A Storyteller’s Job Is To Connect The World – Christopher Riley

Christopher Riley, Screenwriter, Author, and Instructor: And as we turned into the entrance to the ER we looked at each other and I think Kathy was the one who said “In this moment our lives are changing forever.”

Film Courage: You and Kathy have a new book that just came out. 

Christopher: The Defining Moment: How Writers and Actors Build Characters. 

Film Courage: Great and we’re wondering if there are certain chapters or a portion of the book that you can reference? First off, a moment or moments that damage or cripple a character. Do you have any references? 

Christopher: We do. Because that’s something that is critically important in storytelling because we’re so often dealing with characters who are damaged or crippled. Kathy and I talk about from the film Finding Nemo the way Nemo’s dad Marlin is damaged by the tragic loss of his family to a barracuda but we also try to share some of our own defining moments because we urge storytellers, writers, actors and directors to delve into their own histories to find the moments that have defined them. In this case, moments that have damaged wounded crippled them.

In the history of our family when we think of defining moments there’s one moment that stands above all the others and it was the moment when our son Peter as a five and a half-year-old little boy was diagnosed with a brain tumor and our pediatrician put the MRI  films in our hands and said You need to drive to UCLA Medical Center. A brain surgeon will be waiting for you and he’ll explain everything. So Kathy and I got in the car and the doctor said “And don’t stop anywhere on the way.”  We put our son in the car,  drove to the ER and as we turned into the entrance to the ER we looked at each other and I think Kathy was the one who said “In this moment, our lives are changing forever” and that was true. We now in our family talk about the moment before Peter got sick and we talk about the moment after Peter’s brain tumor. My daughter’s life experience was different from that moment on. Her best friend and brother suddenly was out of her life and in the hospital and she wasn’t seeing him and when she did finally see him after…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here)


Christopher Riley is a professional screenwriter who co-wrote with his wife Kathy Riley the award-winning German language courtroom thriller After the Truth. The Rileys have written scripts for Disney’s Touchstone Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Mandalay Television Pictures, the late Sean Connery’s Fountainbridge Films and Robert Cort Productions. Christopher produced the independent action-thriller Red Line and executive produced the web series Bump+. He is the author of the classic screenplay format guide The Hollywood Standard, now in its third edition, and teaches screenwriting at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The Riley’s latest book is The Defining Moment: How Writers and Actors Build Characters (through Michael Wiese Productions). 

See it on Amazon here

BUY THE BOOK – THE DEFINING MOMENT: How Writers and Actors Build Characters (by Christopher and Kathy Riley) 


See it on Amazon here

BUY THE BOOK – THE HOLLYWOOD STANDARD: The Complete and Authoritative Guide to Script Format and Style









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