In exploring how best to open your story – instead of looking at the almost mandatory studio note of “dropping you in the action” – Stu, Chas and Jess look at the inventive openings of OCEAN’S ELEVEN, LONG SHOT, ARRIVAL and A SERIOUS MAN. Each of these films opens in a way that seems to defy its genre conventions and yet still provide all the set-up it needs to perfectly tell its story.
Chas and Stu are joined, once again, by the inestimable Stephen Cleary. This episode is a spiritual sequel to our last episode with Stephen, the one on sequence structure. That episode explored how sequences could be broken into plot, character, and plot/character sequences.
Well, Stephen’s back to talk about a different type of sequence: the thematic sequence. By limiting (or removing all together) questions related to character or plot, filmmakers can force their audience to engage with the deeper, underlying meaning of the story.
Our deep dive onto this topic focuses on LOVE ACTUALLY, THE EXTERMINATING ANGEL, APOCALYPSE NOW, and IN THE BEDROOM. But it wouldn’t be a Draft Zero without numerous digressions including into HUNGER, GET OUT, INFINITY WAR, and THE THIN RED LINE.
Chas and Stu are joined for the fourth time by the inestimable Stephen Cleary – this time to take a deep dive into sequences. A real deep dive. A 3+ hour deep dive.
Stephen postulates that sequences can compel the audience in different ways via the type of dramatic questions being posed. Are they plot questions (“Will she defuse the bomb?”) or character questions (“Will she understand what compels her to defuse bombs?”) or a combination of both? What is the impact on the pacing, structure of your story or audience experience of your characters by changing the type of question being asked? What happens to your story when your protagonist decides to literally abandon the plot?