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The First 10 Pages

From Screenplay: Writing the Story by

Robbin U. Russin and William Missouri Downs

A Fact of Life
If your first 10 pages roughly the first 10 minutes of
the movie arent what they need to be, your script
has very little chance of being taken on my an agent or
bought by a producer.
Because there are literally hundreds of thousands of
scripts out there that need to be analyzed quickly and
economically by tired readers, agents and producers ...
Readers are looking for a good movie for their bosses
to make. They know that the opening must have a
gripping, irresistible opening or it will lose its audience.

Seven Pieces of

There are seven pieces of

information that a movie must
explain or show within the first
10 minutes of your movie.
The world
The Protagonist
The Antagonist
The Tone

The World The

The World is the setting in which
your story takes place.
In The Terminator, the first
world is the future, with human
skulls being crushed by
machines. The second world,
which becomes the main world,
is the present (1984). Both are
presented within the first
minute of the movie.

The Protagonist
The Protagonist is the main
character who the audience
identifies with.
In The Terminator, Sarah
Connor appears in minute nine
as a young woman who appears
to be the object of salvation
(princess in the tower), but
she is the one who undergoes
the greatest transformation

Antagonist - Terminator
The Antagonist is the main bad
guy or gal whose only goal is to
thwart the efforts of the
protagonist or achieve his or her
goals (mostly evil.)
The Terminator is the bad
guy; he is introduced in the
third minute of the movie. Hes
huge, powerful, ruthless and

The Tone - Terminator

The Tone is the mood or feeling
of the story.
In The Terminator, the movie
sets a dark and ominous tone in
the first minute of the movie
with dark humor. Nighttime
scenes represent darkness of
the future. Sarah Connor is first
seen in daylight, representing

The Theme - Terminator

The Theme tells the audience the
deeper meaning of the story. What is
the moral of the story?
In The Terminator, the theme is: by
giving our power and responsibilities to
machines, we may release all the
terrible forces of our destruction. Only
by retaining our humanity can we

The Stakes The

The Stakes are whats at risk in the
story. What happens if the hero loses?
In Terminator, the stakes appear
right in the first couple of minutes in
the prologue. The battle to change
the horrendous future will occur in
the present day. In a hundred years,
whos gonna care?

Nature of Conflict Terminator

The Nature of the Conflict is the conflict
or battle that the story will tackle.
In Terminator, the conflict is clear in
the first 10 minutes: Two people must
rise above themselves and destroy the
flawless robotic emissary of the future
war machines, if the human race is to

Workshop 1
Read the first 10 pages of a script. Describe
the following pieces?
The World __________________________________
The Protagonist ______________________________
The Antagonist
The Tone____________________________________

Workshop 2
Read the first 10 pages of a script
or watch a favorite movie.
Describe what happens minute by
minute to draw the audience into
the story and characters. (One
pages equals one minute of
screen time.)