Jeff Kitchen is a brilliant dramatist and writer. He’s been teaching and guiding screenwriters for many years. His ability to analyze story and structure is profound. Jeff’s writing techniques and teaching have been invaluable tools in my own creative work. His attention to character, process and form have informed all of my work and will continue to do so. I start every script with the simple question that Jeff asks daily, “What do you want to leave the audience with?” The question and Jeff’s teaching form the foundation for compelling, honest work.
Ted Melfi – Writer/Director – Hidden Figures (nominated for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay Oscars), St. Vincent, Going in Style
I’ve worked with Jeff one-on-one for many of my projects. His tools and insights push me to explore the material in a deeper way — and find the dramatic core of the situation. I know he’s made me a better writer and made my process more organized and more effective. I highly recommend his book, his classes, and his personal attention.
Jessica Sharzer – Writer/Producer – American Horror Story, A Simple Favor, Nerve
Your seminar for Development Executives was by far the best seminar I have ever taken. I have found the tools you discussed to be very instrumental in my analysis of scripts on a day to day basis. Your class is the most comprehensive one offered as far as making people understand how to apply the tools and make them work. Your approach is like no other. Your vast educational training in plays, television and films added so much more to the learning experience. This was one class that I can honestly say has helped me to become a stronger executive. I am very grateful to you. I recommend your seminar to anyone in the entertainment industry who wants to know what it takes to make a strong script.
Jen Grisanti – Story/Career Consultant at Jen Grisanti Consultancy Inc.; Writing Instructor for NBC’s Writers on the Verge; former 12-year studio executive
Thank you for sharing your extensive knowledge of story structure with us last month. I found your class to be user-friendly and very informative. I especially enjoyed your technique of working backwards from the climax–it really helps to streamline a screenplay and strengthen the throughline.
I highly recommend this class to screenwriters of all levels of proficiency.
Debra Meringa – Sony Pictures
Having taken virtually every screenwriting course in existence, I found Jeff Kitchen’s workshop to be the most valuable in town. His techniques and tools guide one through the entire process of screenwriting: from basic concept to general script structure and further down to the scene level. Jeff is a master teacher who truly understands the art and technique of the screenplay. His course is worth its weight in gold.
Chris Brancato – Writer – Sherlock Holmes 3, Narcos, Hannibal, Law & Order: Criminal Intent
Jeff Kitchen’s seminar is not just theory, it’s nuts and bolts. And he provides you with a set of dramaturgical wrenches with which you can dismantle, then reassemble your screenplay idea and verify its dramatic integrity.
Michael McDonnell – Producer – The Usual Suspects
After a two day semi-private session with Jeff Kitchen, I sincerely believe that I learned more about structuring a story than I had learned during the two years of my MFA playwriting program at a top-level prestigious film school. Mr. Kitchen provides his students with invaluable tools that, once understood, enable a writer to easily solve major story points that can so often lead to the dreaded “writer’s block.” After five minutes of Mr. Kitchen’s explanation of his theory on dilemma and crisis I couldn’t imagine how I was ever able to write a script in the past. In fact, within two days of intense study with Jeff, I had solved a first act problem in one of my scripts that had puzzled me for over a year.
Throughout my four years of undergraduate work as a theater major and my two year MFA playwriting program, I have never encountered an instructor so thorough, so knowledgeable about the practicalities of writing drama, or so earnest in his desire to pass along wisdom as Jeff Kitchen. What’s more, Mr. Kitchen provided such invaluable help on a difficult script that I was commissioned to write by a major studio, that I felt guilty not including his name in the writing credit. So rarely an opportunity presents itself in which one is able to gain so much knowledge in so little time… the best money I’ve ever spent. A deal at ten times the price.
Dennis Brooks – Writer-Director
Jeff Kitchen’s technique and his dedication to the art of screenwriting taught me writing skills that took my script to a whole new level. I’ve never seen anything like what he teaches, and it works better than anything out there. After taking his course I got top representation and sold a script to New Line Cinema.
Sam Brown – Screenwriter
Jeff Kitchen teaches the most powerful and practical screenwriting tools in the business. I’ve studied numerous techniques, but Jeff is the first person I’ve met who presents a fully developed craft that screenwriters can actually use. His expertise unlocked, energized and structured a script that I was completely stumped on and now a major studio is considering it for an A-list actress.
Jon Van Dyke – Writer-Director
Jeff Kitchen is the best screenwriting teacher in the world.
Tom Huckabee – Executive Producer – Frailty
The information that you presented was precise, thorough and profound. The tools that you have developed are concise and well presented, and gave me an immediate boost in dealing with not only my own work, but in the critical analysis of the dozens of screenplays that I deal with weekly. A well researched and practical technique. I wish I could make it mandatory!
