Film Development Process: Defining The Producer-Writer Relationship

Taught by Shaun O'Banion

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Who Should Attend:

Who Should Attend: 

  • Writers trying to get their material seen and, hopefully, produced.
  • New and first-time producers seeking to better understand how to navigate the process of development.
  • Actors looking to make the leap to producing in order to take control of their careers.
  • Directors who wish to understand the process that has occurred before they’re on a project.
  • Writer-Directors looking to expand their knowledge base and understand the process from the producers side as well as how to construct a script that’s production ready.
  • Anyone who is interested in understanding the relationships and personal dynamics that are created during the development phase.

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Class hosted by: Shaun O'Banion

Producer at Ravenwood Films

Shaun O’Banion was drawn to the film business from an early age and got his first film industry job as a set P.A. on the Steven Spielberg series “SeaQuest DSV” after sneaking onto the Universal lot for three months and asking for jobs. From there, he segued to features (again after sneaking onto a set - this time a James Cameron production) and began to work his way up – first as a Production Assistant, Assistant Director and later, as an assistant to actors such as Academy Award-winner Christopher Walken, Ben Stiller, Courteney Cox and David Arquette and acclaimed filmmakers Joe Wright, Judd Apatow and Academy Award Nominee Peter Hedges. His first film as a producer was released in 2008 by E1 Entertainment. That film, DAKOTA SKYE, remained in the Top 100 on Netflix for 5 years and has become a cult hit among teens, a regular topic on social networking sites like Twitter and Tumblr and has aired on Showtime, The Movie Channel, ComCast, Time Warner Cable and Hulu. His second film, GIRLFRIEND, stars Shannon Woodward (HBO's upcoming series Westworld, Fox TV’s Raising Hope), Jackson Rathbone (THE TWILIGHT SAGA) and Golden Globe Nominee Amanda Plummer (THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE, PULP FICTION) and newcomer Evan Sneider. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2010 and was one of 13 films to sell to a distributor in the first week of the Festival. In 2011, Shaun and his fellow producers won an IFP Gotham Award for the film as well as a host of other awards both internationally and here in the U.S. His latest film, THE AUTOMATIC HATE, stars Joseph Cross (LINCOLN, MILK), Adelaide Clemens (GATSBY, Sundance Channel series Rectify), Richard Schiff (HBO’s Ballers, MAN OF STEEL), Deborah Ann Woll (Netlfix Original's Daredevil, HBO's True Blood) and Ricky Jay (HEIST, BOOGIE NIGHTS). The film made it's World Premiere at the 2015 SXSW Film Festival, won the Jury Award at the Mill Valley Film Festival, played at Busan in S. Korea and at the Seattle International Film Festival as well. The film will be released in N. America by Film Movement later this year. A member of the Producers Guild of America, O’Banion has also produced national commercials for clients such as EA Sports, Pepsi, HIVE Lighting and Chevrolet. He has also produced two episodes of Day Off with Noah Abrams (featuring celebrity chef Tyler Florence and Skate legend Tony Hawk) for the Planes, Traines & Automobiles Network which airs on the web and on Delta Airlines with 200 million unique views a year, and a live event in Los Angeles for The White House, Office of First Lady Michelle Obama along with J.J. Abrams. Shaun is also an accomplished public speaker and teacher, having taught filmmaking courses at the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts in San Francisco, California, SUNY Oneonta, New York, Metro-Arts High School in Phoenix, Arizona, and South Bay Adult School in Los Angeles, California. He has served on panels at the Firstglance Film Festival, Hollywood and as both panelist and moderator at Hells Half Mile Film and Music Festival in Bay City, Michigan. He was also recently a speaker on an accomplished panel of independent producers at SAG-AFTRA in Los Angeles. With several projects in various stages solely under the Ravenwood Films banner encompassing the worlds of reality television, narrative tv and features as well as others he'll produce with partners like Broad Reach Films, he expects the next few years to be extremely busy. Full Bio »

"Loved the up-front examples of how long it took to develop different films and whys behind it. Super informative." - Gina Gladwell

"For people trying to break into the business, these kind of webinar chats where the info and experience rolls off the cuff is important and very effective for me. If you can't be around the industry and executives, having the opportunity to 'be in the room' and hear about process and how things are done is really important." - Diana Lanham 

“Working with Shaun O'Banion has been nothing short of extraordinary on every level. Shaun had been a seasoned production assistant when we first met back in 2002. At the time, he was responsible for getting me my first break as a PA when he took me under his wing. Flash forward fourteen years later and I have collaborated with him, as his editor, on three award-winning feature films and dozens of other projects, so he’s also responsible for getting me my first break as a storyteller... See a pattern here? Shaun's vast experience and knowledge in the business coupled with his storytelling sensibilities, people skills and communication skills make him a huge asset to any project of any size. Not only can I not imagine having the career I've had without him, I also couldn't imagine my life without him as a great and true friend.” - Jeff Castelluccio, Film Editor

