Stage 32 Screenwriting Lab: Make Your Script Sellable in the US Market

Taught by James Crawford

$799

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Class hosted by: James Crawford

Global Producer and Development Executive

James Crawford is Canadian/Australian, US-based producer and development executive who has worked with writers from Mexico, Finland, Spain, England, Scotland, South Africa, Brazil, Australia, and the Philippines. James has developed several one-hour television series, pitching to EPiX, WGN America, Cinemax, and Universal Cable Productions, among others. James worked as Creative Executive at Cartel Entertainment, a television and film literary management and production company, and was responsible for identifying, developing, and pitching content for its first-look deal with Entertainment One, including the Stephen King novel The Regulators. At Cartel Entertainment, James developed pitches for Amazon, FX, Hulu, Netflix, Cinemax, UCP, and other major networks. While working at Cartel Entertainment, he developed formats from the Brazilian network Globo for the American market. He has taught at screenwriting retreats in France and worked for the Australian Film Commission (now called Screen Australia.) A man of the world, James also holds Estonian citizenship. James has a storied background as a producer and executive and is intimately familiar with working with foreign writers to get their projects seen and sold. Full Bio »

Summary

**Work one-on-one with a top producer with deep experience with international writers**

Only 10 Spots Available

 

Success of recent international shows like Netflix's LUPIN and MONEY HEIST demonstrate that US-based networks and studios are looking more and more to the international markets for creative inspiration. This is such an exciting time for international writers to find traction and opportunities in America. Yet even with this opportunity, you still need to adapt your script's sensibilities to make them successful stateside. This is something you can absolutely do as a writer, no matter your genre or format or story, provided you understand what exactly this adjustment should look like. 

Which subjects will or won’t work for the American screen? How do we understand the different cultural sensitivities of different marketplaces? What story structures and arcs are common internationally but don’t land over here? How does the entertainment business structure US (agents, managers, execs) differ from what you experience at home? And how does that environment change how your story is received?

These are complicated questions to answer, especially if you're not currently living or selling content in the US. This is why it's critical to work with someone who understand the US market, someone who can serve as an asset for you and make sure you're presenting a film or series that can actually find a home in America. Someone like producer James Crawford.

James is a Canadian/Australian, US-based producer and development executive who has worked with writers from Mexico, Finland, Spain, England, Scotland, South Africa, Brazil, Australia, and the Philippines. Over his career, James has worked with international writers in developing their television series and working on pitches for Amazon, FX, Hulu, Netflix, Cinemax, UCP, and other major networks.

James is very familiar with working with foreign writers and over 8 weeks, he will work closely with you and a small group of other international writers to adjust your film or series script to make it work in the US market. He will also help you with your project's pitch, pitch documents and outline to better sell it to American companies. While walking you through the different aspects of a successful American script and pitch, James will also work one-on-one with you to make sure your specific project can translate successfully in America.

 

If you have a project you want to sell in America, you're going to want to work with James before sending it out.

 

 

WHAT TO EXPECT

  • By the end of this 8-week writing lab, you will have a deeper understanding of the US TV and film market and an updated TV or film script and pitch that fits better into American sensibilities, ready to be shown to reps, development execs and other executives and professionals.
  • Sessions will vary between 2-hour group settings and personal one-on-one Zoom meetings with James. You will be held accountable to take the lessons from each week and move your work forward.
  • Plus, to keep you motivated and inspired, you will have access to a private, dedicated Stage 32 Lounge where you can communicate with your fellow classmates throughout the writing process.
  • To see the full writing lab schedule, see below under "What You Will Learn".

 

PLEASE NOTE: This exclusive Stage 32 lab is limited to 10 writers and will be booked on a first come, first served basis. The opportunity to work this closely and for this long with a producer and an expert in the field is an incredibly unique and valuable opportunity. If you are interested, please do book quickly. Once the spots are gone, they’re gone for good.

  • Payment plans are available - please contact Harrison at h.glaser@stage32.com for more information
  • This lab is limited to 10 people
  • This lab is designed for screenwriters of all levels looking to update their existing film or TV scripts to better fit the US market

What You'll Learn

Session 1: Overview and Introductions

  • The state of the global marketplace in film and television
    • Formats
    • Global Outposts of Networks and Platforms
    • Film Markets and Meetings Across the Globe
    • International Film Co-Productions
  • Where the Buyers Are: The lay of the land, post-COVID
  • The "international voice"-- the paradox of making your writing both universal and specific
  • Workshop: Pitching Your Idea--Bring your concept that we'll be workshopping over the course of the lab

 

