Michael Schulman is a Feature Story Analyst for Netflix as part of its Independent Original Film Division, and his job revolves around evaluating feature screenplay submissions and deciding which ones to pass up to the executives to consider. Prior to his role at Netflix, Michael spent nearly a decade in the story department at CAA where he found projects for CAA clients. Over his storied career, Michael also served as an agent at ICM’s Motion Picture Literary Department and held numerous studio creative executive positions at Orion, TriStar, and Disney where he worked to develop film and television projects with some of the top talent in the industry. Michael is very familiar with what it takes for a script to find its way to decisionmakers since this has been a key feature of his job for over a decade. Full Bio »
Streamers like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and HBO Max have quickly become the holy grail for many filmmakers hoping to get their film produced and find success. And it’s no mystery why. With a subscriber base in the tens of millions (Netflix has 74 million subscribers alone!), there might not be a better place for your film to be seen and enjoyed across the globe. And streamers ARE picking up a lot of content, a staggering amount even. Netflix recently announced it is releasing 40 more films this year—that’s twice what most major traditional studios make in a whole year, all in just a few months. That said, even with this huge volume of new content Netflix and the other streamers continue to pick up and produce, it is not easy to get your film noticed or considered at these platforms, especially if you’re not already an established filmmaker. This is not to say it’s impossible, but it does require finesse, strategy, luck, and an understanding of how exactly streamers find their original films.
For as prominent as streaming platforms have become, the process behind how a film actually finds its way into their libraries is opaque and enigmatic. With so little information on the inner workings of the streamers, it can seem confusing, maybe even impossible to get your own proverbial foot into the portal and get your project noticed. After all, there isn’t exactly a submission platform to upload your script for Amazon to review. The truth is, unless you’re already established or have that ‘in’ with a streamer, it’s very unlikely to get straight through and have them consider your work blind. There IS another way though, a way to get your project to a streamer, not by going through but by going around.
Michael Schulman is a Feature Story Analyst for Netflix as part of its Independent Original Film Division, and his job revolves around evaluating feature screenplay submissions and deciding which ones to pass up to the executives to consider. Prior to his role at Netflix, Michael spent nearly a decade in the story department at CAA where he found projects for CAA clients. Over his storied career, Michael also served as an agent at ICM’s Motion Picture Literary Department and held numerous studio creative executive positions at Orion, TriStar, and Disney where he worked to develop film and television projects with some of the top talent in the industry. Michael is very familiar with what it takes for a script to find its way to decisionmakers since this has been a key feature of his job for over a decade.
As a companion piece to his previous webinar that details the script evaluation process at Netflix and other streamers, Michael will teach you a smarter and more viable way to get your own feature film considered by streaming platforms, not by targeting the streamers themselves, but instead focusing on their content suppliers. He’ll begin by laying out how the normal streamer system works and go over specific reasons why your script might NOT be as good of a fit for them as you think. Michael will then delve into how “outsiders” can get in the streaming game by taking advantage of resources along the way and better understanding the content pipeline. He’ll explain what streamer “originals” actually are and show how streamers rely on production companies to fill their slate. Michael will show you how you can use this to your advantage by finding your way in with specific production companies and what you can do to make them want to produce your film with you.
Michael will even offer a live demonstration, showing how to find the right production companies for your own project and the best contacts within them.
Getting your work on Netflix and other streamers will never be easy, but you will leave this webinar with a better understanding of the best way forward.
Praise for Michael's Previous Stage 32 Webinar
"I loved Michaels honestly. His advice is invaluable."
"Very genuine, authentic, knowledgeable."
"Michael was highly competent, extremely knowledgeable about his subject, and not afraid to share hard truths about the industry that many just won't be upfront about."
"Michael did not sugarcoat anything. He gave honest information that clarified a lot of questions I had."
