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January, 2008

The First Minute V
12 Part Series On How To Write Screenplays
By  Don Vasicek

A metaphor within the first minute of all screenplays shows the theme of the movie.
n this screenplay educational series IN will be covering the following course sections of information graciously provided by Donald L. Vasicek:

  • So, You Have A Movie Idea - I
  • More on Your Movie Idea II
  • Emotion and Your Movie Idea III
  • The Logline IV
  • The First Minute V
  • Write The End To Your Screenplay Foremost VI
  • The First Twelve Pages of Your Screenplay VII
  • Page 12 to Page 30 of Your Screenplay VIII
  • Page 30 to Page 45 of Your Screenplay IX
  • Page 45 to Page 60 of Your Screenplay X
  • Page 60 to Page 75 of Your Screenplay XI
  • Page 90 to the End of Your Screenplay XII

Don't miss out on a single issue of IN and how to get your screenplay from the page to the silver screen.

In successful screenplays that are sold and produced, the first minute of your screenplay (one screenplay page is the equivalent of one minute of screen time) requires a metaphor that shows the main theme of the movie. This page must also show movement, introduction of the main character, show the setting, show the ending of something and show the beginning of something new.

The purpose of the metaphor is to subliminally attract the audience to a deep meaning for the film. The metaphor can be as basic as showing a butterfly fluttering away from a headstone that depicts the theme of freedom to as profound as showing someone using a remote control that turns on everything in a house including the unlocking of the door to depict the theme of control.

Movement in the first minute of your screenplay is a device that brings the audience into the movie making them feel part of the experience. Movement can be accomplished by showing a person walking down the street, or a helicopter swooping down over a body of water heading for the skyline of a big city, or a train flying over the tracks, or a car hurling over the streets, or an animal running, or a host of other movements.

Introduction of the main character can be integrated in the showing of the metaphor and the movement in the first minute of your screenplay. It can come at the end of the page after the metaphor, movement and/or the setting for the movie. The fine point of introducing your main character in the first minute is to show him/her at the end of the something in his/her life, and on the grounds of beginning something new. Introducing your main character can be something like leaving home to begin school, or starting a new job or getting a divorce, etc.

You must consider the setting for your movie as a character. Since film is a visual medium, this particular character should play an integral role in your story. Whatever setting you have, you must fill it with images that help set the tone, mood and the main theme for your screenplay. Mood can be happy, sad, silly, loving, good, evil, etc. This means that what the audience is viewing is putting them into the mood that parallels the mood in your movie. Tone can be sharp, dull, cutting, crisp, sluggish, loud, quiet, etc. Theme is what your screenplay is about. Theme should attach to a human emotion like love, sadness, happiness, trust, hate, suffering, prospering, etc.

Next time we'll take a look at The First Twelve Minutes.

Thank you for dropping by.
Good writing to you!
Part V of XII
Previous part of the series. IN Icon

Donald L. Vasicek was a writer/consultant for Warriors of Virtue, screenwriter for The Crown, writer/associate producer for The Lost Heart and Born To Kill. He wrote, directed, and produced Faces, Oh, The Places You Can Go..., Haunted World and the award-winning The Sand Creek Massacre. He writes columns for Hollywood Lit. Sales, Moondance Int'l Film Festival's E-zine, Screenplace, Screenwriters Forum, Screenplayers.Net, Screenwriters Utopia, Ink-On–The-Brain and Spraka & Kinsla (Swedish). Author of How To Write, Sell, And Get Your Screenplays Produced ( and The Write Focus. Web site:

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