Hello Writers All,

So you want to be a writer? Not just any old writer, but a really good one?

Desire and passion are the right stuff to help you build your stories.  But the number one thing you need to produce in order to become a paid scriptwritingsuccess, no matter how many drafts it takes, is a top-notch screenplay writing sample. Not just a mediocre draft, not the “I feel it could use some more work but hey I’m tuckered out” version.  I mean a really polished script.

Because that’s how you will get noticed in filmmaking or TV-making circles.

And it takes time and learning to become that accomplished.

The good news is that there are steps you can take to become a skilled scriptwriter more quickly.

Okay, okay yeah, here’s the part where I mention my website.  I offer screenwriting tips on my blog, and you can also read my book The Story Solution: 23 Actions All Great Heroes Must Take to get insights on creating strong characters and building solid, audience-ready plots.

There are also many other excellent screenwriting blogs and YouTube channels to learn from. (Don’t miss the great YouTube channel “Film Courage”!)  As well, there are online libraries of produced screenplays available free for downloading.  Reading scores of professional scripts is critical to writing success.

And take advantage of The Story Solution’s partnership with Final Draft, the world’s most popular screenwriting software. My proven Hero Goal Sequences® Story Structure Paradigm is now available as a downloadable template included in Final Draft 10 (under “edu templates”).

Then too, you really should consider learning to create great scripts for film and TV in a classroom.  Yes, I’m a university professor myself so I am partial to classrooms.  But there’s more to it than that.

You might already have the passion and natural talent to be a writer, but attending film school can give you the necessary skills, tools, experience and contacts you need to become a bona fide screenwriter in a much shorter period of time.  Yes, it costs money.  But so do medical schools, business schools and law schools.  In so many ways film school can really pay off for the committed screenwriter.  Here are ten of the better reasons:

  1.       There Is A Right Way And A Wrong Way to Build Stories That Grip Audiences.

This architectural skill MUST be mastered and it’s nowhere near as easy as it looks.  There’s a structure through which visual storytelling communicates both consciously and unconsciously with an audience. You also need a great story idea, of course, and then you need to add characters, write believable dialogue, and create dramatic tension throughout your story to keep an audience glued to their chairs. Film school breaks down all these elements into core fundamentals that you practice daily with mentor-instructors who are themselves experienced professional writers and filmmakers.  There is no other professional experience in the world available for screenwriters that can hold a candle to this one.

  1. You Must Learn To Write With Clarity And Depth.

Making it look simple isn’t simple at all.  Very far from it.  In a film/screenwriting M.F.A. program you gain a huge advantage over your competition by learning and mastering all the concepts and tools in a screenwriter’s toolkit so you never have to waste time floundering in confusion, or being gripped by writer’s block.  When you get hired to write a script, the producer is not going to coddle you.  You need to be a knowledgeable pro right now – so you better be ready to rock. Remember, when getting launched as a screenwriter (or TV writer, or creative executive, or studio production executive, or independent producer, or director, or or or) the definition of luck is when preparation meets opportunity.  What you learn in film school gives you the confidence to analyze dramatic material quickly, accurately, and to see in any script exactly what works, what doesn’t work, and how to fix it.  When opportunity arrives, you will be very, very ready.

  1.      You Can Grow Your Personal Network.

Every screenwriter needs industry contacts and friends in the business.  So…why not get to know all those other film school students sitting right beside you in class?  You work together and grow together and come trust each other’s opinions.  In film school you gain life-long friendships who share your passions and who understand that helping each other out is good for everybody.  After film school, writers also need a network of knowledgeable, insightful, trusted friends and mentors to react to material they write so that the work can continue to grow and improve.  You build relationships that become invaluable going forward.

