The script I’m working on has a highly relevant scene (which might include bits of dialogue) that sets up the main character. I want this action to occur during the opening credits. How do I indicate this in proper format?
— Alan McCoy
Most screenplays don’t mention anything about their opening titles, leaving it to the director to figure out where and when and how the names will run. However, if you have a specific story goal you want to achieve with your opening title sequence, you can include it in the script.
The words you’re looking for are “BEGIN MAIN TITLES.”
(“Credits” generally refers to the scrolling list at the end of the movie which lists all of the people who worked on the movie. “Main Titles” (or “Opening Titles”) are the people and/or production companies who have their names prominently displayed at the start of the movie, along with the title of the film.)
You can start the titles at any point within the first 10 pages or so. The scenes that run under these credits should obviously be simple enough that if the viewer is paying attention to the names — “Hey! Clint Howard is in this!” — they won’t miss any crucial piece of story information.
If you choose to use “BEGIN MAIN TITLES,” be sure to include the corresponding “END MAIN TITLES” so the reader won’t be left filling in phantom executive producers until page 45.
But just to reiterate: most screenplays never mention the opening titles. So don’t include them unless they’re serving a specific story purpose.