97 episodes

Two emerging screenwriters – Chas Fisher and Stuart Willis – try to work out what makes great screenplays work. Discovering what it takes by analysing what successful writers put on the page.

Draft Zero: a screenwriting podcast Chas Fisher and Stuart Willis

    • TV & Film
    • 4.8 • 45 Ratings

Two emerging screenwriters – Chas Fisher and Stuart Willis – try to work out what makes great screenplays work. Discovering what it takes by analysing what successful writers put on the page.

    DZ-95: Backmatter - Building and Maintenance

    DZ-95: Backmatter - Building and Maintenance

    How do you maintain hope in the face of, er, screenwriting?
    Time for our annual backmatter episode, where we drop any ruse of any objectivity, and fully embrace our subjective opinions!
    In this episode we discuss: potential topics for 2023; the ostensible shortening of first acts; balancing new projects vs current projects; how to maintain hope in the face of an industry as fickle as ours; and end with a discussion of Andor vs Obi-Wan. Yup, Star Wars is the new Die Hard. Get over it.
    SPOILERS ABOUND for Andor and Obi-Wan.
    FYI we recorded this episode with both of us in the same room (for a more casual atmosphere )but that means there’s more technical gremlins like crosstalk. Our apologies in advance!
    Thanks to Chris Walker for editing this episode. CHAPTERS
    00:00:00 - Intro: Backmatter 00:02:44 - Housekeeping 00:05:49 - Future Episode Ideas 00:25:52 - Are first acts getting shorter? 00:40:16 - New projects vs current projects 00:48:59 - Maintaining Hope or Avoiding Despair 00:54:21 - The Big Lessons of 2022 00:55:19 - Andor vs Keobi 01:14:37 - Key Lessons & Wrap Up 01:16:06 - Many thanks LINKS
    LISTEN: Starship Q Star - https://starshipqstar.com/links And how can we forget our awesome Patreons? Especially Casimir, Eduardo, Jennifer, Garrett, Bjorn, Randy, Jesse, Sandra, Theis, Alex and Khrob. You rule!
    Please considering rating or subscribing to us on Apple Podcasts or sharing us on the Social Medias! We like finding new listeners. We are @stuwillis and @chasffisher on twitter. And you can find @draft_zero on Instagram and Twitter.
    BUY DRAFT ZERO MERCH via TeePublic

    • 1 hr 16 min
    DZ-94: Talismans (Part 2)

    DZ-94: Talismans (Part 2)

    How can you use physical objects to track character change… wordlessly?
    In part two of our two-part series on TALISMANS, we break down the beats used to turn objects (in a broad sense) into talismans; how talismans can track character journeys and transitions; and how they can be used to create powerful moments without words.
    While Part 1 looked a range of talismans in a bunch of different movies, in this episode we deep dive into just three examples. We look at how Thor’s crisis of masculinity is articulated through his relationship with Mjolnir and Stormbreaker in THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER; how the yearning love in PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE is communicated through paintings and music; and how the impact of an emotional affair is charted through key locations in INTHE THE MOOD FOR LOVE.
    As always: SPOILERS ABOUND
    Audio quotations used for educational purposes only. Timestamps indicated below. Chapter markers included in the mp3.
    Thanks to Chris Walker for editing this episode.
    CHAPTERS
    00:00:00 - Intro 00:01:15 - Talismans (Part 1) Followup 00:08:37 - Forging a Talisman (The Beats) 00:23:22 - Thor: Love and Thunder 00:59:52 - Portrait of a Lady on Fire 01:32:39 - In the Mood for Love 01:59:39 - Key Learnings & Wrap Up 02:06:10 - Thanks to our Patreons LINKS
    Scott Myers / Go Into The Story: Talismans - https://medium.com/go-into-the-story/talismans-bcbf0a04d45d Scott Myers / Go Into The Story:  Story Talismans - https://gointothestory.blcklst.com/story-talismans-89b91523e71d RELATED EPISODES
    DZ-93: Talismans (Part 1) - http://draft-zero.com/2022/dz-93/ DZ-92: Insightful recognition in powerful endings - http://draft-zero.com/2022/dz-92/ This episode brought to you by (drum roll):
    ScriptUp: https://www.scriptupstudio.com – use promo code DZ10 to get 10% off
    And how can we forget our awesome Patreons? Especially Casimir, Eduardo, Jennifer, Garrett, Bjorn, Randy, Jesse, Sandra, Theis, Alex and Khrob. You rule!
    Please considering rating or subscribing to us on Apple Podcasts or sharing us on the Social Medias! We like finding new listeners. We are @stuwillis and @chasffisher on twitter. And you can find @draft_zero on Instagram and Twitter.
    BUY DRAFT ZERO MERCH via TeePublic

    • 2 hrs 7 min
    DZ-93: Talismans (Part 1)

    DZ-93: Talismans (Part 1)

