If there has been one genre that has stood the test of time throughout the history of the film industry, it's the biopic. True stories about interesting people and events are always in vogue. Studios, indie production companies and the streamers love them because they draw big audiences and awards recognition. Actors love them because it gives them something meaty to chew on and increases their odds for awards success. Many a writer has broken through by writing a screenplay based on true events. And right now, especially with the streamers upping their game, the genre has never been hotter. But to write a killer, non-rote biopic, you need to understand where to find your material, how to secure it, and then how to best tell your version of the story so that it attracts representatives, producers, financiers, and talent. The last 10 years has seen a biopic renaissance. The Social Network, Wolf of Wall Street, The Imitation Game, 12 Years a Slave, The Theory of Everything, Bohemian Rhapsody, American Sniper, The Two Popes, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, The King's Speech, Dolemite is My Name, The Irishman and Ford Vs. Ferrari all have been nominated or won major awards. And those are just a handful of the biopics that have been distributed either theatrically or digitally over the last decade. And with the streamers going full force, the studios looking for the sure thing, and the independent community looking for smaller, unknown stories, the desire for biopic and true story screenplays is only going to grow. Even short form biopics are booming with TV series and limited series based on real people and events all the rage. Tyler Ruggeri is a screenwriter, story consultant, and former literary manager with over a decade of experience on both sides of the entertainment industry. His biopic script The Making of Rock Hudson sold to veteran producers Celine Rattray and Trudie Styler of Maven Pictures. He also adapted the acclaimed non-fiction book Trapped Under the Sea, which led to a series of writing assignments on both original projects and rewrites. He is currently working on a feature for a major studio and developing a limited series. Tyler began his career as a manager at Exile Entertainment, where he represented screenwriters and directors in addition to developing the company’s film/TV slate – among his clients were Academy Award winner Damien Chazelle (La La Land, Whiplash). Other projects he developed with clients sold to A-list producers/financiers. With his vast experience, Tyler not only knows the world of writing biopics, but how to find and secure material as well. He will teach you resources to help you find the right material and how to find the right story for you to tell. He'll show you how to secure intellectual property. He will instruct you on the benefits of wiring an original screenplay vs. an adaptation. He will dig deep into the process of how to shape your story, including how to find your way into the story before you start writing so that your opening is an attention grabber. He will teach you how to do research and how you can do the extra legwork to go deeper into the world of your story. He will dive into 4 tips to join fact with fiction and 4 tips on dramatic license and when and how to use it. Tyler will show you how to creative the best character arcs possible including character motivation, behavior, stakes, and how the characters exist in time and place. He will help you uncover themes and make sure those themes are fleshed out to attract the widest audience possible. He will then discuss the market, how to sell, how to cover yourself legally and much, much more. If you've ever had a passion to tell a story based on a real person or events, Tyler will take you through everything you need to know to secure the IP, protect yourself legally, develop the story, write the screenplay and put yourself in a position to get the material massive attention. "Legitimately one of the best classes I've ever taken. I've had a story based on a book I've been eyeing forever and didn't know how to go about it. Now I do. What an incredible blueprint to securing, writing, and selling biopics." - Amanda P. "Outstanding in every way." - Marco G. "I'm overcome with gratitude. The best." - Danny C. "I don't think I could be any more inspired." Patricia S.
Quick, name your 5 favorite movies of all time. Chances are they are all encompass different genres and various worlds and journeys. But likely, they all have one thing in common: A memorable and multi-dimensional protagonist. Writing lead characters can be tricky. They're usually the first character that comes to mind when we're crafting our story. As such, we tend to have definitive, even strict, ideas of how that character will dress, how he or she will behave, and even what happens to them along the way. As such, many writers end up crafting their leads as rigid and one-dimensional. As a result, their lead character becomes passive and the supporting characters end up being much more proactive and interesting. Writing a truly memorable lead character takes a full understanding of your character's wants, needs, obstacles, flaws and much more. It means digging into the psychology of your lead before you begin writing so that you can make wonderful, informed discoveries throughout the writing process. 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. In addition, with the explosion of content being created for the streaming platforms, it's more important than ever, no matter whether you're writing features or TV, that you be able to create lead characters that development execs, producers, showrunners, and financiers can't deny and want to follow into fire. That uniqueness in voice and vision is getting writers signed, sold, staffed, and more and more work than ever before. So how can writers create characters that appeal to a wide audience without sacrificing the very qualities that make them singular? Tyler Ruggeri is a writer with over a decade of experience on both sides of the entertainment industry. His original screenplay The Making Of Rock Hudson sold to veteran producers Celine Rattray (The Kids Are Alright, Bernie) and Trudie Styler (Moon) of Maven Pictures. He is currently adapting a critically acclaimed non-fiction book and writing an original action drama. Prior to his writing career, Tyler was a talent manager at Exile Entertainment, where he represented screenwriters and directors while developing the company’s slate of projects. He signed emerging filmmakers including Lee Patterson (Nicholl Fellowship winner for Snatched) and 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. In addition to Whiplash, scripts he developed with clients have sold to A-list producers/financiers and garnered industry attention and assignments from major studios. Tyler has read thousands of screenplays and knows first hand what makes a memorable and multi-dimensional protagonist. And now for the 2nd time, exclusively for Stage 32, Tyler is back to teach you how to write interesting and complicated characters that audiences can root for without sacrificing depth. 