Session 1:

  • Initial Contact:
    1. Where do producers look for material?
    2. If you’re a producer, selecting the right writer for your story.
  • Should you really sign up for those websites that claim to get your stuff read?
  • What makes a producer decide to read your material?
  • How to get past the measures designed to keep you on the outside.
  • Repped vs unrepped.
  • How many projects is a producer developing at any one time?
    1. How To Write To Get Read. What hooks a producer, development exec or reader and are those things different at different budget levels?
    2. Should you go ahead and write your $100 million dollar summer blockbuster?
    3. Writing to get it made now.
    4. Pre-existing material. Where you find it, how to get it.
    5. Coverage. Who’s reading? What are they looking for? How do they judge?
  • Recorded Q&A with Shaun!

Session 2:

  • What is “development” really and how long can it take?
    1. From big budget films to indies, the time period can vary wildly. What are the factors? Is there a way to “beat the system” and ensure your film gets going?
    2. Building your relationship: Working with a producer or development exec. can be a stressful process. Learn how to navigate this so that you end up with the best version of your project.
    3. Fighting/Making up/Moving on. So you’ve hit a wall. They want more changes and you’re not willing to go there. How to move past the inevitable speed bumps and get going again.
    4. Is being replaced inevitable?
  • You’ve been optioned/hired… Now what?
    1. Beginning to understand the dynamics of your new relationship.
    2. If you’re a writer, how to work with your new producer/partner to create the best result. If you’re a producer, how to navigate the process with your screenwriter.
    3. Differences between indie/big budget in terms of development
    4. Thinking in terms of production: While certainly not a “must” for writers, having some sense of what may go into crafting a single scene from a practical perspective can be of enormous value.
  • Recorded Q&A with Shaun!

Summary:

Learn directly from Gotham Award-winning Producer Shaun O’Banion who's worked with Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Joe Wright and Judd Apatow. Shaun’s first feature was one of an early group of independent films picked up for Netflix, and remained in the Top 100 for 5 years before airing on such networks as Showtime, The Movie Channel, ComCast On Demand, Time Warner Cable On Demand and Hulu.

Navigating the maze of getting a screenplay read by people who can make it a reality is one thing, but moving into the realm of getting material financed and produced by those people is another game altogether. In this Next Level Class, you will learn from an award-winning producer's perspective what producers look for, how doing your research matters, and how collaboration with your new partner is the key to it all. Plus, learn the differences between setting up a short and setting up a feature.

Some of the common questions asked during the development process are: where do producers look for material? How do you get someone to read your material? What are the differences between the indie film landscape and higher budget film production? Should you shoot a proof-of-concept short for your film? How can you build a collaborative relationship that will allow the best version of the script to end up on film? Should you shoot for the moon and write a $100 million dollar blockbuster or a down and dirty indie that, in a pinch, you could pull off with friends?

In this exclusive Stage 32 Next Level Class, award-winning producer Shaun O’Banion will take you through all of this and more! Over the course of 2 online sessions you will learn about the process of getting material produced from the producer's perspective. You will also learn about the development process from the mind of an established indie producer who will give you a new set of tools to get your material in top form!


About Your Instructor:

Shaun O’Banion was drawn to the film business from an early age and got his first film industry job as a set P.A. on the Steven Spielberg series “SeaQuest DSV” after sneaking onto the Universal lot for three months and asking for jobs.

From there, he segued to features (again after sneaking onto a set - this time a James Cameron production) and began to work his way up – first as a Production Assistant, Assistant Director and later, as an assistant to actors such as Academy Award-winner Christopher Walken, Ben Stiller, Courteney Cox and David Arquette and acclaimed filmmakers Joe Wright, Judd Apatow and Academy Award Nominee Peter Hedges.

His first film as a producer was released in 2008 by E1 Entertainment. That film, DAKOTA SKYE, remained in the Top 100 on Netflix for 5 years and has become a cult hit among teens, a regular topic on social networking sites like Twitter and Tumblr and has aired on Showtime, The Movie Channel, ComCast, Time Warner Cable and Hulu.

His second film, GIRLFRIEND, stars Shannon Woodward (HBO's upcoming series Westworld, Fox TV’s Raising Hope), Jackson Rathbone (THE TWILIGHT SAGA) and Golden Globe Nominee Amanda Plummer (THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE, PULP FICTION) and newcomer Evan Sneider. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2010 and was one of 13 films to sell to a distributor in the first week of the Festival. In 2011, Shaun and his fellow producers won an IFP Gotham Award for the film as well as a host of other awards both internationally and here in the U.S.