  1. You Can Get Out of Jail.

Writers spend way too much time alone.  And the more isolated you are, the more self-isolating your temperament becomes, as well as less self-confident.  Film school puts you in the active thick of what you love to do.  In the old days, the 1920s Paris literati had the Les Deux Magots Cafe where Ernest Hemingway, Simone de Beauvoir and James Joyce came to talk stories, share opinions and argue about their art.  And Scott & Zelda Fitzgerald and Ezra Pound had Gertrude Stein’s parlor soirees to discuss each other’s work.  In our current era, what a growing number of all the creative people in Hollywood have in common is film school.


  1. You Can Create More, and Better, Work Samples.

It is important to have a large polished portfolio of scripts and treatments in order to be taken seriously as a screenwriter by agents and producers.  Film school works with you to build your portfolio, teaches you to expand into various genres, and to have well thought-out, pitchable ideas at the ready for when that big break comes.

  1. Get the Straight Truth From Instructor-Professionals.

It’s nice when mom or dad tells you how great they think your writing is.  Maybe they’ll even take you out to dinner to celebrate your finishing that new script.  But unless mom is an established film producer, you most likely are not getting any knowledgeable, experience-based criticism. To become a better writer you need to hear the straight truth that only a circle of mentor professionals and insightful fellow students can provide. Film school puts you in the midst of people who share your passion for creating the best script you can write.  Knowledgeable criticism is essential for refining any screenplay.

  1. It Helps You Master The Rewriting Process.

Ever hear the writer Lin-Manuel Miranda talk about the work he put into creating “Hamilton,” the smash Broadway musical?  He spent years creating, writing, honing and revising – but it all paid off with a record run and 11 Tony Awards. This is what it takes to create a great Hollywood script, too. Film school gives you the motivation and environment to create and refine not only one but several scripts as you come to understand the essential process of rewriting.  And it shows you what you’re really capable of as a writer.  You come out the other side a changed, more confident and committed writer than you ever thought you could be.

  1.   You’ll Learn How The Industry Works.

Film school offers the advantage of getting students launched into the film and TV industries and teaching them how the business actually works, through internships at some of the most important Hollywood companies.  Most Master of Fine Arts graduate programs in screenwriting or film have top notch sponsored internship programs.  And some undergraduate film programs (such as the one at Cal State Northridge) have excellent internship connections as well.

  1. You Will Have Instructors Who Love To Teach.

Film school is a very unique environment.  All the instructors have already worked creatively in film and TV, and they truly love writing just like you do.  They enjoy being around eager students of all ages and backgrounds.  They love engaging in the back and forth of creative dialogue.  Respect is mutual, and enthusiasm abounds.  You learn from the best, and the relationships, experiences and knowledge acquired in film school will inevitably change you for the better and remain with you forever.  I have never heard anyone say they regretted going to film school.

  1. The M.F.A. Degree Qualifies You To Teach At Colleges And Universities Worldwide

Each year at Cal State Northridge, a number of our newly entering M.F.A. in Screenwriting students come to us already accomplished professional screen and TV writers.  They come to get that required M.F.A. degree in order to teach screenwriting and film at the university level.  These student-professionals wonderfully augment our program for ALL students, and each brings a whole career’s worth of experience with them.  Many mature professionals see the great value of a graduate degree in screenwriting/film because they now plan to transition into teaching at the university level.  On the other hand, I earned my two M.F.A.s at the very beginning of my career because I wanted to become a master at this craft, and I already knew, too, that someday I wanted to teach.  Sooner or later.  It works either way.

Yes, film school costs money.  Anything worthwhile does.  But shop around, because the price of a Master of Fine Arts in Screenwriting degree can vary a great deal.  One of the qualitatively best, and at the same time least expensive, M.F.A. programs can be found at California State University, Northridge.  Florida State has a top rated program, too.  As does Arizona.  Along with many others.  And there are scholarships, financial assistance and loans available.  I was paying off my American Film Institute loan for years after I got my degree there, but AFI kept the payments down and even during my struggling years it wasn’t that bad.  We got through okay.  And eventually with that M.F.A. degree on my wall, I became a tenured full-professor.  Frankly,  I wouldn’t trade my film school experiences for anything.