Session 2: Subjects, Concepts and Genres

  • Concept: How to think about your it as an Export
  • Story archetypes and common tropes
    • Parables and fairy tales
  • Genres Abroad and Genres at Home
  • Genre Hybrids
  • Controversial Subjects and Taboos in America
    • Sex
    • Violence
    • Race
    • Gender/Sexuality
    • The problem of Middle America
  • Workshop: Finessing your most controversial or difficult scene

 

Session 3: Structure, Beginnings & Endings

  • Story, Plot, and Narrative
  • 3-Act Structure in Film
  • A, B, and C Plot lines
  • Episode Structure in Television
  • A Pilot is a promise: how to think about your first episode
  • How to Structure a Season in Television
    • How to work through the a strong beginning, middle, and end to a season
  • Workshop: Story Beats--How to lay out your story before filling in the details

 

Session 4: Characters

  • Character Archetypes vs. Stereotypes
  • Character tropes that do and don't translate well internationally
  • Diversity and Representation: how ready is America?
  • A, B, and C characters (and how they fit into A, B, and C Plot lines)
  • Workshop: Characters, back-stories, and how they got to the point just before "Fade-In..."

 

Session 5: Dialogue

  • What you can and can't say in film and TV
    • Censorship/Ratings
  • Slang, Argot and Common Phrases
  • Things that get lost in translation
  • Feeling Stuck Between Two Cultures
  • Workshop: Finessing dialogue that doesn't quite translate

 

Session 6: Loglines and One Pagers

  • The business structure of "the Business"
    • Agents
    • Managers
    • Producers
    • Development Executives
  • Beware the conventional wisdom
  • The documents that will get you in the door
    • Loglines
    • Pitch Paragraphs/Pages
    • Bibles
    • Writing Samples
  • Workshop: Crafting the Perfect Logline or Pitch Page

 

Session 7: The Pitch and Pitch Documents

  • General Meetings vs. Pitches
    • "What else do you have?"
  • Semi-pitches
    • The elevator pitch
    • The "soft" pitch
  • Studio and Network Branding
    • Actors with Production Shingles
    • Non-writing executive producers
  • Pitching the right way to the right people
    • Tailoring your pitch without betraying the truth of your story
  • Pitch Expectations
    • Pitch Structure/Format
    • Length
    • Post-pitch Q&A
  • The leave-behind
  • The follow-up
  • How to interpret a "no"
  • Workshop: Refining the pitch from Session 1

 

Session 8: One-on-one Final Consultations with James

About Your Instructor

James Crawford is Canadian/Australian, US-based producer and development executive who has worked with writers from Mexico, Finland, Spain, England, Scotland, South Africa, Brazil, Australia, and the Philippines. James has developed several one-hour television series, pitching to EPiX, WGN America, Cinemax, and Universal Cable Productions, among others. James worked as Creative Executive at Cartel Entertainment, a television and film literary management and production company, and was responsible for identifying, developing, and pitching content for its first-look deal with Entertainment One, including the Stephen King novel The Regulators. At Cartel Entertainment, James developed pitches for Amazon, FX, Hulu, Netflix, Cinemax, UCP, and other major networks. While working at Cartel Entertainment, he developed formats from the Brazilian network Globo for the American market. He has taught at screenwriting retreats in France and worked for the Australian Film Commission (now called Screen Australia.) A man of the world, James also holds Estonian citizenship. James has a storied background as a producer and executive and is intimately familiar with working with foreign writers to get their projects seen and sold.

Schedule

SESSION 1 – Overview and Introductions - 6/28/21

SESSION 2 – Subjects, Concepts and Genres - 7/5/21

SESSION 3 – Structure, Beginnings & Endings- 7/12/21

SESSION 4 – Characters - 7/19/21

SESSION 5– Dialogue - 7/26/21

SESSION 6 – Loglines and One Pagers - 8/2/21

SESSION 7– The Pitch and Pitch Documents - 8/9/21

SESSION 8 – One-on-one Final Consultations with James (One on One Consultations – No Online Class)

FAQs

Q: What is the format of a lab?
A: Stage 32 Next Level Classes are typically 90-minute broadcasts that take place online using a designated software program from Stage 32.

Q: Do I 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 webinar, 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 webinar 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 webinar 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 lab class?
A: If you attend a live online class, you will be able to communicate directly with your instructor during the class. If you cannot attend a live class, you will have access to the entire recorded broadcast, including the Q&A. Plus, your instructor will be available via email throughout the lab.

Q: Will I have access to the lab afterward to rewatch?
A: Yes! After the purchase of the lab, you will have on-demand access to the video recording, which you can view as many times as you'd like!

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.

