The Coen Brothers and the Craft of Storytelling

My one-week online class begins Monday, May 22nd.

I have two favorite contemporary filmmakers. In terms of mainstream commercial films, there is Pixar. For independent movies, there are the Coen brothers. Both are hugely successful in what they do, commercially and critically.

That’s why I’m thrilled to follow up the popular Pixar class I teach with a companion course: Coen Brothers and the Craft of Storytelling.

Ethan Coen and Joel Coen

In this 1-week online course, we will analyze most of the movies the Coen brothers have written and directed including such memorable films as Blood Simple, Raising Arizona, Fargo, The Big Lebowski, O Brother, Where Art Thou, No Country for Old Men, and True Grit.

Through extensive analysis and discussion, we will dig into six narrative dynamics that appear throughout Coen brothers movies, and enable you to use them to workshop your own original story.

Let’s face it: The Coen brothers have created some of the most distinctive, entertaining movies in the last two decades. They return to certain themes, tropes, memes and talismans like this one: The Howling Fat Man.

We will look at that minutia because… well, it’s just fun. However our focus will be on larger principles that are more applicable to our own writing.

Here is the lecture schedule [all written by me]:

Lecture 1: The Coen Brothers’ Narrative Legacy
Lecture 2: Ordinary Character / Extraordinary Circumstance
Lecture 3: The Long Shadow of Authority Figures
Lecture 4: The Shiny Hope of Grand Schemes
Lecture 5: The Dynamism of Violence
Lecture 6: Morally Complicated Universe
Lecture 7: Unresolved Endings

Plus I will share 6 practical storytelling tips gleaned from Coen brothers movies.

The class includes:

Seven lectures written by Scott Myers
Six Coen brothers inspired storytelling tips
Daily forum Q&As
Workshop writing exercises with feedback
A 75-minute live teleconference between instructor and class members

Movies written by Joel and Ethan Coen have been nominated for 14 Academy Awards, winning 4 times, and nominated for the Cannes Film Festival Palm D’Or 7 times, winning once.

Like Pixar, the Coen brothers have carved their own path and have proven themselves to be master storytellers.

I am excited to share storytelling insights I have learned from studying Coen brothers movies in this exciting 1-week online class providing insights you can use to elevate your own writing.

Consider joining me beginning Monday, May 22 for Coen Brothers and the Craft of Storytelling, a great way to learn principles, dynamics and techniques apparent in the movies of these fine filmmakers to upgrade your own story-crafting abilities.

As the Dude might say, “That’s fuckin’ ingenious, if I understand it correctly. It’s a Swiss fuckin’ watch.”

Sign up now here.


The Coen Brothers and the Craft of Storytelling was originally published in Go Into The Story on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Go Into The Story — Medium

Pixar and the Craft of Storytelling

My popular one week online class begins Monday, January 16th.

17 movies produced. 16 movies #1 at the box office. Worldwide B.O. gross over $ 10 billion. Average B.O. per film: $ 650M+ by far the highest average per film of any studio in Hollywood history.

It’s not just dollars and cents, it’s also quality storytelling. 26 Academy Awards, 7 Golden Globes, 3 Grammys. Indeed 8 of Pixar’s 17 films are in the IMDB Top 250 Movies of all time.

No disrespect to Disney, but I think the real Magic Kingdom lies 397.8 miles north of Anaheim in a city called Emeryville, California where you’ll find this:

Longtime GITS readers know of my fascination with Pixar having blogged about them dozens of times. Due to having two sons who quite literally have grown up in what someday is likely to be called the Pixar Era, I have seen every one of the company’s movies, most of them several times.

In my estimation, the filmmakers at Pixar are master storytellers.

But how do they successfully wrangle magic time after time in their films? Are there lessons we can learn from Pixar to inspire and upgrade our own writing?

Up-up-upgrade your writing with Pixar story-crafting principles and practices.

Those are two key questions I undertook in creating the online course Pixar and the Craft of Storytelling which begins Monday, January 16. My answer: An emphatic yes!

First off, there are the practices Pixar uses in developing, breaking, writing and rewriting a script. In our 1-week class, we go through that process step by step, then see how we can adapt that approach to our own writing.