Have a happy autumn.. and write with fire!


p.s. Be sure to visit my website at to download complimentary film structure breakdowns for Back to the FutureBridesmaids, and Finding Nemo. 

About The Story SolutionEric Edson’s The Story Solution provides concrete insights for those interested in writing a screenplay. Regarded as one of the best books on screenwritingThe Story Solution is currently #1 in its category on China Amazon. Visit the website at to download a complimentary book chapter and to see video and hear audio clips about creating characters. “Like” the Facebook page to receive tips on writing a movie script and scriptwriting.



Hello everyone!  This time of year is all about 4-leaf clover luck and tradition – people wearing green and throwing parties. You may find yourself getting pinched if you don’t wear your green!

March is also known for “March Madness,” the college basketball tournament. Do you have a favorite team? At the Story Solution website and Facebook Page we’re always on your team, offering tips and instructional videos and free sample script analyses to help cheer you on toward screenwriting success with the proven Hero Goal Sequences method of creating dynamic stories and exciting, character-driven screenplays.

(And just let me mention… to simplify things, I use one word, “Hero,” to mean any man, woman, child, animated flower, one-eyed one-horn flying purple people eater – or any other character who has the lead role in any story.)

Truth is, I have analyzed hundreds of films and taught hundreds of screenwriting graduate students how to identify the story sequences and elements of character needed to write award-winning scripts. And I put it all in my book, The Story Solution, which outlines the 23 Actions All Heroes Must Take to keep audiences captivated.

What makes The Story Solution stand out from the rest? Most books on screenwriting – and there are many good ones – offer advice or story-building systems based on abstract ideas. It’s frequently overlooked out there that successful visual storytelling requires you to master one overriding physical, practical concept: CHANGE. Change must flow in constant visual MOTION to drive a story forward – the same way a shark must keep moving to stay alive. And the amount of change required in any feature film story can actually be physically measured.

I have discovered that there’s a universal number of “change units” required for audiences to be drawn into any film story and really feel it.  Each of these specifically timed short sequences contain common plot developing events. Not just the this-is-where-the-hero-beats-up-all-the-bad-guys kind of advice, but a series of actions in a specific order, appearing at predictable moments in a story.

And here’s how I know I’m right.  There once lived a playwright named Sophocles who wrote a smash hit play called “Oedipus Rex”… about 2500 years ago. I took a very close look at that play (and hundreds of others) and found that the storytelling is physically structured exactly like all major hit movies are today. The human mind has ALWAYS processed and enjoyed stories in the same way. It’s how our brains are built. It’s physically how we absorb – and feel – a story.

So if you master these specific steps of change, every screenplay you write with them will have the potential to become a winner with audiences.

Hey, it may sound to you like I’m full of hot air, and well, okay, at times there might be some truth to that idea. But in this case, I’M NOT WRONG about the power of Hero Goal Sequences.

As a tenured full-professor at California State University, Northridge, I have proven it to my graduate students many hundreds of times over. Every semester, I turn Hero Goal Sequence doubters into Hero Goal Sequence believers.

But some of you may still be thinking this all sounds way too clinical and soulless. Just 23 predictable sequences? Heck no! Where’s the creativity in 23 pieces of anything?!  What about ART?

Well, may I point out that there are only 26 letters in the English language? Just 26. And people have been creating great literature with those same 26 letters for centuries.  There are only 12 keys on a piano, and those same 12 keys are merely repeated on the keyboard at an ever higher octave pitch to constitute a piano. During the last few centuries, has “the problem” of only having 12 repeating keys ever limited creativity in music?

