This course will be offered in Fall 2014 as a main campus classroom course. The course description has been approved by the instructor for that semester. Use for general information only after Fall 2014.

Course Description

GLS 592: Pixar Perfect: Understanding the Archetypes of the Animation Screenplay

Instructor: Jennifer Mackenzie

The well-crafted animation screenplay provides us with a rare opportunity to engage with the most ancient and mythological forms of our shared human experience–the archetypes of the collective unconscious!

Because of its visual proximity to our dreaming world, its innate shapeshifting capacity, and its potential to convey a kind of emotional hyperrealism through its characters, the animated film story provides a particularly fertile ground for the archetypes of the collective unconscious, and what Joseph Campbell coined “the Hero’s Journey.”

As writers and artists, we will examine these key questions:

  • Why is the animated film story such a powerful channel for the collective unconscious?
  • How does the Hero’s Journey inform the structure of an animation screenplay?
  • How can we “mine the gold” of these archetypes to further our screenwriting craft?

We will study several original animated films, both American (Pixar Studios) and international (Studio Ghibli), to understand how archetypes are functioning at a high level in these stories.

Come prepared to participate in in-class writing exercises and art exercises (no
background required), and to complete written assignments and a final creative product.

          Reading materials/sources for this course include:

  • Bird, Brad. The Incredibles: Screenplay. Disney-Pixar Studios.
  • Campbell, Joseph.The Hero with a Thousand Faces.
  • Docter, Pete, Bob Peterson and Tom McCarthy. Up: Screenplay. Disney-Pixar Studios.
  • Jung, C.G. The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious
  • Miyazaki, Hayao. Spirited Away: Screenplay. Studio Ghibli
  • Plato. Republic/Plato: translated by G.M.A Grube–2nd ed., revised by C.D.C. Reeve.
  • Snyder, Blake. Save the Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need.
  • Stanton, Andrew. Finding Nemo: Screenplay. Disney-Pixar Studios
  • Vogler, Christopher.The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers.

Last Update: April 9, 2014


UNC Wilmington | 601 S. College Road, Wilmington NC 28403 | 910.962.3000 | About this Site | Copyright Notice | Feedback | Page maintained by:  P. Campbell [ campbellp AT uncw DOT edu ]