Pixar and the Craft of Storytelling

Scott Myers
5 min readMay 7, 2018


My popular one week online class begins Monday, May 14th.

18 movies produced. 17 movies #1 at the box office. Worldwide B.O. gross over $11 billion. Average B.O. per film: $650M+ by far the highest average per film of any studio in Hollywood history.

It’s not just dollars and cents, it’s also quality storytelling. 15 Academy Awards, 9 Golden Globes, 11 Grammys. Indeed 9 of Pixar’s 18 films are in the IMDB Top 250 Movies of all time.

No disrespect to Disney, but I think the real Magic Kingdom lies 397.8 miles north of Anaheim in a city called Emeryville, California where you’ll find this:

Longtime GITS readers know of my fascination with Pixar having blogged about them dozens of times. Due to having two sons who quite literally have grown up in what someday is likely to be called the Pixar Era, I have seen every one of the company’s movies, most of them several times.

In my estimation, the filmmakers at Pixar are master storytellers.

But how do they successfully wrangle magic time after time in their films? Are there lessons we can learn from Pixar to inspire and upgrade our own writing?

Up-up-upgrade your writing with Pixar story-crafting principles and practices.

Those are two key questions I undertook in creating the online course Pixar and the Craft of Storytelling which begins Monday, May 14. My answer: An emphatic yes!

First off, there are the practices Pixar uses in developing, breaking, writing and rewriting a script. In our 1-week class, we go through that process step by step, then see how we can adapt that approach to our own writing.

Then there are several narrative principles evident in Pixar movies, six of them we focus in our online class: Small Story / Substantial Saga, Special Subculture, Strange Sojourners, Separation, Sentimentality, and Surprise. Going through every Pixar movie, we explore how these dynamics work in the context of each narrative and their overall applicability to storytelling.

There are 7 lectures, each of which I wrote, the content buttressed by an exclusive interview I conducted with Mary Coleman, Senior Development Executive at Pixar since the days of Toy Story 2, so we get a real inside look the outfit’s creative process.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: I have expanded this class to teach it at DePaul University and have added two more principles: Sires and Siblings, Stumbles and Switches.

Also in this year’s session, I will be adding a special lecture with analysis of Pixar’s latest movie, the wonderful film Coco.

The class also has a Logline Workshop where you can post a story idea and revise per peer feedback. And a teleconference where participants get a chance to dig into the course content with me as well as discuss anything related to writing, screenwriting, and movies.

Trust me, this Pixar class I teach is INCREDIBLE!

Here are some nice comments from just a few folks who’ve taken the class:

“I was lucky enough to be able to take Scott’s Pixar and the Craft of Storytelling class. It was my first class and a wonderful experience. I learned a ton and now have some important utensils that will help make all my stories better. Scott’s a great teacher and it was a pleasure learning from him!” — Valencia Stokes

“This course is awesome. I refer to these notes and lessons all the time.” — Traci Nell Peterson

“A course on Pixar movies? Apart from legitimately letting out my inner child and renting Up ‘for research purposes, I learnt about the ethos of the Pixar Brain Trust and the essential elements contained in all of their movies. Scott took us on an all-inclusive week long journey into why Pixar are so successful and how to practically apply this to your own script.” — Camilla Castree

“I recommend this course wholeheartedly. Plus you get to watch Pixar films as homework.” — TheQuietAct

“Scott Myers is a brilliant teacher and unites his knowledge and experience, insight and depth of thought in his lectures as well as he is providing help and support to his students. I highly recommend the class.” — Eva Brandstätter

Consider the great characters Pixar has created. Learn how and why they work, and bring those insights to your writing.

A few words about the format: I’ve been teaching online since 2002, worked with over 1000 writers in that context, and honestly believe it is superior to the onsite class environment in many ways:

  • You can do virtually everything on your own time: Download lectures, read forum conversations, add your own comments, upload writing exercises and assignments. In your pajamas. In bed. Drinking coffee. However you want to access online course content, you can do it.
  • As opposed to listening to a teacher present lectures verbally, you get to download lectures and read them. Again at your leisure, but even more importantly, instead of feverishly trying to jot down notes from a verbal presentation, here you get everything laid out for you. I take great pride in my lectures, as they not only provide great content, they also have a narrative flow to them. Yes, they tell a little story.
  • Feedback and conversations online tend to be much more thoughtful and therefore beneficial than onsite settings. Why? Because instead of off-the-cuff, random comments, participants online tend to spend more time and reflection in composing posts for online.
  • Finally I’m constantly amazed at how much of a community emerges in online class environments. Writers from all around the world and somehow we bind together into remarkably vibrant learning communities, time and time again.

So if you’ve never tried an online screenwriting class, come on in! The virtual water’s fine!

For more information on Pixar and the Craft of Storytelling which begins May 14, go here.

Get lost trying to write your story? Let Dory help you find your way!

I am updating lectures to include Coco which has grossed an incredible $797 million in worldwide box office revenues.

So join me to learn some incredible insights into crafting a story with the practices and principles at work in Pixar movies. I look forward to the opportunity to work with you! Or to put it another way…