POV: McKee’s View

“The more time spent with a character, the more opportunity to witness his choices.

The result is more empathy and emotional involvement between audience and character.”

-Robert McKee

In his introduction about point of view (POV) in the scene, Robert McKee focuses on screen time and the physical location of the camera. POV is more. It is about one character’s emotional experience of that scene.

The director will now take the literal camera POV of the character, then show the character’s emotional response.

As a writer you don’t need to go in this level of detail about camera POV. Writing from a specific POV means: to write from the character’s ‘centre of consciousness’, to share with the audience what the character sees, knows and feels. This doesn’t need to include direction on shots and angles. The drama will determine this indirectly anyhow.

The heart of McKee’s statement is essential to good screenwriting. Few screenwriters, even experienced ones, exercise full control over the POV. Yet it is hugely important in establishing empathy with the protagonist and making an audience forget they are in a theatre watching a movie.

If you feel you don’t exercise complete mastery over your screenplay’s POV (yet), ¬†go through the script systematically from the point of view of POV (no pun) to see whose POV each scene is written from. If you do this early in the development, you will be amazed how a few simple changes here and there will improve the impact of the story tremendously.

A good understanding of POV will empower you to create scenes that will capture an audience inside the head of your character, whether they like it or not.

See also:

Introduction to POV
Omniscient POV
Shifting POV
When to Shift?
POV in Ratatouille’s Deleted Scene
POV as Controller of Tone

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