DZ-46: Structure & Point of View

Waaaaaaaaaay back in DZ-5, Stu and Chas examined how shifting narrative point of view (i.e. what the audience knows in relation to the characters on screen) heightens emotions in any given scene. We’ve now taken that micro idea and applied it to the macro: how can deciding what the audience knows and when in relation to the characters organise your story? Are whole sequences or even acts driven by the audience following a character, feeling concerned about a character, empathising with a character or being absorbed in the irony of knowing more than all the characters interacting on screen.

To tackle this topic, Stu and Chas dive in to films that make very conscious structural choices in relation to narrative POV, namely: GET OUT, DUNKIRK and the underrated German film THE LIVES OF OTHERS (with honourable mentions to LA CONFIDENTIAL and MANCHESTER BY THE SEA).

DZ-15: World Building Rules, Okay?

In our most epic/longest episode yet, Chas and Stu tackle world building in films. Specifically, how the rules make something a world and not just a setting. Starting with world-centric genres like sci-fi and fantasy, we also cover horror, crime drama and – er – “other”. We discuss a variety of techniques for setting up the rules of the world, including cold opens, voiceover, title cards and outsider characters! We’ve limited ourselves to the opening 3-5 pages… mostly… because (so the theory goes) they’re the pages that teach the audience how to read/watch your story/film.

Like with the character introductions episode, we cover a lot of scripts. In no particular order… [deep breath]… THE MATRIX, THE MATRIX RELOADED, MATRIX REVOLUTIONS, INCEPTION, GRAVITY, MINORITY REPORT, MOON, LOOPER, ELYSIUM, JURASSIC PARK, HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON, HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE, MADAGASCAR, FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, PAN’S LABYRINTH, SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN, NIGHT WATCH, VAN HELSING, THE ONE I LOVE, 28 WEEKS LATER, WORLD WAR Z, DAWN OF THE DEAD, 30 DAYS OF NIGHT, ZOMBIELAND, WOMAN IN BLACK, BRICK, ANIMAL KINGDOM, DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE, THE UNTOUCHABLES, GOODFELLAS, SHORT TERM 12, SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY, MOONRISE KINGDOM, THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS, and FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL.

DZ-06: Key Scenes and Unlocking the Story

Stu and Chas are joined once again by the inestimable Stephen Cleary to explore his idea of ‘key scenes’. Scenes like the diner scene in HEAT. Or the boardroom showdown in MARGIN CALL. These scenes are not only key to a film, they can also be key to developing a story. Why? Stephen’s observation is that if you put your protagonist and antagonist in a scene together for a period of time and they will instinctively play out the beats of your whole story… if you have the characters figured out.

An interesting theory and one we put to the test. In addition to HEAT and MARGIN CALL, we look at scenes and sequences from THE GODFATHER, NOTTING HILL, THE DARK KNIGHT, THE RAID 2: BERANDAL and Stu avoids mentioning STAR WARS by working in EMPIRE STRIKES BACK instead.