His latest film, THE AUTOMATIC HATE, stars Joseph Cross (LINCOLN, MILK), Adelaide Clemens (GATSBY, Sundance Channel series Rectify), Richard Schiff (HBO’s Ballers, MAN OF STEEL), Deborah Ann Woll (Netlfix Original's Daredevil, HBO's True Blood) and Ricky Jay (HEIST, BOOGIE NIGHTS). The film made it's World Premiere at the 2015 SXSW Film Festival, won the Jury Award at the Mill Valley Film Festival, played at Busan in S. Korea and at the Seattle International Film Festival as well. The film will be released in N. America by Film Movement later this year.

A member of the Producers Guild of America, O’Banion has also produced national commercials for clients such as EA Sports, Pepsi, HIVE Lighting and Chevrolet. He has also produced two episodes of Day Off with Noah Abrams (featuring celebrity chef Tyler Florence and Skate legend Tony Hawk) for the Planes, Traines & Automobiles Network which airs on the web and on Delta Airlines with 200 million unique views a year, and a live event in Los Angeles for The White House, Office of First Lady Michelle Obama along with J.J. Abrams.

Shaun is also an accomplished public speaker and teacher, having taught filmmaking courses at the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts in San Francisco, California, SUNY Oneonta, New York, Metro-Arts High School in Phoenix, Arizona, and South Bay Adult School in Los Angeles, California. He has served on panels at the Firstglance Film Festival, Hollywood and as both panelist and moderator at Hells Half Mile Film and Music Festival in Bay City, Michigan. He was also recently a speaker on an accomplished panel of independent producers at SAG-AFTRA in Los Angeles.

With several projects in various stages solely under the Ravenwood Films banner encompassing the worlds of reality television, narrative tv and features as well as others he'll produce with partners like Broad Reach Films, he expects the next few years to be extremely busy.


Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: What is the format of a class?
A: Stage 32 Next Level Classes are typically 2 to 4 week ongoing broadcasts that take place online using a designated software program from Stage 32.

Q: Do I have to have to be located in a specific location?
A: No, you can participate from the comfort of your own home using your personal computer! If you attend a live online class, you will be able to communicate directly with your instructor during the class.

Q: What are the system requirements?
A: You will need to meet the following system requirements in order to run the class software: Windows 7 or later Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) or later.
If you have Windows XP, Windows Vista and Mac OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion): The class software does not support these operating systems. If you are running one of those operating systems, please upgrade now in order to be able to view a live class. Upgrade your Windows computer / Upgrade your Mac computer 

Q: What if I cannot attend the live class?
A: If you cannot attend a live class and purchase an On-Demand class, you will have access to the entire recorded broadcast, including the Q&A.

Q: Will I have access to the class afterward to rewatch?
A: Yes! After the purchase of a live or On-Demand class, you will have on-demand access to the audio recording, which you can view as many times as you'd like for a whole year!


Testimonials:

Testimonials:

"Great class!" - Ron Heaps

"Loved the up-front examples of how long it took to develop different films and whys behind it. Super informative." - Gina Gladwell

"For people trying to break into the business, these kind of webinar chats where the info and experience rolls off the cuff is important and very effective for me. If you can't be around the industry and executives, having the opportunity to 'be in the room' and hear about process and how things are done is really important." - Diana Lanham

“As a writer, it's nice to work with someone who is as enthusiastic and dedicated about a project as you are. From the fun stuff, like brainstorming and generating storylines, to the more difficult tasks, like fact research or scene structure, Shaun O'Banion will put in the time and the energy." - Scott Kirkley, Screenwriter

“Shaun is the kind of producer you want on set. He's not afraid to listen to crew needs and address them as soon as possible. He's an active problem solver on set, and without his help I would have never gotten the camera package, crew or gear to shoot GIRLFRIEND.” - Quyen Tran, Director of Photography

“Working with Shaun O'Banion has been nothing short of extraordinary on every level. Shaun had been a seasoned production assistant when we first met back in 2002. At the time, he was responsible for getting me my first break as a PA when he took me under his wing. Flash forward fourteen years later and I have collaborated with him, as his editor, on three award-winning feature films and dozens of other projects, so he’s also responsible for getting me my first break as a storyteller... See a pattern here? Shaun's vast experience and knowledge in the business coupled with his storytelling sensibilities, people skills and communication skills make him a huge asset to any project of any size. Not only can I not imagine having the career I've had without him, I also couldn't imagine my life without him as a great and true friend.” - Jeff Castelluccio, Film Editor

Shaun's Social Media:

Twitter: @shaun_obanion
Twitter: @ravenwoodfilms
http://www.ravenwoodfilms.com

Questions?

If you have a generic question about Stage 32 education you can take a look at our frequently asked questions section on our help page, or feel free to contact support with any other inquiries you might have.
 

Reviews Average Rating: 4.5 out of 5

  • Helpful, practical advice from someone who's walking the talk.

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