Learn directly from Melissa Daykin Cassill, VP of Development and Production at State Street Pictures (Faster, Beauty Shop, Barbershop, Notorious, Nothing Like The Holidays)! You hear it again and again: “We’re looking for character driven drama/comedy/action/name your genre.” You may have a great plot, amazing action sequences, or the most hilarious idea for a comedy set piece but without great characters, you’ll be dead in the water. Why? Because everything should be motivated by your characters. What would The Godfather be without Michael’s change from the good man who served his country to a vengeful and tyrannical ruler? What would Star Wars be without the father son drama? Creating memorable characters is such an essential aspect of creating a compelling, sellable story, yet so many writers struggle with doing it correctly and fail to avoid the trap of stock characters that leave their scripts lifeless and weak. The Stage 32 Happy Writers is thrilled to bring you a 3-week online course Avoid Stock Characters: How To Create Memorable, Compelling Characters so you can learn how to create the memorable characters your story deserves. This class is taught by Melissa Daykin Cassill, VP of Development and Production at State Street Pictures, a production company with a first look deal at Fox 2000 Pictures. What Melissa loves most about her job is working with writers and developing exciting, compelling projects and she’s excited to be here teaching with Stage 32 to help you develop compelling characters in your story! In this class, you will learn how to set up a character arc so the character’s change is compelling, how to develop supporting characters who support the story and compliment your protagonists, how to avoid stock characters and scenes and how to adjust what you already have to make your work better. With interactive lectures and weekly homework assignments directly geared toward strengthening your characters, you will leave this class knowing exactly how to create memorable characters for your stories.
Part 1 – THE SET UP ELEMENTS A strong lead Our girl! Creating a compelling, three-dimensional character we want to spend two hours with. The love interest. Someone adorable and smart and hot – and perfect (but only for our leading lady – or lass). The best friend. A cooky, quirky, amazing foil (for an amazing character actress). A great hook. Coming up with an amazing logline, title, and concept Inherent conflict What’s the driving force of the story? How to come up with conflict so good that scenes write themselves? Part 2 – THE PLOT ELEMENTS and THE CRUCIAL ELEMENT The cute "meet". How to craft a perfect moment. The “Benny and the Jets” Moment. Stolen from 27 DRESSES, that moment when we see our leads bond. The moment after which there’s no turning back. The break apart Anxiety, tears, snot. Will they end up together or won’t they? How to make this moment feel real and earned? The epic moment The big kiss. The wedding. The perfect moment. A FRESH VOICE The crucial element. How to discover your own voice – and then use it!
Part 1 - Writing, Budgeting & Pre-Production How to write an effective short script The brainstorming process Utilizing real life experiences, what are memorable moments in your life that stick out to you? Moments in a friend’s life? Creating characters: What topics do you uniquely understand? What jobs have you held? What did your parents do for a living? Where did you grow up? Writing in proper format What is the difference between writing “is working” and “works” in a screenplay and why does verbiage matter when writing action? Should I put my WGA and copyright notices on the title page? The business of making a short film What do I need to do to protect myself? Creating an LLC and lawyering up for the right reasons. How much is this really going to cost? Evaluating SAG Short Film Agreements, cost of renting equipment, everything from lighting to locations, and looking forward to release and distributions, what are the costs beyond the actual production of a film? Logistically, how will I be able to execute all the elements? How do I handle room and board for out of town talent? Is there a local film commission I can work with, and if so, what exactly is their role in helping me execute my vision? Part 2 - Directing, Marketing & Distributing Your Film Preparing to direct and the production process What do I need to do before I get to set? What is the purpose of having location walkthroughs? When and how to I make the shot list and how many shots do I really need? How do I make my vision clear to crewmembers while still being collaborative in the process? How do I work with an actor for the first time? How much say should they have in the script and changing the character? Should I allow an actor to change my lines? How do I follow their emotional journey over the course of shooting a film that is totally out of order so it makes sense in the final product? When problems arise on set, how do I respond? What are best practices to maintaining authority without creating conflict? How do I ensure that everyone is getting the proper attention they need so I can avoid problems? What happens if I find out we didn’t shoot something we needed? How do I work with footage or sound that didn’t come out the way I expected? How long should my final product be so I can be successful at film festivals? Marketing your film What can I do to promote my film before we ever start filming? When is the appropriate time to start promoting? What kind of promotion looks and feels professional versus amateur? Is there such a thing as oversharing information on social networks? During production, how can I use my cast and crew to promote the project? What parameters should I set to not give away plot points? What is the role of a still photographer on set and how can I leverage the still photographer for publicity? How do I reach out to press outlets to promote my film? How do I find out what press outlets are the right ones for my film, and how do I even get a journalist interested in covering it? What makes an effective versus ineffective pitch letter? Releasing your film What makes an effective trailer? How can I best prepare and present the trailer and still photos for promotional purposes? Should I create a Facebook page for my film and a website and a Twitter and an Instagram, etc.? How do I get into Sundance? If I don’t get into Sundance, is my career finished? There are entirely too many film festivals, how do I begin to figure out which ones are good and which ones are bad? What are effective ways of meeting, then following up, with producers and gatekeepers that I meet at these events? What kind of communication does an executive find annoying? Should I sell my film or give it away for free? If I give it away for free, how will I be able to pay myself back? How do I quantify if my film was a success? How do I use the short film to get myself ready for my next project? What if the film didn’t come out the way I wanted, am I completely done as a filmmaker? How do I use the lessons I learned to make my next project better? Now that I’ve made my first short film and loved it, how do I make this my full time job and become a professional filmmaker?
