23rd Feb – Friday Film-Making Tips

Week 7 - Dan’s Friday Film-Making Creative Tips & Wonders - 23rd Feb


In this week’s blog post, we delve into the artistry of the opening scene in cinema, highlighting its significance as one of the most crucial aspects of cinematic storytelling. We’ll explore how the opening scene sets the stage and ‘hooks’ the audience, drawing them into the narrative from the very beginning. Following that, we’ll shift our focus to the 96th Academy Awards, also known as the Oscars, where I’ll share some of the most iconic and motivational acceptance speeches in the history of the awards. Finally, we’ll examine one of my personal favourite cinematic shots, the Bird’s Eye View, exploring how it contributes to creating beautiful, memorable moments and enhancing the narrative depth of a film.

The Art of the Opening Scene


The opening scene of a movie is like the first splash of paint on a blank canvas in the audience’s mind. It’s where the atmosphere is set, new characters are born, and we’re transported into the creative imagined worlds of the filmmakers. Ensuring that the opening scene works as the ‘hook’ for the film, means blending together atmosphere, character quirks, juicy conflicts, eye-catching visuals, and deep themes. When it all comes together, it hooks us in, setting us up for an emotional journey through the duration of the film.

One of my all-time favourite opening scenes comes from Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Inglourious Basterds’. It kicks off with a gripping sequence set in Nazi-occupied France, as SS Colonel Hans Landa interrogates a French farmer suspected of sheltering Jewish refugees. This scene not only introduces Landa’s cunning and ruthlessness but also establishes the high stakes and tension that grip us throughout the film. Another standout opening scene is found in Disney Pixar’s ‘Up’ (2009). This animated masterpiece begins with a touching montage of the lifelong love story between Carl and Ellie. Through a series of non-dialogue moments, the audience embarks on an emotional journey that lays the foundation for the film’s themes of love, loss, and adventure.

To delve deeper into the art of the opening scene, a video by StudioBinder offers visual examples of how filmmakers ingeniously set up their stories and characters using clever writing and filmmaking techniques.


Iconic Oscar Speeches


With the 96th Academy Awards ‘Oscars’ just around the corner, I thought it would be the perfect time to reminisce about some of the most unforgettable and impactful Oscar acceptance speeches of all time. The Oscars aren’t just about honouring cinematic achievements, they serve as a platform for artists to express their stories, gratitude, and dreams to the world. From the glitz of the red carpet to the coveted golden trophies, the Oscars symbolise the triumph of the human spirit and the profound influence of storytelling. Through their impassioned and motivational acceptance speeches, actors and filmmakers have not only inspired audiences but also encouraged aspiring talents in the industry to aim high, push boundaries, and pursue excellence.


Joaquin Phoenix wins Best Actor | 92nd Oscars (2020)
During his speech, Phoenix used the platform not only to express gratitude but also to raise awareness about important social issues, whilst understanding the importance of giving voice to the voiceless to help society.



Matthew McConaughey – Best Actor for ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ (2014)
Matthew McConaughey’s acceptance speech was a heartfelt reflection on his journey as an actor and the importance of perseverance and belief in oneself. He encouraged others to chase their dreams and embrace the journey, inspiring audiences with his authenticity and passion.



Steven Spielberg – Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award Acceptance Speech (1986)
In his acceptance speech for the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, Spielberg shared his passion for storytelling and emphasised the importance of perseverance in the face of adversity. He encouraged aspiring filmmakers to stay true to their vision and never give up on their dreams.



Denzel Washington wins Best Actor for Training Day (2002)
Denzel shares his story of how people doubted him when he was growing up wanting to become an actor and the adversity he has faced which has what made him who he is today. How he strives to always be the best version of himself.


The Bird’s Eye View Shot


The Bird’s Eye View shot within cinema provides a captivating high-angle perspective directly above the subject. It offers a panoramic view of the scene, often placing the audience in a wide shot just above the action, helping to convey the space, relationships and scale of a scene. Beyond this, the bird’s eye view shot can evoke a diverse spectrum of emotions, ranging from profound admiration to a sense of detachment, which helps to resonate deeper with the audience and drive the cinematic narrative forward. The shot makes for some truly beautiful shots and memorable moments within movies, some examples of these can be seen in the video below.


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