Story Seminar Graduates

“It is an ancient tradition. Sophocles was an actor, as were Moliere and Shakespeare. In a sense, there’s no one better prepared to write than actors – writers sit there and act out every role.”

— Robert McKee in GQ Magazine

Picking the wrong roles, or the wrong films, usually leads to short-and undistinguished-acting careers. But most actors, especially those just starting out, aren’t in a position to turn down roles. They must maximize every opportunity, from winning the part in an audition to performing at their best when the curtain rises or the director calls “action”.

Understanding a Script’s Story – Knowing its Design and Structure

Good actors know the whole story, not just their character. They can identify the qualities which can turn a really good script into an award-winning performance. In other words, they have the tools to maximize their performances in even mediocre or defective scripts. Most importantly, they have a thoughtful, reasoned way to determine which scripts are fatally flawed, and which ones can be significantly improved.

Actors armed with a strong knowledge of story design find it easier to identify the original Subtext created by the writer, then can add their own distinctive nuances and enhancements. They understand what Deep Characterization is, and how to refine Character Arc. Good actors who know structure understand The Negation Of The Negation, The Nature Of Choice, The Center Of Good, and The Gap In Expectation. They also have more skills at hand to communicate with the director, and may be able to properly influence the rewrite process.

This is why you’ve seen Robert McKee’s Story Seminar graduates star in such films and shows as:

  • ERIN BROCKOVICH
  • YOU’VE GOT MAIL
  • MY BEST FRIEND’S WEDDING
  • SPACE COWBOYS
  • CHINATOWN
  • PRETTY WOMAN
  • THE FIRST WIVES CLUB
  • WHEN HARRY MET SALLY
  • FOUR WEDDINGS & A FUNERAL
  • LEAVING LAS VEGAS
  • PAYBACK
  • SCARY MOVIE
  • REQUIEM FOR A DREAM
  • CARLITO’S WAY
  • SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE
  • MARATHON MAN
  • PARENTHOOD
  • WALL STREET
  • FRIED GREEN TOMATOES
  • THE GODFATHER I/II/III
  • ABOUT LAST NIGHT
  • RUNAWAY BRIDE
  • OCEANS ELEVEN (2001)
  • FATHER OF THE BRIDE
  • BACKDRAFT
  • SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION
  • CONSPIRACY THEORY
  • PINOCCHIO (2000, LIVE ACTION)
  • STEEL MAGNOLIAS
  • A FISH CALLED WANDA
  • SAVING PRIVATE RYAN
  • PROOF OF LIFE
  • HOLLOWMAN

 

The Actor/Writer, Actor/Director, Actor Producer

Actors who write, actors who direct and/or actors who produce all need an even wider range of story skills. If you’re writing a full-length film script, a short play, or even a two-minute audition piece, your entire professional future may hinge on the outcome. Many acting careers have been launched, doomed, sometimes even resurrected, on the strength of an actor’s one-man stage show, low-budget film, or mesmerizing self-written showcase performance.

You must make your work fresh, compelling, and revealing. The characters must come to life under the pressure of Conflict. The Climax and Resolution must move the audience.

Actors who direct must understand all facets of the entire story, looking deep beneath words and actions for The Spine Of The Story, The Controlling Idea, elements of Story Energy and Story Logic, plus Rhythm and Tempo, Mythic Elements, Image Systems, and Poetics.

Actors who produce must determine which projects to pursue, identify story problems, and determine the appropriate corrections. Often they must know how to make a script conform to the budget without sacrificing the integrity, appeal, and emotional impact of the story.

In judging a writer’s work, the actor-producer must evaluate how well the writer handled a wide range of craft skills involving Narrative Drive, Progressive Complications, Exposition, Genre Conventions, Authority, and the use of Suspense/Mystery/Dramatic Irony.

Director Graduates (Partial List of Credits)

MOTION PICTURES

  • 102 DALMATIANS
  • ACE VENTURA, PET DETECTIVE
  • BATMAN AND ROBIN
  • BATMAN FOREVER
  • BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
  • BIG DADDY
  • BLUE LAGOON
  • BOOMERANG
  • BRADY BUNCH (THE)
  • BROTHERS MCMULLEN (THE)
  • CAN’T HARDLY WAIT
  • CEMETERY CLUB (THE)
  • CITY SLICKERS
  • DEEP COVER
  • FALL
  • FALLING DOWN
  • FIRST WIVES CLUB (THE)
  • FIVE HEARTBEATS (THE)
  • FLIGHT OF THE NAVIGATOR
  • MR. MOM
  • FRIDAY THE 13TH
  • GREASE
  • GO
  • GREAT WHITE HYPE (THE)
  • GROSS PT. BLANK
  • GUARDING TESS
  • HAPPY GILMORE
  • HEAVENLY CREATURES
  • HESTER STREET
  • HOODLUM
  • HOLLYWOOD SHUFFLE (THE)
  • HONEY I BLEW UP THE KIDS
  • HOUSE PARTY
  • HOWARD STERN’S PRIVATE PARTS
  • HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME
  • INTERSECTION
  • JUNGLE 2 JUNGLE
  • LAST DAYS OF DISCO
  • LIAR LIAR
  • METEOR MAN
  • MY LIFE’S IN TURNAROUND
  • NECESSARY ROUGHNESS
  • NUTTY PROFESSOR (THE)
  • OF MICE AND MEN
  • ON GOLDEN POND
  • PARTY OF FOUR
  • PATCH ADAMS
  • POLICE ACADEMY
  • PREFONTAINE
  • PROBLEM CHILD
  • SANTA CLAUSE (THE)
  • SCARY MOVIE
  • SHE’S THE ONE
  • SISTER ACT II
  • SWINGERS
  • TESTAMENT
  • THE ROSE
  • WHITE FANG

