Thursday, December 24, 2009


I must admit: I've always been a little suspicious of screenwriting seminars and the people who teach them. If Robert McKee really knows how to craft a Black-List-topping, low-to-mid-six-figures-selling, Oscar-winning screenplay, why doesn't he sit down and write one of his own, instead of charging me and you and everyone we know a thousand bucks to learn his patented secret formula? I mean, what could this Jim Mercurio character possibly teach us that couldn't be learned from watching Chinatown for the 23rd time?

It was with this general air of skepticism and a mild hangover that I entered Jim's class on a Saturday morning. And, by the time we hit California Pizza Kitchen for lunch, my headache and my doubts had vanished. Jim really knows his shit.

Jim's unique way of thinking about writing opened my eyes to a whole new way of looking at a script. In short order, he armed me with a ton of ideas for exploring character, revealing theme, tightening plot and turning up the funny in my stuff. The guy is a diet-soda-fueled tornado of insights and ideas. His knowledge of film is encyclopedic. His DVD collection is first-class. And his course is fun, fast-paced and seriously inspiring. I strongly recommend.

- Tony Nichols

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