In The Story Solution you will learn:

  • The Secrets of Story Structure. How to put together your story the way professional screenwriters do. Instead of floundering and suffering over “oh what will my hero do next???” you will KNOW what they need to do next. By identifying the 23 Actions All Heroes Must Take, building your story will become a clear and specifically coached process for creating every two to seven page sequence in your script – and you’ll be constructing the right actions in your story to shape full, memorable heroes and heroines that audiences will love to follow.
  • How to Create Dynamic Characters. Having an engaging story is essential. But what’s a story without vivid characters bringing it to life? Learn to write dynamic characters that hook your viewers and make them burn to know what those characters will do next.

  • Rewriting skills. learn how to shape and test every scene and sequence to make sure they all move your story and characters forward to a fulfilling climax. The Story Solution is filled with tips and methods to make your rewriting process far less painful and much more rewarding.

Other key tools revealed:

  • How to write Powerful Dialogue

  • How to choose the best Character Categories to use in your story

  • How to Spot and Fix Story Problems before they become baked in

  • The secret to writing Powerful Character Growth.

And oh so much more.

BY THE WAY – The Story Solution HAS ONCE AGAIN HIT #1 BEST SELLER IN THREE BOOK CATEGORIES on CHINA AMAZON: Film and TV – Animation – Graphic Novels

So deeply pleased and excited. Thanks, China!

All Very Best Wishes,

About The Story Solution: Eric Edson’s The Story Solution provides screenwriting tips for those interested in screenplay writing. Seen as one of the best books on screenwriting and currently #1 in its category on China Amazon, Edson outlines 23 actions used to create three dimensional heroes. Visit the website at to learn about writing a movie script. “Like” the Facebook page to receive tips on scriptwriting. Call (818) 677-7808 for information about writing a movie script.

Design and Build Contracts, Advantages and Disadvantages

Anyone who has spent time working in the UK construction industry is likely to have strong opinions about Design and Build contracts. In the immediate future, it’s likely that activity within the sector is going to increase, and whilst the exact political flavour of the Conservative government has yet to be confirmed they have at least promised to invest heavily in house building. With that in mind, the following points highlight some of the thorny issues associated with design and build contracts.

UK House Building

200,000 appears to be the magic number; in March 2015, David Cameron promised to double the target of 100,000 homes aimed at first time buyers, and with his position now confirmed in No.10 Downing Street we wait with bated breath to see if this commitment will reach fruition. Across the UK, firms are experiencing a modest rise in construction projects and reporting a certain amount of confidence. Besides the always-nebulous claims of politicians a range of measures including a loosening of planning laws and assistance for first time buyers is buoying up the industry after last year’s lack of growth. For many developers, however the fact that an increased demand for labour and materials is likely to push up prices can make design and build contracts more attractive.

Design and Build Advantages

Design and Build [D&B] is a useful procurement route for developers in that it allows a certain amount of control over costs. In general, lump sum contracts result in a contractor agreeing to take on the responsibility for both the design and construction of a project for an agreed price. The contractor may have their own team of designers or may engage an outside firm. They will agree a design initially with the developer, but after the contract is signed the contractor will have full responsibility.

If the agreed-on design remains unchanged throughout the project, the developer can be reasonably sure that the overall cost of construction will remain unchanged. Of course, it’s possible that the developer will require some design changes during the project, but it should then be possible for the contractor to provide an illustration of exactly how any such changes will affect overall costs.

Another of the advantages of design and build contracts is the possibility of reduced construction time. If the contractor is entirely responsible for design a great deal of time can potentially be saved as the design and building elements will run concurrently. For developers the main benefit is that, once the contract is agreed the contractor takes on much of the financial risk inherent in a project; that’s increasingly attractive when prices of both labour and materials are looking likely to rise. When various political parties claim that an upswing in construction is just around the corner, it’s worth remembering that it’s not just the taxpayer who will be expected to contribute. The Conservative government will also need to rely on private investment.

