Beyond The Page: The Business Side of Breaking In & Getting Work as a Screenwriter

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Hosted by Michael Poisson

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

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Michael Poisson

Webinar hosted by: Michael Poisson

Development Executive & Writer

Michael grew up in Harrisville, Rhode Island during the 1990’s NBC sitcom boom and WB teen dramedy craze, which should explain his obsession with comedic angst. He attended Emerson College in Boston where he majored in Visual and Media Arts with a concentration in Television. Michael’s first industry job was at CAA where he broke the glass ceiling for men everywhere and became their first male receptionist ever (before then, CAA had segregated based on sex: guys in the mailroom and girls in reception). From there he worked his way up to a desk in TV Packaging, before jumping to Ryan Reynolds and Allan Loeb’s TV pod, DarkFire TV. He moved on to work as the Director of Development at Krysten Ritter’s company, Silent Machine Entertainment, where he worked closely with writers to develop their ideas to pitch to studios and networks. Michel continues to develop independently and on the writing side, he co-wrote the comedic-musical stage show: ARMAGEDDON: A Night of Laughs and Pleasant Songs, which enjoyed a sold-out run in the LA Fringe Festival in 2011. He has placed in numerous writing competitions including: Top 5 Sitcom Pilots in the Austin Film Festival writing competition, and 1st Place in TVWriter.com’s comedy pilot competition. Michael is also a comic book geek and wrote the graphic novel The Arcs which was published by Fanboy Comics and premiered at the Comikaze Expo in November of 2013. http://www.thearcscomic.com/ Full Bio »

Learn directly from Michael Poisson, the former Director of Development at Silent Machine Entertainment, Krysten Ritter’s production company that has a first look deal at Universal TV. Michael is also a comedy writer who used his insider knowledge to land a manager, and get two projects in development at TV production companies.

In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, your host Michael Poisson will guide you through the business side of how to become a working writer in Hollywood. Writing an awesome script is only part of the process for becoming successful in this industry. Having worked on various projects from both the executive side, as well as the writer side of things, Michael has obtained great insight for how to avoid the difficult terrain when meeting and working with producers, studios, and networks. And while the process of finding a manager or agent is daunting, keeping a strong relationship with them so that they’re doing the most for you as their client can be equally difficult. Michael will share with you his insider knowledge to help: keep your writing on track, your meetings fruitful, and your industry contacts strong. If you’ve ever wondered what you should talk about in “general meetings”, how to take notes from friends/producers/execs that you don’t agree with, or how to be a more prolific writer, this webinar is for you!

 


What You'll Learn:

YOU WILL LEAVE THE WEBINAR KNOWING:

  • How to put yourself on a solid schedule to complete new work
  • Types of writing you should have in your portfolio
  • How to take general meetings with producers and executives so that they're most productive
  • How to take meetings with agents and managers, and how to keep them excited about you once they sign you as a client
  • How to take notes from producer and executives that you don't agree with
  • Selling your script once it's completed
  • How to create and keep a writer's group going
  • The importance of finding a mentor and how to find one
  • How to successfully work with production companies, studios, and networks so that they want to work with you again.
  • LIVE Q&A with Mike - bring your questions!

About Your Instructor:

Michael grew up in Harrisville, Rhode Island during the 1990’s NBC sitcom boom and WB teen dramedy craze, which should explain his obsession with comedic angst. He attended Emerson College in Boston where he majored in Visual and Media Arts with a concentration in Television.

Michael’s first industry job was at CAA where he broke the glass ceiling for men everywhere and became their first male receptionist ever (before then, CAA had segregated based on sex: guys in the mailroom and girls in reception). From there he worked his way up to a desk in TV Packaging, before jumping to Ryan Reynolds and Allan Loeb’s TV pod, DarkFire TV. He moved on to work as the Director of Development at Krysten Ritter’s company, Silent Machine Entertainment, where he worked closely with writers to develop their ideas to pitch to studios and networks.

Michel continues to develop independently and on the writing side, he co-wrote the comedic-musical stage show: ARMAGEDDON: A Night of Laughs and Pleasant Songs, which enjoyed a sold-out run in the LA Fringe Festival in 2011. He has placed in numerous writing competitions including: Top 5 Sitcom Pilots in the Austin Film Festival writing competition, and 1st Place in TVWriter.com’s comedy pilot competition. Michael is also a comic book geek and wrote the graphic novel The Arcs which was published by Fanboy Comics and premiered at the Comikaze Expo in November of 2013. http://www.thearcscomic.com/


Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: What is the format of a webinar? 
A: Stage 32 Next Level Webinars 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 webinar.

