Trey Parker and Matt Stone: 'This happened, and then this happened, and then this happens -- that’s not a movie, that’s not a story', NYU writing seminar - 2014

6 March 2014, NYU, New York, USA

Trey Parker: Our whole South Park writers room, one whole wall is one of these. [white board]

And we’ve got it split up into three acts

Matt Stone: We have different coloured markers just like here too.

Trey Parker: Yep. And I walk around with the markers just like this ...

Matt Stone: We should do a show about our writers room

Trey Parker: Each individual scene has to work as a funny sketch. You don’t want one scene that’s just like, what was the point of that scene?

We found out this really simple rule that maybe you guys have all heard before, but it took us a long time to learn it.

We can take these beats, which are basically the beats of your outline, and if the words ‘and then’ belong between those beats, you’re fucked. Basically. You’ve got something pretty boring.

What should happen between every beat that you’ve written down, is either the word ‘therefore’ or ‘but’. So what I’m saying is that you come up with an idea, and it’s like ‘so this happens’ right? And then this happens,’ no no no no, It should be ‘this happens, and therefore this happens. But this happens, therefore this happens.’

Literally we’ll sometimes write it out to make sure we’re doing it.

We’ll have our beats, and we’ll say, ‘okay this happens, but then this happens’ and that effects this and that does to that, and that’s why you get a show that feels like this to that and this to that but this, here’s the complication, to that.

And there’s so many scripts that we read from new writers and things that we see ...

Matt Stone: Fuck that I see movies, fuck man, you see movies where you’re just watching, and it’s like this happens and then this happens, and this happens -- that’s when you’re in a movie and you’re going what the fuck am I watching this movie for?. Its just like this happened, and then this happened, and then this happens -- that’s not a movie. That’s not a story. Like Trey says it’s those two, ‘but’ ‘because’, ‘therefore’ that gives you the causation between each beat, and that’s a story.



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