Design and Build Disadvantages

Not everyone in the industry is a fan of design and build contracts and it’s therefore worth taking a look at their disadvantages. Those who dislike the system point out that if a builder is given a free hand to design a building based on a pre-agreed price, even if costs don’t rise during the project they will be likely to work to the lowest possible specifications [if the contract allows them to alter the specifications].

Secondly, there’s an inherent problem in that builders are not architects. An architect, as well as having years of training and a very specific set of skills not least aesthetic ones, will be up to date with both the legal and design requirements. There are also requirements that may not be written into law but will be at the cutting edge of what makes a building fit for purpose now, and years into the future. Giving a builder a set amount of money and most, if not all the responsibility for design is a recipe for a shoddy result, say some people.

Making generalisations about the merits of D&B versus traditional construction methods is dangerous. In the real world, both can and do result in some buildings that are successful and some that are a disaster. For developers, architects and contractors perhaps the most important point is to ensure that the contract whatever form it takes is fully understood by all sides, covers all legal requirements and has the flexibility built into it to allow a satisfactory result.

Construction Management

Recently there has been something of a trend towards construction management rather than design and build contracts. Here, an intermediary in the form of a construction manager is appointed and the developer takes more responsibility for the overall costs of a project. It’s possible, however that if private investors are effectively forced into taking more financial risk the supply of money for the promised housebuilding boom could begin to dry up.

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Screenwriting Tips: What Father’s Day can Teach Us

People interested in screenplay writing can learn a lot from these examples of best Hollywood dads
Hi, Eric Edson here.

Father’s Day is a great opportunity to get to know one of the most important men in your life.

Aspiring screenwriters might also try thinking about what really impresses them most about Dad. Is it his sense of humor, turn of a phrase, or just the way he notices and appreciates what you do? All of these observational skills come in handy when writing a screenplay, because character development is so crucial to the success of a script.

If you don’t have a male role model in your life, you can always watch a movie to pick up some worthwhile screenwriting tips. Study the many ways in which dads are portrayed – some are heroes, some are villains, some have a heart of gold, and some struggle for redemption. People interested in screenplay writing can learn a lot from these examples of best Hollywood dads:

  • Atticus Finch: Gregory Peck’s masterful portrayal of Harper Lee’s hero in To Kill a Mockingbird presented the ultimate ideal of a principled man. But how would he have played the Atticus she wrote about in her recently-unveiled original manuscript for Go Set a WatchmanWhich character is more nuanced and real?
  • Father of the Bride: Whether it’s the classic Spencer Tracy version in 1950 or the updated Steve Martin version in 1991, this dad is full of love and humor as he prepares to see his daughter get married.
  • Darth Vader: No, not your typical dad, but a father nonetheless. What effect did his father’s conversion to the dark side have on the impressionable young Luke Skywalker?
  • Royal Tenenbaum: Does it take the news of impending death for a father to deal with the dysfunction he has created in his child prodigies? Gene Hackman showed how this can be accomplished with bittersweet humor, some of it brutally honest, and some with a lot of love.
  • Marlin, the Clown Fish: The story of a devoted father who searches desperately for his son Nemo, but also somewhere along the way, Marlin learns how to let his son go.

Take your pick – there are so many great examples of screenplay writing. If Dad’s a screenwriter like you, I’m sure he’d appreciate a copy of The Story Solution, one of the best books on screenwriting about writing a movie script. In it I present everything screenplay writers need to know about story structure, dynamic characters, rewrites, dialogue and Hero Goal Sequences. If Dad is just a film fan, take him to the movies with you and have a great time enjoying some quality time together.

Happy Father’s Day!
Eric Edson

The Story Solution, by screenwriter and tenured university professor Eric Edson, is an in-depth handbook for authors who are writing a movie script. It reveals the 23 actions screenplay writers should use to create dynamic, three dimensional heroes.

The Story Solution: People are so Excited!


Dear Friends,

I’ve told you a little bit about (Virtually) Everything Story in the last little while – and the response has been INCREDIBLE!

