The Devil Wears Prada — The First 10 Pages

Hi, I’m Michael. This is Lessons from the Screenplay. One of the most difficult parts of a script
is the beginning. If you can’t find a way to set up your story
in a way that is both efficient and engaging, an audience may quickly lose interest. And as author Syd Field writes in his book
Screenplay: “Everything is related in a screenplay, so it becomes essential to introduce your
story components from the beginning. You’ve got ten pages to grab or hook your
reader, so you’ve got to set up your story immediately.” The Devil Wears Prada does a fantastic job
of setting up its story immediately. So today I want to go on a tour of the first
ten pages of the screenplay… …to explore the various techniques used
to establish character and convey exposition… …and examine how each page draws us deeper
and deeper into the world of the story. “That’s all.” Let’s take a look at The Devil Wears Prada. The screenplay for The Devil Wears Prada wastes
no time in introducing us to the main character. The screenplay begins: “Fade in. Steam on a mirror. Wiped off by ANDY SACHS, 20’s, pretty but
not glamorous, smart but green, hair up in a towel, brushing
her teeth.“ But rather than simply following Andy’s morning
routine, the script does something more interesting. “We intercut ANDY getting ready and… we see three or four other GIRLS getting ready
too. A drawer filled with about forty lipsticks
slides into frame… One of the girls carefully applies shiny lip
gloss with a brush… Andy puts on cherry Chapstick…” The first page uses comparison to concisely
establish who our protagonist is by showing us who she isn’t. While all these other women are meticulously
choosing their wardrobe, Andy is simply grabbing what is comfortable
and practical, because her focus is elsewhere. “Andy straightens a pile of newspaper clips
from the Daily Northwestern with the byline ANDREA SACHS and proudly tucks them into her hideous college-graduation-present briefcase…” In just three-quarters of a page, screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna establishes
everything we need to know about our protagonist right now: she isn’t interested in fashion, and she
studied to be a journalist. As we get to the bottom of the first page, there is a moment where Andy arrives at an
office building but has made a mistake. “What floor is Elias-Clarke? Human Resources.” “Honey, you want West 49th.” This demonstrates how inexperienced Andy is. It’s an illustration of her character description
in the script: ”smart but green.” But there will be plenty more examples of
this in the coming pages, and this scene interrupts the momentum of
the sequence… which is probably why it is missing in the
final film. In fact, almost the entirety of the second
page of the screenplay was cut. Instead, the film jumps right to the moment
when Andy enters the Runway reception area, where we’re given the dramatic question,
exposition, and stakes. Page three is where Andy meets the first important
supporting character. “Andrea Sachs?” “Yes?” “Great. Human resources certainly has an odd sense
of humor.” “This is EMILY. She looks the part of the sleek fashionista, but is propelled by a core of barely tamped
down anxiety.” Throughout the film, Emily will be a foil
to Andy— someone who cares a lot about fashion, but
lacks Andy’s confidence. In these first few pages, however, she serves as our tour guide to the world
of Runway Magazine, and thus, the world of the story. Emily begins her tour by explaining why they
are looking for a new assistant. “Well I am trying. Miranda sacked the last two girls after only a few weeks. We need to find someone who can survive here. Do you understand?” Here, Emily voices the dramatic question of
this sequence: Will Andy get the job as the assistant to
Miranda? Which then begs the question: “Who’s Miranda?” “Oh my God, I will pretend you did not just ask me
that. She’s the editor in chief of Runway. Not to mention a legend. Work a year for her and you can get a job
at any magazine you want. A million girls would kill for this job.” With these lines, Emily shares exposition about Miranda
while also establishing stakes: this job is valuable. Emily’s tour ends at the bottom of page
four. In four pages we’ve learned about the characters, the dramatic situation, and the world of the
story… …so that on page five, we’re finally ready to establish the power of the antagonist. There are many ways to establish the raw power
of the antagonist. In The Devil Wears Prada, Miranda is imbued with power through the reactions
of other characters. “Oh my God. no. No, no, no.” When Miranda arrives to work early, chaos