Andre Robinson, Jr. – Miramax Films
Jeff Kitchen can be counted on as the most precise, intellectually rigorous, and pragmatic of dramatic structure teachers. If you liked McKee, then you’ll love Kitchen. His gift is a selfless conveyance of the most powerful tools for understanding and operating on dramatic structure. With his laser sharp tools skillfully in hand, he performs the most impressive vivisection of Shakespeare’s Hamlet anywhere. He could sell his seminar for alchemy, for it is that magical.
Ken Versand – Playwright
I am the Director of Development at Flower Films, the production company run by Nancy Juvonen and Drew Barrymore. We have a first look deal with FOX 2000 and are wrapping up production of our first feature, Never Been Kissed. In November 1997, I was a participant in Jeff Kitchen’s Seminar for Development Execs in Los Angeles.
Jeff’s seminar was extremely interesting because it worked from the assumption that we already knew how to do our jobs. His goal was to give us an additional way to think about the connections and conflicts that give rise to a clever narrative-a unique “map” to story structure. Jeff’s seminar gave us tools that we could immediately integrate, and which were flexible and adaptable to our own processes.
The general dramaturgical approach that Jeff takes avoids the pitfalls of formulae. It’s a broad-based theory with a distinguished history, not a crutch or half-baked “shortcut.” And it works. Smart and effective, it’s a great tool for anyone developing story material.
Stephanie Savage – Director of Development, Flower Films
From within the swarm of gimmicky screenwriting seminars and trendy new how-to’s, it is Jeff Kitchen’s approach, relying heavily on the classic principles of dramatic structure and logic, that emerges as truly innovative. His technique is the answer for anyone seeking practical tools with which to diagnose script problems, generate effective solutions, or transform story ideas into compelling drama. Jeff’s seminars are aggressive; they are work sessions that produce real results immediately. Come with your sleeves rolled up.
Erin Quigley – Producer, Development Exec., 23 Red Prods.
Jeffrey Kitchen is a dynamic and intelligent teacher who thrills at challenging his students while forcing them to analyze and test the dramatic mettle of their screenplays. As a development executive and as a screenwriter, I often utilize the reliable set of tools I learned at his seminar. I am better at my work because of them.
Marina Muhlfriedel – DV.P. Development, Santa Monica Pictures
Your screenwriting seminar was enormously helpful. In one weekend, you managed to impart all the tools necessary to take a vague idea and turn it into a well developed, tightly structured dramatic map for the screen. Through your painstaking examples and diagrams, Polti’s Thirty-six Dramatic Situations leap from the annals of antiquity to become viable creative tools for your students. Moreover, after the creative ideas begin to flow, your methods help the writer harness, examine, and capture those ideas magically on paper.
I highly recommend your seminar for beginning and advanced screenwriters, as well as anyone who wishes to “get inside” a script, either to revise or to appreciate the craft of the writer.
Tamara Woolfork – Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group
I’ve taken them all–McKee, Truby, Walter–and the difference in your instruction was that you provided a clear understanding of several intellectually rigorous and creative methods for solving the problems of story structure… AND THEN YOU SHOWED THE CLASS HOW TO USE THEM! After applying your approaches to the rewrite of my feature script, I was thrilled when my producer’s response was, ‘Great! Now you’ve got it right.’
J. Marshall New – Screenwriter
The seminar is brilliant, practical and rich with concepts and working tools–not formula. Kitchen has synthesized a profound body of knowledge into a working method you can’t find anywhere else.
Susan Robeson – Writer/Producer
I wanted to take the time to tell you what an extraordinary experience your weekend intensive workshop was for me. My entire approach to writing changed in the most beneficial ways imaginable. As a result of the four tools you teach, I can never imagine myself going hungry for an idea or the technique to put it together. At the most fundamental level, you have proved to me that it is always possible to work as a writer. No more waiting around for the “moment” to hit me–with your techniques, I can and will work any time I please. These four tools allow me to access my imagination, develop strong, solid stories, and outline a screenplay or stage play quickly and efficiently. If Hollywood is ever to experience a Second Golden Age of Film, if the Art of Great Story Telling returns to cinema and theater, I guarantee Jeff Kitchen will have a lot to do with it.
Having experienced the seminar and utilizing the techniques daily, I still cannot fathom the magnanimous effects they are having on my work and my output. I have never worked so fast and so well. The tools have allowed me to focus my talents in ways I had not previously imagined. I am certain that should more professional screenwriters discover Jeff’s techniques, Hollywood will see another Golden Era.
Michael Nourse – Screenwriter and award-winning playwright.
