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On Set with Martin Scorsese

By Michael Neelsen StoryFirst collaborator Michael Nie has been one of my best friends for many years, ever since we worked on an independent feature together in Madison, Wisconsin in early 2004. More recently, he has worked on a myriad of major film productions, including Peter Berg’s The Kingdom, Michael Bay’s The Island, Paul Greengrass’ The Bourne Ultimatum, […]

You Are Your Story’s Hero

By Michael Neelsen Back in 2011 when I was deep in editing for my documentary Last Day at Lambeau, I realized the movie didn’t work and I was mere weeks away from film festival submission deadlines. The movie was about the relationship between sports fans and their heroes through the prism of Brett Favre’s separation […]

Demonstrate. Don’t Explain.

By Michael Neelsen On January 24, 1978, Steven Spielberg was sitting in a writers’ room with George Lucas and Lawrence Kasdan. They were hard at work structuring a story about a pseudo grave-robber in the 1930s who searches for the Lost Ark of the Covenant. That story would eventually become the first Indiana Jones film. […]

Content Over Aesthetic

I have recently been studying the works of the early Soviet film pioneers and their respective texts. While Sergei Eisenstein is the most remembered today, it’s important not to forget that he was but one member of an entire movement in world cinema history that took place in the USSR from 1910 to the mid-1930s. […]

Turning Left When They Think You’ll Turn Right

“No scene that doesn’t turn.” Such is the motto of Robert McKee’s bible for storytellers, Story. Until I read his book a couple years ago and started hearing more and more screenwriters refer to “turns” and “reversals” and “turning left when they think you’ll turn right,” I had no idea how important a concept this […]