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Writing an Outline for an Animated Feature

September 25, 2023

8 to 10 p.m. Eastern (5 to 7 p.m. Pacific)

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An animated film has the power to take audiences to worlds and scenarios that might be impossible with live action. It's important to embrace the medium's potential and let your creativity run wild, but your story still needs to fit into a frame. This requires a spectacular screenplay.

Interestingly, animation scripts are designed not so much in a three-act structure, but as a series of interlocking and escalating sequences. A sequence is essentially a series of scenes that together tell a mini-story within the larger narrative of the film. Sequences often build upon each other to craft the overarching narrative of the movie. The important aspect to understand is that each sequence serves a distinct purpose in advancing the narrative.

Screenwriter Tab Murphy, a key force in the “Disney Animation Renaissance” (Tarzan, Brother Bear) will unlock the nuances and tips to a successful animated film using the sequence outline. Learn the secret sauce to create your own outline and screenplay for your dream animation project from a master storyteller in animation.

Tab will take you through two of his legendary screenplays, Atlantis—The Lost Empire and The Hunchback of Notre Dame with his sequence outline. Atlantis has 10 sequences. Hunchback has 8. As a general rule, animated movies have 7-13 sequences. This varies based on the complexity of the story, the pacing, and the director's storytelling style. For instance, some films might have shorter sequences, leading to a higher number of them, while others might have longer, more drawn-out sequences.

Important suggestion: Watch Atlantis—The Lost Empire and The Hunchback of Notre Dame prior to the workshop for a better understanding of the movie sequences.


In the 1990s, Tab wrote a remarkable string of successful animated Disney films, including Hunchback of Notre Dame, Tarzan, Atlantis – the Lost Empire and Brother Bear, which was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.

Having grown up in the Pacific Northwest, Tab has a special heart for nature. The documentary he wrote this past year, Kangaroo Valley, was nominated for a 2023 Emmy for best documentary. It is directed by Kylie Stott and narrated by Sarah Snook. His first screenwriting foray into the natural world, Gorillas in the Mist, starring Sigourney Weaver, was nominated for an Academy Award for best screenplay.


His newest screenplay, Harry Houdini, an action-adventure, has been optioned by Mark Ordesky (Lord of the Rings) and Jane Fleming (Quest).

$79 for two hours of instruction


September 25, 2023

8 to 10 PM Eastern (5 to 7 PM Pacific)

Please note: Our classes are designed specifically for live participation, so your attendance is important. If you need to miss a class for any reason, you’ll receive a passcode-protected link to watch the recordings after the course is over.

A Peek at Our Past Virtual Classes



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