Taught by Director of Development at Supergravity Pictures, Mike Flavin, who's worked on films such as Sony/CBS's Faster with Dwayne Johnson and Billy Bob Thornton, and The Enivitable Defeat of Mister & Pete with Jennifer Hudson and Anthony Mackie which was screened at the White House. Hollywood has found itself looking inward at the plummeting returns from the "Blockbuster Months". Why did a relatively "starless" movie like Guardians of the Galaxy print money, while Tom Cruise's Edge of Tomorrow flopped? Why would seemingly well known Intellectual Property like Peabody and Sherman tank while another brand, Lego, do so well? (besides the world's obvious affinity for Chris Pratt!) The answer lies in one confirmed fact about the movie industry: you never, ever know what will be a hit and what won't. BUT, in saying that, there is a way in which you can give your project the absolute best chance of success by looking analytically at successful films from the past and implementing these dynamics into your project. If you've seen the film, Moneyball, you'll remember Jonah Hill's character found a way to statistically determine the best odds for his team's sucess. Our webinar host, Mike Flavin, has been able to analytically and statistically apply a method to do the same for a script or film - and he's found success as a Director of Development by doing just that. Join Mike as he teaches you his methodology to apply components in a script that make it more sellable. In this webinar, we will break down several successful movies in a number of genres and draw statistical conclusions on what made them so successful. It's the Moneyball-ization of Hollywood; let's play the house against itself!
Learn directly from Conrad Sun, TV Literary Manager and Development Executive for Meridian Artists! Ideas for movies, TV shows, web series etc. can come from anywhere. Often times it’s an original idea that comes from within your own creative mind, but as you know, a lot of the best stories can be based on other source material like books, real people’s lives, big brands, or any other already existing property. In all of the latter scenarios, you can’t legally create your vision without controlling the rights to the source material. This often discourages people from pursuing these rights because it involves contracts, dealing with rights holders and costs money. In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, Conrad Sun will change your perspective not only on how to acquire the rights to material, but how to develop great story ideas. He will explore creative ways on how to find and control the rights to stories that you’re passionate about without having to pay for them. Whether you’re a writer looking to adapt a screenplay, or a producer looking to set up a property with a financier, this webinar will provide useful information how to effectively control the rights to your passion project and hopefully lead to its creation. Conrad Sun is currently working as a TV Lit Manager and Development Executive at Meridian Artists in Los Angeles and represents TV writers in both the comedy and drama space. Conrad has also worked in content development with companies like Epix, Hasbro Studios, Gran Via Productions (Breaking Bad), New Wave Entertainment and Motion Theory Films. Conrad is also the founder of the popular website FilmEscape, an online resource and encyclopedia for learning anything relating to the film and television industry.