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. He will teach you about making meaningful choices for your characters and how you can't be afraid to make the tough choice. He will delve into your characters wants, needs, and goals. He will discuss whether you lead character needs to be likable. He will teach you all the rules of writing characters and show you how you can break those rules to stand out from the crowd and make an exec turn pages. He will teach you all the tips and tricks of character building that he's learned over the last 10+ years of working with writers and reading scripts. He'll even discuss writer's block - if there is such a thing - and how to get beyond it all and keep writing. In short, he will teach you everything to have your lead characters jumping from the page and pulling the reader along for his or her journey. "Tyler is an extremely articulate presenter. It really helped to have such specific information about how a character can be multi-dimensional. I already see the issues with my protagonist and can't wait to get it all fixed!" - Becca B. "I took pages and pages of notes, thank you! Very well delivered, Tyler clearly had a vast knowledge of the subject. I really enjoyed it!" - Natalie E. "Thank you for bringing Tyler back. One of my favorite Stage 32 educators! This seemed like a week's worth of material delivered concisely and deliberately. I'm so grateful! - Bob K.
Nearly every executive that has come in to hear pitches through Stage 32 is looking for thriller features. It's one of the few genres that can translate internationally. Having a solid, unique thriller in your portfolio is something any manager or agent will appreciate. Thrillers like Gone Girl, Taken, The Boy Next Door and Non-Stop have profited more than quadrupled what their respective shooting budgets were. But writing thrillers comes with its own challenges. A writer has to make sure the characterization is strong throughout the story without letting the action sequences overshadow it. But those action sequences must be thrilling enough to fuel the story forward and the pacing must be thriving and building in every scene. Stage 32 Happy Writers is excited to bring you our exclusive 3-week online intensive class How to Write a Compelling, Commercially Viable Thriller taught by the creative executive of Mandalay Pictures, Patrick Raymond! In this hands-on course, you will learn what it takes to write a compelling, fast-paced thriller and how to successfully pitch it to production companies. With interactive lectures and weekly homework assignments directly geared towards strengthening your pages, this class will help you craft your writing into a thriller that will stand out. The objective of this course is: To learn the rules of writing a page-turner thriller with a unique hook. To prepare you on how to pitch your completed thriller. To elevate your writing and story to a more marketable level. You will leave the course knowing: Tropes used in thrillers to avoid and tropes to embrace. How to commit to tone from page 1. How to option a book or article to establish an IP. The difference between the subgenres of a thriller (including blockbusters, psychological, erotic and art-house). How to prepare your pitch document for your completed thriller. About Your Teacher Patrick Raymond, Creative Executive at Mandalay Pictures Patrick started his career working as an assistant at Gersh, where he was able to learn the business from the ground up as well as make solid connection in the town. He worked primarily in the production department but gained lots of exposure to the literary world, working with writers and story. He utilized his experience and passion as leverage in a transition to work as a producer’s assistant. LD Entertainment became his home the next three years, where he was eventually promoted to a creative executive, working with writers and helping build scripts and acquire ideas for new projects. After three years, he had the opportunity to work for Tate Taylor on a James Brown biopic entitled, Get On Up. He learned a lot about assembling large studio films. He has transitioned back into more of a creative executive position at Mandalay Pictures, where he gets to go back to my passion: cultivate amazing stories and working with great writers. Class Schedule ( 6/20, 6/27, 711) Week #1 (6/20): This is an all inclusive look into the world of thrillers. This will offer you a behind-the-scenes look on what executives look for when reading thrillers and some common mistakes writers make that disrupt the reading process. This class will also cover: Concepts that sell and concepts that don’t. Market trends (i.e. female driven thrillers, the state of erotic thrillers after movies like The Boy Next Door). Tips on making sure your first 10-15 pages pop and hook the executive. Stereotypical tropes/cliches writers use to set up their characters that turn off an executive. Tips on creating and layering your antagonist. How to make sure your protagonist is relatable and engaging. How to create a stand out catalyst and a sharp break into act two. Week #2 (6/27): This week will focus entirely on the engine of your story. This week will cover outlining and writing act 2 and act 3. Topics that this will cover include: How to write a thrilling action sequence. Description to dialogue ratio. Making sure you are incorporating set pieces that complement your sub-genre (i.e. what specific set pieces would you include in your second act if you are writing an erotic thriller). Tips on how to outline your heightened set pieces to make sure the emotional crescendo of your story is always escalating smoothly. How to make sure your characterization is strong throughout act two and three while keeping the tension hight. Overall tips on how to outline your script. Week #3 (7/11): This week will cover tips on how to end your script with a lasting final image and what happens after your first draft is completed. This week will include: Some of the most common elements that are rewritten after getting picked up by a production company. How to avoid development hell. Tips on how to pitch your thriller. Typical elements that can be found in a pitch package. How to decipher which companies are looking for what.
