If screenwriting is a craft that must be studied for a long time, what explains the success of writers with little formal education? McKee debunks the myth of overnight screenwriting success and discusses its perils.
McKee discusses the key differences between writing for a TV series versus writing for film.
McKee explains how a character evolves through the writing process and the perils of procrastination.
In this short lesson, Robert McKee uses an example from the classic CHINATOWN to explain how to handle the layers of subtext in a scene to avoid on-the-nose dialogue.
Robert McKee advises how to get the story you want to tell from the page to the screen, and how to protect your writing.
Robert McKee teaches the basics of the inciting incident. Those familiar with the opening to STORY will understand why he cringes at the use of the word “rule”.
Does a “small knowable world” refer to the size of the physical setting, or to the size of the cast of characters? Robert McKee discusses the different ways to convey the depth and complexity within the world you create.
Robert McKee discusses how to decide what’s working in a scene and its relationship to the ending.
Skyword and Robert McKee Join Forces to Bring Story to Content Marketing
Tom Gerace and World-Renowned Story Authority and Author to Collaborate on Storynomics™ Seminars
Source: GlobeNewswire | Boston, MA, June 22, 2016 – Today, Tom Gerace, founder and CEO of Skyword, a leading content marketing technology and services company, announced a partnership with award-winning story authority and best-selling author Robert McKee at Skyword’s annual conference on brand storytelling, Forward 2016.
The partnership will include Gerace collaborating with McKee on McKee’s Storynomics seminars in the U.S. and Europe. The seminars instruct senior executives and marketing professionals on how to apply storytelling structure to their business in order to drive revenue, margins, and brand loyalty. In addition to the seminars, McKee and Gerace will offer customized day-long workshops to individuals within specific companies. They also plan to develop online Storynomics courseware that will help people master the craft. Working with McKee, Skyword also intends to operationalize story craft in its clients’ marketing processes through its technology and services.
“Storytelling is the future of marketing,” said Gerace. “To succeed in an increasingly ad-free world, marketers have to put story at the center of their strategies. We believe the future of content marketing, and indeed marketing in general, will be the application of story to connect with audiences on an emotional level and move them to act.”
“Marketers may think they understand story, but most don’t,” said McKee, whose seminars have been attended by more than 60 Oscar and 200 Emmy award-winning directors and screenwriters. “There is still a disconnect between what story is and how and when to use it effectively. Instead of stories, companies are producing narratives that are full of bragging and promising and have no dynamic movement. Storynomics teaches the tenants of story craft and helps attendees apply it to business.
“Tom Gerace understands story and its application to marketing better than anyone I have ever met,” said McKee. “It’s going to be a great collaboration and a crucial resource for marketers as they move their organizations from rhetorical to storified marketing.”
New Content Marketing Framework Will Help Brands Integrate Storynomics into Organizational Mindsets and Cultures
Skyword announced the partnership along with the launch of the Content Marketing Continuum™, an assessment for measuring an organization’s content marketing skillfulness and a framework for achieving greater levels of expertise.
“Many brands are doing content marketing at some level, but not enough are creating content that truly adds value, engages audiences, and drives revenue growth for the company. The continuum formalizes the process and gives marketers a roadmap for consistent improvement,” said Gerace.
The Content Marketing Continuum assessment ranks marketers on a five-stage scale, starting with those who are focused only on product-level content and gradually advancing to those who have adopted a sustainable, storified approach to content creation. The goal is to get teams thinking about the desires, challenges, and triumphs of their target customers, and ultimately embed story into the culture of their organizations.
Storynomics aims to bring marketers to the leading stages on the Continuum by arming them with the knowledge and skillsets they need to infuse story into their external and internal communications strategies.
Storynomics seminars will begin this fall, with the first scheduled in Los Angeles on October 12 and New York City on October 26. Registration is now open, and custom seminars are also available for companies wishing to teach management and marketing teams how to incorporate Storynomics into their organizations. Online courses will begin in early 2017.
