Films come at too high a cost (both financially and personally) to allow for dysfunctional stories. Going with one’s gut instincts and hoping that it will all work out in the end sets a production of the path towards a very steep cliff. Trusting the process of writing sets the stage for failure. Craft a solid blueprint—making allowances for serendipity and creativity—and then start production.
No use wasting everyone’s time on a shoddy foundation.
There can be no greater reward in life than helping someone develop a greater understanding of their own art. Writers write to express something deep inside; a better appreciation of narrative structure allows for a greater honesty of expression. We feel lucky to be a part of that.
Read feedback from writers we have worked with or inspired.
About the Author
James R. Hull is a writer & story consultant with over twenty years of experience in the entertainment industry. His company Narrative First (narrativefirst.com) provides writers and producers the knowledge and expertise needed to craft deeply meaningful and complete stories. His track record of proven success speaks for itself: clients have yet to receive a single studio note questioning the integrity of their narratives.
Every succesful story is a model of a single human mind trying to solve a problem. Driven by this idea, Jim helps storytellers align their narratives with the mind’s problem-solving process. The closer authors adhere to this model, the greater the level of engagement with their audience—a connection that lasts far beyond the final curtain drop and far beyond that final page.
Whether as a writer, director, storyboard artist, or character animator, Jim has always sought to improve the quality of storytelling. His recent work with a major studio on developing the story for their multi-year animated television series helped guarantee a green light. Instead of taking the risk on a speculative concept, studio execs were able to hear precisely how the show would play out over several seasons—making it easy to proceed with trust and confidence.
The same pattern continues to play out with every story Jim works on. The twenty-minute pitch for an animated feature was so complete it was met with stunned silence—and essentially sold in the room. The feature-length screenplay he helped take from concept to first draft in less than six weeks is slated to be the foundation for another studio’s foray into animation.
Jim loves story. The hundreds of insightful articles & analysis on Narrative First. The quarterly weekend workshops and on-line classes for writers. The seven years spent teaching story at the California Institute of the Arts. The collaboration with writers, directors, and producers of film, television and novels. All of these add up to a body of work with only one purpose in mind: to tell a great story.
The Adventures of Puss in Boots, Dilbert
Peabody & Mr. Sherman, Chuck Jones Film Productions (Working with legendary director Chuck Jones on various Warner Bros. animated shorts)
Disney Feature Animation Special Projects (Various theme park rides), Cloudy with a Chance of a Meatballs 2, The Croods, Madagascar 3, Puss in Boots, Kung Fu Panda 2, Megamind, How to Train Your Dragon, Monsters vs. Aliens, Madagascar 2, Bee Movie, Enchanted, Over the Hedge, Madagascar, Shrek 2, Sinbad, Spirit, Tarzan, Hercules, Hunchback of Notre Dame, Pocahontas
Adjunct Professor, Story
California Institute of the Arts (2008-2014)
Jim can be found @jameshull on Twitter.