How to Write Memorable Characters - It's All About Your "Hero's Journey"

Character Deveopment Class: WHO Is Your Script About?
Taught by Ross Putman

$249

On Demand Class - For immediate download. Unlimited access for 1 year.

Rating   | Read reviews

Start Learning

Please make sure you use the same email address as the one you use to sign in to Stage 32
apply

- or -

$249.00
TOTAL PRICE:
Overlay Icon

Who Should Attend:

  • Screenwriters who are looking to enhance their protagonist on the page
  • Screenwriters wanting to learn better techniques to distinguish their protagonist and antagonist
  • Screenwriters looking to better develop their secondary characters and how they can compliment their protagonist
  • Producers who are in need of developing their protagonist, antagonist or secondary characters further to make the roles more attractive to potential talent

This Next Level Education class has a 94% user satisfaction rate.

Class hosted by: Ross Putman

Producer (2016 Sundance Winning FIRST GIRL I LOVED)

Ross Putman is the producer of First Girl I Loved, directed by Kerem Sanga and starring Dylan Gelula (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) and Brianna Hildebrand (Deadpool) which premieres at 2016 Sundance Film Festival. The co-founder of LA-based production company PSH Collective, Ross produced the independent feature film The Young Kieslowski alongside Danny Leiner (Harold and Kumar) and Seth Caplan (In Search of a Midnight Kiss), starring Joshua Malina, James Le Gros, Melora Walters, Ryan Malgarini, and Haley Lu Richardson, which won the 2014 LA Film Festival.  He co-produced the Netflix/Fox Digital series Bad Samaritans, and has sold the feature Eskimo Sisters to Awesomeness Films, with Danny Leiner directing. Prior to his producing career, Ross was a creative executive at Ineffable Pictures. Before Ineffable, Ross was the executive for producer/director Walt Becker (Van Wilder, Wild Hogs). Full Bio »

Session 1: Want vs. Need

  • WANT vs. NEED – The most crucial element of building a character. What is it that they want to achieve for themselves? What is their ambition? What are their desires, good or bad? "Want" causes a character to jump headfirst into their journey, seeking to achieve their goal. But what they "want" is not always what they "need." The most satisfying endings come when the character discovers what really matters and does what's right (or wrong). It's not always a happy ending, but understanding the difference between "want" and "need" is the key first building block of any engaging character.
  • In order to explore the above, we'll break down famous characters from cinema to examine their thematic journey and the reasons they're compelling as a protagonist. What is it about these famous characters that keeps us watching? Why do we become invested in their eventual success (or failure)? The centerpiece film that we'll explore throughout most of this lesson is the classic blockbuster BACK TO THE FUTURE.
  • By using those characters as a jumping-off point, we'll explore how their journey drives the story rather than conceit, even in the case of high-concept films. We'll talk about how to start with a protagonist and build out from there. Examples from high-concept films will help illustrate how even the biggest-budget movies need to have a beating heart at their core.
  • Finally, we'll talk character introductions and how to memorably insert your character into the movie. We'll discuss how "less is more" when it comes to exposition, and how to comfortably integrate it into the flow of a narrative film. There's a delicate balance, too, because the last thing you want to do is be as bleak and blank as a film like DRIVE. Giving your audience enough to get invested without overloading them in the opening pages is the way to go.

Session 2: Forget About "Saving the Cat" / Anti-Heroes

  • Everyone wants to have a likeable protagonist—even if they're doing bad things. We'll discuss how to make your protagonist "relatable," even if their goals are nefarious and/or unethical. There's always some reason to root for someone to succeed, even if what they're trying to accomplish is actually "evil."
  • How do you find the humanity in an inhumane character? There are a number of famous anti-heroes throughout cinema, though for this class we may focus on Walter White, from the hit TV series BREAKING BAD. Without giving any spoilers for those that haven't watched, Walter provides a great way in to an initially relatable protagonist that goes deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole—and yet anchors the entire series from start to finish.
  • From there, we'll talk about the rise of the anti-hero in television on the whole (with suggested reading being the fantastic book "Difficult Men." But we'll also talk about how to modernize the hero for today's audiences; we'll talk about why superhero movies generally fail to live up to the best examples of the genre (which is probably THE DARK KNIGHT) and how to craft a tension in your film that tracks with your character's personal arc. 