About Robert McKee:
Robert McKee, a Fulbright Scholar, is the most sought-after screenwriting teacher in the world. The best-selling author of STORY and the forthcoming book DIALOGUE: THE ART OF VERBAL ACTION FOR PAGE, STAGE, AND SCREEN, McKee occupies a unique crossroads in modern media storytelling. His teachings have spread beyond the screen and stage to influence all story forms. Writers, producers, directors, media professionals, and business leaders from the world over read McKee and attend his sold-out international seminars for an exclusive deep dive into the narrative potential of their material. McKee’s former students include over 60 Academy Award Winners, 200 Academy Award Nominees, 200 Emmy Award Winners, 1,000 Emmy Award Nominees, 100 WGA (Writers Guild of America) Award Winners, 250 WGA Award Nominees, 50 DGA (Directors Guild of America) Award Winners, and 100 DGA Award Nominees.
McKee continues to be a project consultant to major film and television production companies such as 20th Century Fox, Disney, Paramount, & MTV. In addition, Pixar, ABC, BBC, Disney, Miramax, PBS, Nickelodeon, Paramount, GLOBOSAT, MNET and other international TV and Film companies regularly send their entire creative and writing staffs to his lectures.
Since 1984, more than 100,000 students have taken McKee’s courses in various cities around the world.
Robert McKee created Storynomics™ as the ultimate business communication tool. Storynomics™ illuminates what story is, why story works and, most importantly, how storytelling in business translates into economic success and beyond. In recent years, Storynomics™ has helped organizations as diverse as Microsoft, Nike, Hewlett-Packard, Kraft, BOLDT, Church & Dwight Co, Inc., Costa Del Mar, UBISOFT, Mercedes-Benz, and Siemens develop their evolving narrative game plans.
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About Tom Gerace
Tom Gerace is the founder and CEO of Skyword, the leading content marketing technology and services company. Prior to Skyword, Gerace founded Be Free, a publicly traded affiliate marketing platform and services company, which transformed online advertising from pay-per-view to pay-for-performance advertising. At the time of its acquisition by ValueClick, Be Free served more than 300 leading brands. He is a founding member of the Social Media Ad Consortium, an industry group responsible for creating a common vocabulary, standard buying units, and uniform measurement methods for social media. Early in his career, Gerace also served as a senior business analyst at the Harvard Business School, where he wrote the first case studies on the emergence of the Internet in 1998.
Skyword liberates brands from ineffective marketing practices and inspires them to create deeper connections with their audiences. The Skyword Platform makes it easy to produce, optimize, and promote content at any scale to create meaningful, lasting relationships. Skyword also provides access to a community of thousands of freelance writers and videographers, an editorial team, and program managers who help move clients’ content marketing programs to new levels of creative excellence. Skyword is a privately held company headquartered in Boston, MA. The company’s technology center is located in Pittsburgh, PA. Investors include Cox Media Group, Allen & Company, Progress Ventures, and American Public Media Group.
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Robert McKee explains how the best dialogue contains subtext, not exposition.
Robert McKee delivers a very important insight into knowing whether you have a good story or not, while also answering the question of when you should tell your story to someone else.
Robert McKee’s WORKS / DOESN’T WORK Review:
Horace and Pete (2016) | Written and Directed by Louis C.K.
McKee Says: It Works (Spoiler Alert!)
HORACE AND PETE has given the writing world an event to celebrate: the birth of Web Series Theatre.
Louis C. K.’s new series not only works, it revolutionizes the present by recycling the past. When I looked around for something to compare it to, I first matched its 60+ minute episodes with multi-camera TV shows, but this is not a sitcom. Like a first-person novel, the language projects rich metaphors and word-pictures on our imagination, but they’re acted, not read. Like a play, the dialogue crackles with repartee, then segues into 20-minute speeches of vivid demi-poetry, all bracketed by poignant, long-held silences. Yet it doesn’t really feel like theatre, because it’s not live. Episode 3 brought memories of MY DINNER WITH ANDRE, a famous two-man stage play adapted to the big screen, but HORACE AND PETE isn’t cinema by any means. Finally, my friend, Joel Bernstein, offered this idea: Louis C. K. is the Eugene O’Neill of the Internet.