It’s no secret that streaming television is booming. New shows are being released on Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, and with more streaming services like HBO Max, Disney+ and even the short form streaming platform Quibi coming into the fold, demand for content has never been higher. There truly hasn’t been a better time for you to get that series you’ve been working on noticed. But with any gold rush, you need the proper information to assure you are positioning yourself for success. In order to get a streaming executive (or a manager or agent, for that matter) to turn their head and give your show consideration you’re still going to need a dynamite pitch, and with it, an excellent pitch deck. Pitch decks are a mystery. Why? Because no two pitch decks are the same. But there are elements that are crucial that separate a professional deck from an amateur one. A solid pitch deck will get those executives on your side and show them how exciting and marketable your idea is. It can be what stands between you and that green light. But what does a great pitch deck even look like, and do different approaches work better for broadcast networks than streaming networks? What do streaming executives want to see and what should you steer clear of at all costs? Ewan Dunbar serves in Development, Sales, and Acquisitions at Disrupting Influence, most recently announcing the release of the latest installment of the successful Cities of Love franchise, BERLIN, I LOVE YOU, starring Helen Mirren and Keira Knightley. Ewan has produced, developed and sold over 30 titles including ZERO TOLERANCE starring Scott Adkins, TV series DEEP CUTS and LAUDA: THE UNTOLD STORY. Recently Ewan has worked closely with dozens of producers to target their pitch materials for streaming platforms. Having been in many rooms with Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and other streamers, Ewan specializes in developing decks to best showcase a project and make it stand out. Plus, Ewan has insight into a streaming platform’s process once you pitch your show. Ewan will cover what executives are looking for in a deck, what you do and don’t need to include, presentation tips and how to keep acquisitions executives interested in your material. He’ll go over how to keep your audience entertained and simple formatting tips and tricks you can adopt that can make all the difference. Ewan will also discuss how best to present your plot, characters, and world, and how you should adjust your deck specifically for streaming networks as opposed to broadcasters, sales agents, or financiers, and ways to adapt depending on what genre your series most closely aligns with. He’ll also teach you how to bring all your materials together for your final pitch. In addition to the wealth of knowledge and information Ewan will present, he will also go over successful example pitch decks PLUS give you a handout that shows you a guide of what you need in your own deck. Praise for Ewan's Stage 32 Webinar: ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC! The presenter delivered more in 20 minutes than other presenters do in an hour, and it NEVER felt rushed and he was always easily understandable. I cannot wait to get the handouts! -Bob S. Ewan’s presentation was excellent I learned so much from him and now feel 100% confident in creating a pitch deck. He was truly an expert. -Margaret M. "Very good, very knowledgeable and very organized. Great presentation and webinar. I walked away with lots of ideas about polishing my pitch decks to make sure they stand out." -James B. "I've taken many years of webinars, gone to many conferences, and taken many courses on feature script writing. I've won a Grand Prize in a major festival for a screenplay. And I'm old enough to be an honest critic. Ewan Dunbar's webinar was one of the best I have every taken! Organized, filled with useful information, he sounded like he really cared about helping the audience be better at what they want to do, and wasn't making an obvious pitch for himself as a consultant --although I'd call on him anytime" -Roberta P.
