Laurie Hutzler


Based in Los Angeles, Laurie Hutzler assists entertainment industry professionals develop feature films and television program formats for both the domestic and international markets. She created the Emotional Toolbox®, a unique method that offers a set of specific techniques, exercises and tools to create and strengthen emotion-based creative content.

Laurie has worked as a consultant to the BBC, Channel 4, ITV, talkbackTHAMES, Mersey Television/Lime Pictures and Aardman Animation Studio (UK), for Pixar University, Disney and Dreamworks (US), Endemol Netherlands (NL), RTL, Weidemann Berg and Grudy UFA (Germany), GloboMedia (Spain) and TNT (Russia) among others.

She is a consultant for Endemol and for FremantleMedia across a variety of formats in the UK, Europe and Australia. She is currently the Head Writer and Executive Producer of the forthcoming FremantleMedia original online drama “Beyond Lemonade.”

Laurie Hutzler has had several plays produced in theaters across the US, winning two Madoline Cervantes Awards at Lincoln Center in New York City. She was a staff writer and story consultant on Oscar-winner Paul Haggis’ NBC series, The Black Donnellys.  She also worked with Haggis on his recent films: In the Valley of Elah and Quantum of Solace.

She consulted on two Oscar-winning foreign language films, as a story advisor on Tsotsi (South Africa) and on The Counterfeiter (Austria), as an eQuinoxe script advisor.

Laurie taught screenwriting in the MFA program at the UCLA Film School for 10 years, and was recently an Artist-in-Residence in Television and Digital Entertainment at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.  She has taught for the Royal Literary Fund in Cambridge, England; The Sorbonne in Paris, France; Royal Holloway College, University of London, London England; DFFB film school in Berlin, Germany and IFS film school in Cologne, Germany.


Thank you so much for your workshop this evening. It was enlightening.  Your approach to the Character Types were the answers I was searching for my novel. What you shared with us gave me a stronger sense of self and purpose. Of this I am deeply grateful. And know this- your name shall be on the thank you page when my novel is published.  Michael J. Christensen, novelist

“The greatest fear for any writer is the blank page, whether you are starting to write for the first time or even if you have had a considerable amount of success. Laurie’s material takes away that fear of failure by offering bite sized exercises which will allow you to realize the dream of writing a full length screenplay, without having to change your life to achieve it.”

Henrietta Fudakowski, Story Editor of Tsotsi, Oscar® Winning Best Foreign Language Film

“I had the pleasure of attending your Workshops at both ‘ITV Manchester’ on ‘Blue Murder’ and at the BBC on ‘Casualty’ – they were stunningly useful!”  Hayley McKenzie, Story Editor Casualty (BBC) and Blue Murder (ITV)

“These are great reference guides to character virtues and flaws that will empower any writer and deepen any drama. I’ve re-read the Power of Conscience eBook three times now, and each time I have learned more and more about my antagonist, what he is, why he exists, his world view, and what motivates him. I recommend these eBooks highly.”

Stanley D. Williams PhD, author The Moral Premise

“Laurie’s keen grasp of storytelling and her focus on emotional truth have inspired our teams of writers, producers and directors around the world. Whether in Germany, Britain, Hungary, Australia – the list goes on – Laurie’s practical, entertaining methods work in harmony with local cultural specifics. The result has been better stories, more truthful characters and creative teams with a better understanding not only of drama, but of themselves”

Nick Malmholt, Head of Creative Development, Worldwide Drama, FremantleMedia

“Laurie’s materials are remarkable because they are are a unique combination of analysis, tools of the trade, inspiration and encouragement. The biggest obstacle to writers is self belief. That is why I find Laurie’s work so inspiring. It acknowledges the painful personal, self-doubting process involved in writing screenplays. Not only that, her work gives writers critical professional tools. It’s a formidable and empowering combination.”

“Unlike the other books on screenwriting, Laurie offers concrete, achievable advice with specific, clear examples. ….many of the examples drawn from life as well as from the screen. They don’t generalise or waffle or confuse. They present a clearly articulated and deeply thought through understanding of what lies at the heart of story…character. What is so brilliant is that before Laurie, no one that I am aware of has managed to present this maxim in a way that writers can actually utilise. Many writers well understand the principle of character differentiation and character in action…but they have not been able to translate this into their screenplays. But Laurie shows them how. I think her work is a major breakthrough and writers around the world should be eternally grateful.”

