Consider a screenplay as being comprised of two halves; a beginning and an ending separated by the mid-point. Think of the beginning as the spring board from which your movie takes off and the ending, the place where it lands.
Oftentimes, they should mirror each other. Action rises to the mid-point and then falls afterwards as the story is resolved. Or the reverse occurs in each half in terms of exploring the theme. For instance the main character is working towards a goal in the first, then moves away from it in the second half to pursue another goal.
How should your screenplay begin?
Beginnings should be punchy and introduce the characters, setting, theme, tone and genre. This is often referred to as the first ten pages. They should settle the audience into the story and give them some idea of what to expect.
You should introduce relationships between characters and their situations as well as the central question; the dilemma. What is the main character grappling with and how will they end up after the choices they make?
Who do we need to care about and why? What do they want and how are they going to get it?
What is the scale, time period and scope of your movie?
How should your screenplay end?
The ending should answer the central question posed at the beginning. If you are exploring whether crime pays in the beginning, the ending should present an answer to the argument. It needn’t be yes or no, but perhaps yes, but prepare for carnage.
All the story strands come together in the end culminating in a resolution and ultimately a conclusion. Even if you like open ended or ambiguous endings, the audience should have traveled with the main character and enjoyed their life experience in a satisfying way.
Endings are the last thing the audience will see in your movie and therefore the easiest to remember. So make sure they make a statement.
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