Learn directly from Jeff Kitchen, 20-Year Advanced Screenwriting Teacher who has taught Development Executives at all of the major Hollywood Studios! This course was previously recorded. All sessions now available on demand. It's for seasoned writers and development executives; Beginners are absolutely welcome, but please be aware this will be high-impact and fast paced. Dramatic writing is considered the most elusive of all the literary disciplines, and plot construction is notoriously tricky. You must weld together a seething amalgam of ideas, actions, characters, and powerful moments—and the finished product has to roll out one scene after another in a specific order to create maximum dramatic impact. The story has to move ahead crisply and grip the audience in a powerful transformative experience, in any genre. Even seasoned pros struggle with this. Stage 32 Next Level Education is thrilled to bring you our first ever Advanced Screenwriting 10 Week Working Writers Lab! This lab is taught by Jeff Kitchen, who has taught his three-step process, Sequence, Proposition, Plot, to development executives from all the major Hollywood studios—and they consistently say it’s the most advanced development tool in the film industry. Now, for the first time anywhere, Jeff is doing a high-intensity training program on this remarkable tool, an exclusive for Stage 32! In this lab, Jeff will train you in the detailed mechanics of how to work with reverse cause and effect and sophisticated conflict structuring to strip your story down to its absolute essentials and make it work. Then once you got your core story solid, you use Sequence, Proposition, Plot to systematically build out each of the acts, then all the major sequences, and finally all the scenes, writing each scene as you structure it. This gives you a remarkably solid working draft of your story. The lab will be a high-intensity training program, focusing entirely on technique, so you learn how to turn a fairly developed idea into a structured outline that gradually knits all your story elements into a coherent script, developing details as they becomes necessary, and creating gripping conflict that keeps the audience on the edge of their seats. Sequence, Proposition, Plot enables you to take all the energy that goes into rewrites and engineer your script properly before you write it. Because this is a highly intensive, hands-on format, Jeff will use a mix of lecture, drills, analysis, class work, and homework. Each person should be familiar with the movie, Training Day, starring Denzel Washington. The last hour of each class will be spent building an original story as a class, with each person constructing their own version of the practice story as they learn the detailed mechanics of using this tool fully and properly. The last two sessions will be devoted entirely to intensive work with the demo script that each person is building, structuring scenes and writing dialog based on the deep structure that you’ve developed and constructed. You will emerge with a powerful mastery of this tool, and the habits of mind of the trained dramatist. Class Breakdown: Session 1: Introduction and Instruction on Sequence Work backwards to create a tight chain of cause and effect Separate the necessary from the unnecessary Find the spine of your story, unencumbered by unnecessary detail Get the big picture working, then gradually develop the details Apply reverse cause and effect (Sequence) to the overall story for the practice script Session 2: Instruction on Proposition, Plot Build the core conflict and get the audience on the edge of their seat This works in any genre Test for power and amplify conflict where needed Set up a potential fight and touch off a fight to the finish Apply Proposition, Plot to the overall story for the practice script Session 3: Dramatic Action Create continuous, coherent, compelling dramatic action Work from the macro down to the micro Gradually develop and weave in detail as it becomes necessary Break the overall story down into acts Apply Sequence, Proposition, Plot to Act I of the practice script Session 4: Writer’s Objective vs. Protagonist’s Objective Learn the difference between the writer’s objective and the protagonist’s objective Create structural unity, with each part serving the whole A sense of proportion orients you in the proper use of this tool Find the holes in your story and create solutions as you flesh the story in Do Sequence, Proposition, Plot for Act II of the practice script Session 5: Cause and Effect Find the cause of an effect, not what came before it If the big picture doesn’t work then the details do not matter An argument actually consist of two opposing arguments Do Sequence, Proposition, Plot for Act III of the practice script Session 6: The Central Dramatic Question Going on the offensive—a declaration of war The central dramatic question does not occur in the middle of the script Break each act down into sequences Apply Sequence, Proposition, Plot to Act I, Sequence 1 in the practice script Session 7: Create Order From Chaos Chaos is crucial to story creation. Order is crucial to plot construction Learn to stay on track with reverse cause and effect, and not follow false trails Know that your storytelling has to be top notch because well-structured crap is still crap Apply Sequence, Proposition, Plot to Act I, Sequence 2 in the practice script Session 8: How To Engineer Your Script Before You Start Writing Engineer your screenplay before you write it and save many rewrites Attack the audience Be the master of the tools, not their servant Break down sequences into scenes Apply Sequence, Proposition, Plot to Sequence 1, Scene 1 in the practice script Session 9: Work On Practice Script Total work session using Sequence, Proposition, Plot on the practice script Apply Sequence, Proposition, Plot to Sequence 1, Scene 2 in the practice script Then write the dialog for that scene Apply Sequence, Proposition, Plot to Sequence 1, Scene 3 in the practice script Then write the dialog for