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Story and the dramatic structure of a film

Discussion in 'Action Scenes' started by David Rubenstein, Jul 2, 2021.

  1. Mike's video class on "Action Scenes" brings up a number of provocative issues. This is not the only class where Mike brings up these issues. But for me, this was the class where I first heard it.

    Why should a director hire a composer to custom-compose a score? Why not just select tracks from a music production library? I believe Mike answered this question with something like this: "Because there is no visual that is more powerful or important than music. The job of a composer is more important than any other contributor to the drama of a film. More than any actor, any CG effect or visual, The job of a good composer is to understand the dramatic structure of a film.

    While I completely agree with Mike, I questioned my own understanding of dramatic structure. So, I read this book: Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee. The book is fantastic. I have no intention of becoming a screenwriter. But this book is a great handbook for anyone who wants to know what makes a good story, and the detailed arc of a story. Also, for me as a composer, this book serves as a lesson about how to judge whether or not a film story is worth my time in composing music for it.

    Last week, I got a call from a screenwriter/director friend whom I helped with composing music in the past. He had a job for me. I mentioned to him about this book. He said, "Do you mean the book by Robert McKee? I read it nine times."

    So, I highly recommend this book. It is useful even if you don't intend to be a screenwriter. Here is my review of the book on GoodReads.com:

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