting and confusing. Who is the good guy? Pose those questions make the audience engage.

Craig D Griffiths

Brian Fitzgerald read this a few times. On a phone the format went funky. The images made me smile.

Not my place to say, but I saw a trail of smoke from the moped as it zoomed along.. Don’t know if that was how beat up the machine is.

Brian Fitzgerald

Craig D Griffiths Yeah, the format came out wonky for some reason. Glad you smiled though. Smoke, yes, there would definitely be smoke coming out of that beast - nice touch!

Curtis Kessinger

I like to watch the opening credits scene for Saturday Night Fever...shots of NY City then John Travolta walking down the street carrying a can of paint with the music tells you everything about that character.

Craig D Griffiths

Curtis Kessinger it tells so much. The way he is looking at people, making sure they are checking him out. tells you that he thinks he is great. Feed perfectly into the disco thing of, stop dancing and look at me.

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