erupts inside. “Assistants frantically push clothing rails out of the way. Editors race into their office. Andy peers in. One of the editors changes from kitten heels
to sky-high stilettos… Interior Elias-Clarke lobby, day. We watch Miranda walking through the lobby. We see people react to her— Guards, assistants and secretaries cower, distinguished executives bow their heads in respectful greeting.” Amidst the panic, we meet another important supporting character who will become Andy’s mentor—Nigel. “She’s not supposed to be here until nine.” Here, comparison is used once again to show character. Everyone else is freaking out at Miranda’s arrival, while Nigel remains calm and in control. “All right, everyone. Gird your loins!” All this build up climaxes as the antagonist
finally enters the office, and we meet Miranda. Through the panic that we just witnessed, we understand that people are afraid of Miranda,
but we don’t yet know why. That all changes as soon as Miranda speaks. “I don’t understand why it’s so difficult
to confirm an appointment.” “I’m so sorry, Miranda. I did confirm last night, but—“ “The details of your incompetence do not
interest me.” Miranda begins a monologue full of overwhelming
requests that lasts for a page and a half. From her arrival on page five through her
monologue ending on page eight, the script makes it very clear that Miranda
is the fashion expert and is impossible to impress. This set up is important because we already
know that Andy, who doesn’t care about fashion is going to
have to impress her to get the job. So by the top of page nine the impending conflict
is clear, and we finally arrive at the showdown. “She wants to see you. Move!” Given everything we know about the characters, the interview begins as well as we’d expect. “So you don’t read Runway?” “No.” “And you have no style or sense of fashion.” “I think that depends on what your—” “No no. That wasn’t a question.” Andy, expecting to be judged on her journalistic
merits, is instead dismissed due to her ignorance
of fashion. “I also won a national competition for college journalists
with my series on the janitor’s union—“ “That’s all.” But it’s this same ignorance of fashion—established
on the very first page— that makes Andy unafraid to talk back to Miranda. “Okay, you’re right. I don’t fit in here… I don’t know that much about fashion. But I’m smart, I learn fast and I will work very hard.” This scene is essentially a miniature version
of the entire film. Andy attempting to please Miranda, Miranda being abusive, and Andy ultimately sticking up for herself— which as we’re about to see leads to success,
as at the top of page eleven, almost exactly at the ten minute mark, the
dramatic question is answered. “Andrea!” “Hm?” On page one we met our protagonist, and through comparison learned that this is
a story about people who care about fashion, and people who don’t. By the end of page four we knew the dramatic
question, had received all the necessary exposition,
and understood the stakes. And by page nine we had met important supporting
characters and through their reactions learned the power
of the antagonist… …providing the proper build-up to the first
of many battles our hero will face. In just ten pages, screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna has set the
stage for the entire story of The Devil Wears Prada. With the holidays approaching, I will be making my annual round trip from
Los Angeles to Northern California to visit my parents. If you’re unfamiliar with it, that is a
six hour drive that can get a bit boring. But over the last couple years, I have actually
come to look forward to the drives, because it’s a great time to disappear into
an audiobook from Audible. Full disclosure—I’ve never read the Harry
Potter books, or at least I hadn’t until I started listening
to them using Audible a year ago, and I’m very excited to finish The Order
of the Phoenix on this trip. Audible is great because it has an unbeatable
selection of audiobooks, and with a membership, you can choose three
titles every month: one audiobook and two Audible Originals you
can’t hear anywhere else. And right now, for a limited time, you can
get three months of Audible for just $6.95 a month—that’s more than
half off the regular price. To get started, head to or
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”lfts” to 500 500 to get three months of Audible for just $6.95 a month. Thanks to Audible for sponsoring this video. Hey guys, hope you enjoyed the video. If you’re enjoying the channel and want to help me make more videos, please consider supporting this channel on Patreon. Thank you as always to my patrons on Patreon and supporters here on Youtube for making this channel possible. Thank you for watching and I’ll see you next time.