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Learn how the initial readers at streamers evaluate feature film submissions. Plus! You'll see a breakdown of Netflix internal coverage. Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Max, Disney+ -- they have become the most sought after homes for screenwriters and emerging talent. And yet as prominent as these platforms have become, the process behind how a film actually finds its way into their library is relatively unknown. So what actually happens to your submission behind-closed-doors at one of the streamers? Who is reading it and what are they looking for? The professional readers employed by streamers are trained to use very specific criteria to assess material. They do not use the same methodology as agents, managers, or producers who may be more willing to develop material and incubate projects. It’s helpful to know that there are certain types of projects and styles of writing that are more likely to get these readers’ attention and prompt them to escalate your submission to actual decision-makers. Let’s dive in. Michael Schulman is a Story Analyst for Amazon Studios and prior to that was a Feature Story Analyst for Netflix as part of its Independent Original Film Division, and his job revolves around evaluating screenplay submissions and deciding which ones to pass up to the executives to consider. Prior to his roles at Amazon and Netflix, Michael spent nearly a decade in the story department at CAA where he found projects for CAA clients. Over his storied career, Michael also served as an agent at ICM’s Motion Picture Literary Department and held numerous studio creative executive positions at Orion, TriStar, and Disney where he worked to develop film and television projects with some of the top talent in the industry. Michael is very familiar with what it takes for a script to find its way to decisionmakers since this has been a key feature of his job for over a decade. Exclusively for Stage 32 in this on-demand webinar, Michael will reveal how streamers evaluate and identify feature film submissions and specifically what the initial readers look for before sending a script along to decisionmakers. He will give you an overall look at the steps a film takes to getting greenlit at a streamer and lay out who exactly these readers are that will be evaluating your script at the beginning. He’ll also show you what these readers are trained to look for and how they know “it” when they see it. Michael will also explain the importance of packaging during this phase and how streamers’ “algorithms” really work. Through Michael’s honest, comprehensive, and in-depth discussion of this often-secretive side of streaming platforms, you’ll be able to leave with a much clearer idea of how to get your own script the best shot of being selected at Netflix or other streamers. Note: This webinar focuses on streamers' reading and evaluation process after a screenplay has been submitted, and focuses less on the actual submission process. Keep in mind that submitting your project to Netflix and other streaming giants is, by design, difficult and often requires an agent or manager that is already connected with the platform, or to go through production companies or studios that already have a development deal in place. For more information on how to reach managers or production companies, check out some of the on demand webinars below! How to Get Pitch Meetings For Your Project How to Find and Choose the Right Screenwriting Manager for Your Career How to Identify, Secure and Build a Relationship with a Great Producer for Your Film Project - with Case Studies
How to Become a Professional Screenwriter 101 The key to packaging yourself as a screenwriter and preparing you for a career in entertainment is all about finding the right people, building relationships, and knowing where your voice fits into the marketplace. Industry veteran, Michael Schulman (THE AVIATOR, SIXTH SENSE) will show you how to navigate your career, from getting your foot in the door and beyond. So you believe you’re ready to launch your screenwriting career. Now what? Most writers hunt for representation in the hopes that they will sell their scripts. But what if you can find the right people to produce with on your own? In this Stage 32 exclusive webinar, industry veteran Michael Schulman will show you how to make yourself and your script an appealing package, and find the right producers to build relationships with. Michael’s extensive career includes time working at William Morris, ICM, and CAA, as well as three studios, including Netflix. His experience makes him uniquely aware of what both producers and representatives are looking for in a writer and their scripts. This gives you fantastic access to years of insight from someone involved with some of the most successful films, including THE AVIATOR, ALI, THE SIXTH SENSE, GROUNDHOG DAY, and many more. Believe it or not, accessing real industry pros is not as difficult as it looks. Michael will help you write to your strengths, determine what exactly your script needs, know how to choose the right producers for your package, and also know how to reach out to them. From there, you’ll learn how to prepare to meet with both producers and representatives, even establishing follow-up steps to keep the conversation going with them. By the end of the webinar, you’ll understand the producer’s mindset of how to look at and market your scripts, viewing yourself as a package that can kickstart your career.
ScreenMasters is an intensive ongoing workshop designed for screenwriters who have mastered the fundamentals of their craft and are ready to move on to the next phase of their creative and professional development. Participants will be led through innovative presentations that will encourage new ways of thinking about the unique creative process of “writing for the screen,” and collaborative workshops sessions will explore how to put these lessons into practice to bring your screenplay to the next level. For every screenwriter, the leap from gifted amateur to working professional can be the most challenging career step they face. ScreenMasters is based on the simple idea that the best way to remove any obstacles to real-world career success is to deliver extraordinary screenplays that speak for themselves. The concept of this workshop goes beyond the basics of screenwriting to delve into the deeper artistic issues that can transform a merely good project into something a little more extraordinary. Each weekly session will begin with a topic discussion led by industry veteran Michael Schulman, and then the remaining class will be a lab environment for intensive workshopping of works in progress or guidance on career development issues, blocks or troubles students may be running into. The workshop is suitable for projects in any genre and at any stage of development. Enrollment in the workshop will be limited, and interested participants will be asked to submit a short (<1 page) statement outlining your background and writing experience, a brief description of the project to be workshopped, and what you would like to get out of the workshop experience. Michael Schulman is an industry veteran whose career includes stints at William Morris, ICM, and CAA as well as creative executive positions on three different studio lots including Netflix. Michael spent two years as VP Development at Michael Mann’s company where he worked on ALI, THE AVIATOR, and TEXAS KILLING FIELDS and other projects. Michael has worked with other top industry professionals in the development and/or acquisition of many well known features including THE SIXTH SENSE, VENGEANCE, HIDEAWAY, SHANGHAI and GROUNDHOG DAY. Michael has led webinars on the streamer acquisition process and has been quoted and interviewed in the industry media. ***Please note: This class is not booked yet, it is an application process. You can submit your application between now and February 4. The class shows booked on this page because that is how our system is technically set up, but it is a private class that Michael will be choosing the 8 from the application.*** THE APPLICATION PROCESS This class is limited to 8 students and is exclusive to active Stage 32 Writers' Room members. You must submit an application for review by February 4, 2022. The application can be found here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/YX6TFYL. Michael will be reviewing applications and will select the 8 students for the workshop. You will be notified by February 11, 2022 if you will be chosen for this class. If you are chosen, you will be invoiced via email from Stage 32. Since this is a private group, login links and recordings will be sent directly from Stage 32 Education.