Thank you to everyone who has written to me sharing how much value they have received listening to my interview.

If you missed my interview, you can access it here.

I’m personally SO excited about the opportunity here, and of course all of the other presentations that are going to be happening in just a few days! I thought you might like to get a peek at the full list – so I’ve got the schedule here for you.  These are the absolute TOP names in the industry sharing CUTTING EDGE information, which is going to put you 5 to 10 years ahead of your competition. This is what storytelling is going to look like in the future, and I don’t intend to miss out on ANY of it.

If you want to jump the line and get your ticket, click here and register:
“Yes, I want to register for (Virtually) Everything Story!”

Wednesday, June 15th
John Truby ~ Novels: The Number One Screenwriting Strategy Today: Why Being a Novelist is Your Ticket to Hollywood Success
Michael Hauge ~ Crafting Transformative Characters: Taking Your Characters From Identity to Essence
Sara-Jayne Slack ~ Cut the BS! – Busting Traditional Publishing Myths,
and Navigating the Industry

Thursday, June 16th
Jeff Goins ~ How to Use Blogging as a Creative Writer and Storyteller
Lee Jessup ~ Why Having an Agent Won’t Save You
Audra Casino ~ Storytelling Through Audio

Friday, June 17th
Jen Grisanti ~ Writing A TV Pilot That Sells: Setting Up The Structure
Katie Karlovitz ~ Talking to Ego: How to Present Well and Look Confident
When Talking to People Who Outrank You
Carole Kirschner ~ The Unwritten Rules of Hollywood: What They Don’t Teach You in Film School

Saturday, June 18th
Sarah Carbiener and Erica Rosbe ~ You Never Stop Breaking In:
Writing for TV in a Digital World
Marx Pyle and Kathie Fong Yoneda ~ Workshop:  Developing and Getting Your Web Series Off the Ground
Eric Edson ~ How to Write Plots Like a Hollywood Pro: For Screenwriters, Novelists, and All Storytellers

Sunday, June 19th
Pamela Jaye Smith ~ Creating Our Next Mythologies
James Napoli and Mindi White ~ The Story Dragons: A Meet-The-Reader Panel in which Seasoned Industry Story Analysts will Breathe Fire on Your Premise and Slay Your Narrative Dragons

Monday, June 20th
Sam Landstrom ~ Making Reading Addictive Via Interactive Fiction
Allison Moon ~ Transforming Your Story Into Income

Tuesday, June 21st
Kristan Higgins ~ Missed Opportunities: Making Sure You’ve Ticked Every Box to Create a Multilayered Story
Megan Dougherty & Elija Renard ~ Funding Options for Stories with a Greater Purpose
Matt Group ~ Game Writing:  How to Tell Stories Through Technology and Games

Wednesday, June 22nd
Lisa Bloom ~ Get out of the Attic: Storytelling to Attract Massive Interest, Book Gigs & Close Deals
John Bucher and Jeremy Casper ~ Creating Cross-Platform Characters: From Feature Films to Webisodes; From Video Games to Television

Thursday, June 23rd
Sarah MacLean ~ Mastering the Art of Great Conflict
Joan Stewart ~ How to Use Email to Attract Fans, Create SuperFans, Tell a Story, & Sell
Michael Jorgensen ~ Power Narrative: the Secrets of Documentary Storytelling

Friday, June 24th
Dan O’Shannon ~ What Not to do in a Writers’ Room
Save The Cat Peeps ~   Genre and Beats
Chris Vogler ~ E-Motion Pictures: How to Channel the Power of Emotions in the Body
If you’re as excited about this as I am, go ahead and register before the doors close:

“Yes, I’m ready to put myself 5 years ahead of the competition!”

There are TONS of bonuses available for attendees, and I’ll let you know about them in the next couple of days!

About The Story Solution:  The Story Solution, by screenwriter and tenured university professor Eric Edson, is an in-depth handbook for authors who are writing a movie script. It reveals the 23 actions screenplay writers should use to create dynamic, three dimensional heroes.

