Wednesday, 25 April 2012

He’s the story expert behind The Wrestler, The Lion King, Fight Club and The Thin Red Line, and author of cult screenwriting guide The Writer’s Journey. Here Christopher Vogler explains how his theory of a “mythic structure” can help you become a better screenwriter…

How does the mythic structure work?
The essence of the idea is that everybody at some stage in their lives has to leave what they’re comfortable with. You have to get out of your comfort zone and go into unknown territory that is psychologically and maybe physically scary to you, but the promise of the story is that if you take the risk you will be rewarded – you’ll grow, change or learn something.

Can you apply the structure to all films?
It’s easiest to see in adventure movies, but I don’t have trouble finding it in any kind of drama. I just saw Terrence Malik’s wonderful film The Tree of Life. You could say that has no story, that it’s just a bunch of images and dreams strung together, but I think it still has that mythological feeling to it, of someone in life setting out and being challenged and then learning their lessons and changing.

Do you think it also works for documentary film?
I’ve done a lot of work with documentary filmmakers on this very question and my feeling about is that the audience is programmed to interpret everything as a story, no matter what you do. So I say, why not give them the stories they want – give them a character they can relate to who has a problem and who’s going to be transformed by confronting it. The good documentary filmmakers know that even if we just try to present things objectively, the audience still jumps in and makes a story out of it.

Read the full article on IdeasMag.

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