If you want to work as a TV writer, you need a great writing sample, and these days, that comes in the form of a pilot script. Writing a pilot is hard, though, and writing a great pilot is even harder. One of the most common pitfalls is failing to write a compelling story that showcases your characters and world. But it’s that story that will get a reader to finish the script. It’s that story that can help you get a job. Figuring out the best version of your pilot story often comes down to structuring the script into an A, B and C story. This will allow you to introduce your characters, world, and plot points while still maintaining a pace and shape to the episode. This is harder than it looks though. Writing a great pilot script is such a tricky balancing act, ESPECIALLY for a 30-minute show. In just 30 pages, you need to establish your world, your characters, and your ongoing stories without overloading the audience with exposition and while still injecting the episode itself with its own story and arc. That’s a lot of plates to spin, but if you can’t nail your pilot’s structure, your characters and world won’t reach their full potential. But taking the time to get the story right will let your characters show who they really are and make your creative intent crystal clear. So how can you structure your own half hour pilot into an effective script with a clear A, B and C story? How can you find the balance and spin every plate so you can have a standout pilot script and writing sample that can get you the attention and opportunities you’re looking for? Meghan Pleticha is television writer with ten years of entertainment industry experience who has most recently worked as a staff writer on HBO’s Emmy Nominated comedy series SILICON VALLEY. Her work has also appeared on Cartoon Network’s POWER PLAYERS, and in Escala, AeroMéxico’s official in-flight magazine. Previous to being staffed on television shows, she worked as a writer’s assistant and script coordinator for shows like FX’s MARRIED, ABC’s CHARITY CASE, and VH1’s HIT THE FLOOR. Meghan’s career as a writer as well as her experience teaching other aspiring creatives has given her powerful experience with television story structure, and she’s excited to bring what she’s learned to the Stage 32 community. Over two intensive sessions, Meghan will dive deep into how to effectively structure a 30-minute TV pilot script, focusing on finding the pilot’s story and building it out with an A, B, and C story. In the first session, Meghan will dissect what makes a great A story for a pilot, discussing the goals you should have for this story as well as helpful strategies and secrets to bring it together. In the second session, Meghan will look deeper into B and C stories, how to integrate the into your A story, and how to use them to further define your series and world. Plus! Meghan will be providing the full pilot scripts of FX’s ARCHER, NBC’s SUPERSTORE and Netflix’s GLOW, and will use these three pilots as examples as she illustrates what makes a well structure half hour pilot "Writing pilots is hard! You have to come up with characters, a world, AND a story?! In script after script, I've seen writers spend so much time on the first two, the story gets lost. Even worse, without a strong pilot story, your world and characters won't reach their full potential. I love helping writers find the best structure for their show so their script can most accurately represent them and their idea. And I'm looking forward to doing that with Stage 32. See you in class!" -Meghan Pleticha
As a working actor, some of the best roles you can land are guest star roles for TV series. The money is good and it's an opportunity to become much more visible and have a lot more people see what you can do. Plus guest star roles give you invaluable experience working on a large and professional set. And landing guest star roles aren't just a fantasy; it's something you can actually achieve with the right preparation and understanding. You have to prepare quality reels, rehearse auditions and continuously study and improve your craft. Yet this is only half the battle. The second part of the actor’s journey is knowing how to maintain that trajectory of success after you’ve gotten the job. You need to know how to navigate the industry after you've gotten your foot in the door - so that door of opportunity does not close on you. There is a lot of information out there on the audition process for actors, but very little on how to actually do a good job once you're on set. If you're on your first guest star role, there's a lot you need to know to be successful. You want to make sure you perform well and that the cast and crew enjoy working with you so you can build your reputation and discover more roles. You want to make sure that your presence is a present to those around you. It isn't always easy making a good first impression on set but actors who accomplish this are able to secure more longevity in their careers. We’ll show you how to attain this same success. Maddie Corman is an award winning actor and writer who has guest starred on over 35 television series including all three LAW & ORDERs, CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM, and THE GOOD WIFE and has had recurring roles in recent shows like YOUNGER and MADAME SECRETARY. Maddie has also been featured as a series regular on MR. PRESIDENT, starring George C. Scott, ALL AMERICAN GIRL, and ALMOST THERE. Maddie is also a writer and director. Her short film HOW WAS YOUR DAY was selected by Tribeca Film Festival and her first full length play ACCIDENTLY BRAVE was produced by the Tony Award winning Daryl Roth (KINKY BOOTS, INDECENT), which had a critically acclaimed run and also won the Off Broadway Alliance award for best solo performance. Maddie has decades of experience finding work as a guest star on countless acclaimed series and knows better than most what it takes to find success in this way. Maddie will provide invaluable guidance and tools on how to land guest star roles on TV series and how to make a good impression on set so you can keep on finding more work. Maddie will show you her own reel to use as inspiration and how to properly prepare for a great audition from wardrobe to improvisation to cues. She will also teach you key specifics around auditioning such as what they are looking for, how to continue prepping while you are waiting, and tips on small talk when you first walk into the room. Maddie will also prepare you for all types of auditions whether in-person, over zoom, or self-tapped, provide you with unique advice on how what to do after booking the role, and how to act on set like how to read your call sheet, nail your blocking, and what to do when you’re not needed on set. Maddie is tremendously excited to share her infinite wealth of knowledge and expertise with the Stage 32 community.
