#ThirtyScenesInThirtyDays: Day One - Little Miss Sunshine: Opening Montage

Social media is a toxic and bottomless cesspool of negativity and cruelty. I'm tired of opening my phone every morning to an upsetting news alert, followed by the schoolyard pile-on that is my Facebook feed. So, in my never-ending quest to replace anxiety with gratitude, I'm using the month of June to reflect on what inspires me to do what I do. Here's #ThirtyScenesInThirtyDays. I've chosen thirty of my favorite scenes from film and television, and why they inspire me to act, write, and direct.

For my first post, why not start with an opener? The opening shot of a film is so important, and this image tells you everything you need to know about Olive's arc. Her eyes behind big, awkward glasses -- wide-eyed, mystified, couldn't be more out-of-place in the world of superficial beauty, reflecting the image of a beauty pageant queen, accepting the honor of Miss America. Over that, in voiceover, we hear Greg Kinnear's character's opening line: "There are two types of people in this world: Winners and losers." This sets the tone of the film, and what Olive is up against, in a single moment.

It doesn't stop there.

Married to DevotchKa's incredible score, we sweep through all six of the major characters, each of which are introduced in a minimally-worded, arresting image that introduces their world -- the free-spirited old man snorting heroin, the dad giving it his all in a seminar to an almost-empty room, a brooding teenager doing pull-ups with a massive poster of Friedrich Nietzsche in the background, a man in a wheelchair, vacantly staring out a hospital window with bandaged-up wrists, with his sister the only one rushing to his aide. (I couldn't find the whole montage in one clip on youtube, but just revisit the film. It's worth it.)

This sequence is what inspired the opening montage of the Doorman pilot. I took a series of images that I felt summed up his day -- blowing his whistle, fighting with a cabbie, playing with a dog, taking money from everyone, loading luggage and getting stiffed, getting abused by tourists and business people, stuffing his face, and, most importantly, writing in his notepad -- threw in some triumphant montage music, and was able to present you the world of the protagonist in two minutes... through action, not expository dialogue.

The first draft of the Doorman was the central character, coming off a fight with a cabbie, bitching to a fellow doorman about how the job crushes his soul and he don't have any time to write and blah blah blah and it went on for about seven pages. I guarantee you, most people would have turned it off after the first sixty seconds.

Thankfully, I revisited Little Miss Sunshine in the process.

Another one of these tomorrow. Hope you enjoy them! #ThirtyScenesInThirtyDays

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