Other education that may be of interest to you:

International Writers: How to Make Your Series Succeed in the US

With the runaway success of breakout international television shows like HBO Max’s GOMORRAH and Netflix’s MONEY HEIST and LUPIN, US-based networks and studios are looking more and more to the international markets for creative inspiration. Whether in the guise of formats (established foreign shows adapted to air domestically) or direct buys from writers and producers, companies have finally realized that importing talent is good creative business. This means there has never been a better opportunity for writers outside of America to find success and interested buyers stateside, especially if you can write something that fits American sensibilities. It’s clear that writers from abroad bring fresh ideas and unique perspectives that reinvigorate the film and television. Yet they still need to adapt their sensibilities to make them successful across the pond—NBC’s adaptation of BBC’s THE OFFICE, for instance, didn’t find its footing until it took the core of its uniquely British perspective and polished it to reflect the unique politics of the American workplace. This same adjustment can be made for your own project, provided you understand what exactly this adjustment should look like. So what are American sensibilities? What makes a show more relatable to American viewers and what can you do as a writer to make sure American decisionmakers will see value in your film or series? James Crawford is Canadian/Australian, US-based producer and development executive who has worked with writers from Mexico, Finland, Spain, England, Scotland, South Africa, Brazil, Australia, and the Philippines. James has developed several one-hour television series, pitching to EPiX, WGN America, Cinemax, and Universal Cable Productions, among others. James worked as Creative Executive at Cartel Entertainment, a television and film literary management and production company, and was responsible for identifying, developing, and pitching content for its first-look deal with Entertainment One, including the Stephen King novel The Regulators. At Cartel Entertainment, James developed pitches for Amazon, FX, Hulu, Netflix, Cinemax, UCP, and other major networks. While working at Cartel Entertainment, he developed formats from the Brazilian network Globo for the American market. He has taught at screenwriting retreats in France and worked for the Australian Film Commission (now called Screen Australia.) A man of the world, James also holds Estonian citizenship. James has a storied background as a producer and executive and is intimately familiar with working with foreign writers to get their projects seen and sold. James will teach you how to make your series idea salable in the US market. This doesn’t mean selling out, but rather translating your unique voice so that it’s better heard by American producers and development executives. Which subjects will or won’t work for the American screen? How do we understand the different cultural sensitivities of different marketplaces? What story structures and arcs are common internationally but don’t land over here? How does the entertainment business structure US (agents, managers, execs) differ from what you experience at home? And how does that environment change how your story is received? As we answer these, you will better understand how to adapt the cultural issues that are important in your home country and make them resonate abroad.     Praise for James's Previous Stage 32 Webinars   James was awesome. Clear, concise, and knowledgeable. -Stephen B.   “James Crawford was very informative, and the way he brought the webinar across was entertaining and kept you engaged. I loved every bit of it! I hope he comes back for a round 2” -Imo C.   Super helpful and very clear. Right to the point. Not full of anecdotes but actual teaching. -Helena W.   “It was very informative in a practical way. James was great!” -Dave M.

Breaking Down a Script Page from a Producer’s Perspective –Financing, Budgeting, Casting & More

Like it or not, the film and television industry is and will always be a business. It may produce stunning works of art and lead to social and cultural impacts, but it still comes down to the bottom line. That means that as a writer, unless your name is Christopher Nolan, you’re going to have to deal with more constraints that just the words on a page in order to make your vision a reality. You’ll need to convince a producer that the script can be made and can be made with the money available. And, if you’re a filmmaker or producer, you’ll need to understand how much of the budget is going to each page in order to make your film profitable. In order to do this, it’s important to understand how to read scripts from a cost perspective and what stands out to them as red flags or unnecessary challenges. Considering this throughout the writing and development process rather than being caught off guard after a script is fully written can be invaluable. It can be frustrating to have limitations get in the way of your creative expression, to be told that the world and story in your head can’t be made because of financial constraints. It can feel like selling out to alter your script in order to fit a financier’s budget. This doesn’t have to be the case, though—you don’t have to sacrifice your narrative in service of the bottom line. Instead, there are ways to meld your creativity with some financial savvy and learn to think about how story, character, and structure translate into dollars on the page. So before you write that ambitious live action space opera, the one on the rain planet with children and exotic animals, join producer James Crawford and learn how a producer thinks and breaks down pages.This will give you a leg up on the competition when trying to get your script made. James Crawford is the Head of Development for Fireside Pictures. Prior to joining Fireside Pictures, James was the Executive Director of Development at Engage Entertainment, where he developed, sold, and produced seven movies to Hallmark Channel over three years, including THE ROOFTOP CHRISTMAS TREE, SLEIGH BELLS RING and A DECEMBER BRIDE. In addition to his feature production experience, James has developed several one-hour television series at Engage, pitching to EPiX, WGN America, Cinemax, and Universal Cable Productions, among others. James worked as Creative Executive at Cartel Entertainment, a television and film literary management and production company, and was responsible for identifying, developing, and pitching content for its first-look deal with Entertainment One, including the Stephen King novel The Regulators. At Cartel Entertainment,James developed pitches for Amazon, FX, Hulu, Netflix, Cinemax, UCP, and other major networks. James has a storied background as a producer and executive and is intimately familiar with what it takes to turn a script into a produced film or series. James will provide you with an understanding of the unforeseen costs that go into producing a script. He’ll begin by going over what it generally means to think like a producer in the first place. He’ll then delve into the specific financial challenges that come with genre and ‘genre-ish’ projects and how you can prepare yourself for these issues. James will break down the seven main types of producers on a project and what each one does. James will focus on the relationship between the producer and the line producer, a critical partnership for finding the resources to keeping your vision. James will then give you a full breakdown of what costs could go into every single page of your script, from above-the-line and below-the-line talent to locations, production design, and small things you might not have ever considered before that can seriously add up. To illustrate this, James will provide you with a case study of a real scene of a real shooting script, illustrating line-by-line where the costs lie in the script. Finally, James will teach you 10 strategies you can use if you’re starting to go over-budget. You will leave with a firmer understanding of how your script will translate to costs, and clear strategies to keep your vision while going easier on the budget.   Praise for James’s Webinar:   James was awesome. Clear, concise, and knowledgeable. -Stephen B.   “James Crawford was very informative, and the way he brought the webinar across was entertaining and kept you engaged. I loved every bit of it! I hope he comes back for a round 2” -Imo C.   Super helpful and very clear. Right to the point. Not full of anecdotes but actual teaching. -Helena W.   “It was very informative in a practical way. James was great!” -Dave M.  