Then there are several narrative principles evident in Pixar movies, six of them we focus in our online class: Small Story / Substantial Saga, Special Subculture, Strange Sojourners, Separation, Sentimentality, and Surprise. Going through every Pixar movie, we explore how these dynamics work in the context of each narrative and their overall applicability to storytelling.

There are 7 lectures, each of which I wrote, the content buttressed by an exclusive interview I conducted with Mary Coleman, Senior Development Executive at Pixar since the days of Toy Story 2, so we get a real inside look the outfit’s creative process.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: I am expanding this class to teach it at DePaul University and have added two more principles: Sires and Siblings, Stumbles and Switches. If you take my SMC online class, you will be the first people to explore that content with me!

The class also has a Logline Workshop where you can post a story idea and revise per peer feedback. And two teleconferences to accommodate peoples’ schedules where participants get a chance to dig into the course content with me as well as discuss anything related to writing, screenwriting, and movies.

Trust me, this Pixar class I teach is INCREDIBLE!

Here are some nice comments from just a few folks who’ve taken the class:

“I was lucky enough to be able to take Scott’s Pixar and the Craft of Storytelling class. It was my first class and a wonderful experience. I learned a ton and now have some important utensils that will help make all my stories better. Scott’s a great teacher and it was a pleasure learning from him!” — Valencia Stokes

“This course is awesome. I refer to these notes and lessons all the time.” — Traci Nell Peterson

“A course on Pixar movies? Apart from legitimately letting out my inner child and renting Up ‘for research purposes, I learnt about the ethos of the Pixar Brain Trust and the essential elements contained in all of their movies. Scott took us on an all-inclusive week long journey into why Pixar are so successful and how to practically apply this to your own script.” — Camilla Castree

“I recommend this course wholeheartedly. Plus you get to watch Pixar films as homework.” — TheQuietAct

“Scott Myers is a brilliant teacher and unites his knowledge and experience, insight and depth of thought in his lectures as well as he is providing help and support to his students. I highly recommend the class.” — Eva Brandstätter

Consider the great characters Pixar has created. Learn how and why they work, and bring those insights to your writing.

A few words about the format: I’ve been teaching online since 2002, worked with over 1000 writers in that context, and honestly believe it is superior to the onsite class environment in many ways:

  • You can do virtually everything on your own time: Download lectures, read forum conversations, add your own comments, upload writing exercises and assignments. In your pajamas. In bed. Drinking coffee. However you want to access online course content, you can do it.
  • As opposed to listening to a teacher present lectures verbally, you get to download lectures and read them. Again at your leisure, but even more importantly, instead of feverishly trying to jot down notes from a verbal presentation, here you get everything laid out for you. I take great pride in my lectures, as they not only provide great content, they also have a narrative flow to them. Yes, they tell a little story.
  • Feedback and conversations online tend to be much more thoughtful and therefore beneficial than onsite settings. Why? Because instead of off-the-cuff, random comments, participants online tend to spend more time and reflection in composing posts for online.
  • Finally I’m constantly amazed at how much of a community emerges in online class environments. Writers from all around the world and somehow we bind together into remarkably vibrant learning communities, time and time again.

So if you’ve never tried an online screenwriting class, come on in! The virtual water’s fine!

For more information on Pixar and the Craft of Storytelling which begins January 16, go here. And if you really want to treat yourself well, consider The Craft Package.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: I am adding two new Craft classes in 2017 — Dialogue-Writing Workshop and Scene-Writing Workshop. They are BOTH included in The Craft Package which means your savings are now nearly 60%! Automatic enrollment in all 10 classes! Immediate access to the Craft curriculum to go through at your own pace.

Get lost trying to write your story? Let Dory help you find your way!

I am updating lectures to include Finding Dory which has grossed an incredible $ 1.02 billion in worldwide box office revenues.

So kick of the New Year with some incredible insights into crafting a story with the practices and principles at work in Pixar movies. I look forward to the opportunity to work with you! Or to put it another way…

TO INFINITY AND BEYOND!


Pixar and the Craft of Storytelling was originally published in Go Into The Story on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Go Into The Story — Medium

A Cutting Edge Way to Learn the Craft

Save nearly 60% on 10 of my Craft classes. Details at the end of this post!

