Monday, February 19, 2007

The Hook -- The First Couple Pages

Isn't the hook always a pain in the arse?

It needs to establish tone. Mood. Hint at what the driving forces in the movie are going to be. And lay out the world in very broad terms. Most screenplays that are made into movies accomplish this. Even bad ones. But there is one other thing they do, as well.

They make the reader want to read more.

Here's an offbeat example. I like it because it accomplishes the above without using the main characters (probably why it was cut). It also is a scene that would be an otherwise boring day. Plus, it's a favorite guilty pleasure. BENEATH PERFECTION, better know as 1990's TREMORS.

EXT. DESERT VALLEY - DAY

The high desert -- absolutely silent -- a vast, hard landscape stretching away to distant mountains. The silence is broken by hoof-beats.

EXT. EDGAR'S PLACE - DAY

It's a simple cabin dwarfed by a big, ramshackle barn. EDGAR DEEMS (60s), a weathered desert rat of a hermit, is walking his donkey around in circles. Now, rattling toward them down an endless dirt road, comes an old, sun-bleached Buick. It stops and out leans OLD FRED (70s) wearing a sweat-stained fedora. The two friends nod.

OLD FRED
How's she doing?

EDGAR
She wants to lay down. I'm a
little worried.

Old Fred climbs out with a bushel basket of carrots.

OLD FRED
Well, I brung her something I know
she likes.

EDGAR
Damn, Fred, you can't give away all
those.

OLD FRED
Forget it. I got vegetables coming
out my ears. Usually the varmints
eat up half my crop, but lately I
ain't so much as seen a gopher or a
jack-rabbit nowheres.

EDGAR
If that ain't the truth. And I
count on them for a little bit of
stew meat...Thank you, Fred.

Edgar takes the carrots and feeds one to the donkey.

EDGAR (cont'd)
Here you go, Justine. Look what
Fred brought you.

OLD FRED
We playing cards tonight?

EDGAR
I think I'm gonna be sitting up
with her.

OLD FRED
I'd do the same. Well, catch you
Thursday.

EDGAR
You bet.

The men nod, and Old Fred drives off.


CLOSE-UP of the donkey's hooves thumping along as Edgar leads her to the barn.

EDGAR (cont'd)
Let's get you out of the sun for a
spell.

EDGAR (cont'd)
I'll get you some fresh water.

But, suddenly, we hear the donkey restlessly stomping its
hooves and braying. Edgar turns, concerned. Now we hear an odd sound. Distant thunder? The wind? The donkey gets more and more frantic.

The barn shudders violently. Frightened birds explode from the eaves. Dust puffs from every old seam. Roof shingles rain down. Edgar stares in amazement.

EDGAR (cont'd)
...some kind of earthquake!?

Then another sound -- the donkey starts screeching in wild
panic.

EDGAR (cont'd)
Justine, hang on! I'm coming!

Edgar races back to the barn and flings open the doors.

INT. EDGAR'S BARN - DAY

Dust swirls through the air. But -- the barn in empty. No donkey. Now Edgar is hit by a ghastly stench. He staggers back, and covers his nose with a handkerchief. Then he sees, splattered across the walls -- blood!

EDGAR
What in the name of Jehovah...?

He raises his arms above the door frame. When he lowers them he's holding a 12 gauge shotgun. He races outside, ready to shoot, but there's nothing -- as far as the eye can see.

2 comments:

The Moviequill said...

not bad, not bad... works for me

Anonymous said...

It was rather interesting for me to read the post. Thanks for it. I like such themes and anything that is connected to them. I definitely want to read more soon.