Comments 100

  • What are some of your favorite films that do a great job of jumping right into the action and quickly setting up the story?

  • There was a brief phase in my life where I got really addicted to this movie, it's all I could watch for weeks on end. Truly iconic.

  • One thing that wasn't mentioned was Andy's arrogance. Imagine going for a big job, not even trying to find out about the magazine or the editors! She says she will "work hard" but she doesn't show any evidence of it to Miranda. To me, her sticking up for herself is not enough to explain why she took her on — or not enough in the first 10 pages anyway.

  • Hi Michael. Thank you so much for this video. It really helped me in my story writing. But the thing is since this video only focuses on introductions, I'm kind of stuck as to how to continue the story further. Do you have another video on how to continue the story after the set up of the characters?

  • Finally, someone who talks about these kind of movies instead of dismissing them as "dumb chick flicks"

  • Love this movie! Thanks!! 🙂

  • Your voice is so soothing, and your explanations are so easy to understand. You're one of the best things YouTube has given me ♥
    Great analysis!

  • Meryl streep is an ángel in comparison with the woman shes representing . I don't remember her name but she was the devil

  • I loved that movie, to me it's perfect example of situation where a movie adaptation is better than the book it wa based on.

  • Do one on The Jane Austen Book Club, love that movie so much

  • Do one on The Jane Austen Book Club, love that movie so much

  • Emily Blunt plays very versatile roles. Impressive.

  • The Devil Wears Prada is a modern classic.

  • Meryl Streep heart and soul of this film, anxiously waiting for the sequel

  • Excellent editing! I have watched this video several times and I'm impressed every time 🙂

  • The Devil Wears Prada is such a great film. It drives me crazy when it's brushed off as a "chick flick" in the realm of 27 Dresses or How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days. The story is familiar but never feels unoriginal, the production design is outstanding, the dialogue is efficient without feeling rushed and the acting (particularly Meryl and Emily) is OUTSTANDING. Anyone off-put by the females protagonists or fashion elements is a fool.

  • Don't ask me why, but I know The Devil Wears Prada better than I know any other movie. I love it, and I love Aline Brosh McKenna (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend fan for life). However I've always felt Andrea was poorly written, particularly in the opening of the movie. As great as the opening montage to Suddenly I See is, I can't help but feel the opening needed to dispose of a lot of the exposition in order to make way for the story. Here's what I mean:
    Andy is portrayed as smart. As the script says, "Intelligent but green." She was a good student from what we understand. Good students STUDY. The opening should have been Andy absorbing as much information about Miranda, Elias Clarke, The Book, everything she could find. Youtube videos of "behind the scenes at Runway" where Miranda is portrayed in a very positive light, and it's showing the absolute best in Miranda. We can meet Emily and Nigile even, get the exposition of The Book out of the way here. Then we get to the interview (you can even have your montage here since it's so damn good) where we have this unstoppable, ready, smart young woman overly prepared for her interview, only to have her barely get the job. Because the line "Ummm… I think I'd do a good job as your assistant" won't get anyone hired anywhere, let alone Runway.
    I just felt like this early Andy is a contradiction. I'm supposed to be rooting for this intelligent woman, and she gives me no reason to because she doesn't even put forth minimal effort. She shows no sign of this intelligence she's supposed to possess.
    Another example:
    Later in the movie, Miranda is stranded in Florida during a hurricane. This is considered "The Impossible Task". This is the task where there is absolutely no solution. But there was; and a simple one at that. Take a car service to the nearest part of Florida that isn't having a hurricane and take a private jet out of there. Done and done. But Andy resorts to some of the worst decisions possible and ultimately fails. When in reality, the actual "Impossible Task" was the Harry Potter mission. In the movie Miranda wants the 7th and final Harry Potter book for her kids by the end of the day. Any fan of Harry Potter knew that when that movie came out, JK Rowling hadn't even started writing the 7th book yet, let alone finished it. Andy should have found that out, and then she could figure out a way to get an advanced copy of the next unreleased movie, along with personal dvd players delivered by Emma Watson and Dan Radcliffe themselves, and THEN have Miranda be disappointed that she failed her mission of getting the book.
    What these changes would have brought with it would have been a sense of camaraderie between the audience and Andy. With the hurricane, the audience would believe there's no solution, and they'd cheer for her for coming up with one. With the Harry Potter task the audience would consider the movie compromise a great idea and they'd be 100% behind her, only to have her (and the audience) struck down by the vicious Miranda.
    Again, it's all in the portrayal of Andrea. We're supposed to believe in her intelligence, but we don't get to see it. Reality was also a hurdle, and they could have made that hurdle into a great moment, but they instead decided to unnecessarily tarnish the reputation of the cover artist (The amazingly talented and not at all corrupt Mary GrandPré) by saying she would just hand off the most valuable manuscript of the time over to some columnist because he smiled at her.
    I love this movie and I love Aline, but this movie has some serious flaws that with just the slightest of tweaks could have made for an even better movie than we received.