Screenwriting is a craft. While that certainly encompasses the actual script-writing process, it also entails everything from finding one’s writing voice to mastering techniques in developing characters, learning different story-crafting principles to knowing how to write loglines, treatments, and beat sheets.

In other words, there’s a lot to learning the craft.

In 2017, I will be offering 10 Craft classes, each a one-week immersion into specific aspects of the writing craft.

Here is the schedule:

January 16 — Craft: Pixar and the Craft of Storytelling
presented by Scott Myers

Read More

January 30 — Craft: Story Summaries — From Loglines to Beat Sheets
presented by Scott Myers

Read More

February 13 — Craft: Handling Exposition
presented by Scott Myers

Read More

February 27 — Craft: Scene Description Spotlight — Express Your Voice
presented by Scott Myers

Read More

March 13 — Craft: Character Development Keys
presented by Scott Myers

Read More

March 27 — Craft: Create a Compelling Protagonist
presented by Scott Myers

Read More

April 10 — Craft: Write a Worthy Nemesis
presented by Scott Myers

Read More

April 24 — Craft: Scene-Writing Workshop
presented by Scott Myers

May 8 — Craft: Dialogue-Writing Workshop
presented by Scott Myers

May 22 — Craft: The Coen Brothers and the Craft of Storytelling
presented by Scott Myers

Read More

Each class offers:

  • Seven lectures written by me
  • 24/7 online forum Q&As moderated by instructor
  • Pro insider writing tips
  • A 90-minute live teleconference with instructor and class members

Since the classes are online, you can pretty much do everything on your own time, at your own pace. Download and read lectures. Listen to my audio commentary. Track and interact with others in message board conversations. Workshop your own loglines or writing.

You can participate as much or as little as you’d like, although I have to say the writers who take my classes are terrific, so you’ll probably find the community created in each session a welcome one to join in the dialogue.

Also this: Writers from over 40 countries have taken Screenwriting Master Class courses and that variety of backgrounds enhances the educational and social experience.

Access courses anytime and anywhere on your computer, tablet or smartphone.

Learn the craft amidst a supportive, lively, and fun online community from around the world.

Receive feedback from instructors who know the business and have a passion for teaching.

You can double down on your learning curve by enrolling in the Craft Package which gives you exclusive access to all of the content provided in each of the Craft classes. And in 2017, it’s an even better deal because I am including in the Package two new courses I will introduce in the spring: Scene-Writing Workshop and Dialogue-Writing Workshop.

That means you get not 8, but 10 Craft classes at a savings of nearly 60% off the regular rate.

How to put learning the craft into overdrive in 2017? Consider the Craft curriculum at Screenwriting Master Class.

And consider taking advantage of the Craft Package special offer: Immediate access to all of the Craft class content. Automatic enrollment in all ten Craft classes. All at a nearly 60% discount.

As always, I look forward to the opportunity to work with you.

Onward!

To learn more about Screenwriting Master Class, go here.

UPDATE: I’m offering — for the first time — the opportunity to mix and match any of my Craft classes for a special sale price. Pick any two or more of them and only pay $ 60 per course. Just email me with whatever of my Craft classes you want to take and we’ll take care of it for you!


A Cutting Edge Way to Learn the Craft was originally published in Go Into The Story on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Go Into The Story — Medium

Pixar and the Craft of Storytelling

My popular one-week online class begins on Monday, January 16!

17 movies produced. 16 movies #1 at the box office. Worldwide B.O. gross over $ 10 billion. Average B.O. per film: $ 650M+ by far the highest average per film of any studio in Hollywood history.

It’s not just dollars and cents, it’s also quality storytelling. 26 Academy Awards, 7 Golden Globes, 3 Grammys. Indeed 8 of Pixar’s 17 films are in the IMDB Top 250 Movies of all time.

No disrespect to Disney, but I think the real Magic Kingdom lies 397.8 miles north of Anaheim in a city called Emeryville, California where you’ll find this:

Longtime GITS readers know of my fascination with Pixar having blogged about them dozens of times. Due to having two sons who quite literally have grown up in what someday is likely to be called the Pixar Era, I have seen every one of the company’s movies, most of them several times.

