The Opening Shot

Lesson Details

Subject: Storytelling

Title: The Opening Shot

Description:

When it comes to ‘script writing’ a lot of people freeze up. They can sit and stare at a blank piece of paper, intimidated and uncertain of ‘how to start’. In this lesson, I am going to show you a completely fool-proof way of ‘telling a story’ (writing a script), that works every single time, and makes for the most exciting and compelling video you can produce .

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Transcript
 

Okay you’ve got your great raw material of the Fluffy story. How do you now put this together and assemble it to make a compelling video, a compelling film, a compelling movie that everyone wants to see? Like everything else you already know how to do this you just don't know how to do it. Now, the key to a successful and compelling film no matter what the film, no matter what the story is two parts. First you have to find the right opening shot. If you find the right opening shot, everything else will follow. I’m going to show you how to do that.

The second part is even more important and you won’t really understand what I'm saying right now but stay with me. The second part is having the courage to let the film go where wants to go, as opposed to where you want to take it. And this is really the key and the essence to great storytelling, it’s these two things. But let’s start with the first. How do you know what the first shot is? Get the right first shot and you're pretty much home free. How do you know what the right first shot is? Let's go back to our Fluffy story, you were lucky with the Fluffy story. You were lucky, you walked into that dog and cat hospital and that little girl walked in.

Now you're not so lucky. Now you went home having spent a whole day at the dog and cat hospital with this great story to tell and you go home to your wife or husband or your parents or your lover or whomever it is and you want to tell them what happened. Now here's the bad part, let's say you're married and let's say the marriage or the relationship is not working out. Been there? I’ve been there, we’ve all been there. You know what that's like to live with somebody where it’s just those last couple of days where there’s a lot of tension. You know it's not work you want it to work, your significant other doesn't really want it to work.

You’re trying, you’re trying and you're hoping that when you come home with that video this is going to make him or her so all in love with you that there going to forget all the difficulties and all the problems you had and go “You know what, Michael, I was an idiot. You’re such a wonderful person.” It doesn’t really work out that way but that’s what you’re hoping. That’s what you’re hoping. So you walk in the door with your pile of videos and you come home and you go “Jane the most amazing, you’ll never guess, you’ve got to look. This thing happened. You’ve got to look at this video.” Right? And there’s Jane and she's going “Eh, Michael did you say something to me?” And I go “Yeah, yeah, yeah, put that phone away. I’ve got to show you some of this video, it’s incredible what happened to me today, I’ve got to show you this stuff.” And she goes “Yeah well what did you say something?”

And you go “You know what? Just look a little just look at a little bit of this, just look at a little bit of this stuff”. And Jane knows that she's got a be moving out like in the next day or two because she’s texting Bob right now setting it up. But she also knows you divide up the DVDs and the books and stuff and she doesn’t want to upset you too much. So she says “Well…” And you get a little annoyed and you go “Come on Jane you can just look at one shot. Just look at one, all I want you to do, just look at one lousy, is that asking too much after all the time we've been together just look at one shot okay? So Jane goes “OK”. Reminds me of my ex-wife “Okay, show me one shot”.

What’s the one shot you show Jane? Of all the stuff that you got, you’re going to get one chance, one chance with one shot to win her affections, to get her attention to make her love you. What’s the one shot you’re going to show her? Is it the exterior of the building? I don't think so. Is it the interview with the owner of the dog and cat hospital? I don’t think so. You already know. You already know, the one shot you’re going to show her is going to be little Fluffy with that close-up with the big eyes fighting for his life. Because if that doesn't win her back, if that doesn't hold her attention, nothing will. Well here's the deal, your viewers at home, your audience whether it’s television cable or online, your audience they care less about you than and soon to be gone Jane.

You know why? Because you didn’t go to the Bahamas with the audience. You haven’t been living with the audience for the last two years. You didn’t have that that thing in the back of a car when you first met with all audience. The audience doesn’t give a crap about you. So if you must show Jane who still has some relationship with you, little Fluffy fighting for his life, what must you show the audience as your first shot? To get their attention these people who care less about you. You have one moment, one second, one opportunity to reach through the screen and grab them by the throat and go “This is important pay attention.”

That's why said your first shot is the most important thing you have to and every single time you have to get the most powerful, most dynamic, most emotional shot that you have all the stuff that you shot it doesn't matter the order in which it happened. It doesn't matter the continuity, you’re going through all your stuff. You go “That's my one chance, that's my killer shot”. And that’s your first shot in your piece, little Fluffy fighting for his life or whatever it is. Grab them, reach through the screen and grab your audience by the throat with that first shot and drag them in. And if you pick the right opening shot every single time and you have the courage to let the story go where it wants to go you’re going to make a killer film every single time.

© Michael Rosenblum & Lisa Lambden 2015