Powerful Character Development with Pixar's Finding Nemo

Move your audience whatever your story: screenwriting, screenplays, novels, children's books, plays, or creative writing
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  • Lectures 23
  • Length 1 hour
  • Skill Level All Levels
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
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    Available on iOS and Android
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About This Course

Published 11/2014 English

Course Description

Why do audiences engage with films like 'The Wrestler', 'Little Miss Sunshine' and 'The Conjuring', but you're struggling to make your screenplay as powerful as you know it can be?

How do you create genuine, emotional character development and change in your protagonist that isn't forced and obvious?

How did a father taking his son for a walk lead to the highest grossing animated film of all time?

The answers lie in the Cataclysm to the Crux.

If you're a student or aspiring screenwriter, bogged down in complicated theory with a story you're struggling to convey, then grab your copy of 'Finding Nemo' and work with this course as I show you a simple model that cuts to the very heart of a powerful story.

This is a brief course delivered in bite-size chunks, using Pixar's elegantly simple smash hit 'Finding Nemo' to demonstrate a model of character development and change for you to use in writing, developing and perfecting your screenplay.

This course has previously:

  • Been taught in a Screenwriting Masters course to help colleagues develop their screenplays
  • Published in a screenwriting magazine, edited by a Senior Advisor to the London Screenwriters' Festival

but has now been vastly improved, reworked and optimised for Udemy - and you!

This is a brief course:

  • 1 hour of lectures
  • 1 and a half hours of Finding Nemo
  • Tests
  • Worksheet + Summary Notes
  • Numerous references and links in the Appendix

So you won't get bogged down in complicated theories...

You will:

  • Look at your own protagonist
  • Assess problems you may be facing
  • Learn about scientific theories and how they change
  • See how we can apply that to characters
  • Understand how that culminates in our model
  • Work through Finding Nemo
  • Recap with conclusive lessons

Cue up your purchased or rented copy of Finding Nemo, and let's begin!

What are the requirements?

  • You should have a DVD/Blu-Ray or online rental of Finding Nemo ready to watch alongside the course
  • You should already be familiar with basic screenwriting theory and terms
  • You should ideally have a screenplay you're working on but are having problems with

What am I going to get from this course?

  • Write strong, gripping characters that develop and change to move your audience
  • Use a simple model to improve your story
  • Analyse films with the model to further your learning

Who is the target audience?

  • Screenwriting, or story writing, students, or other hard working aspiring writers
  • Students who are getting bogged down in too much complicated theory
  • Students who are looking for a brief, simple course to cut right to the heart of powerful writing

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.


Section 1: Course Introduction

A brief introduction to who I am, what you'll be learning on this course and how you'll be able to apply that to further develop your story.

Section 2: You, Your Character & Your Story

Getting to grips with who you are, your protagonist is, and therefore what you should focus on in developing your screenplay


A quick look at some common screenplay problems you may well be facing. Plus, a warning of how not to use the lessons you'll be learning.

Section 3: A Model for Character Development & Change

Don't be scared! Science is simply about predicting how the world works, and that's all I talk about here. How do predictions develop and change over decades and centuries? An important starting point for understanding people...

If this is hard to follow, stick with it, then maybe revisit it after finishing the section. It's really just about predictions for the world becoming grander theories that are harder to relinquish, so how they protect themselves from having to change.


How does a model for scientific change help us with character change? First, think about our basic senses and perception of the world. Then, how people's modus operandi for living in the world come about. Then ask yourself - how do people change these mindsets? An important first step is to ask how they refuse to change...

A brief look at some recent stellar films will make all of this clear.


Bringing it all together in one simple model, step by step. Don't worry if the model isn't making complete sense yet, as we work through Finding Nemo it will be explained further and become radically clear.

The first step is the most important ingredient: misjudgement...

Section 4: Our Film for Demonstrating the Model

What was the genesis of Finding Nemo? How much work did it take? Was it worth it?


The ideal setup for watching the film alongside studying the course.

Section 5: The Protagonist & The Story World

Let's meet our protagonist. What's his Hard Core?


How does Marlin's Hard Core affect the world of the story? What's the effect of that change for Marlin? This gets to the central story values, and the main thrust of the story.


....or, how to fill you story world with the most antagonistic forces to catalyse change.

Section 6: On the Road to Change...

Friends or Killers? The importance isn't in the answer, but in the fact there's a question to begin with.


The introduction of stakes, and what that does to Marlin.


How there is no 'is' in your story - only 'looks according to a character'.


A cameo from the Director for some straight up dialogue.


Staring down in to the heart of Marlin's character.

Be sure to check out the Worksheet in the Lecture resources - there's one for you to fill out, and also one with the answers for you to compare.


Between a rock and a hard place - some questions for you to try.

Modelling Bird Food
6 questions

How to deliver an utterly crushing blow to your protagonist.


That do-or-die scene and how to genuinely bring about change in your protagonist,

Section 7: In Summary...

With all we've just worked through, let's look again at scientific and character change.


With the model in hand, now let's look again at your story.


Course Summary notes are a resource in this lecture.

A thank-you, a heads-up, and some pointers.

Section 8: Appendix & Tests

A basic overview of further reading.

*NEW IN SEPTEMBER 2015* - Course Transcript is now a downloadable resource.

12 questions

This quizzes you on the basic course content to make sure you've grasped the fundamentals of the model Cataclysm to the Crux model.

10 questions

This tests your knowledge using a script idea of mine, 'The Killer Strain'. You have choices for how to make this story as strong as possible - reflect on the choices you make in this test vs. how your own screenplay has been written.

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Instructor Biography

Will Snow, Consultant

A Screenwriting Masters graduate, I know all about the frustrations and emotional turmoil that developing your own screenplay can entail. I worked for years on feature film scripts, animation scripts, TV scripts and short films - both my own and my colleagues’, collaborating and supporting each other.

I’m also a McKee seminar student, have worked as a script reader at UK’s Ealing Studios and the late Anthony Minghella’s Mirage Films London offices. I’ve reported on screenwriting festivals, and written articles for the ScriptWriter magazine.

The philosophy, importance and abundance of storytelling in every aspect of our lives remains one of my utmost passions.

While toiling away on my own screenplays, to earn a living I worked on some of the biggest budget films of recent years, supervising the processing of their digital footage. I’ve racked up work on four Marvel films (Captain America: The First Avenger, Thor: The Dark World, Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers: Age of Ultron), the 23rd James Bond outing Skyfall, and worked in the Editorial departments for Disney’s Frankenweenie animation and John Carter extravaganza. The fact that they got released without any of their footage being lost or deleted I guess means I was okay at the job.

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