Session 3: Avoiding Archetypes & Using What You Know

  • How do you create a "unique" character while still remaining familiar enough to appeal to commercial audiences? People think they've "seen it all," and yet we're introduced to new and fresh characters all the time. Some examples might include Robert Downey Jr.'s unique depiction of "Tony Stark" in IRON MAN, Zach Galifinakis in "THE HANGOVER, Adam Driver as "Adam" on HBO's series GIRLS, and Bob Odenkirk as Saul on AMC's BREAKING BAD. These are some examples of characters that could have simply been archetypes and yet feel fresh and alive.
  • We will also talk about the rise of the "manic pixie dream girl" in literature and the problems with this kind of character, as well as other archetypes (the strong-silent action hero, the wise-cracking cop, etc.) Writers tend to build on the history of cinema by recycling relationships and dynamics that worked in the past. But other times, these relationships are given a unique twist to make them pop (look at RUSH HOUR). As a writer, your goal should be to show audiences something they've never seen before, yet could relate to on a personal level. How do we avoid simply rehashing things we've seen a million times before?
  • The goal will be to hone in on ways to create realistic, engaging characters with an emphasis on drawing from your own life. That means taking what you've experienced and extrapolating it out into something real and unique. It's not about copying—it's about using something that fascinates you as an inspiration. Perhaps it's something about yourself that scares you, maybe it's something you're dealing with on a familial level. Using these feelings, thoughts, and fears to generate character is the truest way to make sure that there's something genuinely compelling about them.

Session 4: Supporting Characters & Comic Relief

  • We'll talk about some of the most famous and memorable supporting characters in the history of cinema and how their involvement in a film has to support the actions of the protagonist. Think Christian Bale in THE FIGHTER, Mark Wahlberg in THE DEPARTED, etc. The color for the film comes from the supporting cast.
  • We'll also discuss how to avoid having a "boring" protagonist, which is a problem many young screenwriters encounter. By trying to ensure that they have a relatable protagonist, they make him or her somewhat bland compared to the quirkier characters around them. It's easy to give a supporting character a specific personality, but the feeling seems to be that making a protagonist specific is a bad thing—because you want the largest amount of people to relate to that person. The problem is that if we have a boring protagonist, why are we making a movie about this person? And, more importantly, why would a movie star want to play that character? We'll talk about some of the quirkier protagonists of all time and how being specific is never a bad thing.

Summary:

4-PART CLASS (OVER 8 HOURS OF EDUCATION!) NOW AVAILABLE ON-DEMAND!

4 part class taught by Ross Putman, award-winning producer! Ross's accomplishments include: First Girl I Loved (premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival), The Young Kieslowski (winner of the LA Film Festival), Bad Samaratians (co-produced for Netflix/FOX), and he was the former creative executive at Ineffable Pictures!

From Casablanca to Breaking Bad, the reason you remember these stories is because of the compelling protagonist at their core. Their journey is why we tune in, and the way they change is the reason we root for them to succeed (or in some cases, fail). But character can be a tricky piece of the puzzle for screenwriters, especially in Hollywood’s concept-driven environment. Ultimately, great cinema is based on great characters, and this 4 part class is intended to help you find your character, make them real, and build a story around their journey—all the while staying within the realm of commercial modern cinema.

Stage 32 is excited to bring you the previously-recorded 4 part class: It's All About Your “Hero's Journey” - How to Write Memorable Characters taught by Ross Putman, award-winning producer. To find out more, click the "What You'll Learn" tab above! This 4-part class offers insight into case studies to help you as a writer form a comparison to inform your own writing. In addition, you will walk away with tools and techniques to apply to your own writing!

On-demand classes are discounted and purchasing gives you access to the previously-recorded live class which has over 8 hours of education! Although Ross is no longer reviewing the assignments, we still encourage all listeners to participate to help continue to hone their own writing skills!


About Your Instructor:

Ross Putman is the producer of First Girl I Loved, directed by Kerem Sanga and starring Dylan Gelula (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) and Brianna Hildebrand (Deadpool) which premieres at 2016 Sundance Film Festival. The co-founder of LA-based production company PSH Collective, Ross produced the independent feature film The Young Kieslowski alongside Danny Leiner (Harold and Kumar) and Seth Caplan (In Search of a Midnight Kiss), starring Joshua Malina, James Le Gros, Melora Walters, Ryan Malgarini, and Haley Lu Richardson, which won the 2014 LA Film Festival.  He co-produced the Netflix/Fox Digital series Bad Samaritans, and has sold the feature Eskimo Sisters to Awesomeness Films, with Danny Leiner directing. Prior to his producing career, Ross was a creative executive at Ineffable Pictures. Before Ineffable, Ross was the executive for producer/director Walt Becker (Van Wilder, Wild Hogs).


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!

