DZ-34: Game of Choices – Decision Making and Character Implications

How does the experience of a character’s decision impact our feelings towards that character?

After a spectacular end to Season 6 of GAME OF THRONES, Chas and Stu were struck by the very different portrayals of Sansa in Episode 9 – Battle of the Bastards and Cersei in Episode 10 – The Winds of Winter. Despite both characters having an enormous impact on the narrative, the audience’s experience of those characters is very different — largely because Sansa is absent from 98% of Battle of the Bastards.

And thus: Stu and Chas embark on an exploration of how a writer’s use of point of view – particularly in relation to how you show characters making decisions – can control how your audience perceives any given character (for good or ill).

Whether you are a Game of Thrones fan or not, we recommend you watch these two episodes for their contrasting but fascinating control of point of view and character. Both episodes were written by showrunners David Benioff & D. B. Weiss.

EPISODE LINKS

BACK MATTER

Please send feedback to ask at draft-zero.com, via our web form or twitter @draft_zero  We are @chasffisher and @stuwillis on twitter.

Please considering rating or subscribing to us on iTunes! or sharing us on the Social Medias! We like finding new listeners.

 

DZ-33: Protagonist vs Hero – Dawn of Character Function

How does splitting ‘character functions’ enhance theme?

We are often told that our ‘protagonist’ needs to be a active. That they need to be compelling. That they need to change. And – old faithful – that they need to be likeable. But after looking at MAD MAX: FURY ROAD, STAR TREK (2009), THE FIGHTER, and SICARIO, Chas and Stu learn that your primary character does not need to do all these things. In fact, they learn that splitting these functions between your primary characters can reinforce theme and create potential for different types of narratives.

And stick around for backmatter if you want to hear Stu go on a rant. For a change.

EPISODE LINKS

BACKMATTER LINKS

Please send feedback to ask at draft-zero.com, via our web form or twitter @draft_zero  We are @chasffisher and @stuwillis on twitter.

Please considering rating or subscribing to us on iTunes! or sharing us on the Social Medias! We like finding new listeners.

DZ-32: High-Tension Sequences

How can you recreate the feeling of cinematic high-tension on the page?

Chas & Stu take a close look at sequences of high-tension – the ones that make you lean forward in fear, or jump backwards in terror. Without camera angles, lighting, music or sound, how can screenwriters can evoke those emotions in readers using only the page? These sequences can be found in any genre of film, not just thriller or horror. To that end, Stu and Chas dive into high tension scenes from NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, ZODIAC, ROOM, and THE BABADOOK. We cover their use of shifting POV, Dramatic Irony, Status Transactions, White Space, Sound FX, and many more.

And in backmatter we talk SICARIO and high tension, crack open the mail-bag, and look at how the so-called gurus rated the Oscar-nominated scripts.

EPISODE LINKS

BACKMATTER LINKS

Please send feedback to ask at draft-zero.com, via our web form or twitter @draft_zero  We are @chasffisher and @stuwillis on twitter.

Please considering rating or subscribing to us on iTunes! or sharing us on the Social Medias! We like listeners.

DZ-31: Tools for Better Dialogue

How does dialogue serve to reveal character?

Chas & Stu are joined once again by the renowned script developer and producer, Stephen Cleary. In the first part of our series on writing better dialogue (there will be more!), we take a close look at how dialogue serves character: individuating characters, revealing characterisation, shifting status, and much more.

Together, they (well, mostly Stephen) break down scenes from ANALYSE THIS, NOTTING HILL, REMAINS OF THE DAY and THE AVENGERS. In a first for Draft Zero, we include audio excerpts to make everything even clearer / stop Chas & Stu (mostly Stu) from butchering lines. That, and not everything is on YouTube.

And, in back matter, we continue the discussion into more academic areas of the difference between theatrical, cinematic and television dialogue.

EPISODE LINKS

Please send feedback to ask at draft-zero.com, via our web form or twitter @draft_zero  We are @chasffisher and @stuwillis on twitter.

Please considering rating or subscribing to us on iTunes! or sharing us on the Social Medias! We like listeners.

DZ-30: Oscars revisited – Spotlight and Carol

What makes a script so compelling that it ends up with an Oscar nod?

This week, Stu and Chas return to their first ever episode by tackling two Oscar-nominated screenplays. But this time – instead of exploring the rigid structures laid down by gurus – they use it as an opportunity to explore what they’ve learned in the last three years and apply them to the phenomenal writing in SPOTLIGHT and CAROL (with slight digression towards THE EXPANSE* and GAME OF THRONES).

And so this slightly meandering episodes revisits the excellent execution of catharsis, world-building, mid-points, dramatic point of view, status transactions and more.

* Which has possibly replaced Star Wars as the de facto reference point for anything.

EPISODE LINKS

BACK MATTER

Please send feedback to ask at draft-zero.com, via our web form or twitter @draft_zero  We are @chasffisher and @stuwillis on twitter.

Please considering rating or subscribing to us on iTunes! or sharing us on the Social Medias! We like listeners.

DZ-29: Showdowns & Scene Structure

What can fight scenes – whether physical or verbal – teach us about structuring any scene?

