Tierno, Michael

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TIERNO, Michael


Born in Brooklyn, NY; married Judy Quinn (a film producer). Education: College of Staten Island, City University of New York, degree in film.


Home—New York, NY. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Hyperion Books, 77 West 66th St., 11th Floor, New York, NY 10023. E-mail—[email protected].


Film editor, director, and writer. Magazine and Bookseller, former publisher; Miramax Films, New York, NY, story analyst in development office. Conducts seminars on writing for film.


Best Feature Award, Bare Bones International Film Festival, and Flo Film Festival Award for best comedy, both for Auditions.


Aristotle's Poetics for Screenwriters: Storytelling Secrets from the Greatest Mind in Western Civilization, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2002.

Author and director of film Auditions.


Michael Tierno mines an ancient wisdom to guide a new art in his book Aristotle's Poetics for Screenwriters: Storytelling Secrets from the Greatest Mind in Western Civilization. While the great philosopher's Poetics might be required reading for most college-level philosophy classes, it is a book that rarely makes its way into the film school curriculum. This is an unfortunate reality in the opinion of Tierno, a film director and story editor at Miramax Films, who maintains that plot, rather than character development, is the key to screenwriting success.

His job as story analyst for Miramax Films has allowed Tierno to read some of the best and the worst that is being written for film by both professional and amateur film writers. As he explained in an interview with Kim Townsel for Scriptsales.com, "The amateur scripts … tend to make the same mistakes.… After forty, eighty [scripts], … you start seeing patterns." Realizing that some of the writers were obviously talented, Tierno became frustrated that he was not in a position to critique their work and offer some pointers. It was then that the idea for Aristotle's Poetics for Screenwriters was born.

Reviewing Aristotle's Poetics for Screenwriters in Library Journal, Nedra C. Evers commented that Tierno "successfully blends the ponderous with the popular" in his approach, "the whole idea [of which] is to evoke an emotional catharsis from the audience and thus create masterly drama." A reviewer for Publishers Weekly dubbed the book an "earnest how-to" that takes a tone with regard to Aristotle that is "respectful but informal." "Many of Aristotle's 'tips' are more than Post-It worthy," quipped Variety contributor Craig Teper, adding that in Aristotle's Poetics for Screenwriters, Tierno has "created a slim, digestible and focused primer with some of the best advice on writing from one of the best treatises ever written on the subject."

Speaking as a writer himself, Tierno commented to Townsel: "We all write things that aren't so great. We do that to learn, to vent. Here's what I tell my students when I teach. When we begin, we often want to write what's in our heads, we purge. But what I got from Poetics is that in a screenplay you're supposed to be building an action that has a function. That function is to move an audience."



Library Journal, November 1, 2002, Nedra C. Evers, review of Aristotle's Poetics for Screenwriters: Storytelling Secrets from the Greatest Mind in Western Civilization, p. 101.

Publishers Weekly, June 24, 2002, review of Aristotle's Poetics for Screenwriters, p. 50.

Variety, August 5, 2002, Craig Teper, "My Big Fat Greek Guide Helps Scribes," p. 28.


Michael Tierno Web site,http://www.moviepoetics.com (September 9, 2002).

Scriptsales.com,http://www.scriptsales.com/ (January 29, 2003), Kim Townsel, interview with Michael Tierno.*