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

Other education that may be of interest to you:

Deconstructing The Script: Guardians of the Galaxy

Learn directly from Ross Putman, an award-winning producer and founder of PSH Collective! Transformers. Godzilla. Captain America. Groot...? Who knew that this summer's biggest success story would be Marvel's band of unlikely heroes, known as The Guardians of the Galaxy? With their biggest star (Bradley Cooper) playing a talking raccoon, a director whose previous film grossed just $300,000 at the box office, and with a cast of characters so unknown that an entire teaser trailer was devoted just to introducing them, the odds seemed long for Guardians to make any impact at all. And yet it's the only film to gross over $300 million at the US box office--something not even Michael Bay's fourth Transformers movie could accomplish (and that had Marky Mark Wahlberg)! It's a little known fact that Guardians was based on source material that Marvel all but buried. So why did it work? Regardless of whether a good story is based on source material or original material, Guardians would not have been a success if the script, filmmaking, casting and marketing weren't all thought out and executed perfectly. In this webinar, we'll deconstruct how Marvel "flipped the script" on... well, its own scripts. A focus on quirkiness, the establishment of a unique tone, and bringing their first female writer in the fold added up to a great finished product. Whether it's the very specific character traits (like Drax's inability to understand metaphor) to the very clear stakes (even when things go deep into sci-fi), Guardians has all the right moves to please movie-goers tired of the same-old-same-old. Yet it becomes truly revolutionary by sticking to the basics; it's a script that puts one foot in front of the other and never stumbles.

8-Week Intensive TV Comedy Pilot Writing Lab (2017)

**Payment plans are available - contact edu@stage32.com for details*** **If you have to miss a class, don't worry. Each class is recorded and you can watch on-demand** PRE-CLASS PREP - Read your syllabus and plan out your writing ideas. Begin to think about 1-2 ideas that might be a good idea for your comedy pilot. Start to prepare for your pilot pitch. WEEK #1 – Introduction, Character, World This week we will cover the syllabus, your instructor's background and experience, your goals for this eight-week lab and launch into a discussion on creating strong characters for your pilot. We will discuss the types of comedy pilots and how they differ from network to network. This will include a discussion about Single-Camera and Multi-Camera comedies. We will go over how to create effective loglines and pitch documents. Then we will delve into character – what makes for strong characters and weak ones. Also knowing the world your show takes place in. We will also discuss other kinds of TV comedy writing (late-night talk shows, sketch, political comedy talk shows, etc.) The assignment for this week will be to create a document with a detailed description (around half a page) on each of your series regular characters, and an explanation of the world. WEEK #2 – Pilot Outline, Pitch Document This week we will break down pilot structure, plot and subplots. Pilot structure varies depending on the type of comedy pilot (single-camera or multi-camera) and the network (broadcast, cable, streaming, digital, etc.) We will identify what kind of network to target for your story idea and structure the pilot accordingly. We will also discuss the function of your series bible and what it needs to include to support your pilot. The assignment for the week is to complete a pitch document with characters, pilot outline, and future episode ideas. WEEK #3 – Pilot Outline (One on One Consultations – No Online Class) This week will consist of one-on-one consultations regarding pilot structure. Each writer will send in their pilot outline in advance and will have a 10-minute call to discuss what works and what doesn’t. The assignment for the week is to address any notes given on the outline and pitch document before proceeding with next week’s class. WEEK #4– Structure, Scenes, Dialogue, We will discuss both the Single-Camera and Multi-Camera structure. You will decide which works best for the pilot that you are developing. We will address the qualities of effective (and ineffective) scenes, dialogue, and jokes. The assignment for the week will be to write three complete scenes from your outline: the cold open, a scene introducing your main character(s), and a scene with strong jokes. WEEK #5– Pilot Structure This week we will go over all the necessary story beats that exist in a comedy pilot, including traditional page count, act breaks, tags, etc. The assignment this week will be to complete a first draft of your pilot WEEK #6– After You Write Your Pilot Last online class. We will discuss what happens when you take meetings with managers, agents, and showrunners, and how to pitch a comedy pilot. The assignment for the week is come up with a pitch for your pilot WEEK #7–Consultation for Revision (No Online Class) This week will consist of one-on-one consultations. Each writer will have a 10-minute call to pitch your pilot. WEEK #8– One-on-one Feedback and Polish (No Online Class) This week will consist of one-on-one consultations. Each writer will have a 10-minute call to go over notes on the pitch and script. Final notes and next steps for your pilot will be given.

