It's important to utilize consultants and their expertise as often as you're able. There are experts in this field of screenwriting and their knowledge of how a script breaks down and what creates an entertaining piece of media is priceless. It's necessary to test out each consultant in order to see if their individual process works for you. However, they each have something quite invaluable to add to the screenwriting process. In today's live podcast, I spoke with Jeff Kitchen. Jeff has been one of the top screenwriting teachers in the film industry for twenty years, and is a sought-after script consultant. He worked as a dramaturg and taught playwriting in the New York theater scene at the outset of his career, and is the author of Writing a Great Movie: Key Tools for Successful Screenwriting. Jeff has taught development executives from all of the major Hollywood studios and they consistently say that he teaches the most advanced development tools in the film industry.
We specifically talk about layering your story so that you understand the CONFLICT that occurs throughout your story. Even though we use the word "plot" quite a bit in this interview, it's necessary to remember that conflict is always character driven. Dramatic action is always character driven. The story stakes are raised due to the dramatic action TAKEN by the character. You can't have plot without character, but Jeff was also careful to note that "plot", in this sense, is not the same as the general industry usage of the term "plot". Plot, by way of Jeff's definition, is much more related to the conflict and drama that occurs due to the characters' motivations, needs, wants, desires, etc. By first exploring the very specific yet broad action that occurs from scene to scene and sequence to sequence (and through his reverse cause and effect technique), you will be able to see how that character evolves through the so-called plot because of the actions that character takes. This is all done without needing to write the actual script pages. It is instead layered throughout the outlining process. It's all connected.
There is an immense amount of material in this live podcast recording, and we hope you have a pen and paper handy. You can find out more about Jeff at his website DevelopmentHeaven.com, and we thank you for taking part in the ISA's Curious About Screenwriting podcast. We have an exciting new year ahead of us, and we look forward to supplying you with quality content and material. Thanks and enjoy the interview.