In my estimation, the filmmakers at Pixar are master storytellers.

But how do they successfully wrangle magic time after time in their films? Are there lessons we can learn from Pixar to inspire and upgrade our own writing?

Up-up-upgrade your writing with Pixar story-crafting principles and practices.

Those are two key questions I undertook in creating the online course Pixar and the Craft of Storytelling which begins Monday, January 16. My answer: An emphatic yes!

First off, there are the practices Pixar uses in developing, breaking, writing and rewriting a script. In our 1-week class, we go through that process step by step, then see how we can adapt that approach to our own writing.

Then there are several narrative principles evident in Pixar movies, six of them we focus in our online class: Small Story / Substantial Saga, Special Subculture, Strange Sojourners, Separation, Sentimentality, and Surprise. Going through every Pixar movie, we explore how these dynamics work in the context of each narrative and their overall applicability to storytelling.

There are 7 lectures, each of which I wrote, the content buttressed by an exclusive interview I conducted with Mary Coleman, Senior Development Executive at Pixar since the days of Toy Story 2, so we get a real inside look the outfit’s creative process.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: I am expanding this class to teach it at DePaul University and have added two more principles: Sires and Siblings, Stumbles and Switches. If you take my SMC online class, you will be the first people to explore that content with me!

The class also has a Logline Workshop where you can post a story idea and revise per peer feedback. And two teleconferences to accommodate peoples’ schedules where participants get a chance to dig into the course content with me as well as discuss anything related to writing, screenwriting, and movies.

Trust me, this Pixar class I teach is INCREDIBLE!

Here are some nice comments from just a few folks who’ve taken the class:

“I was lucky enough to be able to take Scott’s Pixar and the Craft of Storytelling class. It was my first class and a wonderful experience. I learned a ton and now have some important utensils that will help make all my stories better. Scott’s a great teacher and it was a pleasure learning from him!” — Valencia Stokes

“This course is awesome. I refer to these notes and lessons all the time.” — Traci Nell Peterson

“A course on Pixar movies? Apart from legitimately letting out my inner child and renting Up ‘for research purposes, I learnt about the ethos of the Pixar Brain Trust and the essential elements contained in all of their movies. Scott took us on an all-inclusive week long journey into why Pixar are so successful and how to practically apply this to your own script.” — Camilla Castree

“I recommend this course wholeheartedly. Plus you get to watch Pixar films as homework.” — TheQuietAct

“Scott Myers is a brilliant teacher and unites his knowledge and experience, insight and depth of thought in his lectures as well as he is providing help and support to his students. I highly recommend the class.” — Eva Brandstätter

Consider the great characters Pixar has created. Learn how and why they work, and bring those insights to your writing.

A few words about the format: I’ve been teaching online since 2002, worked with over 1000 writers in that context, and honestly believe it is superior to the onsite class environment in many ways:

  • You can do virtually everything on your own time: Download lectures, read forum conversations, add your own comments, upload writing exercises and assignments. In your pajamas. In bed. Drinking coffee. However you want to access online course content, you can do it.
  • As opposed to listening to a teacher present lectures verbally, you get to download lectures and read them. Again at your leisure, but even more importantly, instead of feverishly trying to jot down notes from a verbal presentation, here you get everything laid out for you. I take great pride in my lectures, as they not only provide great content, they also have a narrative flow to them. Yes, they tell a little story.
  • Feedback and conversations online tend to be much more thoughtful and therefore beneficial than onsite settings. Why? Because instead of off-the-cuff, random comments, participants online tend to spend more time and reflection in composing posts for online.
  • Finally I’m constantly amazed at how much of a community emerges in online class environments. Writers from all around the world and somehow we bind together into remarkably vibrant learning communities, time and time again.

So if you’ve never tried an online screenwriting class, come on in! The virtual water’s fine!

For more information on Pixar and the Craft of Storytelling which begins January 16, go here. And if you really want to treat yourself well, consider The Craft Package.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: I am adding two new Craft classes in 2017 — Dialogue-Writing Workshop and Scene-Writing Workshop. They are BOTH included in The Craft Package which means your savings are now nearly 60%! Automatic enrollment in all 10 classes! Immediate access to the Craft curriculum to go through at your own pace.