that scene Session 10: Wrap Up Total work session using Sequence, Proposition, Plot on the practice script Apply Sequence, Proposition, Plot to Sequence 2, Scene 1 in the practice script Then write the dialog for that scene Apply Sequence, Proposition, Plot to Sequence 2, Scene 2 in the practice script Then write the dialog for that scene Keep going until we drop About The Instructor, Jeff Kitchen: Jeff Kitchen has been one of the top screenwriting teachers in the film industry for twenty years, and is a sought-after script consultant. He worked as a dramaturg and taught playwriting in New York theater, and is the author of Writing a Great Movie: Key Tools for Successful Screenwriting. Jeff has taught development executives from all the major Hollywood studios and they consistently say that he teaches the most advanced development tools in the film industry. You can read more about him on his website: www.DevelopmentHeaven.com. Testimonials About Jeff Kitchen: “I've worked with Jeff one-on-one for many of my projects. His tools and insights push me to explore the material in a deeper way — and find the dramatic core of the situation. I know he's made me a better writer and made my process more organized and more effective. I highly recommend his book, his classes, and his personal attention.” - Jessica Sharzer - Writer/Producer - American Horror Story “Jeff Kitchen’s writing techniques and teaching have been invaluable tools in my own creative work. His attention to character, process, and form have informed all of my work and will continue to do so. I start every script with the simple question that Jeff asks daily, “What do you want to leave the audience with?” The question and Jeff’s teaching form the foundation for compelling, honest work.” - Ted Melfi - Writer/Director - St. Vincent “Your seminar for Development Executives was by far the best seminar I have ever taken. I have found the tools you discussed to be very instrumental in my analysis of scripts on a day to day basis. Your class is the most comprehensive one offered as far as making people understand how to apply the tools and make them work. This was one class that I can honestly say has helped me to become a stronger executive. I am very grateful to you. I recommend your seminar to anyone in the entertainment industry who wants to know what it takes to make a strong script.” - Jen Grisanti - Story/Career Consultant at Jen Grisanti Consultancy Inc.; Writing Instructor for NBC’s Writers on the Verge; former 12-year studio executive “I found your class to be user-friendly and very informative. I especially enjoyed your technique of working backwards from the climax--it really helps to streamline a screenplay and strengthen the throughline. I highly recommend this class to screenwriters of all levels of proficiency.” - Debra Meringa - Sony Pictures “Having taken virtually every screenwriting course in existence, I found Jeff Kitchen's workshop to be the most valuable in town. His techniques and tools guide one through the entire process of screenwriting: from basic concept to general script structure and further down to the scene level. Jeff is a master teacher who truly understands the art and technique of the screenplay. His course is worth its weight in gold.” - Chris Brancato - Writer - Hannibal, Law & Order: Criminal Intent “From within the swarm of gimmicky screenwriting seminars and trendy new how-to's, it is Jeff Kitchen's approach, relying heavily on the classic principles of dramatic structure and logic that emerges as truly innovative. His technique is the answer for anyone seeking practical tools with which to diagnose script problems, generate effective solutions, or transform story ideas into compelling drama. Jeff's seminars are aggressive; they are work sessions that produce real results immediately. Come with your sleeves rolled up”. - Erin Quigley - Producer, Development Exec., 23 Red Prods. “Jeff Kitchen’s technique and his dedication to the art of screenwriting taught me writing skills that took my script to a whole new level. I’ve never seen anything like what he teaches, and it works better than anything out there. After taking his course I got top representation and sold a script to New Line Cinema.” - Sam Brown, Screenwriter “I recently attended Jeffrey Kitchen's screenwriting seminar and cannot praise it too highly. He is one of the best teachers I've ever had. His attributes are that rare to find. First, he is clear and concise and is a master of the techniques he teaches. Secondly, he has infinite patience and instinctive generosity so that everyone feels that their project is worthwhile, even as he uncovers its flaws. The technique he teaches is truly extraordinary and Jeffrey, it turns out, may be the only person in the world using it in this particular way. I have taken other screenwriting courses and his is head and shoulders above them all. As a result of Jeffrey's course I feel much more secure in my writing. I finally feel that my script will have the best possible structure.” - Mira Tweti, Screenwriter “Jeff Kitchen teaches the most powerful and practical screenwriting tools in the business. I’ve studied numerous techniques, but Jeff is the first person I’ve met who presents a fully developed craft that screenwriters can actually use. His expertise unlocked, energized, and structured a script that I was completely stumped on and now a major studio is considering it for an A-list actress.” - Jon Van Dyke, Writer-Director “Years ago, I was fortunate to begin my ongoing training with the generation of masters that first wrote for stage, then live television, and then film. Jeffrey is one of the few contemporary writer-teachers with a grounding in those ageless techniques of good drama, a tradition rarely passed to current generations.” - George Higginson, Screenwriter “Jeff Kitchen is the best screenwriting teacher in the world.” - Tom Huckabee, Executive Producer, Frailty To read Jeff Kitchen's book, Writing a Great Movie: Key Tools for Successful Screenwriting click here!