    How can you use physical objects to reveal inner character?
    In this series, Chas and Stu discuss TALISMANS. Physical objects that are imbued with meaning by a character or characters. They’re a powerful tool to access inner character.
    In this first part, we lay the groundwork to discuss talismans and present something of a taxonomy. What makes talismans powerful? What makes them different from MacGuffins or characters? What types of Talismans are there? In the second part, we will breakdown THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER, IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE, and another film. 
    Examples we cover here include: TOP GUN, SEARCHING FOR BOBBY FISCHER, BETTER CALL SAUL, LORD OF THE RINGS, CASTAWAY, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, THE DARK KNIGHT, THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER, RONIN, PULP FICTION, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, BREAKING BAD, BACK TO THE FUTURE, THE TERMINATOR, TITANIC, INCEPTION, STAR WARS (of course), THE MATRIX, ANDOR (spoilers!), LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, MAD MAX: FURY ROAD, and PULP FICTION.
    As always: SPOILERS ABOUND
    Audio quotations used for educational purposes only. Timestamps indicated below. Chapter markers included in the mp3.
    Thanks to Chas Fisher & Chris Walker for editing this episode.
    CHAPTERS
    00:00:00 - Intro 00:03:15 - Talismans in our own lives 00:08:41 - Scott Myer's definition of Talismans 00:18:58 - What are not Talismans? 00:21:48 - Wardrobe 00:28:26 - Talismans vs Characters 00:43:18 - Talismans vs MacGuffins 00:49:33 - Photos 00:53:53 - Jewellery 01:02:22 - Weapons & Tools 01:10:02 - Vehicles 01:12:03 - Letters & Journals 01:14:19 - Andor (Spoilers) 01:16:20 - Talismans and Rituals 01:24:14 - Wrap Up & Key Learnings LINKS
    Scott Myers / Go Into The Story: Talismans - https://medium.com/go-into-the-story/talismans-bcbf0a04d45d Scott Myers / Go Into The Story:  Story Talismans - https://gointothestory.blcklst.com/story-talismans-89b91523e71d RELATED EPISODES
    DZ-11: Adventure for the MacGuffin! - http://draft-zero.com/2014/dz-11/ DZ-87: Keeping Genre fresh - http://draft-zero.com/2022/dz-87/ This episode brought to you by (drum roll):
    ScriptUp: https://www.scriptupstudio.com – use promo code DZ10 to get 10% off; and
    ArcStudio: go to https://www.arcstudiopro.com/draftzero for $30 off a subscription!
    And how can we forget our awesome Patreons?, Especially Casimir, Eduardo, Jennifer, Garrett, Bjorn, Randy, Jesse, Sandra, Theis, Alex and Khrob. You rule!
    Please considering rating or subscribing to us on Apple Podcasts or sharing us on the Social Medias! We like finding new listeners. We are @stuwillis and @chasffisher on twitter. And you can find @draft_zero on Instagram and Twitter.
    BUY DRAFT ZERO MERCH via TeePublic

    • 1 hr 37 min
    DZ-92: Insightful recognition in powerful endings

    DZ-92: Insightful recognition in powerful endings

    How can endings prompt an audience to reflect on your story?
    Stu & Chas set out to explore what makes certain endings powerful, in particular those of LA LA LAND, INCEPTION, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN and TURNING RED. The lens they bring to those endings is Aristotle’s moment of “anagnorisis” (don’t worry - we can’t pronounce it either), traditionally when a character moves from ignorance to knowledge (particularly of self).
    But in analysing these films, Chas and Stu discover that endings can be particularly powerful when the characters experience insightful recognition in others, or in the world, or - perhaps most powerfully - when the anagnorisis is aimed at the audience. In other words, are there craft tools for your ending to prompt an audience to ask itself the question “What was that all about?”? Turns out, we think there are.
    As always: SPOILERS ABOUND
    Audio quotations used for educational purposes only. Timestamps indicated below. Chapter markers included in the mp3.
    Thanks to Chris Walker for editing this episode.
    CHAPTERS
    00:00:00 - Intro 00:00:48 - Insightful recognition in endings 00:03:39 - What the hell is “anagnorisis”? 00:12:04 - LA LA LAND 00:30:45 - INCEPTION 00:35:14 - NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN 01:00:04 - TURNING RED 01:18:18 - Wrap up & Key Learnings 01:24:26 - Thanks patreons! LINKS
    HULK PRESENTS THE MYTH OF THE THREE ACT STRUCTURE Lindsay Doran on the psychology of story-telling RELATED EPISODES
    DZ-04: Catharsis and the Post-Coital Cigarette This episode brought to you by (drum roll):
    ScriptUp: https://www.scriptupstudio.com – use promo code DZ10 to get 10% off; and
    ArcStudio: go to https://www.arcstudiopro.com/draftzero for $30 off a subscription!
    And how can we forget our awesome Patreons?, Especially Malay, Casimir, Eduardo, Jennifer, Garrett, Bjorn, Randy, Jesse, Sandra, Theis, Alex and Khrob. You rule!
    Please considering rating or subscribing to us on Apple Podcasts or sharing us on the Social Medias! We like finding new listeners. We are @stuwillis and @chasffisher on twitter. And you can find @draft_zero on Instagram and Twitter.
    BUY DRAFT ZERO MERCH via TeePublic

