Archive for Robert Mckee

Importance of Empathy, Just like me

Posted in content, Ideas you love to share, Uncategorized with tags , , on May 25, 2010 by Joanna Lyall

When we watch a film, read a book or hear a play we wait to connect with the characters consciously and unconsciously through empathy.  As humans empathy creates a reasonnace of humanity, we seek to see something of ourselves in the lead the character and this makes it real to us.  Even if the protagonist is evil or bad their behaviour will normally be human so we can still see their POV. An interesting point raised today is that people will always take the minimal conservative action to achieve what they want, from their POV.  Human nature only allows us to move toward the positive, not the negative, again from the individuals POV in that moment.  This is hard to get your head around, but the point is that from an individual POV they will always do what seems to be the best solution in that moment, even if after it is instantly regretted.  The actions of murderer, a gangster or saint are always based on what seems to be the only option in that moment.  So when we see an inherently evil character and find ourselves able to connect them this is because of their human nature even when we morally, know they are wrong.  With this in mind I was thinking about just how incredible a brilliant writer is, something I have not fully appreciated before.  To make a character whom we may only encounter for 2 hours of our lives seem and feel like whole person with a life that has extended beyond the movie window we are seeing, whom is as real to us as the people we spend our days with.  This is the work of pure talent.

Watching a film will never be the same again now that I have some insight as to what to look for and I may just understand what it is that has made me enjoy that film more or less than the last.  Story writing is art and is an incredibly difficult career to pursue.

Robert said that a writer should be prepared to spend 10 years writing and being rejected, writing 10 major pieces of work before they have any chance of getting produced.  This would take a serious strength of character to spend such a long time with no reward and only disappointment.  On the flip slide imagine the sense of achievement when you do make it….



Posted in Ideas you love to share with tags , , on May 24, 2010 by Joanna Lyall

This week I am in Newcastle at the #ThinkingDigital conference.  I am spending the first two days on the Robert Mckee Story seminar, this is a condensed version of his famous 4 day course.  Robert is a Hollywood Story Doctor, until today I did not know that was something that even existed.  Essentially, he is a god of Story telling.  So far, his seminar is fantastic, he makes a complex subject quite digestible and entertaining.  Largely my fellow attendees are writers, I would guess that I am probably the only digital media person there, more should come, they might just learn something useful.

Whatever your chosen career I think there is something we can all learn from this course, at best the art telling stories well could change your life and worst understanding the character that you play in your own life is worth some thought.  At some points I forgot whether he was speaking about real life or film, the fact when we watch good films we connect with them and understand them on a personal level, so the truths in characters are reflections of real behaviour and emotions.  He talks about Story being the organising principle of the mind, it is how we remember things and make sense of the past and future.  My favourite quote of the day ‘What lies on the surface lies’ this about people showing you the character that they want you to see, not actually who they are, this is something we see every day in our lives, especially at work i would think!.

Throughout the day I was thinking about how I could apply what I was learning to what I do at Mindshare. I think there are paralels between the process a writer users and the process a media planner could use to do better work.  When we plan media we plan how a consumer will come into contact with our clients story, having a clear structure and understanding of this process makes the communication more powerful.  To plan well the planner must have real insight into life, into brands and into media.  They must have an intense knowledge of the consumer and be able to imagine how they will react and respond to the communications story we share with them.  They must understand the conflict and value change that the communication is trying to achieve.  Finally to be the best the planner must have deep passion for what they are doing and be in pursuit of perfection.