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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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.
You'll see a breakdown of Netflix internal coverage Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO Max--they have become the Holy Grail 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 opaque and enigmatic. 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 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. Exclusively for Stage 32, 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 Capture the Attention of a Showrunner or Manager with your TV Writing Samples
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.
This week, Jason speaks with producer Natalie Qasabian, who has forged a successful career producing independent films which have had tremendous commercial success! Natalie began her career producing three films for the indie film duo the Duplass Brothers, including Duck Butter directed by Miguel Arteta, Natalie went on to produce All About Nina starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Common. Later, Natalie produced Searching, a thriller starring John Cho and Debra Messing which was acquired by Sony at Sundance in 2018 and went on to gross $75M at the box office! Currently she's producing Run, starring Sarah Paulson for Lionsgate as well as the sequel to Searching for Sony. Natalie talks about starting her career as a Line Producer and Production Manager, and how that allowed her to make independent films for a modest budget. Natalie shares her insights on the effectiveness of proof of concept videos, how first-time filmmakers can attract financing, and the inside story of how she sold Searching to Sony at Sundance!
Learn directly from Host Tatiana Kelly, who has produced almost two dozen independent films including The Words (Bradley Cooper and Zoe Saldana), The Catcher was a Spy with Paul Rudd, Life of a King with Cuba Gooding Jr. and more! One of the most critical stages in filmmaking, once you have a script, is budgeting your film. The budget can cover everything from the inception of the project, such as writing fees and other development costs, all the way to the finished film and even film festival marketing. Whether the film is under $10,000 or over $10,000,000 the film budget must present a spending plan for every dollar to be expended on the production. You will need to have a budget that is detailed and accurate because it will serve as the road map and your bible for the project. It is also one of the key documents of your presentation that should be in place when seeking out investments. It is really the scope of the budget that will directly affect the amount of money needed to be raised. Creating a budget is not an easy task given that it can consist of hundreds of line items that have to be balanced across many different competing priorities. Both over and under estimating the budget can be disastrous in that you can either end up not having enough money to finish the film or you can have enough but it will be impossible for investors to recoup their financial investment. To help you on your way to understanding budget, we've brought in producer Tatiana Kelly. Tatiana has produced almost two dozen independent films including The Words (Bradley Cooper and Zoe Saldana), The Catcher was a Spy with Paul Rudd, Life of a King with Cuba Gooding Jr., Cut Throat City, produced with Reggie Hudlin (Django Unchained), directed by RZA from Wu Tang Clan, Indie darling Wristcutters: A Love Story, and many more. In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, Tatiana will present a straightforward method of developing a working budget. She will discuss what some of the key questions are as well as the decisions that need to be made prior to embarking on a budget. There are certain primary elements of the film and the screenplay that may be necessary such as stunts or locations or cast in order to secure financing for example, and which will help start to build out the budget. She will also cover budgeting basics and review what all of the line items represent.
In this world of DIY filmmaking, it has become easier than ever to just pick up a camera and start making your project. You don’t always need much money, a big crew, corporate backing, or other resources; you can just get up and go. But this certainly doesn’t mean your project is automatically going to look good. Even on a budget, even as a guerrilla filmmaker, it’s critical to have the tools you need to make something look professional and of high quality. You don’t necessarily need the top-of-the-line camera and all of the expensive specialty equipment found on a massive set, but there are things you’re always going to need with you, a kit that will have you covered in any situation. The challenge is determining what exactly this kit should look like. If you’re a DP, director, or a one-person-band doing all of the jobs at once, preparation is key. But if you go to any camera or equipment store or website you’ll notice just how many options there are. Tools for every occasion. Every type of lens. Every type of stand. Every type of light. Every type of microphone. It can be overwhelming to even look at. How can you distill all of these options into exactly what you need, a collection of tools that you can get on a budget and pack into one bag? Is that even possible? Your instructor Barry Andersson knows that it is. There are just some important things you need to know first. Barry Andersson is an award-winning director and cinematographer. He has directed 5 feature films, many of which were released in theaters—his most recent film is being distributed by Lionsgate. Barry’s career as a cinematographer includes several television pilots, acclaimed short films, numerous commercials, and countless commercials and corporate videos. Barry is also the author of the DSLR Filmmakers Handbook. Through his extensive experience, Barry has figured out the best and most cost effective equipment you need to make great content. Barry will share with you his time-tested soup-to-nuts equipment list and will show you, piece by piece on camera, what he uses and why. He’ll begin by walking you through the strategy of putting together your own kit and aspects you need to keep in mind when assembling the perfect collection of equipment. He’ll discuss the types of lenses to carry with you and what to get even if you don’t know anything about lenses. He’ll also delve into choosing the right case and strategies to efficiently pack everything you need. For filmmakers on the go, Barry will share how he packs everything he needs for travel without spending extra on baggage fees. Barry will share exactly what gear is essential for every type of project, including standard filming, talking heads, and B-roll. He will next discuss audio and the types of microphones, stands, poles, and extras you need to effectively capture audio on the go. Barry will walk you through the life-saving essentials he takes with him wherever he goes—seemingly miscellaneous items that no one ever says you should have. He’ll also tell you what things you don’t really need, even if people say you do. Barry will give you a resource list of 11 must-have items for your equipment kit and where you can find the best deal to purchase them. Praise for Barry’s Webinar “Great insight. Very practical and actionable advice.” -Martin R. “This was so straightforward and practical. No theory, no filler, just exactly what I needed to know. Thank you” -Harold B. “Barry’s advice was so helpful. I feel a lot less overwhelmed about buying new equipment now” -Sandy C. “I NEVER find webinars that are this straightforward and useful. This was such a gem.” -Roger F.