Who is Robert McKee?

Robert McKee is a screenwriting guru whose book (and seminar series), Story, is one of the most popular and polarizing how-to screenwriting books on the market.

McKee, a Fulbright Scholar, developed his seminar while a professor at the University of Southern California, and began offering it to the public in 1984. It has been attended by over 50,000 students. As of April 2012, the book version is in its 19th printing in the United States.

Critics fault McKee for having no studio produced credits to his name, but McKee counters, saying “The world is full of people who teach things they themselves cannot do.”

In Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman’s Adaptation., Kaufman attends McKee’s seminar (their fictional versions played by Nicolas Cage and Brian Cox, respectively). The film, which is rich with screenwriting commentary, illustrates another common criticism by using McKee as a stand-in who represents all screenwriting clichés.