Get lost trying to write your story? Let Dory help you find your way!

I am updating lectures to include Finding Dory which has grossed an incredible $ 1.02 billion in worldwide box office revenues.

So kick of the New Year with some incredible insights into crafting a story with the practices and principles at work in Pixar movies. I look forward to the opportunity to work with you! Or to put it another way…

TO INFINITY AND BEYOND!


Pixar and the Craft of Storytelling was originally published in Go Into The Story on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Go Into The Story — Medium

How to Use Go Into The Story (Part 4): Study the Craft

Some end of the year advice for GITS readers.

With over 20,000 posts on this blog, here’s a logical question:

HOW THE HELL DO I USE THIS STUFF?

An end of the year series to help.

Part 4: Study the Craft

Many years ago, I coined this screenwriting mantra: Watch movies. Read scripts. Write pages.

Seriously, you can learn the craft just by doing these three things.

But if you want to maximize your chances of succeeding as a professional screenwriter and/or TV writer, go deeper.

Add two more points of focus to you work: Study the Craft and Learn the Business.

Today some tips on how to use GITS to help you study the craft.

1, 2, 7, 14: A simple formula to be a more productive and better writer.

Black List Writers on the Craft: Read what Black List writers have to say about screenwriting and TV writing.

Character Types: Learn the power archetypes can bring to your writing.

GITS Interviews: Read my interviews with pro writers including Black List selectees and Nicholl Fellowship winners.

GITS Reader Questions: Over 300 questions I’ve responded to over the years.

Guide to Aristotle’s “Poetics”: If you haven’t read “Poetics,” here’s a multi-part series which goes deep into this seminal work.

How They Write A Script: Extended interview excerpts from notable screenwriters.

Screenwriting Tweetstorms: A collection of pro writers and industry insiders.

Songwriters On Songwriting: Writing is writing and here are some valuable insights into the craft by songwriters.

The Theology of Screenwriting: A metaphorical look at religious themes and their relevance to writing.

And if you really want to go deep into the craft, there’s this: Deep Focus: The Go Into The Movies Project. This truly is film school on the cheap!

Breaking into Hollywood, let alone building and sustaining a writing career there is extremely challenging. You must push yourself to learn as much as possible and bring that knowledge to bear on your writing.

STUDY THE CRAFT!!!

For Part 1: Watch Movies, go here.

For Part 2: Read Scripts, go here.

For Part 3: Write Pages, go here.

Tomorrow: How to Use Go Into The Story (Part 5): Learn the Business.


How to Use Go Into The Story (Part 4): Study the Craft was originally published in Go Into The Story on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Go Into The Story — Medium

A Cutting Edge Way to Learn the Craft

Save nearly 60% on 10 of my Craft classes. Details at the end of this post!

Screenwriting is a craft. While that certainly encompasses the actual script-writing process, it also entails everything from finding one’s writing voice to mastering techniques in developing characters, learning different story-crafting principles to knowing how to write loglines, treatments, and beat sheets.

In other words, there’s a lot to learning the craft.

In 2017, I will be offering 10 Craft classes, each a one-week immersion into specific aspects of the writing craft.

Here is the schedule:

January 16 — Craft: Pixar and the Craft of Storytelling
presented by Scott Myers

Read More

January 30 — Craft: Story Summaries — From Loglines to Beat Sheets
presented by Scott Myers

Read More

February 13 — Craft: Handling Exposition
presented by Scott Myers

Read More

February 27 — Craft: Scene Description Spotlight — Express Your Voice
presented by Scott Myers

Read More

March 13 — Craft: Character Development Keys
presented by Scott Myers

Read More

March 27 — Craft: Create a Compelling Protagonist
presented by Scott Myers

Read More

April 10 — Craft: Write a Worthy Nemesis
presented by Scott Myers

Read More

April 24 — Craft: Scene-Writing Workshop
presented by Scott Myers

May 8 — Craft: Dialogue-Writing Workshop
presented by Scott Myers

May 22 — Craft: The Coen Brothers and the Craft of Storytelling
presented by Scott Myers

Read More

Each class offers:

  • Seven lectures written by me
  • 24/7 online forum Q&As moderated by instructor
  • Pro insider writing tips
  • A 90-minute live teleconference with instructor and class members

Since the classes are online, you can pretty much do everything on your own time, at your own pace. Download and read lectures. Listen to my audio commentary. Track and interact with others in message board conversations. Workshop your own loglines or writing.

