June 4, 2016

5 Things That Need to Be in the First 10 Pages of Your Screenplay

The first 10 pages are probably some of the most important ones in your script, because, well, people don't usually read screenplays for the sheer thrill of it.

There's a reason the saying "cut to the chase" originated in Hollywood—no one wants to wait until the end to find out whether or not their time has been wasted, especially when you're working in the film industry. So, in order to avoid getting your screenplay thrown in the trash by a script reader who has read way too many horrible buddy cop stories today, here are a 5 things The Script Lab says you'll need to include in the first 10 pages to keep them reading.

Here are the 5 things mentioned in the video:

  • Establish the genre
  • Intro main character
  • Show the world
  • Hint at the theme
  • Dramatic situation

It's not just important to include these things to keep your script from being tossed aside; it's also important for your audience should it ever become a film. I mean—audiences might actually be less patient than Hollywood types, so getting the right information to them early in the film whets their appetite for more of your story.

Now—rules shmools, right? Rules are meant to be broken, we all know that. So maybe some of these things aren't included in the first 10 pages of your script—which is okay, buuuut—make sure that the lack of this information is intriguing rather than confusing    

Your Comment

11 Comments

Always intrigue!

Boring the readers/viewers will make them stop reading/watching.

June 4, 2016 at 7:28PM

7
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avatar
WalterBrokx
Director, DOP, Writer, Editor, Producer
9219

One person's boredom might be another person's intrigue.
Be original.
Personally ,I don't trust someone from the younger generation saying something is boring, as they need everything told to them immediately, and need lots of action.
Wouldn't trust their opinion on a character driven piece

June 5, 2016 at 4:32AM

0
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martin woyzeck
Actor, writer, acting teacher/coach
205

Just because something is a "character piece" doesn't mean it's a well executed character piece. The vast majority who those ever sit at their computers to write a screenplay fundamentally don't understand drama, conflict, and tension. That's more or less what is meant by "don't be boring".

June 5, 2016 at 2:36PM

6
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Is A Space Odyssey consistent with these rules?

June 5, 2016 at 4:31AM, Edited June 5, 4:31AM

3
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Splendid Films
Film Studio
81

Exactly.
The problem with rules is what we see in Hollywood movies....un-originality , same formulas.
There's an irony in that the the majority of writers/directors in the last 20 years went to film school and/or workshops, and they're the worst scripts, films in American film history

June 5, 2016 at 4:51AM

17
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martin woyzeck
Actor, writer, acting teacher/coach
205

Not rules, but tools.

June 27, 2017 at 9:41AM

2
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N. Peter
Community / Filmmaker Website leader
193

What about movies from John Cassavettes, Mike Leigh, Michael Winterbottom, Richard Linklater,etc.?
They don't follow rules, and are great filmmakers.

June 5, 2016 at 4:53AM, Edited June 5, 4:53AM

3
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martin woyzeck
Actor, writer, acting teacher/coach
205

What they are talking about here are scripts that are written to be pitched. If someone with a pile of scripts to read through doesn't see those few things in the first couple of pages, they're probably just going to move on.

June 5, 2016 at 11:40PM

0
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Joshua Bowen
Editor
657

It might not look like they are following the "rules", but I think they are usually. In fact, I'd say that are all great at checking off the five requirements quickly and emphatically.

June 8, 2016 at 9:00AM, Edited June 8, 9:00AM

0
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Tom Abray
writer, videographer
384

These are basic, but important tools.
Inciting incident, exposition, bigbang, etc.

June 27, 2017 at 9:42AM

15
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N. Peter
Community / Filmmaker Website leader
193

And in a short, you essentially have page one to set these elements in play.

June 27, 2017 at 11:29AM

0
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Tim Viola
Writer + Director
79