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
Any producer can tell you just how much goes into creating a budget for a film. Layer after layer, projection after projection, contingency after contingency, it’s always an incredibly difficult, incredibly fragile, and incredibly intricate document that take an immense amount of work and care to put together. And with so many elements involved, it’s just too big and specialized for a program like Excel to handle. There is a reason why nearly every studio, producer, accountant and unit production manager utilizes Movie Magic Budgeting to write budgets. If you are in the position where you have been asked to create a budget, Movie Magic is absolutely essential. It is the easiest and cleanest budgeting program and can handle anything from shorts to multi-cam and single camera series to full features. It is both simple and deeply complex as you start getting into the minutiae of everything it can do. Yet a solid understanding of how to operate Movie Magic is a powerful tool in the arsenal of those looking to move up into management on either the show or studio level and might be a requirement for those looking to find success in their producing career. Rami Rank is a leading and sought-after producer with credits on shows including Amazon's GOLIATH, Showtime’s DEXTER, SWINGTOWN on CBS, HELP ME and HELP YOU on ABC, as well as features such as the remake of APRIL FOOL'S DAY. Beginning his career working on indie features as a Production Coordinator, Production Manager and Line Producer, Rami later joined Universal Studios where in addition to helping manage the Backlot and Stage Operations he also ran UVS-1, Universal’s Virtual Production business. Since then, he returned to production and continues to put together high profile films and series. Through his storied career, Rami has become intimately familiar with the inner workings of Movie Magic Budgeting and set to share what he knows exclusively with the Stage 32 community. Rami will give a full walkthrough of how to successfully use the Movie Magic Budgeting (MMB) software to put together a budget for your own film or series. He will begin by giving an overview of what the budget will look like on MMB, including the top sheet, the accounts, details, helpful shortcut keys, and understanding what amt, units, x, cur, and rate mean. Next he will talk you through how to set up a budget from scratch, including how to choose the right template, input budget info, and set up your header and footer. Rami will teach you how to set up and use different units and will then delve into globals, explaining what they are and how to create them. He’ll to through global groups, applying globals and changing globals. Then he will discuss fringes, explaining what they are in the context of MMB, and go over percentage fringes, flat rate fringes, applying and removing fringes, and setting the fringe account. He will also explain how groups work on MMB, why they are important, how to create them yourself, and how to turn them on and off. Next Rami will explain how to use the currency function and how to set up and build contractual fees. Finally Rami will break down additional basic functions of MMB including pagination, recalculation, and printing and PDF conversion. Movie Magic Budgeting can be an intimidating software, but Rami will give you an accessible and actionable walkthrough so you can have the tools and confidence to build your own budget with it. Rami will be operating from Movie Magic's Version 7.7, the Legacy version of its budgeting software, which is also the version that most professional producers currently use. Praise for Rami's Stage 32 Webinar "It was great, good presenter, very experienced, good communication" -Paul B. "Terrific host, valuable content." -Mark M. "Rami was great. He was entertaining, and showed he knew what he was teaching. Webinar flowed well and was engaging for the whole timeframe" -Nicholas B. "Very helpful, good overview of the software" -Angie L.
One of the common complaints with scripts is on-the-nose writing. This month, we're challenging you to convey a series of emotions without using the actual words (or synonyms - no cheating!).
**One of Stage 32's most popular programs - Get one-on-one mentoring and guidance from an accomplished producer on getting your own project made!** In today’s film market independently producing a film is a great way to get your project made. There are thousands of independent films that are developed, made and distributed every year that started from a script. But how? Now, more than ever, the need for a major studio to get your project into production becomes less and less, while more control is put into your own hands. Whether you're a filmmaker, producer, writer or actor, you have the ability to produce and shepherd a film project if you know the right steps to take to get it done. In order to do this, though, you will need to get your project market-ready and make it attractive to co-producers, financiers, actors, directors, distributors and more. Looking professional when going out to the market with a film project is key and separates the professionals from the amateurs. Figuring out who and how to get your script into the right hands and get the ball rolling on a project can feel overwhelming, almost impossible for a newer creator. Knowing the right way to strategize, present, and partner with the perfect collaborators is key to success. A good producer is always in action, looking at ways to make her project the best it can be. As intimidating and bewildering as this might feel to creators, it’s absolutely within your reach. And, there are strategies you can learn to put you on the right track to turn your passion project into a reality, especially if you have guidance to help you get there. Aimee Schoof is the co-founder of Intrinsic Value Films and has produced more than 35 feature films. Of those, 9 have premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, four at the Tribeca Film Festival, three at SXSW, and one each at LA Film Festival, Toronto, Venice, New York FF, New Directors/New Films, and Berlinale, to name a few. Aimee’s company develops, produces and sells independent films that have been distributed worldwide, have won many awards and been honored with numerous nominations. Accolades include winning a Sloan Sundance Award and a Sundance Special Grand Jury Prize. Aimee’s work has led her to be nominated five times by Film Independent as a producer. She is currently both a Sundance and Film Independent Fellow and has worked in international sales attending all major markets, and regularly lecturing on film finance and production. Aimee’s extensive experience has made her intimately familiar with how to successfully get a project off the ground and build a team to get a script made. In this advanced level and exclusive four-session lab (no more than 15 students will be admitted), Aimee will work directly with you in an intimate class setting to help you make your script marketable and put the pieces together to get the film ready to go. To do