John Milius on what the advice his teacher told him.

December 4, 2012 — Leave a comment

I had a wonderful teacher, Irwin Blacker, and he was feared by everyone at the school because he took a very interesting position.

He gave you the screenplay form, which I hated so much, and if you made one mistake on the form, you flunked the class.

His attitude was that the least you can learn is the form.

‘I can’t grade you on the content. I can’t tell you whether this is a better story for you to write than that, you know? And I can’t teach you how to write the content, but I can certainly demand that you do it in the proper form.’

He never talked about character arcs or anything like that; he simply talked about telling a good yarn, telling a good story.

He said, ‘Do whatever you need to do. Be as radical and as outrageous as you can be. Take any kind of approach you want to take. Feel free to flash back, feel free to flash forward, feel free to flash back in the middle of a flashback. Feel free to use narration, all the tools are there for you to use.’

I used to tell a screenwriting class, ‘I could teach you all the basic techniques in fifteen minutes. After that, it’s up to you.’ (source)

– John Milius from “Creative Screenwriting,” March/April 2000

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