For most writers and directors, securing representation represents a huge step forward in legitimizing the pursuit of their dreams. The right rep can help you make a living doing what you love - whether it's seeing actors speak your words on screen or managing a cast and crew and yelling "Action!" on set. It's a step that can get you one step closer to quitting your day job and concentrating on your creative career full time. Finding the right manager and/or agent will help you give you a member of your team responsible for helping you develop your creative voice or your distinguished eye, get you in the right doors to connect with the right opportunities, and to help you begin to get paid for your talent and effort. So, how and where do you find the right managers and agents? And, what makes you stand out among the thousands of creatives reaching out and vying for the attention of these representatives on a daily basis? For starters, there are many questions you need to ask yourself to make sure that you're prepared to be representation ready. Further, beyond putting the work into your craft, you need to do your research to assure you have the right knowledge to give you the best shot to stand out in an effort to secure a rep meeting. There's much work that needs to go into being a professional creative before you get your foot in the door. And, once you bust that door open and get the attention of a quality rep, there's an art to making sure that you are asking the right questions to assure that this rep is right for you and your career so that you can start working and keep working. Antonio D'Intinio is one of the hardest working managers in the industry that represents screenwriters and directors at Circle of Confusion. He began his career at the agency APA before joining Jeremy Platt at Plattform, where you helped manage Plattform's first look deal with Amazon Studios. Antonio’s clients work across film and television, selling shows to Apple, Universal TV, eOne among others and their films have been recognized by numerous organizations and festivals including The Nicholl Fellowship, Cannes, Sundance and SXSW. He strives for excellence in his clients, and that is mutually reciprocated making it a successful client-manager relationship. Antonio will teach you the best strategies to obtain representation as a screenwriter or director. You will learn what you need before you approach representation, how best to reach out to representation and most importantly what to do once you’ve obtained representation. Antonio will get down in the weeds to teach you what you must look for in terms of communication from your rep. What questions to ask to make sure you're making the right decision. What expectations your rep will likely put on you from time management to deadlines to the ability to receive and apply notes. You will learn how to achieve the ultimate goal with your rep, mutual respect and expectations. Antonio will demystify the representation landscape and give you the tools to have the confidence to approach potential reps with a clear understanding of what you're looking for, while understanding fully what they want in a client. No matter what stage of your career you're in - whether you're unrepped or looking to change representation - you will benefit from the INSIDER INSIGHTS Antionio shares in this exclusive Stage 32 Next Level webinar! "Antonio really took us behind the curtain with a no B.S. approach. A straight shooter that tells it like it is. Eyes wide open for me now." -Michael K. My goal was always to be repped. And I got my wish. And it went terrible. We weren't on the same page. I didn't know what to do. After watching Antonio's presentation, my last rep and I parted ways and I was able to secure a new manager. The change has been night and day. We work together for a common goal. Thank you, Antonio! - Steven L.
Filmmakers, producers, and financiers can really be held back by distribution contracts. If they don’t understand the language or terms, are passive or held hostage by a feeling that they may be getting ripped off, or simply do not have the support system to advise them or the knowledge to know what to fight for, they can find themselves at an extreme disadvantage. In many cases, the excitement of the "someone likes my movie/let's get it out there" mentality supersedes common sense. And that alone can lead you into giving away your rights, accepting horrendous percentages or agreeing to terms that lock you and your project up. Don't fall into these traps! You worked hard on your film. You sacrificed time and likely money to get to this point. While most might think this is time to hit the gas pedal, it's actually time to tap the brakes. You want to be sure you're doing everything humanly possible to not only protect yourself, your investors and your team, but maximizing your film's potential in the marketplace. Anna Darrah is an experienced film buyer, negotiating with and licensing over 800 films in her 12 years working for Gaiam and Spiritual Cinema Circle. She has been an active player on the festival circuit and currently advises filmmakers on custom distribution strategies. Anna is also a filmmaker who produced two documentaries that aired on The Sundance Channel, and directed a music video and the short film THE MATTER OF MAGIC. She also produced a feature-length documentary about Helen Schreider (www.THEHELENMOVIE.com) while also making short films for the ZILLOW.COM series, HOMEMAKERS. Anna has enjoyed jurying and participating in film festival panels and workshops here and abroad and is currently offering a Film Distribution Workshop co-taught with Jilann Spitzmiller. Now Anna brings her knowledge and teaching prowess to Stage 32. Anna will begin by breaking down theatrical and broadcast rights as well as exclusive and non-exclusive deals. She'll dive into breaking down deal points including term, territory, rights and compensation. She'll discuss standard terms and point out red flags within and speak to what you should negotiate to assure you get the best, and most fair, deal. She will even look at the negotiation process from the other side of the table so you can understand what a distributor truly wants out of a deal. Thinking outside the box, Anna will even discuss going the DIY distribution route or a hybrid DIY/traditional distribution path. All this and much more. It’s incredible how each contract is like a snowflake -- totally unique and yet similar in some very important ways. I will help you understand the entire distribution arena so you can sleep well knowing you've made the best deal for you, your partners and, most importantly, your film. - Anna Darrah Praise for Anna "Excellent overview of terms to be aware of when negotiating or reviewing a distribution agreement." - Valerie N. "Anna was great, the information she shared was so very useful!" - Christian C. "For a complex subject, Anna made it all so simple and easy to follow. Excellent webinar!" - Drea P. "A knockout." - Mana W.