Claire Dobbin, Head of the Australian Film Festival and International Development Executive

“An unexpectedly stimulating course. The emphasis was very usefully on depth and truthfulness of story and emotional contact with the viewer- rather than on marketability, as I’d feared.”

Jane Dauncey, BBC Series Producer, Casualty

“I very much I enjoyed and valued the day with Laurie . It was brilliantly presented and provided so much food for thought both as a writer and in my role as creative consultant looking to help invigorate and re-excavate long running series – in this case Casualty. Her structures and analysis were wonderfully thought provoking and have given a very practical and exciting basis for further work . The ultimate test of a good workshop – it kept on working after she had left the room !”

Barbara Machin, BBC Series Consultant, Casualty

“I was delighted that Laurie Hutzler was able to spend some time with the Editorial team on Casualty. Casualty is the worlds longest-running hospital drama, with 48 hour-long episodes that play on Saturday nights at 8:15 on BBC One, and have done so for the last 20 years. Despite that longevity, work has to constantly be done on character and character mix, and Laurie’s material was a very effective new approach for us. As well as approaching new characters, over-familiarity with established characters by editorial people as well as actors can soften the edges and blur definition, and Laurie provides the means to dissect and analyse, and sharpen up. And one really great quality that comes through her work is that she really cares about character, wherever they may be playing, a quality that rubs off on her audiences.Time very well spent.

Mervyn Watson, BBC Executive Producer, Casualty

“The fantastic thing that Laurie’s seminar did for us above everything else was remind us WHY we do what we do, and to tap into our need to connect emotionally with our audience. When you’re working on a high-volume long-runner, you sometimes lose sight of the important stuff in order simply to make the show, and it was so inspiring to be able to step back and really analyse who our characters are, why and how they work, and to get excited about telling stories about them. Laurie’s approach is a wonderful system for getting to the bottom of problems that we might have been avoiding, and really being able to enjoy coming up with solutions. We’re finding that using the character types when we’re struggling with a storyline or character dynamic really helps to unlock things for us.”

Alison Davis, Talkback Thames Series Producer, The Bill

“I found Laurie’s approach really worthwhile and we’ve really reaped the benefits of it at our story conference. The Emotional Toolbox has now allowed us to really clarify who the characters are and why they do what they do.

Jonathan Phillips, BBC Producer, Doctors

“Laurie’s material really ‘hit home’ where I’m concerned! Her workshop has been a real life changing experience for me. I have been directing for many years, and subsequently producing on The Bill, and have been working largely on experience and instinct. Suddenly, there Laurie is, putting into words and a form, a brilliant, energising and meaningful method of work that has opened up and made sense of a whole world. I am so grateful…it’s like a new lease of life.”

Slyvie Boden, Talkback Thames Producer, The Bill


“It was great to spend the day with you discussing EastEnders. Exploring the Character Map and Emotional Toolbox gave us a totally new way to look at our characters, from the inside out. Not only giving us the ability to make sure all our inhabitants are fully drawn but also giving us the ability to see who is actually missing from the current slate.”

Lorraine Newman, BBC Series Producer, EastEnders

“Once again thanks for a great course- it was stimulating, practical and wise.”

Katrina Foster, Staff Writer Neighbours, Australia

“I just wanted to say thank you as a new writer the time you spent with us on Neighbours was invaluable. I learnt so much and I’m now really excited not only about the show but about my next stage as a writer, thanks again.”

Perri Cummings, Staff Writer, Neighbours, Australia

“Once again many thanks for the fantastic workshop. I took over storyediting this week on Neighbours and while we only called on your work directly twice in the room – it has been adopted by even the skeptics – which I think is hilarious. I’m not sure if they know they’ve adopted it or think they were always in line with the essence of the characters – but you have certainly made a very large impact. Even the way you spoke about things – such as ‘framing’ an issue in a specific way to help reach a desired result/path – has given the team an expanded language to make clear their ideas. In my fifteen years as a playwright and television writer/producer, across four continents, I have never seen a group of writers and producers agree so quickly on character and story issues as I did after applying Laurie’s methods. Finally someone has found a way to make subjective issues less subjective.”