  • I'd love to see you do a video on In Bruges. It has a lovely screenplay.

  • Best video I’ve watched today. Well done.

  • Another "minor film" which have – I think – a great way to present characters/story in the firsts minutes, is Bring it on. And in such an entertaining way 🙂

  • This is my favourite film of all time

  • If The Devil Wear Prada and Adam Eve wear nada I'm in between but way more fresha

  • There is an excitement to starting a career. The Devil Wears Prada captures this excitement. Great film.

  • This is quite interesting. LFTS plays stress on the "10 page" rule whereas 'Just Write' did a video on how 'Rocky' breaks this rules and soars high.

  • I always loved the introduction scene, when Andrea was being compared to the other girls. It’s very fascinating to see.

  • please do the princess bride or back to the future!!!!

  • Fucking phenomenal video. I love these kinds of analyses.

  • Never saw the movie with this perspective. Thanks!

  • i wouldn't really say andy sticks up for herself at the end, she kinda just walks off. compare to the book, where she explodes, in public, verbally tearing miranda to the ground

  • So no one gonna say that he made a mistake discribing shoes she was wearing crocs not kitten heels and changed to killer stiletoes. Does this guy even know shoes?

  • I just remembered how much I despise the modern fashion world. Great video nonetheless.

  • Another great analysis. Michael you are great.

  • One of my favorite movies. It’s written so well. I’ve seen it a ridiculous amount of times.

  • love this video. it'd just a writing lesson on it's own

  • The true antagonist of this movie is Andy's boyfriend.

  • please do the favourite

  • Great film, love the dialogue, though I'm sure most credit goes to the book.

  • This is an excellent breakdown. Really enjoyed it! As to your question, the first one that jumps to mind is Terminator 2. It sets itself up pretty quickly and efficiently, without especially needing the audience to have seen the first Terminator film. The introduction of Sarah Connor in T2 is one of the best I've ever seen – with one shot and one line, we know everything we need to know about her.

  • Please do something, anything about Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. You'd make my movie heart burst.

  • I watched this movie when I was starting university and I used to find my work ethic. Is a great movie

  • What does "smart but green" mean??

  • I actually really like Andy's outfit in the first scene and I'm in that opposite industry

  • This movie is fucking legendary

  • You can tell the screenwriter doesn't quite get fashion when they think stilettos in the office is more acceptable than a kitten heel.

  • What does "smart, but green mean"?

  • Great analysis! I always liked this movie but struggled to explain why – now I know it's its great pacing and flawless composition. Thanks! Also, your editing looks awesome.

  • ..Isn't just wonderful this video is not about DWP but instead a blatant commercial for audible…pathetic. Rather sly in a sneaky and sad waste of time.

  • I freaking love this movie

  • You should do a video for GOT episode 3 season 8 !! 🙂

  • So can I watch this if I don’t know jack about fashion or am I good?

  • Movie: Steam on a mirror, wiped away
    Me: death from repetition

  • An amazing film from every aspect.

  • d ms aw 06

  • I love this! You earned a fan.

  • What are all those numbers, on the left and right etc. This isnt a spec script is it?

