Here’s the first page of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The brilliant Charlie Kaufman breaks at least two rules here: (1) starts with a block of action description that is 16 lines long (any more than four and everyone will know you’re an amateur!), (2) tells us what is printed on his tie (not the writer’s business!), and (3) introduces a voiceover to tell us what is happening (verboten!).
What I love most about this is the quick start. We meet Joel right away. We know that something is amiss. We know it’s Valentine’s Day. But we want to know even more. He’s lying to his co-worker, right? Why is this seemingly reclusive man going to the beach? You could argue that the rest of the movie sets out to answer that question for the audience.
This is the first in a series of posts where I’ll post the first page from the screenplay of a movie I love. And we’ll see what we can learn.