Scott Taylor, Story Editor, Neighbours, Australia, Head of Creative Development, FremantleMedia European Drama Development

“I’ve done a few screenwriting courses and read the big books, but I have never before encountered something so immediately useful. The possibilities your ideas opened up for me I’ve found inspiring, and I’ve also had trouble sleeping with everything I’ve taken in over the past four days. (That’s a good thing). And as far as Neighbours goes, I feel like I have a much better handle on our characters and the potential for future story for them.”

Peter Mattessi, Staff Writer, Neighbours, Australia

“I just finished your “The Character Map” book and was blown away by your insight into the emotional world of characters and your six step analysis on how to create them. I have been writing screenplays for the past years and never felt I truly achieved telling the story the way I wanted to. Instead of breaking down the characters I always got lost in story and plot. Your book opened my eyes to what piece of the puzzle I had been missing all along: truthful characters. All the best and thank you for creating such a wonderful and precious tool. May it make us all better storytellers!”

Jorge Ihle, director The Tribe

“I thought I had a good story. But I didn’t know how good until Laurie showed me how to reinvent and rediscover my characters, to supercharge their emotional engines. I’m eternally indebted.”

Stephen Prime, director, Powderburn

“Just a quick thank you again for the course last week and especially the óne on one session where you single handedlz resusitated a project I thought was dead and given the characters a complete blood transfusion! I cant wait to get home from Berlin and start into getting together Sorted. And also this newsletter is well timed as I pit Natalie and Liam against each other over a broken toilet!! Ah romance.”

Audrey O’Reilly, Screenwriter, Ireland

“It was a great experience to work on the foundation and specification of our characters with Laurie. Laurie shares our enthusiasm for our formats and has vividly given us valuable impulse for our future work. With her support, we will further develop vivid, three-dimensional characters and with it emotionally moving stories, which will fascinate our viewers anew. It would be a great pleasure to continue the workshop with Laurie next year.”

Emmo Lempert, Executive Producer Grundy UFA Television Production, Germany

“I would be lost without your Character Map! When I read the questions about the mask, fear, and need of the character, a huge lightbulb went off. Thank you for the examples and tools you offer.”

Joely Sue Burkhart novelist and author of: Dear Sir, I’m Yours, Fire Within, Bump in the Night, Beautiful Death and many others

“Laurie’s conference call was a crash course in screenwriting. There was so much detailed information in such a short period of time. I got fresh insights from each of the three major areas she covered. It couldn’t wait to incorporate some of the ideas into my current screenplay.”

Bryan Denegal , Screenwriter, UK

“Thank you very much for your entertaining and enlightening two day workshop in London. It was extremely usefull not only by structuring the thinking process about our characters but also as a method to reconsider some personal experiences in a way that produces (sometimes astonishing) results.”

Dr. Michael W. Esser, Grundy UFA TV Productions, Head Writer, Verliebt in Berlin

“The workshop with Laurie was the best I have ever attended – primarily because we did not only concentrate on dry theory but went right to the heart of our series, i. e. worked on our characters with the Emotional Toolbox. Secondly, the toolbox is an excellent device to check and, if necessary, to correct decisions made instinctively in the development of our characters.”

Richard Hemmersbach, script editor at Unter Uns, Grundy UFA, Germany

“All in all, the workshop was more than suited to clear insecurities, to motivate and to give food for thoughts. For many colleagues, the workshop provided a ‘light bulb moment’, which will allow a self-confident handling of the characters in our everyday work.”

Berthold Eversmann, head writer of Gute Zeiten – Schlechte Zeiten, Grundy UFA, Germany

“I did Laurie’s workshop when I was in the middle of my first writing commission. I’d already written one episode but was able to apply her ideas when writing the second. When I saw the two episodes on the screen I couldn’t believe the difference– the second episode was full of wonderful chacter moments and had a real depth that was missing from the first… It also helped me to rework a script that later went on to win a writing competition. This was the first time I used Laurie’s tools to map the three main characters and I found it invaluable for generating conflict, differentiating characters and giving each character an attitude and a POV. I had the characters in my head at the time of the workshop but found Laurie’s advice brilliant for giving them focus. I feel like you’ve unlocked the world of character for me.”

Dierdre Alexander, Screenwriter and Script Editor, London

“Laurie’s class and methods are both groundbreaking and simple. Forget the complex material she draws from: she will make your writing process flow. It unlocks your creativity… even long after you’ve taken her class.”