Will Smith Talks Story with Michael Hauge, and Laura Leigh | The Story Solution

Will Smith talks Story with Michael Hauge, and Laura Leigh Clarke

“The First Ever ONLINE Screenwriting and Storytelling Conference, JUNE 15 – 24”

Hi, Eric Edson here.

Wanted to let you in on something very special…

My dear friend MICHAEL HAUGE just interviewed his longtime client WILL SMITH about Will’s insights into STORY.  Our producer for the upcoming (VIRTUALLY) EVERYTHING STORY event, the amazing Laura Leigh Clarke, joined Will and Michael for a three-way chat.

Here is a rare and insightful interview… one that offers tips on screenwriting from one of the most important filmmaking personalities in the world – Will Smith.

Will lays out for us the most CRITICALLY IMPORTANT STORYTELLING CONCEPTS major filmmakers and producers look for in screenplays and novels.

Thought you might want to take a look.

Here’s the link:

Will Smith talks Story with Michael Hauge, and Laura Leigh Clarke

During the interview Will talked about the powerful starting point he uses which becomes the north star in the creation of any movie:

The Universally Relatable Emotion.

He gives the example of I Am Legend where the emotion is being ALONE. He talks about how this guided the script, and everything else through to the tag line:

The last man on Earth… Is not alone.

Powerful stuff.

And have you checked out the (VIRTUALLY) EVERYTHING STORY conference schedule yet?  This one-of-a-kind Online Conference runs June 15 – 24!

They’re will be presentations and seminars with yours truly, Eric Edson, and Michael Hauge, John Truby, Jen Grisanti, Chris Vogler, Pamela Jaye Smith, along with some 25 other top speakers and producers in film, television, publishing, gaming and more, as well as many free bonus extras.

There has never been an online “virtual” ten-day conference on Storytelling event like this before.

As in Never.

If you’re a storyteller who wants to grow, then you are going to LOVE this line-up of teachers and experts.


Find out more details about this ground-breaking story conference here.


In this interview you will learn from Will Smith:

  • Why identifying the SINGLE RELATABLE EMOTION in a screenplay is essential to a film’s success.
  • The FOUR PRIMARY QUESTIONS that he asks about the hero of every story.
  • How to create POWERFULLY EMOTIONAL MOMENTS where everything collides for a hero or heroine.
  • The key tools for creating TRANFORMATION in a character – and in the audience.
  • His BEST ADVICE FOR WRITERS AND STORYTELLERS for enduring and overcoming the challenges of being a working artist.

To SEE THE ENTIRE VIDEO of Michael Hauge and Laura Leigh Clarke’s amazing interview with Will Smith, just CLICK HERE.

Eric Edson

P.S. Doors close early this week, so check out the rest of the presentations and workshops we’ve got lined up for you. One ticket gets you access to everything, and the recordings, in case you can’t attend everything live.

Register for this ground-breaking story conference here

About The Story Solution:  The Story Solution, by screenwriter and tenured university professor Eric Edson, is an in-depth handbook for authors who are writing a movie script. It reveals the 23 actions screenplay writers should use to create dynamic, three dimensional heroes.

Writing a Movie Script: How Irish-American Movies Continue to Engage Audiences

This is the time of year we celebrate Irish art: the literature, poetry and plays by celebrated writers such as W.B. Yeats, Frank McCourt, James Joyce, Sean O’Casey, Oscar Wilde, and Samuel Beckett, as well as the Irish contributions to film and screenwriting.

For a small country, the Irish are incredibly well-traveled and have a presence all over the globe after centuries of immigration. It is no surprise, then, that one of the most common themes of Irish film is immigration, a theme that defined a generation in both Ireland and America. For decades the young people of Ireland crossed the Atlantic and romanticized the “Land of Opportunity.” The theme continues to be relevant to an American audience as well, thousands of whom see their ancestors in these Irish immigrants.