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 webinar. Upgrade your Windows computer / Upgrade your Mac computer 

Q: What if I cannot attend the live webinar?
A: If you attend a live online webinar, you will be able to communicate directly with your instructor during the webinar. If you cannot attend a live webinar and purchase an On-Demand webinar, you will have access to the entire recorded broadcast, including the Q&A. 

Q: Will I have access to the webinar afterward to rewatch?
A: Yes! After the purchase of a live or On-Demand webinar, 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

  • As this was my maiden voyage with webinars I was quite pleased with Michael's openness and informative approach. It definitely felt as though the time was well spent and I feel more educated regarding the daunting side of Show'bidness.
  • Great insight and plenty of plain common sense. Lots of tips here. Basically, guess what? People are people. Be nice. Be professional. Treat EVERYONE you meet with respect.

Other education that may be of interest to you:

Mentor Series: Write A TV Bible That Sells

Class Space Limited: Maximum 20 Writers August 13, 20, 27 and Sept 10 from 1pm-3pm. Your TV Series Bible is an extremely important, and often overlooked tool for selling your pilot in the industry. It’s a document which explains in detail – who your characters are, what they will be up against, where future conflict will come, and what themes your show will be exploring. It gives studio and network executives confidence that you know what you’re doing, and that the show has the story potential to live on for multiple seasons. The problem is that there isn’t a lot of literature out there detailing how to construct a bible. This Stage 32 Intensive is aimed to give you the information and guidance that you need to write a strong bible that can be used when sending out and selling your pilot script. Each week, your instructor Michael Poisson (Director of Development at Silent Machine Entertainment, Krysten Ritter’s production company that has a first look deal at Universal TV) will be giving a lecture about how to write one section of your series bible, and then you’ll be assigned to write that section for a project of your own. The following week Mike will offer one-on-one skype sessions to discuss your work, give you any notes, and answer any questions that you may have. So, at the end of this Intensive, you will have a strong and well-executed bible that you’ll be able to use as a selling tool for your own TV series. Mike has worked at CAA, two production companies, and as a showrunner’s assistant on a TV series, and at each job he has seen the importance of bibles and how they have been used to get series sold and on the air. As a writer, Mike has also used them in his own writing career, and a well-written bible of helped him to secure his manager, and get multiple production companies interested in his work.

How to Write a TV Series Bible

In the current TV landscape of serialized dramas, complex comedies, and sprawling genre epics, series bibles are becoming important selling tools to help writers illustrate their visions. A dynamic and intriguing bible can create interest in your project, and push your pitch or spec script over the edge to a sale. It’s your chance to lay out the larger arc of your story, list examples of future episodes, and explain the broad themes your show will explore. It conveys confidence to producers and executives by saying: “I've thought about this in the long run, and I have a slew of awesome ideas to explore in series.” Because there is no standard industry way to format your bible, they can be extremely confusing to create. Executives receive bibles as small as 4 pages (a mini-bible, really) and as long as 27 pages. Should it include your personal connection to the material? In-depth character bios? Visual motifs? Artist’s renderings of the setting and characters? Although bibles can vary greatly from project to project, there are some general rules and strategies to follow to make sure yours stands out from the pack as professional, polished, and powerful. In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, Michael Poisson will talk about the very exciting, sometimes harrowing, process of creating TV Series Bibles. In this webinar Michael will cover everything you need to know to craft your TV series bible, from format, to arc, to how to introduce characters, all the way to how to create a strong closing beat.

How To Write A Comedy Pilot Executives Will Want To Read!