You can participate as much or as little as you’d like, although I have to say the writers who take my classes are terrific, so you’ll probably find the community created in each session a welcome one to join in the dialogue.

Also this: Writers from over 40 countries have taken Screenwriting Master Class courses and that variety of backgrounds enhances the educational and social experience.

Access courses anytime and anywhere on your computer, tablet or smartphone.

Learn the craft amidst a supportive, lively, and fun online community from around the world.

Receive feedback from instructors who know the business and have a passion for teaching.

You can double down on your learning curve by enrolling in the Craft Package which gives you exclusive access to all of the content provided in each of the Craft classes. And in 2017, it’s an even better deal because I am including in the Package two new courses I will introduce in the spring: Scene-Writing Workshop and Dialogue-Writing Workshop.

That means you get not 8, but 10 Craft classes at a savings of nearly 60% off the regular rate.

How to put learning the craft into overdrive in 2017? Consider the Craft curriculum at Screenwriting Master Class.

And consider taking advantage of the Craft Package special offer: Immediate access to all of the Craft class content. Automatic enrollment in all ten Craft classes. All at a nearly 60% discount.

As always, I look forward to the opportunity to work with you.

Onward!

To learn more about Screenwriting Master Class, go here.


A Cutting Edge Way to Learn the Craft was originally published in Go Into The Story on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Go Into The Story — Medium

Learn the Craft. Do the Work.

A conversation about a recent post zeroes in on a writing truth.

I posted this yesterday:

…at the front end of your career, you want to do everything you can to give you the best chance at succeeding as a professional screenwriter. And a certain amount of that can only come by knocking out scripts.

So you’ve finished one script. Great. Congratulations. Go write another one.

You finish a second script. Excellent. Congrats, again. Go write another one.

After you do that three times, maybe… just maybe you’ll be ready for Hollywood.

Tom Turner, author of “Sign of the Sandman,” responded with these observations:

Love your point about five scripts… then ten scripts! It never fails to amaze me when I look back at an old script a year (or more) later — a script I was sure (at the time) was the best it could be — that I can always find ways to improve it, ways that weren’t apparent to me at the time. As you said, we’re always learning, always getting better. That only comes by doing the work. Thanks, Scott. Love the site. Happy Holidays!

My response:

Tom, every writer is different. That’s why when reading this post, three scripts… good rule of thumb. But some writers, given their creative backgrounds and life experience, may only need 1 script to break into the business. Diablo Cody and Jon Spaihts come to mind. However in the many interviews I’ve conducts, and read, seen, and heard, it’s much more likely a writer has the proverbial ‘box full of unseen scripts’ lying around which they needed to write in order to get to a place of professional proficiency. It just varies from writer to writer.

The not so subtle subtext of my post is it’s not just about the scripts. It’s about the CRAFT. Learning enough about HOW to write and about YOURSELF as a writer — your own approach to breaking, writing, and rewriting a script — so you feel a sense of confidence that when you land a writing assignment, you can deliver the goods.

A screenwriter I know who has worked on a number of high profile projects in Hollywood tweeted something the other day which speaks to this:

Yes, there’s talent and voice and style and inspiration and all the rest, but for a professional screenwriter, there is this fundamental reality: Land a gig. Have a deadline. Meet the deadline.

That’s doing The Work. And whoever we are, wherever we are in our respective creative journeys, we need to learn enough about the craft — however many scripts it takes for us to write to get there — so when we sign on the dotted line and see that due date, we have full faith we can meet it.

Screenwriter Craig Mazin said this when I interviewed him a few years back:

The one thing about me that’s been consistent in the 17 years I’ve been doing this is in eight weeks I’ll have a screenplay. I’m very good that way.

We want to get to THAT place, have THAT confidence.

A New Year’s wish: Here’s to each one of us deepening our knowledge about the craft by doing the work, so we can do The Work.

Onward!


Learn the Craft. Do the Work. was originally published in Go Into The Story on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Go Into The Story - Medium