In exploring how to write good fight scenes, Stu and Chas compare how writers structure memorable showdowns – both verbal and physical. Fights vs arguments. Swords vs insults. Lightsabres vs passive aggressive subtext. To do this, they analyse the showdowns in EASTERN PROMISES, ROB ROY, THE FORCE AWAKENS (yes, yes, we finally let Stu officially discuss Star Wars), A FEW GOOD MEN, BREAKING BAD and BEFORE SUNSET.

As a result, they discover how larger structural elements like mid-points, reversals and act breaks can play out in making individual scenes compelling and dynamic. Also, they learn that great screenwriters don’t just write “They fight” when writing fight scenes.

In Backmatter, we learn that Quentin Tarantino is a listener!

PS: Please complete our listener poll. 

EPISODE LINKS

BACKMATTER

Please send feedback to ask at draft-zero.com, via our web form or twitter @draft_zero  We are @chasffisher and @stuwillis on twitter.

Please considering rating or subscribing to us on iTunes! or sharing us on the Social Medias! We like listeners.

DZ-28: Containing Your Script

How do you keep contained movies engaging?

Contained Thrillers seem to be a genre that never goes out of fashion. But being contained is not just limited to thrillers. It’s a way of telling stories on a lower budget, regardless of genre. So – while allegedly easier to make / get made – limiting a story to a single location also limits the tools that maintain an audience’s interest. Changing audience or character point of view, intercutting between locations or characters are all much harder (if not impossible) in contained films. So how do good contained films hook their audience and keep them?

In unravelling this locked room mystery, Stu & Chas look at three scripts form different genres: LOCKE – a drama; THE ONE I LOVE – a romcom or psychological thriller depending if you’re Chas or Stu; and EVERLY – an exploitation action movie. They also discuss films including BURIED, PHONE BOOTH, THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ALICE CREED, CUBE & CUBE 2, INFINITE MAN and BOXING DAY.

EPISODE LINKS

BACKMATTER

Please send feedback to ask at draft-zero.com, via our web form or twitter @draft_zero  We are @chasffisher and @stuwillis on twitter.

Please considering rating us on iTunes! or sharing us on the Social Medias!

DZ-27: Competing views on Screenplay Competitions

Can screenplay competitions be worth it?

After being repeatedly asked by listeners for thoughts on screenplay competitions, Stu and Chas go full back matter for this special episode. They tackle the question – do comps just feeding the hope machine or are they a valid investment? – in their typical detailed (i.e. long) style. With their differing perspectives, Stu (a director looking for material) and Chas (a writer keen for exposure), talk to an impressive roster of guests. We start with Gordy Hoffman, founder and judge of the Bluecat Screenplay Competition; repeat Austin Film Festival attendees – first for the screenplay and now for the finished web series of EX BEST – Diana Gettinger & Monica Hewes; Launchpad 2014 finalist Tony Pitman; and Insite Competition winner Blake Ashford, whose winning script CUT SNAKE hit cinemas in 2015… ten years after winning the competition.

These short descriptions in no way do justice to these eclectic and talented writers so – if you want to find out more – head to the links below.

Our apologies in advance for the inconsistent sound quality in these interviews. Sadly, that’s the nature of pulling together four different interviews across states, countries, times zones and technological barriers.

LINKS

Please send feedback to ask at draft-zero.com, via our web form or twitter @draft_zero  We are @chasffisher and @stuwillis on twitter.

Please considering rating us on iTunes! or sharing us on the Social Medias!

DZ-26: Horror and Collaboration- Wolf Creek 2

How does a screenwriter collaborate with a director on an existing property?

In this halloween special, Chas (sans Stu) is joined by a very special guest… Aaron Sterns the co-writer of WOLF CREEK 2 — the big budget sequel to the infamous WOLF CREEK, also directed by Greg McLean. Chas and Aaron talk horror, anti-horror, collaboration, novels and how a screenwriter works within an existing franchise.

In backmatter, Stu & Chas talk about their experiences and methods for collaborating with other writers & directors.

EPISODE LINKS

BACKMATTER LINKS

Please send feedback to ask at draft-zero.com, via our web form or twitter @draft_zero  We are @chasffisher and @stuwillis on twitter.

Please considering rating us on iTunes! or sharing us on the Social Medias!

DZ-25: Coincidences, Contrivances & Giant Eagles

How do screenwriters get away with using coincidences in their stories?

Remember that time in THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS when Bruce suddenly – magically – returned to Gotham, and you were like “WTF?!”  Well, it turns out that many of the best films have moments that are just as coincidental or contrived (or a flock of Giant Eagles) and yet get away with it. Does Pixar’s “rule” that it is ‘cheating to use coincidences to get your characters out of trouble’, always apply?

In exploring how to get the audience to buy into these moments where the writer needs story to intrude over character or even logic, Stu and Chas dive into FINDING NEMO, MICHAEL CLAYTON and PULP FICTION (as well as honourably mentioning THOR II, OUT OF SIGHT, MAD MAX FURY ROAD, EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, INDEPENDENCE DAY and those bloody Giant Eagles in both RETURN OF THE KING and THE HOBBIT).

In back matter, we talk about moving forward vs working backwards when developing screenwriting skills.

EPISODE LINKS

BACK MATTER LINKS

Please send feedback to ask at draft-zero.com, via our web form or twitter @draft_zero  We are @chasffisher and @stuwillis on twitter.

Please considering rating us on iTunes! or sharing us on the Social Medias!