Focusing on the Story in the Film

James R. Elkins

I have searched widely in the scholarly work on film theory, film criticism, and film studies for ways of working with lawyer films that might be of use in reading lawyer films. The most accessible, relevant source is the work of screenwriters, and screenwriting consultants. Screenwriting people know that films are stories. They focus on how stories work, and how they fail.

Recommended Reading

Robert McKee, Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting (New York: HarperCollins/ ReganBooks, 1997)

Christopher Vogler, The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers (Studio City, California: Michael Wiese Productions, 3rd ed., 2007)

Supplemental Reading

James Bonnet, Stealing Fire From the Gods (Studio City, California: Michael Wiese Productions, 2nd ed., 2006)

Syd Field, Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting (New York: Delta Book, rev. ed., 2005)

Howard Suber, The Power of Film (Studio City, California: Michael Weise Productions, 2006)

John Truby, The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller (New York: Faber and Faber, 2007)

Screenwriting Videos

Robert McKee

Robert Mckee on The Hour with George Stroumboulopoulos
[10: 30 mins.]

Big Thinking Interview
[1:00:38 mins.]

The Destructiveness of Formulaic Screenwriting
[3:51 mins.]

Don't Mistake Words for Writing
[6:47 mins.]

Writers Make Sense Out of Chaos
[9:10 mins.]

Robert McKee's Storylogue
[9:53 mins.]

Robert McKee Discussing the "Education Plot"
[2:26 mins.]

Story Seminar
[2:25 mins.]

Story Seminar: Lifetime
[1:25 mins.]

Story Seminar: Story Design
[2:17 mins.]

10 Traits of Faulty Dialogue
[9:14 mins.]

Story Seminar: Setting
[5:24 mins.]

Christopher Vogler

The Hero's Journey in Writing and Entrepreneurship
[31:52 mins.]

Conversation with Christopher Vogler
[6:44 mins.] Pt2 [2:27 mins.] Pt3 [2:42 mins.] Pt4 [2:51 mins.] Pt5 [4:20 mins.]

Mythology in Screenwriting
[27:33 mins.] [audio, interview]

Howard Suber

The Power of Film
[2:38 mins.]

Power of Film
[2:01 mins.] Pt2 [2:08 mins.]

Storytelling with Howard Suber: The Western
[7:13 mins.]

Interview d'Howard Suber - Forum d'Avignon 2009
[7:47 mins.]

John Truby

The Anatomy of Story: Pt1 & 2
[6:44 mins.] Pt3 [3:38 mins.] Pt4 [7:17 mins.]

Anatomy of Story
[1:25:30 mins.] [The Complete Film Courage Interview]

The Reason Why Writers Fail at the Premise
[3:30 mins.]

Introducing the Characters in Your Story
[2:30 mins.]

Most Important Element In Developing Character
[2:30 mins.]

Why Most People Fail At Screenwriting
[9:47 mins.]

Misconceptions about Rewriting
[6:01 mins.]

The Difference Between Professional And Amateur Writers
[1:46 mins.]

How To Suprise the Audience
[4:27 mins.]

John Truby Speaks on Myth Form
[2:45 mins.]

How to Write the Myth Genre
[8:38 mins.]

The Premise Line, Desire and Weakness
[6:28 mins.]

Getting Into Your Character's Mindset
[6:07 mins.]

Getting the Story Right
[2:58 mins.]

The Story World
[6:03 mins.]

Syd Field

Syd Field in Conversation
[13:13 mins.] Pt2 [10:02 mins.] Pt3 [12:48 mins.]

Michael Hauge

Every Story Needs a Hero

Common Problems with First Scripts

Pamela Jaye Smith

Creating Great Villains, Dangerous Situations, & Dramatic Conflict
[1:01:48 mins.] [on using mythology in screenwriting]

Something Screenwriters Probably Don't Know About Evil Characters
[2:24 mins.]

Every Successful Screenwriter Has This Quality
[4:31 mins.]


Dramatica Theory Overview

Introduction to Characters

Characters in "To Kill a Mockingbird"

A Tale is a Story

Introducing the Story Mind

A Story is an Argument

Reason & Emotion Archetypes

The Four Throughlines


How to Write a Script: Story Structure

Script Structure in a Nutshell

Your Script Does NOT Have Three Acts

Story Theory and Practice

How to Write a Story

Film School Online: Story

On Screen Storytelling

More on Screenwriting

How to Write a Script: Basics

The Pompous Film Critic: How NOT to Write a Script

Nickolas Kazan: Tricks of Screenwriting

Julian Friedmann: Teaching Screenwriting

William C. Martell - Hollywood Screenwriter

Learning about Screenwriting from the Masters

Sheldon Turner :: Joe Eszterhas :: Paul Haggis :: David Goyer :: Ted Griffin :: Scott Rosenberg :: Bruce Joel Rubin :: Susannah Grant :: Paul Attanasio :: Billy Ray :: Jim Uhls :: Callie Khouri :: Nia Vardalos :: Jose Riveria :: John Hamburg :: Syd Field with Stuart Beattie



Bob Berman, Fade In: The Screenwriting Process (Studio City, California: Michael Wiese Productions, 2000)

Marisa D'Vari, Script Magic: Subconscious Techniques to Conquer Writer's Block (Studio City, California: Michael Wiese Productions, 2000)

Lajos Egri, The Act of Dramatic Writing: Its Basis in the Creative Interpretation of Human Motives (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1977)

Syd Field, The Screenwriter's Problem Solver: How to Recognize, Identify, and Define Screenwriting Problems (New York: Dell Publishing, 1998)

Andrew Horton, Writing the Character-Centered Screenplay (University of California Press, 2000)

Lew Hunter, Lew Hunter's Screenwriting 434: The Industry's Premier Teacher Reveals the Secrets of the Successful Screenplay (Perigee Trade, rev. ed., 2004)

Karl Iglesias, The 101 Habits Of Highly Successful Screenwriters: Insider's Secrets from Hollywood's Top Writers (Adams Media, 2001)

Richard W. Krevolin, Screenwriting from the Soul: Letters to an Aspiring Screenwriter (Renaissance Books, 1998)

Linda Seger, Creating Unforgettable Characters (New York: Henry Holt, 1990)

Jennifer Van Sijll, Cinematic Storytelling: The 100 Most Powerful Film Conventions Every Filmmaker Must Know (Studio City, California: Michael Weise Productions, 2005)

Blake Snyder, Save the Cat! Goes to the Movies: The Screenwriter's Guide to Every Story Ever Told (Studio City, California: Michael Weise Productions, 2007)

___________, Save The Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need (Studio City, California: Michael Weise Productions, 2005)

Kristin Thompson, Storytelling in the New Hollywood: Understanding Classical Narrative Technique (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999)

Michael Tierno, Aristotle's Poetics for Screenwriters: Storytelling Secrets From the Greatest Mind in Western Civilization (New York: Hyperion, 2002)


Web Resources

Christopher Vogler

The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers

Christopher Vogler's Screenwriting Workshop

Using Myth to Power Your Stories

Robert McKee

Robert McKee