In order to create an interesting and engaging film opening we needed to have a good and original idea that was central to the narrative we would setup. After discussing different ideas in our groups the one that seemed to resonate most with everyone was the concept of an online dating romantic comedy. What attracted us to this idea was the thought of trying to bring an original slant to an often tired and unoriginal genre (Jennifer Aniston be warned!). Something as prevalent as internet dating and online interaction, as a relatively new phenomena, has yet to be fully exposed onscreen. The only films of any note on the subject being The Social Network and Catfish. By exploring this subject and by also subverting character roles with the youth protagonist, the hero, being an unconfident, unpopular nerdy kid rather than a handsome ultimately Hollywood style leading man, will hopefully help us to create an opening that will move away from the blockbuster, Hollywood film plot that has defined the rom-com genre. By being original our film will be more in the tone of what small independent films are about, exploring new ideas that often hold up a mirror to society and use realistic characters that people from a specific area can relate to. An example of this is This Is England which focuses specifically on working class skin heads in the north of England in the 1980’s and is therefore will not appeal to world wide audience in the way Blockbuster films do.
Taking this core idea and how we wanted our young protagonist to be, we developed our initial idea into a vague scene-by-scene structure for an opening. We wanted to start with a very short dream sequence which falsely portrays the young protagonist as a hugely popular figure in which he walks through a party before flirting with the girl who would later be identified as the main love interest, this scene would then cut to the character in his bedroom either asleep or getting ready to go out as a nerdy, awkward teenage boy. By presenting two contrasting scenes straight away we hope to surprise the audience by setting up a profile for the main character, which leads the audience down one trail of what the style of the film is and its conventions before immediately challenging these expectations. It is vital that a film grips an audience straight from its opening and by catching the audience out in this way the viewer is far more likely to be intrigued by the film and its main character. Also by creating an illusion of the identity of the character it tied in nicely to one of the themes that fitted with the online dating aspect to the film, the idea that anyone can be someone online.
After briefly re- establishing the young protagonists identity we would introduce the online dating element with the character looking at his computer. We had thoughts on how this could incorporate into our opening credits, with each name being displayed as an online profile. It could also potentially introduce the love interest through a video post he watches on the website of her. Here we thought we could make use of our trip to New York, which would be a fantastic location to film a quick clip. With our film opening only being 2 minutes long it may be that this is all that we include with the young protagonist having an online profile on this dating website in which he falsely presented himself as a popular, attractive guy. Interacting with the love interest online through a false identity. However if it fitted in we could potentially have the two characters bumping into each other at the very end of the opening, thus setting up the rest of a film by breaking the equilibrium.
As a group we also decided that we needed to come up with a rough outline of how the film would play out if we were to know if our idea had any potential. After all we were not just creating a 2-minute short film, there had to be enough substance to our initial idea that a whole feature length movie could feasibly spawn from. We came up with the idea that the young protagonist had something he couldn’t miss (something that is important to his future: an interview for Oxford/Cambridge say) but because he bumps into the girl he does miss it and this causes repercussions that develop the plot. Also to fit in with the genre conventions, there is a key hurdle that he has to overcome in order to win the girl. She doesn’t know he is the same person as the one she talks to online and this can be an area for humour with her thinking he’s gay or the problem of getting out of the ‘friendship’ category.
In discussing how the full feature length version of our film idea would play out it gave us confidence in our plan for the opening and that the idea was strong enough. I think the thing we are going to find hardest is being able to reflect the type of film wanted in our brief through a genre were the conventions do not match that of most independent, regionally financed films.