    • 1 hr 26 min
    DZ-91: Raising (different kinds of) Stakes

    DZ-91: Raising (different kinds of) Stakes

    How can you keep your audience hooked when they know the end of the story?
    Chas, Stu and Mel take a deep dive into stakes, using then lens of biopics to help us think about them. If an audience already knows the “plot” outcome of a story, then how do you create stakes to make a story tense for the audience? 
    To explore this, we deep dive into HIDDEN FIGURES (about the NASA Friendship 7 mission), DOWNFALL (the final days of Berlin in WW2), and BRIGHT STAR (the life and death of romantic poet John Keats). We unpack the ideas around internal, external and philosophical /moral stakes and propose some new terminology that may help us write stakes more effectively. 
    As always: SPOILERS ABOUND.
    Audio quotations used for educational purposes only. Timestamps indicated below. Chapter markers included in the mp3.
    Thanks to Chris Walker for editing this episode.
    This episode brought to you by (drum roll):
    ScriptUp: https://www.scriptupstudio.com – use promo code DZ10 to get 10% off; and
    ArcStudio: https://www.arcstudiopro.com - go to www.draft-zero.com/arcstudio for $30 off a subscription!
    And how can we forget our awesome Patreons?, Especially Malay, Casimir, Eduardo, Jennifer, Leigh, Garrett, Bjorn, Randy, Jesse, Sandra, Theis, Alex and Khrob. You rule!
    Please considering rating or subscribing to us on Apple Podcasts or sharing us on the Social Medias! We like finding new listeners. We are @stuwillis and @chasffisher on twitter. And you can find @draft_zero on Instagram and Twitter.
    BUY DRAFT ZERO MERCH via TeePublic
    CHAPTERS
    - 00:00:00 - Intro
    - 00:04:41 - What even are stakes?
    - 00:24:26 - Hidden Figures
    - 01:00:46 - Downfall
    - 01:33:38 - Bright Star
    - 02:10:33 - Key Learnings
    - 02:18:57 - Thanks Patreons!

    • 2 hrs 19 min
    DZ-90: Setups & Payoffs in Everything Everywhere All At Once

    DZ-90: Setups & Payoffs in Everything Everywhere All At Once

    How can you use setups and payoffs to stitch your film together?
    In this one-shot, Chas and Stu dive into the awesomeness of EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE. In particular, we focus on its use of setups, payoffs and reversals; breakdown the difference between Pointers and Plants and Stitches; deep dive into its Michael Arndt inspired ending. And, of course, we talk hotdog fingers and butt-plugs.
    As always: SPOILERS ABOUND.
    Audio quotations used for educational purposes only. Timestamps indicated below. Chapter markers included in the mp3.
    Thanks to Chris Walker for editing this episode.
    CHAPTERS
    00:00:00 - Intro 00:00:43 - Anywhere Anything At The Same time 00:10:48 - Summary 00:29:51 - Pointers and Planters 00:56:17 - The Ending 01:17:59 - Wrap Up and Key Learnings 01:30:06 - Thanks to our Patreons LINKS
    Michael Arndt - Endings: The Good, the Bad, and the Insanely Great -- https://vimeo.com/238637906 Will Dunne - The Dramatic Writer's Companion - https://willdunnedramaticwriting.com/the-dramatic-writers-companion/ RELATED EPISODES
    DZ-06: Key Scenes and Unlocking the Story DZ-04: Catharsis and the Post-Coital Cigarette DZ-10: Midpoint Reversals and The Ride This episode brought to you by ScriptUp – https://www.scriptupstudio.com – use promo code DZ10 to get 10% off. 
    Thanks to all our patrons, especially Malay, Casimir, Eduardo, Jennifer, Leigh, Garrett, Bjorn, Randy, Jesse, Sandra, Theis, Alex and Khrob. You rule!
    BUY DRAFT ZERO MERCH via TeePublic

    • 1 hr 30 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
45 Ratings

45 Ratings

Geoff Costello ,

Genuine, funny as two screenwriters explore what makes scripts work

The episodes can be long, discursive and go way way off track... but the two hosts are in the business, care deeply and use the show to explore a d learn ideas, usually related to real movies and scripts. I love browsing the back catalogue of episodes and get a lot from most of them...

Sophie (Paris) ,

Godsend!

Thanks guys for making these past two months a lot more bearable. What a discovery! Favourite episodes as a beginner - 31 and 54.

MostiView ,

Great love it

I’m a late podie on here, been binge listening on your shows over past few weeks.. I’m a complete novice, but the podcast has me feeling confirmed in my current screen writing efforts. Though I’m choosing to live in denial around the difficulties of break into the industry ...

Thanks a million

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