I recently attended Jeffrey Kitchen’s screenwriting seminar and cannot praise it too highly. He is one of the best teachers I’ve ever had. His attributes are that rare to find. First, he is clear and concise and is a master of the techniques he teaches. Secondly, he has infinite patience and instinctive generosity so that everyone feels that their project is worthwhile, even as he uncovers its flaws.
The technique he teaches is truly extraordinary and Jeffrey, it turns out, may be the only person in the world using it in this particular way. I have taken other screenwriting courses and his is head and shoulders above them all. As a result of Jeffrey’s course I feel much more secure in my writing. I finally feel that my script will have the best possible structure.
Mira Tweti – Screenwriter
Jeff Kitchen’s innovative system is totally unlike any other approach to story analysis I’ve seen. It is an excellent and wholly satisfying marriage of meaty academic theory with basic screenwriting practicalities. It shows you a useful new way of focusing dramatic tension with laser-like precision, beat by beat. What is great about his methods is that they can be of assistance to both those writers and producers devoted to the traditional Hollywood three-act structure, and those who would like to try something different. Whether used as a supplement to more conventional means of evaluating a script (Linda Seger, Syd Field, Joseph Campbell, et al.) or used by itself, Jeff Kitchen’s system can be really helpful.
Darryl Mori – former Director of Development, Sanford/Pillsbury Prods.
Nothing pains a writer more than to see a great premise stifled by shoddy execution and a lack of craft. In his courses and now in his books, Jeff Kitchen gives writers a smart, creative, systematic approach to story building that eliminates many of the problems that haunt novices and veterans alike. His take on Dilemma shows how to inject a serious dose of dramatic action into any genre, while Sequence, Proposition, Plot offers a surefire way to build and ‘road test’ a story before facing the relentless scrutiny of industry professionals. Jeff doesn’t deal only with the mechanics of story construction; with tools like with the 36 Dramatic Situations and the Enneagram, he helps to jump-start your creativity.
Unlike some well-known writing gurus, who offer pithy insights and systems with no practical application, Jeff explains his ‘tools’, and then demonstrates how to apply them to bullet-proof your script. He shows you how to work smarter, not harder. After completing a one-on-one intensive with Jeff, I reworked a script that had garnered favorable comments but no real interest. Using Jeff’s techniques, I succeeded in eliminating some glaring weaknesses that I had previously failed to see. Not long afterward, a producer came onboard and optioned the material. I now apply Jeff’s approach to all my material. My only regret is that I didn’t meet him sooner.
Lou Spirito – Screenwriter
I like to distinguish between two types of screenwriting teachers: those with a limited background JUST in film and television, and those with a mastery of dramatic techniques that have not only worked for centuries on stage; but also film and television. Jeffrey fits the latter characterization.
Years ago, I was fortunate to begin my ongoing training with the generation of masters that first wrote for stage, then live television, and then film. Jeffrey is one of the few contemporary writer-teachers with a grounding in those ageless techniques of good drama, a tradition rarely passed to current generations.
George Higginson – Screenwriter
I’ve taken all the big name workshops, but none of them have helped me as much as Jeff’s because his is hands-on and interactive. Rather than simply listening to a lecture or analyzing successful films, Jeff’s workshop made me use what he teaches on my own script, and I got immediate feedback, ensuring that I was applying the tools correctly. This is the only screenwriting workshop that I know of that provides one-on-one attention.
Most screenwriting workshops and books offer only knowledge or understanding; Jeff takes the next step and teaches application as well. Jeff’s workshop gave me a working model to develop a script from, sharpening and focusing the original idea into a taut dramatic dilemma, to structuring the cause and effect events in reverse (beginning with the end in mind), and resulting in a unified drama with clarity and power.
Jeff’s approach to screenwriting is important because rather than offering gimmicks or quick-fix solutions, he teaches a challenging method requiring plenty of hard work up front, but also insuring a minimum of rewrites.
Barry Goode – Screenwriter
Many thanks for your recent seminar. I am a serious screenwriting student, enrolled in the program at UCLA, and I have taken nearly every seminar offered. Unlike other seminars and so many classes, your method is more than instructive–it is distinctive. You offer principles, methods, and tools that are not only specific, but very unique as well. For the first time I gained insight and true understanding into the thirty-six dramatic situations and Aristotle. Your presentation of the Wm. T. Price model was mind boggling. No serious student of screenwriting should fail to take this course.
Rocky Walsborn – Screenwriter
It’s the first system I’ve encountered that deals directly with taking a raw idea and developing it in all its dramatic potential into a structurally sound script.
Jack Haigis – Screenwriter
I truly enjoyed your writing class and consider the techniques you convey to be the best I’ve experienced for writing a cohesive script. I have taken the McKee’s and David Freeman’s as well as many other script and structure classes around town, but your class was the first that actually helped me WRITE the script. The intimate workshop is conducive to getting a lot of work done quickly. I would highly recommend this class to anyone who is serious about writing a script, instead of listening to how one writes one.
