Opening Image

  • April 5, 2016


If you’ve ever read the late Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat book on screenwriting then you know about beat sheets. And if you know about beat sheets then you know about the opening image. If you don’t, beat sheets are sheets broken into 15 parts that work like an outline for a movie. The late great Blake figured out that almost all of the best movies shared a common structure to the story. The first beat is the “opening image”. Hopefully we’re all on the same page now. If not, keep returning to learn about beats and assorted other things I learned on my continuing journey towards productions. For my filmmaking journey it looked something like this.

FADE IN: The photography staff of the Orange County Register, some 20 or so souls, sat and stood at various points around a conference table. At the head of the table sat the casually dressed, managing editor we’ll call him BOB (mid-50s) standing directly across from him is tall, handsome dashing ROD VEAL (39) aka YOURS TRULY aka ME aka I. The editor was weeping and speaking to the room.


If we don’t get enough people to take the buyout we will have to lay people off. We don’t know how many?

CU – Me’s face cycles emotions. I stood at the back of the room a little pissed. I had been a part of doomsday conversations like this one before. After all, I was a photojournalist working for a newspaper company that went BACK to a newspapers first strategy as most newspapers were going in the opposite direction fleeing for their journalistic lives when the internet ate up advertising profits. And now we’re here about a year after being told we, the photo staff, were the company’s crown jewel that some of us could possibly lose our jobs. It seemed we were being prepped to be let go. But for the first time in awhile I felt lighter…happy even. I saw an opportunity. I could finally make my film.