Learn directly from Melissa Daykin Cassill, Vice President of State Street Pictures (Faster, Beauty Shop, Barbershop, Notorious, Nothing Like The Holidays) The Hangover, Bridesmaids, Little Miss Sunshine. What is it, exactly, that makes these comedies stand out from the crowd? With so many different types of comedies in the marketplace, it is becoming the toughest genre to break into. More executives are turning to A list comedians to write than actual screenwriters, so how do you get an executive's attention? How do you get past executives that have different senses of humor, jokes that don't translate internationally, and storylines that can easily get deemed outdated a year later? Stage 32 Happy Writers is excited to bring you our 4 week online intensive class How To Write A Fresh, Stand Out Comedy taught by the Vice President of State Street Pictures, Melissa Dayin Cassill. In this hands on 4 week course, you will learn the importance of the emotional crescendo of a comedy script, how to balance the comedy with the humanity of the characters, and how to pitch your comedy script once you're ready, all while molding your pages under Melissa's supervision. With interactive lectures and weekly homework assignments directly geared towards strengthening your pages, this class will help you craft your writing into a fresh stand out comedy script that will grab executives' attention! Purchasing gives you access to the previously-recorded live class. Although Melissa is no longer reviewing the assignments, we still encourage all listeners to participate.
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?
Learn directly from Tyler Ruggeri, a writer, story consultant, and former manager who has developed and sold screenplays to top producers, including his own The Making of Rock Hudson to Maven Pictures! Tyler managed Damien Chazelle, whose film Whiplash was nominated for five Academy Awards (including Best Adapted Screenplay) and won three, as well as the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival! This year, audiences have been introduced to a number of singular, fully fleshed out lead characters. From the surprisingly dimensional Joy in Inside Out, to two distinct Brian Wilsons in Love & Mercy, to the female road warrior Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road, films continue to provide an endless amount of potential for diverse protagonists. But these characters are often the exception rather than the rule. With a constant parade of franchise sequels, remakes, and reboots, it’s become harder than ever to create a unique and nuanced lead that audiences feel they haven’t seen before. And in a marketplace crowded with more of the same, it’s never been more essential (and potentially lucrative) for screenwriters to set their work apart. So how can writers create characters that appeal to a wide audience without sacrificing the very qualities that make them singular? In this exclusive Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, we are thrilled to bring back Tyler Ruggeri to discuss how to write interesting and complicated characters that audiences can root for without sacrificing depth. Having worked both on the writing and management side in Hollywood, Tyler brings uniquely qualified, invaluable experience on Writing The Cinematic Protagonist. In this live and interactive webinar, Tyler will focus on studying (and deconstructing) the building blocks of movie protagonists in a straightforward, fun, and easy to digest format. He’ll discuss character in a macro-level approach while zeroing in on recent examples from popular films. Participants will learn that there’s no one way to create a memorable protagonist. But by knowing and staying true to what’s special about your story (and your lead character), you can shape a screenplay that’s fresh and unexpected while remaining accessible to all kinds of viewers.
Breaking into the Television industry is tough, but perhaps the most difficult area of the TV business to enter is the writing staff. And yet, it’s not impossible. In fact, many people from all walks of life and from different educational and professional backgrounds find their way onto writing staffs everyday and go on to build lucrative careers in this cutthroat enterprise. In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, TV Writer/Producer Charlie Charbonneau will teach you how you can too! Your host, Charlie has worked on the writing staffs of three different CW genre shows, including The Secret Circle, The Vampire Diaries, and its spin-off The Originals, and he has mentored many eager young writers desiring to write for TV. In this webinar, he will explain why it’s so notoriously difficult to ‘get staffed’ by identifying the budgetary, political, and practical craft constraints of the television writing landscape. Then, he will detail the wide array of different tools, methods, and pathways to surpassing these obstacles. Among other topics, he’ll discuss the benefits of different educational institutions and industry work-shop programs, how to get your foot in the door with different entry-level jobs, which support jobs in a writers’ office lead to paid writing, as well as what material to write and how to get the right people to read it. No matter your background or level of experience, all students will come away with a deeper understanding of the obstacles and the many surprising solutions to getting and keeping a spot at that big scary table in the Television writers’ room.
Learn directly from the Director of Development for Ryan Reynolds' Dark Trick Films! Creating an independent film from scratch is daunting, but immensely rewarding, and can be done with any level of resources. Films under $1MM are especially a sweet spot for many independent filmmakers but certainly come with their sets of challenges. Stage 32 is excited to bring in the development executive for Ryan Reynold's production company Dark Trick Films & TV, Blake Goza, who has spent the last 7 years working projects such as Deadpool, Buried, The Change Up and RIPD. Even though Blake works on some of the most popular films & television of today, it's his personal project - a film entitled Escort - which he made independently for under $1MM that fuels his passion for being a creative. With this webinar, Blake will give you a producer’s perspective on building an independently financed movie, from start to finish, for under one million dollars. Using The Escort as a case study, he will walk you through each stage of the independent process: finding a script, packaging talent, determining a budget, acquiring financing, shooting, post production, and ultimately, distribution. Blake will discuss process specifics, like his decision to attach a sales agent in the early stages of development; what financing options he prefers - the benefits and risks of private equity versus foreign pre-sales; what talent he chose to attach first – the argument for finding your director before making offers to actors; and how to build a release strategy for your film that allows for success as you define it – whether your goal is critical acclaim, commercial exposure, or financial reward, begin with the end in mind, and build a platform that allows you to achieve that goal. If you’ve wanted to produce a film outside of the studio system on a responsible budget, then this class if for you!
Learn directly from Steve Desmond, professional screenwriter who has worked on projects with Davis Entertainment, Imagine Entertainment, Treehouse Pictures, and more! In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, host Steve Desmond will help you build your suspense from the ground up. Together, you’ll study some of the masters of psychological thrillers, and he’ll share what he’s learned in the trenches from working with other writers, producers, and executives. From the anatomy of a suspense scene, to how to build compelling characters, to how to hook the reader’s attention early, to the power of murder in a story, all the way to crafting a twist ending that no one sees coming, this will be a fully immersive experience that will leave you excited, inspired and ready to tackle your next project. Steve Desmond is a professional screenwriter represented by APA, The Gotham Group, and Eclipse Law Firm. Recently, Steve sold a thriller screenplay with an Oscar nominated producer attached, and has several other thriller projects in the works with major companies. Steve was also recently hired to write a treatment for a mini-series on infamous serial killer Ted Bundy, being produced Discovery Networks, Giant Pirates, and Trigger Street. Over the years, he’s written or developed projects with Imagine Entertainment, Level 1 Entertainment, Blacklight Transmedia, Preferred Film & TV, The Walt Becker Company, Dreamworks Animation, and (shockingly) The Disney Channel. Steve has repeatedly proved that he knows what it takes to write a great psychological thriller, and he is here to share his knowledge with Stage 32!