Tim Carpenter – Screenwriter
My story was stuck in episodic flatland. Jeff Kitchen’s tools for erecting dramatic structure helped isolate the plot so I could go back in and drive the drama home.
Malissa Daniel – Screenwriter
Tired of writing teachers, books and seminars that teach you how to be a movie critic rather than a screenwriter? Jeff Kitchen assumes you know what you like and why. His class concentrates on the nuts and bolts of actually getting scenes on paper and how to make them add up to an effective story. It’s not formula. It’s a discipline that teaches dramatic elements you put into black and white, not ethereal concepts for clever conversation at cocktail parties.
Ross Blaufarb – Screenwriter
I’m no stranger to screenwriting workshops, very reputable ones at that. But taking yours was a real eye-opener. My dream now is not just to be a screenwriter, but a bona fide dramatist. You brought storytelling into a whole new dimension for me.
Melinda Lewis – Screenwriter
What an accelerated learning experience! Jeffrey Kitchen’s class on play and screen writing gave me so much insight and knowledge about the plotting process. His teaching style is intense, thorough and brilliant.
Ted Zalewski – Playwright
Jeff, your seminar was perfectly organized, well thought out, and highly informative. I can take the knowledge I’ve received and apply it to any concept or idea. All barriers and obstacles have been removed, and I don’t foresee writer’s block as something that will hinder me in the future.
Timothy Williams – Screenwriter
Your respect for the creative process is refreshing. The methods work from beginning to end. They can be used to begin a play with the barest nuance of an idea, or to carefully evaluate a finished screenplay. It is rare to find an individual who wants to completely share a creative process. It is also rare to find a class that is non-competitive enough for all members to openly share their unfinished works-in-progress. A remarkable amount of growth takes place in your workshop because you generously set the tone of this personal and group acceptance.
Mary Armour Stock – Screenwriter
Jeff has a special talent in being able to apply his techniques and principles of dramatic plot construction to his students’ work such that understanding emerges. Much of this is due to his at-ease personality and willingness to share. He creates an optimum learning experience.
Lindley Volkwein – Screenwriter
I had the good fortune to be able to council with Jeff Kitchen, whose expertise and insight into the structure, characterization and thematic development of the script were invaluable aids to my ability to clarify and articulate my intentions as an artist.
Though playwrights are often the happy recipients of advice from directors, actors, agents and others, the lucidity and objectivity of Jeff’s analysis of the material were unquestionably helpful and added immensely to the rewriting process, as well as my ability to guide both director and cast. Should the occasion arise, I would not hesitate to call upon Jeff’s guidance again, and can wholeheartedly recommend and commend his professionalism.
John Lewter – Award-winning playwright
I know of no one with a better grasp of dramatic principle and construction than Mr. Kitchen.
Irving Fiske – Playwright
Jeff knows his craft and he has that type of compassionate, earthy personality that not only makes life easier, but expands the mission into great heights. Right away I knew I was observing a professional at work and had no doubt the job would get done! I also witnessed an interesting technique and/or approach to the art form that proved to be a valuable tool in opening one’s mind and providing opportunities that previously appeared to be non-existent.
Gary Corbin – Playwright
In April 1998 I took Jeff Kitchen’s course. I felt like I had stood in front of a cannon that went off. Jeff not only presented me with the most extraordinary story creation and analysis tools that I’ve ever seen, he also taught me how to use them. The bulk of story structure tools out there are essentially story analysis tools. One learns to say smart things as to why stories don’t work, but one still can’t make his story work. Kitchen provides you with story creation tools. In most workshops that I’ve taken–and I took them all–the teachers presented the working of their tools by applying them to classics. I don’t say that the analysis of classics is not an important part of teaching, but it is not enough. One also has to teach how a tool works when applied to an unfinished work (which is not yet a masterpiece). Jeff teaches you how to use the tools.
Only a teacher who is not afraid, who is unbecoming, can free the creator in everyone. Jeff is capable is holding the tension between utter fearlessness and vulnerability. Since attending that workshop my writing is more daring, more outrageous. My argument is more complete. My story is better dramatized.
Arijan Verboon – Writer-Director
I cannot think of a single person, experienced or otherwise, who would not benefit from your clear-minded approach to the high art of writing for the stage or screen. The way that you use the 36 Dramatic Situations to both analyze and construct a dramatic form is not only clear but extremely practical. It seems to me what your method does is to demystify a good deal of what has been presented as one of the greatest mysteries of all time: how to create an effective drama.
John Allen – Playwright
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