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L.A Times

The Writer's Spirit
"An Approach to Storytelling" with David Milch

Four-time Emmy Award winner David Milch is Executive Producer and Co-Creator, along with Steven Bochco, of the history-making police drama NYPD BLUE. The highly-rated series set a new record garnering a total of 26 Emmy Nominations and winning six Emmy Awards for the 1993-94 season, as well as the Emmy Award for Best Drama Series in 1994-1995. Most recently, Milch won the Emmy for Best Writing in a Drama for the 1996-1997 and 1997-1998 seasons.

In this five volume lecture series recorded at the Writer’s Guild Theatre, Milch uncovers the consciousness behind the act of storytelling. Dissecting it in psychological, socio-cultural, anthropological and spiritual terms, Milch leads the writer through a journey of self-discovery as he reveals the thought processes behind creative writing. Milch dispels fears of blocks and other self-imposed obstructions the writer faces with his own brand of gritty, forthright and blunt insight. Like a sermon being delivered by a master shaman, he approaches the act of storytelling with a point of view that interweaves a sentient psychological analysis with an understanding of man’s historical impulse to communicate. With this video lecture series, Milch delivers an unprecedented, unique approach to dramatic writing sure to enlighten and inspire.



In LECTURE ONE, Milch introduces the emerging writer to the concept of "paradoxical doubleness", inherent in the craft of writing: that of being simultaneously within the story and outside of it during the act of creation. An exercise is suggested, to be completed by the writer before beginning the second video. Chapter headings include: The Writer’s Doubleness, Sinking the Roots Deeper, Behavioral Strategies, and The Sacramental Storyteller.


In LECTURE TWO, Milch uncovers the psychological and physiological reasoning behind many writers’ despondent frustration with the work, citing responses to the first week’s exercise as examples. Exploring why writers experience procrastination, anxiety and isolation, Milch unveils the psyche of the writer, exposing problematic relationships to the material such as: pent up resentments, the parental connection, and the need to keep showing up. Chapter headings include: Justified Resentment, Connections to the Work, War Stories of Isolation, and The Words Abide.


In LECTURE THREE, Milch explains the human impulse to tell stories through the act of signification, and how this fundamentally affects the creative writer. Engaging anthropological references, Milch demystifies the creative process. Rounding out this third installment, Milch deals with the previous lecture’s exercise and expounds on the virtues of adding a "third voice". Chapter headings include: The Signifying Process, Accomodating Uncertainty, Future Tense of Joy, and Danger of Incomprehension.


In LECTURE FOUR, Milch continues delving into the writer’s altered state of being when engaged in the process, suggesting how to survive uneasiness towards form, creating emotional momentum, and overriding self-imposed rituals that may be antithetical to the work. Milch assesses the writer’s market, along with fellow screenwriter Bill Finkelstein, who offers his own take on what’s commercial. Chapter headings include: Demystifying Creativity, Chemical Constituency, A Spiritual Component, and The Data of Experience.


In LECTURE FIVE, Milch culminates the series with dissecting his own work. Examining scenes from the CBS dramatic television series, BIG APPLE (Starring: Ed O’Neil, Donnie Wahlberg, and Michael Madsen), Milch probes the deep emotional truth behind character motivations, the effects of incorporating a "third voice", the audience’s secret pact with the story and the accessibility of art to everyone. Chapter headings include: Malicious Pleasure, The Character’s Past, Earning Emotions, The Voice of Form, and Art is Democratic.