Indeed, when I put these two authors side by side, they matched and contrasted rather easily. Both C. K. and O’Neill labor in the genre known as Domestic Drama, aka family stories. Their dramatizations (often autobiographically inspired) take place in a home; the struggle for family unity versus schism drives events and raises the same suspense-filled questions: “Will this family stay together or split? Support or betray each other? Survive or self-destruct?”
O’Neill’s LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT, for example, dramatizes the Tyrones, a family slit with self-inflicted wounds. O’Neill creates four distinct, mutually antagonistic characters, and then embeds in each an ancient symbol: Behind the mask of the narcissistic, ham-actor father, James Tyrone, hides a Tyrant; his wife, Mary, a delusion-ridden morphine addict, is at heart an Earth Mother; their alcoholic, self-hating son Jamie plays Cain to his super-sensitive brother Edmund’s Abel. To dimensionalize each of his four characters, O’Neill injected an archetype with a dose of modern day neurosis. The result explodes inner contradictions that fascinate.
The Whittell family of HORACE AND PETE, on the other hand, wore their true selves down to the nub long ago. Instead of tragic arcs, C. K. gives them chronic anxiety. With the possible exception of Uncle Pete’s Jester (Alan Alda), everyone in the cast, including the extended family of barstool regulars, is staring into the back of their head, asking themselves, “What the fuck’s the point?”
Ever since he took stage as a standup, Louis C. K. himself has been a walking, talking existential crisis. His shows have made oldfangled angst fashionable again…but with a difference.
Last century modernist authors like Samuel Beckett (Waiting for Godot), Jean Paul Sartre (No Exit), and Eugene Ionesco (The Chairs) placed highly symbolic characters in highly symbolic situations to pronounce highly symbolic ideas. But that was then. Horace and Pete haven’t the energy to symbolize anything. C. K.’s characters don’t represent the existential crisis; they live it.
Specificity unlocks credibility and credibility opens the door to involvement.
If Louis C. K. (who produces, acts in, and directs his own writing) has a diagnosable neurosis, it’s perfectionism. HORACE AND PETE conducts a master class in the “telling detail”. It’s as if every character’s life history has been plotted back to childhood and beyond, every trait of characterization puzzle-fit with every other trait, and every word of every line cut and polished like a diamond. As a result, from the first gesture on, each episode’s compelling credibility grabs you and holds you.
In the Poetics, Aristotle says that the theatre gives two kinds of pleasure: emotional and mental. In the first case, drama releases tears, fears, and glees that we normally bottle up and never express in public.
But daily life not only smothers feelings, it also barricades the mind. So the mental pleasures of the theatre don’t release, they penetrate. We sit at a fixed distance to onstage action so we can do in the dark what we can’t do in the light: We pierce the surface of behavior and read the hidden truth of human nature, complete with subconscious motivations, contradictions and complexities. This aesthetic education pays off in life with powerful insights into our own humanity and the humanity of others.
Neither of these pleasures are possible, however, if the audience does not trust in what they see. The last thing an author wants is a reader or audience arguing with the believability of her story. Specificity (the telling detail) unlocks credibility and credibility opens the door to involvement. In keeping with this principle, HORACE AND PETE delivers two wonderful pleasures: we learn about people we could never otherwise know, while feeling in ways we’ve never quite felt before.
Star casting can jeopardize involvement.
The unfortunate HAIL CAESAR!, for example, could not separate its stars from their characters, and rather than finding that ironic, we just disconnected. To be fair, HORACE AND PETE has moments when we suddenly glimpse, “Oh, it’s Edie Falco!” or “Oh, it’s Jessica Lange,” but in the next instant, the stars slip into their roles and we relax into belief.
This may mark the difference between big and small screens. In a movie house, actors are literally bigger than life, so if they don’t keep their performances in check, the star-ness of their massive projections taints the credibility of their characters. But when you hold the cast in your lap, the actors’ personalities recede to let their fictional selves surface quietly and naturally.
Of course, the cast of HORACE AND PETE has acted on screens and stages of all sizes, so the seamless depth of their naturalism may simply be what happens when skilled talent gets a chance to perform inspired writing.