First impressions do matter, and an opening scene or sequence can really make or break a film sometimes. It is the first thing that your audience will look at, and as such, you want to strive for something that tells the audience enough about the journey they are about to embark on. Different directors and creative minds of cinema have different perceptions about what to do with an opening scene to make it great. Here we will talk about 3 tips that can get you great results for the start of your movie.
How to Create an Opening Scene in Film
Use symbolism to convey what the movie will be about
Films and the arts are all about symbolism, and even if you don’t mean it at first, there is a high chance that someone who takes their time to analyze parts of your film will find hidden meaning in subconscious decisions you made in your project.
Your opening scene is no different, and if you don’t want to be direct and give away too much, you can get abstract and cryptic with the first visual message your audience will see. A good example of this is 2001, where a trained eye can tell the epic proportions of the journey we are about to see by just looking at the scale of the images on the screen, the elements portrayed respect to one another, and the impactful music that accompanies the visuals.
Introduce characters in a way that reflects their conflicts
Conflict is what drives the story forward, and what better way to keep this maxim alive than by applying it to your opening sequence? You can give a lot of information about who the characters are and what they are struggling with by just making an instance of that struggle the opening scene.
For instance, if your character is an addict fighting to keep himself sober, having him resist the urge to consume the drug of his choice in the first couple of minutes can tell us all we need to know the core conflict this character will face and likely overcome. This exercise can help you visualize further visual metaphors for other moments in your film, and it works regardless of the type of conflict you pit your characters against.
Focus on a relevant theme of the film
Opening sequences don’t need to be amazing and full of effects to be memorable. Just like films themselves, it is up to creators to choose the degree of form and substance they want to portray, but the most spectacularly aesthetic opening can be just as effective as a scene carried just by the performance of an actor and nothing else.
A good middle ground that still manages to work great on films is focusing on relevant themes. It can be as basic as a driving sequence if the main character is a driver, or a cooking montage if the story mainly takes place in a restaurant. If you approach your opening this way, you can get as symbolic and metaphorical as you want, or you can go the almost purely aesthetic way a la James Bond.