Opening with a quote...

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  • Brian Koppelman
    replied
    Re: Opening with a quote...

    Rounders, our first spec, opened with a quote on a blank page right after the title page. That quote ended up being a tagline on one of the one sheets.

    I think we've only used one or two other quotes in that manner.

    Case by case.

    Just make sure it's a cool one.

    Ours was "trust everyone but always cut the cards," attributed to Benny Binion, the owner of The Horseshoe, first home of the world series of poker.

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  • Craig Mazin
    replied
    Re: Opening with a quote...

    ATB is correct.

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  • ATB
    replied
    Re: Opening with a quote...

    I have a quote at the beginning of the spec that got me some heat. Nobody cares as long as it works.

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  • Biohazard
    replied
    Re: Opening with a quote...

    The quote page is like anything else - it can be used effectively (or not), but if everybody does it, it becomes cliche, and loses a part of its effectiveness.

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  • Fortean
    replied
    "ओने मेअसुरेस अ चिर्च्ले..."

    Originally posted by Stevie Keynes View Post
    I open my latest spec w/ a quote (Buddha), despite the fact that whenever i read opening quotes in other scripts i more often than not roll my eyes and skip it!

    I usually find that such quotes whilst holding significant meaning for the writer, and perhaps to the subsequent story about to unfold, mean absolutely nothing to the reader/ audience, who don't know the story yet (and are keen to get to it!)....

    Just curious, whats everyone elses thoughts on opening w/ quotes? Any good/ bad examples..??
    As a Fortean, (as may be realized by the quote in the title of this post, but meaningless to anyone besides Forteans and geometers), I would not be tempted to respond to this fifteenth unanswerable question.

    I would only raise a caution, if you would use a quotation from one of the Sanskrit sutras, then most of the audience will not understand its meaning. Use a translation of the quote. And, if that translation is not already in the public domain, you need to get permission from the copyright holder of the translation.

    "One measures a circle, beginning anywhere." ~ Charles Hoy Fort, Lo! (part 1 chapter 1)

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  • Ethan718
    replied
    Re: Opening with a quote...

    Originally posted by Paul Striver View Post
    Ethan, you should watch Malick's The Tree of Life -- you'll love it!
    Wait a second, I'm not an ideologue. I looked past the narration and I really loved that film. (This isn't sarcasm.)
    I watched a family drama about kids growing up in Waco. I looked past the other stuff.

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  • TheConnorNoden
    replied
    Re: Opening with a quote...

    Not to poo poo on Rhodi's answer but you're not writing a film a reader will like, you're writing a film you want to write.

    This is where all us lowly wannabes actually have an advantage over the pros. Writing on spec with no else attached means ultimate creative freedom, a freedom that's unlikely to be equalled later in your career. So why constrict yourself now? Do what you want.

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  • Paul Striver
    replied
    Re: Opening with a quote...

    Originally posted by Ethan718 View Post
    I love this answer. When I see a quote at the start of a screenplay, I roll my eyes. The worst thing is that, to me, it shows a lack of humility. Lots of amateur screenplays take themselves way too seriously. But perhaps you L.A. folk like that kind of cockiness.

    It's like those shampoo or fragrance commercials where the narrator whispers some vague psychobabble nonsense over elevator music. "Strawberry Dreams by L'Oreal." Give me a break.
    Ethan, you should watch Malick's The Tree of Life -- you'll love it!

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  • Rhodi
    replied
    Re: Opening with a quote...

    Unless it is insanely clever I wouldn't give a reader yet another reason to stop scrolling.

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  • AE35-Unit
    replied
    Re: Opening with a quote...

    I find that if the quote is within the context of the tension, I don't mind them at all. In the theatre, it can set the stage in the mind that you are in for something good or bad.

    But the first two pages better be smokin' hot.

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  • Ethan718
    replied
    Re: Opening with a quote...

    Originally posted by Mr. Earth View Post
    I find them pretentious/ smug/ cliche/ ineffective...
    I love this answer. When I see a quote at the start of a screenplay, I roll my eyes. The worst thing is that, to me, it shows a lack of humility. Lots of amateur screenplays take themselves way too seriously. But perhaps you L.A. folk like that kind of cockiness.

    It's like those shampoo or fragrance commercials where the narrator whispers some vague psychobabble nonsense over elevator music. "Strawberry Dreams by L'Oreal." Give me a break.

    Leave a comment:


  • emily blake
    replied
    Re: Opening with a quote...

    Gattaca opens with two quotes that contradict each other. That's probably the most effective use of quotes I've seen in this way.

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  • karsten
    replied
    Re: Opening with a quote...

    Originally posted by Stevie Keynes View Post
    I open my latest spec w/ a quote (Buddha), despite the fact that whenever i read opening quotes in other scripts i more often than not roll my eyes and skip it!
    Do you mean opening the script with a quote on a page of its own, just for the reader, said quote not meant to appear in the film? Or to open the film with a quote on a black screen?

    I actually like both approaches.

    The original Conan the Barbarian film begins with a Nietzsche paraphrase over black that has since become almost cliche with overuse ("That which does not kill us makes us stronger"), but was very effective back when the film was made at setting the tone of the piece, as the saying was not yet as widely known as it is now.

    The Nicholl-winning script for Season of the Witch opened with a quote on a page of its own, just for the reader, and it too helped to set the tone.

    As I said, I like the approach, probably because of having a lit background. But I can't recall any screenwriting book either recommending or decrying the practice.
    Last edited by karsten; 08-17-2012, 01:48 PM.

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  • Hot Rod
    replied
    Re: Opening with a quote...

    I have no problem with opening quotations. For example I thought the quote at the beginning of Hurt Locker was effective in setting the tone. I see it as kind of like getting into a roller coaster. You can see the ups and downs coming, you can imagine whats in store, but when they come on the intercom and say "Hold on. It's going to be a helluva ride." It just kind of sets the tone and builds the anticipation even more.

    I know it kind of seems like hitting you in the face with a shovel with something they could mix into the screenplay.

    Then again....I'm kind of a quote type of guy to begin with.

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  • TheConnorNoden
    replied
    Re: Opening with a quote...

    They can be good when used effectively, I've opened 2 scripts with a quote and saw no problem with them. It might help to have a short scene followed by the quote for impact, whether that'll work in your case I don't know.

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