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Watch > Episode > Robert McKee - Story: Substance, Structure, Style (And The Principles Of Screenwriting)

Robert McKee - Story: Substance, Structure, Style (And The Principles Of Screenwriting)

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Author, lecturer and story consultant

Robert McKee is a creative writing instructor who is widely known for his popular “Story Seminar”, which he developed when he was a professor at the University of Southern California. McKee is the author of a “screenwriters’ bible” called Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting. Online, McKee has a blog and a writers’ resource website called “Storylogue”.

Robert McKee is a creative writing instructor who is widely known for his popular “Story Seminar”, which he developed when he was a professor at the University of Southern California. McKee is the author of the screenwriters’ bible, “Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting”. Online, McKee has a blog and a writers’ resource website called “Storylogue”.

In this episode, Robert joins host Brian Rose at London Real studios to discuss why moral conflict is a compelling fascination, how story is a metaphor for life and equipment for living and ​​what people are looking for in attending Robert’s three-day teaching marathon seminar.

Born on July 30, 1941, in Detroit, Michigan, Robert McKee developed a passion for storytelling early in life. He pursued his education at the University of Michigan and later earned a Master of Fine Arts in Theater Arts from the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance. McKee’s background in theatre and love for storytelling laid the foundation for his later career as a prominent screenwriting lecturer.

Robert McKee began his career in the theatre, working as an actor, director, and writer. His experiences in the world of live performance provided valuable insights into the dynamics of storytelling, character development, and audience engagement. McKee’s theatrical background became a cornerstone of his approach to narrative craft, emphasising the importance of understanding the human experience in creating impactful stories.

His transition into screenwriting instruction marked a pivotal moment in his career. Drawing on his extensive knowledge of storytelling principles, McKee started offering seminars and workshops on screenwriting. His teaching style, characterised by passion, intellectual rigour, and a focus on fundamental storytelling principles, resonated with aspiring writers and established professionals alike.

In 1997, Robert McKee published his seminal work, “Story,” which quickly became a classic in the field of screenwriting and storytelling. The book delves into the essential elements of storytelling, covering topics such as character development, plot structure, and the principles that underpin compelling narratives. “Story” is not merely a guide for screenwriters; it serves as a comprehensive resource for anyone interested in understanding the mechanics of storytelling across various mediums.

Robert McKee’s influence extends far beyond the pages of his book. His seminars and workshops, held globally, have attracted aspiring writers, filmmakers, and industry professionals seeking to refine their storytelling skills. McKee’s teachings emphasise the importance of authenticity, emotional resonance, and understanding the universal aspects of the human experience that make stories compelling and enduring.

In the evolving landscape of media and entertainment, Robert McKee has adapted his teachings to encompass a broader range of storytelling mediums. Beyond screenwriting, his principles are applicable to television, novels, plays, and even emerging forms of digital storytelling. McKee’s ability to stay relevant in an ever-changing creative landscape speaks to the enduring value of his insights.

Robert McKee’s impact on storytelling is immeasurable. His teachings have empowered generations of storytellers to craft narratives that resonate with audiences on a profound level. Whether in the realms of film, television, literature, or digital media, McKee’s principles continue to shape the way storytellers approach their craft. As a master of storytelling and narrative craft, Robert McKee stands as a guiding figure, inspiring countless creators to unlock the power of their stories and share them with the world.

Chapters

00:00 | Trailer
02:17 | Brian’s thoughts on the episode
05:04 | Brian’s introduction
05:59 | A love affair with London since the 1960s
09:55 | The need for good roles for fine actors
16:30 | New era of the long form story
20:44 | Moral conflict is a compelling fascination
22:51 | How the reader or viewer may empathise with a particular character
27:33 | Story is character and character is story
30:41 | Story is a metaphor for life and equipment for living
35:16 | Trump is a bullshitter
37:26 | Why Robert chooses to write encompassing the mediums of page, stage and screen
40:43 | The challenges for emerging authors, screen and play writers
44:51 | What Stanislavski meant by ‘The art of themselves or themselves and the art
49:51 | The misconception of Hollywood
51:32 | What people are looking for in attending Robert’s 3 day teaching marathon seminar
57:41 | Does the creative personality need nurturing or to be given realistic truths
1:00:41 | How writers can help humanity in today’s confusing world
1:04:20 | What motivates Robert’s pace of work
1:10:35 | How close was Brian Cox’ portrayal of Robin in Adaption
1:13:37 | The new TV and Web series that excite Robert and give hope for the future of writing
1:21:33 | Robert’s words of advice from his experience
1:22:47 | Brian’s summing up.

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