  • This is great how to catch the audience with a screenplay and to an ultimate favourite film

  • I'm gonna go watch the movie again. Thankx

  • Brilliant movie. I remember having itseen in the cinema but wasn't knowledgeable abou stories to say exactly why I liked it.

  • I love how you show the text of the screenplay as the movie simultaneously plays above especially when there are slight differences in the dialogue or description (her hair was not actually up in a towel). It shows how even when a writer thinks that a screenplay is finished countless minor changes might be introduced by other writers, editors, the director, and the actors long before an audience ever sees the final product.

  • Devil Wears Prada is not just a film about fashion. It also a great introduction for new graduates on work dynamics. Fresh grads usually confine themselves with the idea that they can easily get the job they want and earn lot of money. But when reality enters the picture, they'll soon realize it ain't really easy.

  • Excellent video! Well done!

  • Whenever the colour blue is called into question among family and friends (for whatever reason), Miranda's monologue about "cerulean" always plays in my mind. LOL

  • This movie is so good, except when Andrea cheated on her lover.

  • Those weren't kitten heels, those were crocs or loafers of some sort.

  • I loved this film so much that I bought the book. It was awful! Hats off to the screenwriter.

  • This film is pretty much perfect

  • Fuck now i want to watch this movie

  • it's nice to have a channel celebrate movies' strengths, what works and why we enjoy them

  • Fascinating, concise, well-made analysis. Thanks so much for this!

  • It's impossible to overstate how much I loathed this film. I don't care how "good" it is, the characters are hateful, the world is unpleasant and the story dull.

  • One of my favorite films!! Thank you for doing this.

  • this movie is genius, everything about it is great and next level, i love it with my whole heart

  • You don't need to be fashionable to be pretty if you're already as pretty as Andy

  • Could you analyse ‘Something borrowed’ please ? Cause I feel like it’s an underrated movie..

  • still a pretty shitty movie tho

  • So the film editor must assemble 14,400 frames to effectively set up the story and not a single frame should be wasted.

  • Did Meryl Streep just get compared to Thanos…….. I…. do not…. disagree. Iconic honestly.

  • I knew this was a good movie because I was in a constant state of anxiety for the first half.

  • Meryl Streep was amazing in this film. Am-azing.

  • I like Anne Hathaway's mouth..

  • In the words of the great Kanye West,

    “If the Devil wear Prada, Adam Eve wear nada, I’m in between but way more fresher… With wayy less effort.”

  • Semua hinaan akan kembali ke anda

  • I feel like people really dismiss how good this movie is because it's just considered some movie about fashion but it's so much more than that

  • The heroine in this has an odd story arc for a protagonist. She's a girl next door innocent at the beginning, she gradually changes to become the darling of the evil step mother and soon enough she is embraced somewhat as an heir apparent by the evil step mother, then she finally at the end rejects changing. She remains as she was and embraces that. In fact, is there anyone in the story that does change? Miranda has a flash of Andy rubbing off on HER, but it quickly vanishes. But the heroine does not change in the end.

  • Wer i can watch the full movie of

  • This is one of my top ten favorite movies. I loved this breakdown of the screenplay. Amazing

  • Lovin it ❤️

  • don't show the last part to your parents

  • That movie was the only gem that came of that not-so-readable novel…. and Streep. 👏🏾

  • I cannot get Miranda’s actor as abba out of my head.

  • This movie is awesome

  • Great channel. Thank you.

  • Classic

  • YouTube is the new God 😂 I've never spoken a word to anyone about wanting to write a screenplay until yesterday when I was talking to my mom about a daydream I used to have when I was 11 and have been elaborating for more than 10 years. This video literally popped up a day later! if the universe says go then off I write!

  • 3 or 4 other WOMEN. It's embarrassing when men call women girls.

  • Considering how fashion centric the whole movie is its aged remarkably well. I still go to this movie all the time when I just need something fun to watch.

  • I want a sequel.

  • So bad russian subtitles, Im upset:(

  • You're not going to Paris

  • Best video essay channel on YouTube. You don't speak in a way that requires a freaking dictionary to understand, unlike some of the other popular channels of this kind.

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