BPS 039: Screenwriting Unchained – Master Story Structure with Emmanuel Oberg

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Screenwriting Unchained – Master Story Structure with Emmanuel Oberg

Today on the show we have Emmanuel Oberg. Emmanuel is a screenwriter, author and script consultant with more than twenty years of experience in the Film and TV industry. After selling his first project to Warner Bros as a co-writer, he went on to be commissioned by StudioCanal and Gold Circle before writing solo for Working Title / Universal and Film4.

He has also designed an internationally acclaimed 3-day Advanced Development Workshop – based on the Story-Type Method® – which he delivers with passion to filmmakers all over the world. Emmanuel lives in the UK with his wife and their two daughters. His film agent is Rachel Holroyd at Casarotto in London. He is also the writer of Screenwriting Unchained: Reclaim Your Creative Freedom and Master Story Structure (With The Story-Type Method).

In Screenwriting Unchained, Emmanuel Oberg busts many myths and sets out an innovative method

This practical, no-nonsense guide leaves behind one-size-fits-all story theories and offers a modern approach to story structure, making it a precious resource for anyone involved creatively in the Film and TV industry (or aspiring to be): writers, directors, producers, development execs, showrunners and, more generally, storytellers keen to reach a wide audience at home and abroad.

Having identified three main story-types – plot-led, character-led, theme-led – Oberg reveals in a clear, conversational style how each of these impacts on the structure of any screenplay, and how we can use a single set of tools to develop any movie, from an independent crossover to a studio blockbuster.

This leads to a powerful yet flexible way to handle the script development process: the Story-Type Method®. A new framework that doesn’t tell you what to write and when, but focuses instead on why some tools and principles have stood the test of time and how to use them in the 21st century.

According to readers (see reviews below), Oberg’s new approach is a game-changer.

Here are some of the easy-to-understand concepts explored in Screenwriting Unchained that will help you improve any screenplay:

  • How to identify the story-type of your project to make its development faster, easier and solve most story structure problems.
  • How to leave behind the prescriptive, logistical three-act structure based on page numbers or minutes and replace it with a flexible, dramatic three-act structure that will help you design a rock-solid screenplay.
  • How focusing on emotion, character development and managing information will allow you to go beyond the “protagonist-goal-obstacles-conflict” basic chain of drama.
  • How to use the fractal aspect of structure to design not only the whole story but also its parts in order to avoid the dreaded “sagging middle” syndrome and breathe new life into your script.
  • How to clarify what’s at stake and increase your chances of getting the project made with a new take on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
  • How to use subgoals to Sequence the Action and psychological/emotional steps to Sequence the Evolution of your characters.
  • How to keep the audience engaged using tools like dramatic irony, surprise, mystery, and suspense, adding a third dimension to your story.
  • How to master these tools and principles in scenes through practical exercises before using them in a short film, a feature film, a TV episode or a whole series following hands-on tips and advice.
  • How to design an attention-grabbing opening and a satisfying ending.
  • How to deal with hybrids and exceptions, as story structure isn’t about forcing all narratives into a single formulaic paradigm.
  • The Rewrite Stuff: 12 Ways to a Stronger Screenplay, how to approach a new draft creatively and efficiently.
  • How to make the difference between selling documents – used to raise development or production finance – and story design tools.
  • Once you’ve developed a killer script, how to best pitch your project according to its story-type and get enthusiastic partners on board.
  • …and much, much more!

Using many case studies including films as diverse as Gravity, Silver Linings Playbook, Crash, Billy Elliot, The Intouchables, Birdman, Alien, Groundhog Day, Misery, Edge of Tomorrow, The Secret in Their Eyes, Cloud Atlas, L.A. Confidential and The Lives of Others, Screenwriting Unchainedwill transform the way you write, read, pitch, design, assess and develop screenplays.

Enjoy my conversation with Emmanuel Oberg.

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