How to Build a Successful Writer-Producer Relationship

Taught by Shaun O'Banion

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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 »

Summary

Learn directly from Gotham Award-winning Producer Shaun O’Banion who's worked with Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Joe Wright and Judd Apatow. 

 

Everyone will tell you filmmaking is a collaborative process and comes down to relationships. Possibly the most important relationship? The one between the writer and the producer or exec. This partnership is critical and is often the first spark that can get a project going. But this relationship doesn’t just materialize without any work put in. The truth of the matter is the collaboration and trust that’s built between the writer and producer, starting with the optioning or hiring process and going through all of development and production can be just as important as the script and production itself in how successful the film turns out to be.

If you’re a writer, it can be challenging to find a producer who is the right fit and actually get on their radar or get them to read your work in the first place. As a producer, getting your hands on the script that you actually connect with and that you can feel confident in producing can be quite an undertaking. And whether you are the writer or the producer, navigating this creative relationship through the murky development process is complicated but absolutely crucial. So how does a successfully writer-producer relationship actually work? How do producers find scripts and how can you set up your own screenplay for success? And once you’re on your way, what steps can you take to ensure the relationship, and therefore the entire project, doesn’t fall apart during development? Let’s explore.

Shaun O'Banion is an award-winning producer and the founder of production company Ravenwood and has worked with writers and filmmakers such as Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Joe Wright and Judd Apatow. O’Banion produced DAKOTA SKYE which became a cult hit and remained in the Top 100 Most Viewed on Netflix. He also produced GIRLFRIEND, the first film in North America to star an actor with Down Syndrome in the lead role. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, sold to Strand Releasing and won O’Banion an IFP Gotham Award. He joined the Producers Guild of America and co-produced THE AUTOMATIC HATE which made its World Premiere at the SXSW Film Festival. The film was released theatrically by Film Movement. Shaun has also worked as a post production project coordinator on some of the industry's leading films in recent years including JOJO RABBIT, TERMINATOR: DARK FATE, THE AFTERMATH and OPHELIA. Shaun is well versed on building relationships to get films made and is ready to break down what he knows

In this exclusive two-part class, Shaun will walk you through process of getting material produced from the producer's perspective. He’ll go through what producers look for, how doing your research matters, and how collaboration with your new partner is the key to it all. Plus, expect to learn the differences between setting up a short and setting up a feature. Shaun will also delve into the development process and give you a new set of tools to get your material in top form.

 

The development process is murky and hard to navigate, but Shaun will go in-depth on how exactly to see it through to the end by building a strong relationship with your producer.

 

 

Praise for Shaun’s Stage 32 Class

 

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

- Gina G.

 

"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 L.

 

 

What You'll Learn

Session 1: Pursuing and Starting the Writer-Producer Relationship

  • Initial Contact:
    • Where do producers look for material?
    • If you’re a producer, selecting the right writer for your story.
    • What makes a producer decide to read your material?
  • How to get past the measures designed to keep you on the outside.
  • Repped writers vs. unrepped writers and how you can make both work
  • How many projects is a producer developing at any one time?
  • How to write to get read. What hooks a producer, development exec or reader and are those things different at different budget levels?
    • Should you go ahead and write your $100 million dollar summer blockbuster?
    • Writing to get it made NOW
    • Pre-existing material. Where you find it, how to get it
    • Coverage: Who’s reading? What are they looking for? How do they judge?
  • Recorded Q&A with Shaun

Session 2: The Development Process

  • What is “development” really and how long can it take?
  • Different factors to consider
  • Is there a way to “beat the system” and ensure your film gets going?
  • Building your relationship with a producer or exec
    • Fighting/Making up/Moving on and moving past the inevitable speed bumps along the way
    • Is being replaced inevitable?
  • You’ve been optioned or hired! Now what?
    • Understanding the dynamics of your new relationship.
    • 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.
    • Differences between indie/big budget in terms of development
    • Thinking in terms of production- an important skill for any writer
  • Recorded Q&A with Shaun

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.

FAQs

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 recording, which you can view as many times as you'd like for a whole year!

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

  • Excellent. Looks at the issues from both sides of the table. Very transparent about what the relationships between producers & writers need to know.
  • Helpful, practical advice from someone who's walking the talk.

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