As a director, you have to oversee every aspect of production, but you can’t micromanage it all. You need to communicate your goals and listen to your cinematographer to achieve your vision. When do you start developing this relationship? How do you know you’re hiring the right person for this role? As a cinematographer, you have to take charge while telling a director’s story. How do you lead without taking control? How do you ensure this is an effective dynamic? When do you speak up to ensure the director has everything they need? When this dynamic duo is at their best, the results can be breathtaking. But if they’re at odds, it will always undermine the success of your film. Directors, cinematographers, and directors of photography can all gain invaluable information from this Stage 32 exclusive webinar, showing you exactly how to find the right people for your production and how to work with them to ensure a cohesive result built on solid communication and trust between the director and cinematographer. Taking you through the inner workings of the director-cinematographer relationship is Emmy Award winning director and cinematographer Charlene "Charlie" Fisk who has worked with networks including FX, Netflix, PBS, ESPN, Disney, HGTV, TLC, Discovery Channel, Travel Channel, Food Network, and OWN. In addition to the incredible wealth of information from Charlene, she will also answer questions for you using her years of experience about the roles of director and cinematographer, or your own feature or role in productions. You’ll walk away with the tools to find the right partnership and cultivate it to create a powerful experience, leading to a fantastic feature film.
It's like 10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife...well, actually it's more like the Write Now Challenge Webcast: Isn't it Ironic coming at you this afternoon at 4pm (Pacific)! In this challenge, members were asked to write a short scene (no more than 5 pages) using one of the examples of irony from the Breakdown Webcast: Dramatic Irony. As a reminder the examples for irony are below: Dramatic Irony: A literary and theatrical device in which the reader or audience knows more about a situation, complication, or conflict than the characters they are following. Classical Irony: This term describes irony as it was used in ancient Greek comedy—to highlight situations in which one thing appears to be the case when, in fact, the opposite is true. Cosmic Irony: Cosmic irony highlights incongruities between the absolute, theoretical world and the mundane, grounded reality of everyday life. Socratic Irony: Socrates would feign ignorance of a subject and ask seemingly innocent—but actually leading—questions to draw out information he already knew. Socratic irony differs from verbal irony because it involves intentional deception. Verbal irony, on the other hand, does not connote insincerity or deception. Situational Irony: occurs when there is a difference between what is expected to happen and what actually happens. With situational irony, our discovery that our expectations haven’t been met are the same as the characters in the story. Verbal Irony: is when a character says something that is different from what he or she really means, or how he or she really feels. This is the only type of irony where a character creates the irony.
Your Definitive Guide to Microbudget Filmmaking Learn how you can make your movie for under $50k from a microbudget expert who's produced features for Legendary, Lakeshore Entertainment, Netflix, and IFC Films, as well as series for Fox Television Studios, Hulu, FreeForm, Netflix, and 20th Century Digital. PLUS! Get sample budgets, schedules, lookbooks, storyboards and film festival packages! The barrier to entry for making a film is at an all time low. With access, opportunity and new distribution options you can now take your film idea from concept to distribution easier than ever before. Best of all? You get to collaborate with people you choose to make that story a reality. How can you do that? By making your film independently on a microbudget under $50,000. This process means you don't have to pitch to studio executives and major financiers who will have their own notes about your story and what it should be and who to sell it to -- all of which you and your team might disagree with. In fact, you are in full control of the process from start to finish. Microbudget filmmaking is a path to creative freedom, and one that is paved with profits if done correctly. To make your story see the big screen, you're going to need to spend extra time working to make sure you're doing everything right because you have no time or money to waste. We have the perfect Stage 32 Educator, Michael Wormser, who is here to show you how to develop, produce, and distribute your microbudget movie. Michael is an award-winning producer who specializes in microbudget filmmaking and has produced over 70 projects including features for Legendary, Lakeshore Entertainment, Netflix, and IFC Films, as well as series for Fox Television Studios, Hulu, FreeForm, Netflix, and 20th Century Digital. Through an interactive 4-part virtual class, Michael dives deep into the four key areas of microbudget filmmaking that you must master in order to be successful: Development, Planning, Production, and Distribution. Each of these four phases comes with unique challenges and opportunities that Michael will show you how to use to your advantage to produce the best microbudget film possible and get it out to your audience to enjoy. You'll walk away from these sessions with everything you need to know to collaborate and produce your own microbudget film. You will have assignments between each session to put to practice what you learn for your own film, and you will also get documents that will help you on your own journey: Budget and Schedule Examples Look book Examples Storyboard Examples Film Festival Package Examples Don't miss out on this incredible opportunity to work with an acclaimed producer who's helped countless creators bring their microbudget projects to life! Praise from Michael's previous class: "Michael is the real deal. His tricks to the process blew my mind. I can't thank you enough for all you taught us!" - James P. "Run, no, sprint to learn from Michael. His knowledge and attention to detail is bar none. I highly recommend Michael as a teacher. I've produced projects before but he has an incredible knowledge base on all aspects to help streamline processes." - Aimee M.