One of the most respected agents in the business, Adam Van Dusen of Gersh will discuss the agent/screenwriter relationship, how to break in, industry trends and more! Live Q&A to follow!
Love is in the air in the Writers' Room! We are kicking off a brand new month this week with the Breakdown Webcast: Writing Romantic Comedies! Jason was speaking with a Senior Vice President of Development at an A-List production company who said, "Every studio executive is asking me for Rom Coms!" If you look at recent trends, it is clear they are on a come back. We will break down the beats of a Romantic Comedy so that you as a writer approach writing without falling into the trap of tired cliches. We will also explore how to take the storytelling conventions and turn them on their head. We will examine films and series including When Harry Met Sally, 500 Days of Summer, The Apartment, Knocked Up, What Women Want and more to find out what makes these projects work and how we can apply those same principles to our writing!
Congratulations – you’ve finished your first draft! But now comes the real work. The old adage goes that ‘writing is rewriting’ and that is absolutely true in film and television. A big part of screenwriting is learning how to receive feedback and how to implement it. Most professional writers go through numerous drafts and rounds of feedback before taking their scripts to the market. Just think about the first time you tried anything new – a new instrument, a new workout program, or a new screenplay. Unless you’re a natural, your first attempt isn’t usually your best. It’s the practice – or in this case, the rewriting – that helps you get better and will allow you to create something truly special. Too many aspiring writers think the hard work is over after the first draft. A first draft is a milestone accomplishment, but ultimately just one rung up the bigger ladder. But rewriting and polishing is not always an intuitive process – it’s hard to determine what to change or how much to change it. A big part of rewriting or polishing is learning how to listen to others, and realizing that even a solo screenplay can become a collaborative process. Steve Desmond is a WGA screenwriter whose screenplays have been voted onto the prestigious industry Black List four times in the past five years, including in 2020 with his latest script, The Saturday Night Ghost Club. He sold his sci-fi adventure screenplay, Harry’s All-Night Hamburgers, to Warner Bros in a bidding war, with an Oscar nominated producer attached. FilmNation (Arrival, The King’s Speech) hired him to adapt the Stoker-award-winning horror novel The Cabin at the End of the World. He’s also been hired to work on projects for Legendary Pictures, Sony, Blumhouse, Mandalay, and IM Global, amongst others. His short film, Monsters, that he wrote and directed, has amassed over two million views online and screened in over 100 film festivals worldwide, winning 45 awards. Steve has found his voice as a sought-after screenwriter by mastering the art of the rewrite and his excited to share what he knows with the Stage 32 community. Exclusively for Stage 32, Steve will give an in-depth and practical deep dive of the art of rewriting and polishing that you can take back to your own screenplay or pilot. Steve will share how best to utilize feedback and explain the difference between a rewrite and a polish. He will go through the psychological components of rewriting and show you how to make an effective plan to go through the rewrite process, and then how best to execute it. Next Steve will talk about how to actually trim your script by focusing on scenes and characters and how to work with producers and executives, including how to receive notes and maintain communication. He will then give you tools you can use to determine when you’re actually done. Expect to walk away with a slew of tools and ideas you can use to rewrite your own project and make it the best it can be. Praise for Steve's Previous Stage 32 Webinars: "This was fantastic. Steve offered so much insight, dozens of little nuggets that rang true or gave me pause to think of something I'd never considered before."-Ed K. "Perfectly laid out, clear and concise material taught by a genial host!"-George P. "Steve was fantastic. His examples and insights were on point. Thanks!"-Adam H. "I made 3 pages of notes; good pertinent topics with simple fundamental answers presented. Very helpful, worth the time and fee."-Thomas W.
