A-List Story Teacher John Truby talks ‘African Cats’ [Part 1 of 2]


JohnTruby-AfricanCats-PosterA-List Story Teacher John Truby is regarded as the serious writer’s story coach and has taught his story classes to sold-out audiences around the world.   In addition Truby continues to serve as a story consultant to the major studios.  On April 22 Disneynature’s African Cats premiered which was co-written by John Truby.

African Cats co-writer  John Truby talks about his experience:

“I had the pleasure of co-writing a wonderful film that’s just come out, called African Cats. This is Disney Nature’s third release, after Earth and Oceans. These films were all made by the highly talented nature documentarians at the BBC, who work together not unlike the writers and directors of Pixar. African Cats was led by Keith Scholey, co-writer and co-director, and the world’s premiere expert in filming big cat behavior. So this was a really fun project for me.

Ironically, one of the reasons I loved it was for the unique story challenges it posed. You have to identify these challenges right at the beginning of the writing process, or your script will have severe problems. First, we had to make this an epic event, worthy of a feature length film. That meant we had to avoid the typical nature documentary, which is predictable and familiar, and way too informational and dry.

We also had to write a story that was dictated by the animals. Obviously, you can’t script animals; you have to find the best story in what they actually do. That can be very difficult, especially when you want to avoid anthropomorphizing them. So the main challenge of the plot was how to overcome the episodic quality inherent in all nature films, especially when the animal depicted must go on an annual migration.

Animal stories are also constrained by the main characters. The more the animal is limited by what he can learn, the more the story is guided by predictable instinct. One solution, but also a problem, was to have two main characters, a lion and a cheetah. This makes the film feel like the story about the world’s big cats. But it also breaks the single narrative story line into two tracks, and the tracks may never cross.

So what did we do?……”

Find out in Part 2 coming at the end of the week.

Or visit John Truby’s official website for the full story now.

John Truby is regarded as the serious writer’s story coach and has taught his 22-Step Great Screenwriting and Genre courses to sold-out audiences.   Truby continues to serve as a story consultant to the major studios, including Sony Pictures, HBO, and Disney StudiosTruby’s best-selling book The Anatomy of Story newly out in paperback, has received glowing reviews and is used as a textbook at film schools across the country.