Beginning with a montage

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  • Beginning with a montage

    I'm revising a script with a weak opening scene. I've jumped it up a bit, but wanted to open with a montage to a particular song. I know it's a no-no, I have no other montages or "particular songs" in the script, but it's so tempting because it's perfect at the beginning.

    My question is: Does this kill any chance of the script being read? Will a reader automatically discard a script even with a powerful montage and a perfect song for the beginning? The only script I know that got away with songs named was Almost Famous, and of course Cameron could do what he wanted if he directed it. Just curious. Do I need to kill my lullabye? Thanks.

  • #2
    a good opening best establishes a character in their world, or provides a strong opening hook that kicks off your story immediately. i'm not sure a montage is the best way to do it, as a montage is really a tool to compress a sequence of events without taking too much time. you want to make sure that whatever you do on page 1 makes the reader want to turn to page 2. if your reader reads the montage and thinks "wow this is great, i really get it", then great. if they read it and go "okay, and why do i care?" then that's a problem. it seems if you have a weak opening scene, using a montage to jump it up appears gimmicky.

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    • #3
      Does the montage work? Is it so powerfully/well written that a reader will have no choice but to forgive the "trespass" once they've read it and continue reading? That's what you gotta ask yourself. (imo)

      If the answer is "no" or "well, I..." or "I'm not sure", then rewrite it until you can confidently answer "yes", or write a different opening altogether.

      EDIT - Actually as an amendment to one of the above questions - The reader won't have to forgive any "trespass" because if it's done well enough it won't be seen as one (and won't be one). It will do what it's supposed to do (which S. Mind so accurately and succinctly described)...

      Tony

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      • #4
        Thanks Strange and Tony for the quick responses. It's an overview, which adds nothing to the initial scene, and, yes, as I looked at it I heard a silent scream of "Lazy!"

        Okay, out it goes to delete-oblivion. You guys are going to make me work for this, aren't you? I guess I'll just have to let the director pick his own music. Sigh. I'll wait until they hire someone to re-write it, and call them on the phone playing this song. Subliminal messages have nothing on me. But can't get made if it doesn't get read.

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        • #5
          Think of it this way: later on in the script, you can add a montage, and "milk it" for all it's worth.

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          • #6
            Dunno. My Irish script opens with a montage, no one has complained yet (other than to tell me to tighten it, which I did). It is necessary to set the scene we are looking at, without going into a bunch of history. This way, it is short & to the point, you see what's going on. And it does go immediately into dialogue right afterwards. I dig it, can't see changing it. Guess it all depends on the context... oops! I said the "c" word... :lol You go, FunFanny...

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            • #7
              How many movies roll the opening credits over a montage? Many. It never struck me as a potential problem. Heck, if you don't have a montage at the beginning, the director might decide to stick one in for you! (j/k for the sake of fuzzy logic)

              As long as the montage works and is relevant to the beginning, I don't see why it would matter where it appears, if it needs to be right there. Conversely, if the montage isn't "good enough" for the beginning, chances are it won't work on page 12 or 67 either.

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              • #8
                Hey thanks for the input. I dumped it mainly because it was too depressing for a romcom. Think it needs to be in tune with the entire feel of the script, and since I'm intentionally making this light, I can't see a serious montage starting this out, or it will look like a drama, which is exactly what I don't want. I may make the suggestion in the re-write if it ever comes to that, but for a spec script, I'm not willing to risk it. So when I meet with Stephen S. I'll just say "Have you ever heard this song...?" Right before I fall over in a dead faint on the floor. Thanks.

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                • #9
                  montage

                  Montage are expensive to shoot each scene or cut within montage is different locations and wardrobe, extras etc... for what amounts to mere seconds on film. That's why producers might not like it, not because it breaks some structure continuity, to move a huge crew around for what could be weeks for seconds on film is just financially tough. Try quick cuts and word it as such, quick cuts are are the same as montage but occur at the same locals and can denout time passing, but are at the same general local. It's extremely producer friendly and they'll continue to read with respect for you as someone who respects their situation, or not. Personally I like montage and I believe that todays viewers can grasp an opening as such. Most producers still like the tradional Sound of Music opening as they feel anything else confuses them. I believe todays audience is not yesterdays audience, we are alot more visually aware and can put pieces together better than the suits think.

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