The UK has a booming screen sector with world-class production facilities that have recently been home to film and TV behemoths like STAR WARS, AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR and GAME OF THRONES, as well as a thriving independent sector that has supported filmmakers like Steve McQueen, Andrea Arnold, Ken Loach, Joanna Hogg, Clio Barnard, Mike Leigh and Lynne Ramsay. Chances are high that many of the films and TV shows you’ve loved in the past year came out of the UK. It goes to show that whether you’re based in the UK or elsewhere, understanding the UK market’s unique ecosystem and knowing how to navigate it and take advantage of the opportunities available – from production and financing right through to the distribution and exhibition – is essential and can open endless doors for you in this increasingly global, yet competitive industry. The UK and US industries are closely aligned due to a common language, frequent co-productions and an increasing cross-pollination of talent. But what sets the UK market apart from its US counterpart is a strong public funding system, which supports the independent sector and nurtures new talent. So how do you access this support and what kind of projects are eligible? And what about commercial financing options? How does TV fit into this? And what about Brexit and its impact on co-productions? Whether you’re a UK native or an international filmmaker, producer, it’s high time to gain a comprehensive understanding of the UK’s role in the global film and television industry. In many ways, with so many creatives focused on the American market, this is open yet unexplored territory that can be explored and mined for your gain. Over the last 15 years Rowan Woods has worked across almost every sector of the UK film industry, from development to journalism, via distribution, festivals, exhibition and a long stint at the BBC. She currently splits her time between the British Council, where she acts as the specialist liaison between the UK production sector and the international festival circuit, and the London Film Festival, where she programs episodic work and industry panels. Over the years she has worked with BAFTA, BFI, EIFF, LSFF, BFI NETWORK, Curzon and Radio4. She also works as a freelance development and acquisitions consultant and is frequently found moderating industry panels and talent Q&As, including for BFI, BAFTA, IFFR and SXSW. Rowan’s work has given her a deep and comprehensive understanding of the UK film and television industry and is excited to share what she knows exclusively with the Stage 32 community. Rowan will give you an in-depth overview of the UK sector, outlining the key players, the opportunities and challenges, and providing you with the knowledge and confidence to navigate it successfully. She’ll begin with a general introduction of the UK market including what makes it unique, key facts and figures you should know, and how to understand the overall structure. She’ll then teach you about their main sources of funding, both public and private, and how funding works with international co-productions. She’ll also discuss the funding opportunities available for new talent. Rowan will then outline the key film institutions of the area and what they do. She’ll then discuss the support structures in place for producers and will delve into the key players in the sales agent space and how to determine which sales agent is right for your project. Rowan will go over the key distributors in the region and what the exhibition landscape looks like in general. She will also talk about the role of online platforms today and how the UK box office operates. She will then discuss the role of critics in this ecosystem and the key critical voices. Rowan will teach you about the major film festivals in the UK and how to determine which is right for your project, whether your project is a feature, short, narrative, or documentary. She’ll also talk about good marketplaces and forums in the area. She’ll go over the most important people in the UK industry right now and will then delve into the landscape of UK television, including both public service broadcasting and streaming services and key TV production companies. Rowan will outline for you the key opportunities in the UK marketplace, as well as the key challenges that go along with them. Finally, Rowan will give a rundown of how the industry has been altered by Brexit, as well as by COVID-19. Praise for Rowan's Stage 32 Webinar "It was great information and an amazing overview of how the UK industry works. Thank you so much." Marisé S. I was vague about how things get into production in the UK, but have a much better idea now. Between the seminar and the resources to fill in the gaps, I feel a lot more equipped. -Jonathan H. I was very impressed by the comprehensive overview of the UK industry and how well Rowan presented it. I'd love to hear more from her in the future. -Carolyn K. Comprehensive survey. Rowan knows her stuff, and has walked the walk. She is a confident and fluent presenter: she can talk the talk -Stephen P.