How To Find Distribution For Your Indie Film

When making an independent film, finishing the film is only half the battle. You need people to actually see the film you’ve worked so hard on. When it comes to distribution, it’s important to know how to get your film into the worldwide marketplace. Once it’s there, you need to know how to generate interest toward it so the film can make its money back for the investors and back-end participants. Distribution comes in all shapes and sizes, but what kind of distribution is right for your indie film? Sometimes it means getting your film distributed by a studio; sometimes it’s creating a self-distribution path. Sometimes —- most typically — the distribution lands somewhere in between. Every film is different and therefore requires a different marketing plan, release strategy, and team behind it that have the passion and drive to get the most out of its release amongst the myriad other movies available. In this on-demand Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, host Tiffany Boyle will get into the details of what the independent distribution process looks like. She will go over how to get the right representative, foreign sales agent, and domestic distribution, and the different options for each based upon the size, genre and execution of a film. She will also discuss what the key points are to look at when reviewing a foreign sales agent and/or domestic distribution deal. Filmmakers should be making an informed decision when choosing who will be handling the licensing of their film for the next 3-25 years, and Tiffany is here exclusively for Stage 32 to help you navigate the ever-evolving world of indie distribution. Tiffany Boyle is the Vice President of Packaging Sales at Ramo Law and works with producers, financiers and writer clients to bring their new material to life. Having been a Director of Sales at Crystal Sky Pictures, Tiffany has an extensive background in foreign sales. She now works with the attorneys to review, collaborate, develop, submit and supervise creative materials on behalf of clients within the firm. Tiffany has worked on over 100 features including, Stuck In Love, Pawn, Gimme Shelter, Maladies, and I-Lived. She has been to AFM, Berlin, Tribeca, TIFF, Sundance, and Cannes and is constantly expanding her knowledge of how to match films with production and distribution companies.

How to Develop Iconic Dramatic TV Characters

Learn directly from Conrad Sun, TV Lit Manager and Development Executive at Meridian Artists who represents TV writers in all genres for shows such as Blindspot, Two Broke Girls and Bojack Horseman. So you’ve finally fleshed out your ideas for your next TV project and you’re off to the races developing your next screenplay. While working on your series, you’re constantly reminded of the one thing that every executive looks for: CHARACTER CHARACTER CHARACTER. Every executive says they want to read compelling characters. But what exactly does that mean? And how does one accomplish this?  In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, Literary Manager Conrad Sun will breakdown six TV characters and how they are portrayed in their respective drama pilots: Frank Underwood (House Of Cards) Walter White (Breaking Bad) Annalise Keating (How to Get Away With Murder) Piper Chapman (Orange is the New Black) Tony Soprano (The Sopranos) Lester Nygard (Fargo) Through these characters, Conrad will illustrate the traits and nuances that make them compelling to their audiences. From there, he will discuss how to apply these traits to your own characters.  

The Development Process: What Happens if They Want Your Script?

Learn directly from Joe Russo, an Independent Producer who has worked on projects with FOX, SyFy, A/E, Lionsgate Films and Universal Studios! You’ve spent days, weeks, months, maybe even years, toiling away on your screenplay. You’ve read all the books. You’ve taken the seminars. You’ve work shopped your script to death. You’ve crafted a sharp pitch and logline for your script – and now someone in the industry wants to READ your work! You celebrate this long awaited victory, but what happens next? What if they don’t just like the script you’ve poured your heart and soul into, what if they WANT it. In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, Joe Russo will shine a light and give an executive’s opinion and advice on a Hollywood process you’ve all heard of, but probably don’t know nearly enough about – Development. Joe has been recognized for his “firm grasp of the craft, solid storytelling, and compelling characters”, as well as developing many acclaimed projects. The path to taking your written words and turning them into a major motion picture is a tricky, windy road. You all know the coined phrase “Development Hell”, and too many projects fall into this pit simply because the process isn’t clearly understood at the outset. So join Stage 32 as we explore the complicated and fascinating world of Development, and all of the small victories and bumps along the road that you can experience on your way to the green lighting of your screenplay into a movie.

How to Write a Unique, Commercial Horror Script

4 part class taught by Stuart Arbury, Director of Development at Captivate Entertainment (Universal)!AVAILABLE ON DEMAND! The number one genre we hear most executives look for is horror. Horror written in any language can be easily enjoyed by any viewer from around the world. It's the most universally acceptable genre out there, and it's where filmmakers go to cut their teeth (Sam Raimi, James Gunn, Oliver Stone, Peter Jackson, Francis Ford Coppola, James Cameron, Zack Snyder, and Steven Spielberg all started in the horror genre). But writing a fresh, commercial, scary horror is getting harder as executives continue to see familiar tropes and generic set pieces. What a writer sees as a fresh idea, is one that an executive has probably seen in some variation many times over. Stage 32 Happy Writers is excited to bring you the previously-recorded 4 part class: How to Write a Unique, Commercial Horror Script taught by Stuart Arbury, Director of Development at Captivate Entertainment (Universal). From choosing a concept to picking an antagonist, from strengthening the emotional crescendo to amping up the scares in your project – Stuart covers all in this 4 part intensive class.   **Plus! You'll get a copy of the HALLOWEEN script in your resources!   Purchasing gives you access to the previously-recorded live class.Although Stuart is no longer handing out or reviewing the assignments, we still encourage all creatives to participate.

register for stage 32 Register / Log In