Benjamin Maftoul, Producer, Paris, France

“I recommend your One Hour Screenwriter to every writer I meet. It works. And you can pick it up again even if you get interrupted. For instance, my ex-husband’s wife got killed in a car crash and we corresponded for the first time in 20 years. You can imagine what that did to my ability to focus. But the writing kept growing by itself, let loose by your method. I’m picking it up from a few days back and forging ahead.”

Suzanne Whitney, Screenwriter

“Laurie Hutzler’s “Emotional Toolbox: The Character Map” is constructive, deep and truly original, to my knowledge like nothing else ever written on screenplay writing. She presents a firm, clear analysis of dramatic writing linked to (and this is highly unusual in a screenwriting teacher) profound insights into human psychology and behavior, which is what most good movies are all about. Anyone with ambitions to become a professional screenwriter can learn a hell of a lot from Laurie Hutzler.”

Al Ramrus, Screenwriter, The Island of Dr. Moreau, James Dean Remembered, Appointment with Destiny: Surrender at Appomattox

“Digging from both parts of the creative tunnel, the emotional side and the side of reason, is an exceptional way to work. This is the power of working with Laurie. But there is a secret in those fortunate encounters. Laurie has the charisma to help you discover the unknown parts in yourself and in your script– the most orginal parts, the most truthful parts. Glimpses of light and darkness taking a shape that is both sincere and unique.”

Maria Iliou, award-winning Greek writer/director and international Fulbright Film Fellow

“This book is a godsend for any writer! Laurie’s insightful exercises and smart writing schedule make it possible for anyone with a dream and one hour a day to tell complex and emotionally satisfying stories. It is a perfect how-to book… Bravo!”

Sean Kennelly, contributing writer, Creative Screenwriting & Jim Hill Media

“Laurie’s insights in character and story impacted me on a deep level, surpassing anything I had been previously taught and challenged me to go deeper in my search for the truth… My writing will never be the same.”

Benjamin Lobato, ABC/Disney New Talent Development Winner

“I’m finding the emotional map exactly what I need to give my characters the kind of depth I want them to have. I’ve really enjoyed your essays about familiar shows and movies and what does and doesn’t make the characters/story in each work, as well — very helpful. Thanks for sharing all this great information with other writers!”

Rebecca J. Anderson, Screenwriter

“I’m finding the emotional map exactly what I need to give my characters the kind of depth I want them to have. I’ve really enjoyed your essays about familiar shows and movies and what does and doesn’t make the characters/story in each work, as well — very helpful. Thanks for sharing all this great information with other writers!”

Rebecca J. Anderson, Screenwriter

“I’ve read virtually every screenwriting book on the market and none compares to Laurie Hutzler’s. She provides a uniquely insightful analysis of what makes a good story and a successful writer along with a concrete method and tools for accomplishing both. Her daily steps trigger creative thinking and inspire the work, page after page. Her brilliant conceptual framework for developing compelling characters is masterfully translated into specific, hands-on writing tools and techniques, each supported by helpful examples from classic and contemporary films. If you want to understand what makes a film great and you want to write a great film, Laurie Hutzler has the answers.”

Debbie Peters, Screenwriter, NYC

“The book is unbelievable. I am a beginner in screenwriting. Never have I managed to finish a script. I read a lot of books about dramatic structure. My earlier background was as an actor, I learned by working with international actors and directors in the theatre. Lately, I have moved into film. Now I am a filmmaker, cameraman and director for documentaries and commercials. And I teach directing at a university. I recognize my feeling on a set for the dramatic situation and I can change it very fast when working with actors. Always, my problem was, that I have good ideas, but I never managed to finish a script. I read a lot of books. Really I do not know why, I had trouble with writing in action. My characters were never in active and alive.Today it is the sixth day of writing after your method. I do not know why, but it works. Ok, one important point is, that I write around the same time. Normaly I stop after the second or third day. I was afraid, that I am sitting again before a blank paper and I will be blocked. It was totally different with your method. Scenes are coming, Ideas happen. Every night in the bed I am afraid, then I let my brain going around and most i find an idea about i will write. The same phenomenon is in front of the blanc paper. But this time I had no block. It works. And the characters are moving, acting. It all apears in my script– new persons, new constellations. The joy is to see after such a success. The book gives me the power to sit down and do my regular writing. I want give you this short feedback. It works, even if I am a German guy and write in German.”