so Aimee will begin by working with you on your script and concept. She will help you understand what shape your script is currently in and how marketable your story is. Next she will help you strategize and give you the tools to find the partners you’ll need for your project, including other producers and executive producers, directors, writers, actors, and more. Then Aimee will work with you on your project’s pitch deck, including perfecting your logline and synopsis. Finally Aimee will guide you through forming your own specific plan of attack moving forward, including building the list of people to reach out to and getting your foot in the door with organizations. Aimee will even work with you on practicing your pitch, cold calls, and email messages. Expect to leave this lab with a better handle on the potential for your script, a working pitch deck, and a plan of attack to find your own team and get your film moving towards the finish line. Plus! Aimee will also provide you exclusive, confidential and helpful documents for you to download and use for your own projects including: Up-to-date list of in-demand writers and directors to reach out to Pitch Deck examples Free access to Variety Insight for one month ($200 value) Outreach email templates WHAT TO EXPECT (FOR THE SESSION BREAKDOWN, SEE BELOW) This lab is designed for beginner and intermediate creators looking to get their film project ready to pitch and put together. This is an in-depth, practical, and detailed lab with significantly more content than a standard 90-minute webinar. ***This lab is limited to 15 people*** You will be given exclusive and confidential handouts that will accompany the lessons and that you will be able to hold onto after the lab ends. This lab will consist of four weekly sessions, each roughly two hours in duration. In addition to the lessons where Aimee teaches the class, you will have the opportunity to ask her questions during each session as well as multiple chances to speak with her directly about your specific project. Plus, to stay motivated and inspired, you will have access to a private, dedicated Stage 32 Lounge where you can communicate with your fellow classmates throughout the TV project development process. To see the full lab schedule, see below under "What You Will Learn". PLEASE NOTE: This exclusive Stage 32 lab is limited to 15 people and will be booked on a first come, first served basis. The opportunity to work this closely and for this long with a veteran producer and an expert in the field is an incredibly unique and valuable opportunity. If you are interested, please book quickly. Once the spots are gone, they’re gone for good. Payment plans are available - please contact Harrison at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information Praise for Aimee's Stage 32 Producing Lab: "I really loved Aimee’s lab. She’s such a delight and so full of useful information that pertains to everyone’s individual projects, and she's so encouraging! I highly recommend this class and/or working with Aimee in general. I came out with loads of actionable steps to take my project further." -Patricia S. "Aimee is fabulous! I enjoyed her Producing Lab and found it helpful and informative. She's a great facilitator in making everyone feel valued and heard while offering positive suggestions, feedback and direction." -Christie A. “I feel ready and inspired to set out on my own and make some great movies after listening to Aimee!” -Hannah W.
CCO Bradley Gallo and Story Editor Nat Topping from Amasia Entertainment join our Panel as we listen and read your pitches live to help educate the Writers' Room screenwriters on what is and isn't working in their pitch.
Somebody, somewhere, has an incredible story that you want to tell. Maybe it’s your own. Maybe it’s historic. Maybe it’s so compelling, that it keeps you up at night. It’s high time you adapt that story for the screen! More and more adaptations are showing up on screen, moving writers like you into a new realm. The opportunity is there, but first you have to get the thing written. Research and understanding the story is one thing. Writing it so that it gets the attention it deserves is another. So how can you go about putting that true story you love into script form? Films like HILLBILLY ELEGY and THE KING’S SPEECH, as well as series like ESCAPE AT DANNEMORA and WHEN THEY SEE US, capture the attention of viewers across the globe. Yet these true story adaptations find success largely because the writers and creators understood where to find the story within these real lives to adapt. They efficiently honed in on an angle that pulled the audience in while developing emotional arcs that kept viewers invested. Writing is a craft, no doubt, and one that must be managed differently when pen hits paper and for adaptations. It takes work and a deep understanding of your story as well as the medium you’re adapting it for, but it’s something you can achieve for your own true life passion project, especially with the proper understanding and guidance. Kate Sharp is a producer and literary manager at Bellevue Productions. Prior to joining Bellevue, Kate was the VP of Development and Production at Occupant Entertainment, producing short-form content for Showtime, MTV, Verizon, Facebook, and U2, and was an Executive Producer on the Hulu original, Emmy-nominated TV series BEHIND THE MASK. Her film credits include PEEP WORLD, BETTER LIVING THROUGH CHEMISTRY, MADAME BOVARY and THE HALLOW. Kate is currently producing THE BURNING SEASON with Naomi Watts and STRANGER THINGS’ Sophia Lillis attached to star. Kate has worked with countless writers on adapting their true story projects of all types and knows what it takes to turn a true story into a script that producers, reps, studios and execs will be interested in. Kate will delve into the craft of adapting a true story to a film or series, and how to put words to the page to make this happen. She will define the three types of true story or biopic adaptations so you can determine which option is best for you and give you the tools to decide if your story should unfold as a feature or limited series so you can determine which option is best for you. She will also walk you through best practices for researching, finding your own angle to the story, and how to write your script so it feels authentic while still possessing emotional arcs and narrative liberties to ensure your script is marketable and successful in the market. Through Kate’s rundown, you will walk away with confidence and write an adapted script that gets the attention it deserves. Praise for Kate's Previous Stage 32 Webinar "Kate Sharp was incredible. She's a great instructor, and also looks like a very special person to have as a manager, who loves what she does and would be a great partner for a writer! Thank you for sharing her gifts with us!" -Ricki L. "The information was straightforward and practical. I made loads of notes to go back over. Thanks!" -Gillian R. "BRAVO, KATE!!! She provided a wonderful presentation fueled by stellar "real world" facts and scenarios" -Bill B.