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year, with mistletoe, tinsel, sleigh rides, and, of course, a boatload of new Christmas movies. Indeed, for millions of families across America and the world, appetite is high for new Christmas-themed content. Hallmark alone is premiering 40 (!!) new Christmas movies this holiday season. That’s on top of the 40 they produced in 2019. And Hallmark isn’t the only player in the Christmas movie game. Many other networks and streamers have entered this space like Netflix, Hulu, Lifetime, Freeform, Ion, OWN, and BET, to name a few. With so many networks and streaming platforms hungry for Christmas content, there has never been a better time for writers and producers to bring their own Christmas story to the screen. If you want to write or produce your own Christmas film, there are a lot of opportunities available to you, but you first need to understand what this space is currently looking like and how you can best fit in. Who’s buying and selling? What makes a Christmas themed script successful and how can you best produce and assemble your film to make it marketable, unique, and exciting? Better understanding the context and current landscape can give your own Yule tide project the success you’re looking for. James Crawford is a producer and development executive currently at Fireside Pictures with several holiday titles—and several dozen other pitched projects—under his belt. While at Engage Entertainment, James developed, sold, and produced seven movies to Hallmark Channel over three years, including THE ROOFTOP CHRISTMAS TREE, SLEIGH BELLS RING and A DECEMBER BRIDE. In addition to his feature production experience, James has developed several one-hour television series, pitching to EPiX, WGN America, Cinemax, and Universal Cable Productions, among others. James worked as Creative Executive at Cartel Entertainment, a television and film literary management and production company, and was responsible for identifying, developing, and pitching content for its first-look deal with Entertainment One, including the Stephen King novel The Regulators. At Cartel Entertainment, James developed pitches for Amazon, FX, Hulu, Netflix, Cinemax, UCP, and other major networks. James has a storied background as a producer and executive and is intimately familiar with what it takes to turn a script into a produced holiday film. James will teach you how to write and produce a successful Christmas movie in today’s industry. He’ll begin by going over the market and explaining who is buying and selling. He’ll also outline what stories are popular right now. He’ll then delve into tips for writing an effective Christmas movie, both TV movies and films. He’ll discuss aspects like screenplay format, plotting and structure, themes to lean into and avoid, diversity, characters, and what the holiday film essentials are. Next James will go over how to produce a Christmas movie. He’ll talk about what a successful budget range should be and when to start pitching. He’ll explain how to cast your movie for success and where to spend your money in production. Finally he will go over distribution options for your holiday film and whether it can sell outside of the US. If you’ve always wanted to make your own Christmas movie or have a story that you think could work within the holiday market, let James give you the lowdown you need to take the next steps toward holly jolly success.   Praise for James's Past Stage 32 Webinar   James was awesome. Clear, concise, and knowledgeable. -Stephen B.   “James Crawford was very informative, and the way he brought the webinar across was entertaining and kept you engaged. I loved every bit of it! I hope he comes back for a round 2” -Imo C.   Super helpful and very clear. Right to the point. Not full of anecdotes but actual teaching. -Helena W.   “It was very informative in a practical way. James was great!” -Dave M.  

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