1882 illustration from Puck depicting Irish immigrants as troublemakers, as compared to those of other nationalities
1882 illustration from Puck depicting Irish immigrants as troublemakers, as compared to those of other nationalities

A screenplay writer’s goal is to make the audience see themselves in the characters on the screen, using themes that are relatable for audiences across generations, and the theme of immigration utilized in Irish movies accomplishes this as it continues to be relevant to audiences over many years and age-groups.

The stories of immigrants are of people fighting to make their way in life and overcoming hardship, often in a world that seems unfair. Included in these stories is the idea of “starting over,” leaving everything behind to begin a new life from scratch. Audiences sympathize with these struggles and relate them to their own hardships.

One of the classic Irish movies featuring the theme of the immigration experience is Far and Away. It tells a story about adjusting to the rough life of immigrants in America and the struggle between working long hours for meager wages and being at the mercy of the local Irish mobsters.Far and Away also features elements of class struggle, as immigrants found themselves in a new culture with different rules, and viewers see the societal roles change between the two central characters. Through these conflicts, the problems of immigration – finding work, dealing with corruption, and integrating into a new place – are highlighted, and these struggles resonate with audiences who see in them their own experiences of dealing with the injustices of life.

A major element of the Irish immigration theme introduced in Far and Away but explored further in other movies is gang life. Irishmen (and other immigrant groups) were at the bottom of the ladder, and joining established Irish gangs was a way to come up in the community quickly, especially when the mobsters offered lucrative employment opportunities and more money than the meager wages of hard-labor factory jobs.

Gangs were also a form of protection against racism and targeting from other immigrant groups or “locals.” Gangs of New York is a classic example, as the Butcher, the Native played by Daniel Day Lewis, brutally controls the immigrant groups. The movie tells the story of the rough existence greeting many Irish in New York living in the infamous Five Points area. Gangs of New York shows the harsh reality of life for new immigrants trying to establish themselves, as well as the hierarchies and factions within these different immigrant groups that often made it impossible for immigrants to remain disconnected from gang life.

Irish immigration movies are a perfect example of what makes a movie theme successful. They tell stories of people who were willing to start from scratch, risking everything they had to improve their lives, and eventually overcoming the problems that plagued them to achieve a better life. Audiences sympathize with the characters as they experience struggles of being alone and trying to navigate through a strange new world.

The ultimate message of these immigration films is that even though life can pull you down and your situation may at times seem hopeless, there’s always a way out if you keep trying, and that is a theme that can inspire any generation. In the end, their triumphs give us hope for our triumphs, and that makes it a strong and lasting theme.

Additional movies dealing with the theme of immigration struggles are In America,Beyond the Pale and Angela’s Ashes, Kill the Irishman, The Departed, and State of Grace.

Q: Are there any famous Irish actors I would know?

A: There are many Irish actors in Hollywood, some you may not even realize hail from the Emerald Isle. They include Daniel Day Lewis, Saoirse Ronan, Fionnula Flanagan, Liam Neeson, Colin Farrell, Maureen O’Sullivan, Cillian Murphy, Pierce Brosnan, Michael Gambon, and Brendan Gleeson.

Q: Are there Irish immigration movies that focus on a romance theme?

A: Romance is another central theme to both Far and Away, Gangs of New York andCircle of Friends. More recent examples include Leap Year and Brooklyn. For more information on how to write a romance screenplay, see our previous blog post “Your Romantic Screenplay Starts Here

Q: I would like to watch an Irish film on St. Patrick’s Day. Can you recommend one?

A: One movie that received critical acclaim is Once, an independent movie about a man from Dublin and a Czech immigrant who make an album together. The soundtrack to the movie was nominated for a Grammy Award, and the song Falling Slowly won the 2007 Academy Award for Best Original Song. The movie has now been adapted into a Broadway musical.

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