TELEVISION SERIES

  • E.R.
  • PICKET FENCES
  • MOONLIGHTING
  • ALLY McBEAL
  • DALLAS
  • EQUAL JUSTICE
  • M*A*S*H
  • HOME IMPROVEMENT
  • CITY OF ANGELS
  • N.Y.P.D. BLUE
  • HILL STREET BLUES
  • HUNTER
  • STAR TREK: TNG/VOYAGER
  • L.A. LAW
  • MIAMI VICE
  • THE WONDER YEARS
  • MATLOCK
  • CHINA BEACH
  • CAGNEY & LACEY
  • ROCKFORD FILES
  • MURPHY BROWN

Producer Graduates (Partial List of Credits)

MOTION PICTURES

  • ADDAMS FAMILY VALUES
  • ADDICTED TO LOVE
  • AIR FORCE ONE
  • BACK TO THE FUTURE
  • BACK TO THE FUTURE II
  • BACK TO THE FUTURE III
  • BUFFALO GIRLS
  • CHINA SYNDROME (THE)
  • CITIZEN RUTH
  • COLOR PURPLE (THE)
  • COMING HOME
  • COPLAND
  • COURAGE UNDER FIRE
  • CRIMES OF PASSION
  • CRIMSON TIDE
  • DAYLIGHT
  • DROP ZONE
  • ELEPHANT MAN (THE)
  • FORREST GUMP
  • GLORY
  • HIGH ROAD TO CHINA
  • JULIA
  • JUNGLE 2 JUNGLE
  • MEMPHIS BELLE
  • POWDER
  • OSMOSIS JONES
  • ROBIN HOOD, PRINCE OF THIEVES
  • ROOKIE (THE)
  • SAVING PRIVATE RYAN
  • TERROR TRAIN
  • THREE MUSKETEERS (THE)
  • UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL
  • WAYNE’S WORLD

TELEVISION SERIES

  • E.R.
  • FRIENDS
  • HOME IMPROVEMENT
  • MAD ABOUT YOU
  • LAW & ORDER
  • LA LAW
  • THE GOLDEN GIRLS
  • MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
  • MURPHY BROWN
  • CAGNEY & LACEY
  • HOMEFRONT
  • M*A*S*H
  • HOMICIDE
  • THE X-FILES
  • NORTHERN EXPOSURE
  • N.Y.P.D. BLUE
  • ST. ELSEWHERE
  • THE ROCKFORD FILES
  • CHICAGO HOPE

MOWS & LONG-FORM PROGRAMS

  • A PLACE FOR ANNIE
  • CITIZEN X
  • FAMILY PICTURES
  • KISSINGER AND NIXON
  • LITTLE GLORIA…HAPPY AT LAST
  • LONESOME DOVE
  • SEPARATE BUT EQUAL
  • SMALL SACRIFICES
  • STALIN
  • THE BURNING BED
  • THE GIRL WITH THE CRAZY BROTHER
  • THE MURDER OF MARY PHAGAN
  • WALLENBERG: A HERO’S STORY
  • WORLD WAR II: WHEN LIONS ROARED

SPECIALS, TALK SHOWS, DOCUMENTARIES, SOAPS, CHILDREN’S PROGRAMS, ANIMATED PROGRAMS

  • AFI: SALUTE TO FRANK CAPRA
  • AFI: SALUTE TO FRED ASTAIRE
  • AFI: SALUTE TO GREGORY PECK
  • AFI: SALUTE TO HENRY FONDA
  • AFI: SALUTE TO LILLIAN GISH
  • BLACKLIST: LEGACY OF THE HOLLYWOOD
  • D-DAY TO BERLIN
  • DIRECTED BY WILLIAM WYLER: AMERICAN MASTERS
  • DONNER PARTY (THE)
  • DOUG (NICKELODEON)
  • GANGS (CBS SCHOOLBREAK SPECIAL)
  • HOLLYWOOD: THE GIFT OF LAUGHTER
  • IN THE SHADOW OF LIFE: A TEEN AIDS STORY
  • KENNEDY CENTER HONORS
  • LAMB CHOP IN THE HAUNTED
  • MINNELLI ON MINNELLI: LIZA REMEMBERS VINCENTE
  • SESAME STREET
  • SHADE OF A SINGLE PROTEIN
  • THE ASTRONOMERS
  • THE CIVIL WAR
  • THE JACKSONS
  • THE JOAN RIVERS SHOW
  • VINCENT AND ME

 

Writer Graduates (Partial List of Credits)

MOTION PICTURES & TELEVISION

  • HOME IMPROVEMENT
  • E.R.
  • FRASIER
  • LAW & ORDER
  • TOY STORY 1 & 2
  • SEINFELD
  • FREQUENCY
  • ALLY MCBEAL
  • JAG
  • SILKWOOD
  • THE X-FILES
  • THE 6TH DAY
  • THE DREW CAREY SHOW
  • GANDHI
  • THE LEGEND OF BAGGER
    VANCE (NOVEL)
  • POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE
  • THE TRUMAN SHOW
  • CHEERS
  • A FISH CALLED WANDA
  • THE BROTHERS MCMULLEN
  • SCARY MOVIE
  • FORREST GUMP
  • SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE
  • GATES OF FIRE (NOVEL)
  • HAPPY, TEXAS
  • THE SIMPSONS
  • JUST SHOOT ME
  • MUTANT MESSAGES FROM
    DOWN UNDER (NOVEL)
  • FIERCE CREATURES