Christoph Helmholz, Screenwriter, Germany

“I have been educated, encouraged, and uplifted through your website resources and newsletters. I found both upon the recommendations of two friends, who heard you speak. Thank you for sharing your insights and for being so available to writers.”

Jennifer G. Dombush, Screenwriter, Los Angeles

“Laurie Hutzler knows all the right questions to ask that get you to know your characters inside and out. Her material works, period.”

Mick Betancourt, NBC Staff Writer, The Black Donnellys and NBC Staff Writer, Law and Order: SVU and Comedy Central Comedian

“This stuff is brilliant!”

Gretchen Gersh Whitman, Screenwriter, NYC

“The Character Map book gave me the tools to work on my screenplay from the inside out using archetypes to flesh out characters that not only connect emotionally to the audience, but who are also believable with a complete transformative arc. Starting with Laurie’s character maps also makes it much easier to outline your entire screenplay so that it works as whole, creating a universal story that connects on all levels instead of just plot.”

Michael Mahoney, screenwriter, London, co-author Inspiring Creativity

“Thanks so much for your insightful talk at the Scriptwriter’s Network! It was really a breakthrough for me in my current rewrite. Thanks also for your helpful website. Your teaching method and kind, generous spirit are much appreciated. I will recommend your book!”

Bev Banfield, Screenwriter, Los Angeles

“Thank you for the wonderful workshop you held in Cardiff. Since then I have been storylining a Welsh drama series called Tipyn o Stad which is set on a council estate in North Wales and is now in its sixth series. The skills I developed during your workshop have proved to be invaluable – especially while mapping out our new characters – so a huge thank you!”

Llinos Gerallt, Story Editor, Wales

“Thank you for the course held at S4C Wales over the weekend. It was fantastic and really opened my eyes to delving deep within the characters I create. I was buzzing after the weekend and left on a high! Thank you so much for being so inspiring.I have been plodding along with a writing project and was tired with the characters but I feel that concepts within the course will give it a breath of fresh air and inspire me to get out of a rut!!”

Branwen Davis, Screenwriter, Wales

“Laurie’s approach has three great strengths: First, having established character at the heart of our emotional connection to narrative, she approaches character development in a structured way that’s recognisable and true to our own everyday psychological perceptions and processes. Secondly and in parallel with this, her approach is intensely practical and of immediate and continuous value to writers. So many other structured screenwriting approaches mire writers in self doubt, or are really of more use in post-facto analysis. Laurie’s approach supports and encourages creativity and the daily practicalities of writing. That’s underlined with the publication of the ONE HOUR SCREENWRITER.And finally, she’s passionate about her work, about narrative and the stories she analyses, is endlessly enquiring and a great pleasure to work with.”

Jonathan Hourigan, writer, director, script editor and university lecturer on film and television, London, England

“I really appreciated everything you’ve showed me and now fully realise how important emotional development and character resolution and how to articulate it. I’ve been stumbling for years to try to articulate it myself so you were God’s gift to me. You have also given me a vocabulary to discuss my characters with producers and developers which is of immense use. I basically cannot stress how useful you have been.”

Liam Gavin, Screenwriter and eQuinoxe TBC Workshop Participant, Cannes, France

“I am a novice screenwriter, currently enrolled in a great online screenwriting program. I find that The Emotional Toolbox One Hour Screenwriter and Character Map inform my understanding of the craft. I use the books and the newsletter to help brainstorm characters, traits, wants vs. needs, story moments, events… The exercises that guide me to remember how I felt and reacted in real life situations and how those around me reacted helps me to understand what it means to “show, not tell”. I’ve had to buy dozens of books to get half the information Laurie has generously packed into each book. And the price is “write”

Laverne Webb, Screenwriter

“I had another break-through morning. I was working on a re-write that I am doing on a script I wrote last spring and an idea for next quarter that I kicked around with a friend yesterday all fell into place. The world and the events and even the theme just came flooding out onto the page. And, of course, that is the really fun part about this writing thing. So I wanted to say thanks again for the great class and the pronounced effect you’ve had on how I write.”

Maureen Johnson, Screenwriter and UCLA MFA student