Learn directly from Michael Poisson, Director of Development at Silent Machine Entertainment, Krysten Ritter’s production company that has a first look deal at Universal TV! Previously he was at Ryan Reynolds' TV pod, DarkFire TV. Michael is also a comedy writer who used his insider knowledge to land a manager, and get two projects in development at production companies! In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, your host Michael Poisson will teach you how to write a kick-ass comedy pilot that will get executives’ attention. This webinar is not only about how to properly execute writing a comedy pilot, but also about how to make it your strongest sample so that it can get noticed! You will leave the webinar knowing: The 3 most important things Producers/Execs look for in a pilot as they relate to concept, structure and voice. How to properly highlight your unique comedic voice and stuff your script with laughs. How to create a crisp 1-2 sentence pitch that will get executives excited about your idea. How to navigate the competitions and fellowships. How to think from a Producer/Manager/Executives POV and understand what they're looking for so you can apply it to your script. Michael Poisson is currently the Director of Development at Silent Machine Entertainment, Krysten Ritter’s production company that has a first look deal at Universal TV, where he works closely with writers to develop their ideas to pitch to studios and networks. Working on the inside of the system, first as a talent agency assistant, then a production company assistant, and currently a director of development has given Michael Poisson a unique perspective for what kind of script stands out among the hordes on everyone’s “Weekend Read” lists and he is here exclusively with Stage 32 to share that knowledge with you.

Writing, Directing & Distributing Your Short Film

Part 1 - Writing, Budgeting & Pre-Production How to write an effective short script The brainstorming process Utilizing real life experiences, what are memorable moments in your life that stick out to you? Moments in a friend’s life? Creating characters: What topics do you uniquely understand? What jobs have you held? What did your parents do for a living? Where did you grow up? Writing in proper format What is the difference between writing “is working” and “works” in a screenplay and why does verbiage matter when writing action? Should I put my WGA and copyright notices on the title page? The business of making a short film What do I need to do to protect myself? Creating an LLC and lawyering up for the right reasons. How much is this really going to cost? Evaluating SAG Short Film Agreements, cost of renting equipment, everything from lighting to locations, and looking forward to release and distributions, what are the costs beyond the actual production of a film? Logistically, how will I be able to execute all the elements? How do I handle room and board for out of town talent? Is there a local film commission I can work with, and if so, what exactly is their role in helping me execute my vision? Part 2 - Directing, Marketing & Distributing Your Film Preparing to direct and the production process What do I need to do before I get to set? What is the purpose of having location walkthroughs? When and how to I make the shot list and how many shots do I really need? How do I make my vision clear to crewmembers while still being collaborative in the process? How do I work with an actor for the first time? How much say should they have in the script and changing the character? Should I allow an actor to change my lines? How do I follow their emotional journey over the course of shooting a film that is totally out of order so it makes sense in the final product? When problems arise on set, how do I respond? What are best practices to maintaining authority without creating conflict? How do I ensure that everyone is getting the proper attention they need so I can avoid problems? What happens if I find out we didn’t shoot something we needed? How do I work with footage or sound that didn’t come out the way I expected? How long should my final product be so I can be successful at film festivals? Marketing your film What can I do to promote my film before we ever start filming? When is the appropriate time to start promoting? What kind of promotion looks and feels professional versus amateur? Is there such a thing as oversharing information on social networks? During production, how can I use my cast and crew to promote the project? What parameters should I set to not give away plot points? What is the role of a still photographer on set and how can I leverage the still photographer for publicity? How do I reach out to press outlets to promote my film? How do I find out what press outlets are the right ones for my film, and how do I even get a journalist interested in covering it? What makes an effective versus ineffective pitch letter? Releasing your film What makes an effective trailer? How can I best prepare and present the trailer and still photos for promotional purposes? Should I create a Facebook page for my film and a website and a Twitter and an Instagram, etc.? How do I get into Sundance? If I don’t get into Sundance, is my career finished? There are entirely too many film festivals, how do I begin to figure out which ones are good and which ones are bad? What are effective ways of meeting, then following up, with producers and gatekeepers that I meet at these events? What kind of communication does an executive find annoying? Should I sell my film or give it away for free? If I give it away for free, how will I be able to pay myself back? How do I quantify if my film was a success? How do I use the short film to get myself ready for my next project? What if the film didn’t come out the way I wanted, am I completely done as a filmmaker? How do I use the lessons I learned to make my next project better? Now that I’ve made my first short film and loved it, how do I make this my full time job and become a professional filmmaker?

Developing Material That Production Companies Want

Ever have a great concept, but when you sit down to write the script or when you go to pitch it, you have more questions than answers for your story? It's a common issue and usually comes from a lack of development and - most importantly - a lack of honesty about your story. Often writers impose deadlines and other restrictions on their writing even when they don't need to. Especially with a new idea, it's important to fully flesh out your characters and plot, and then also flesh out the budget before approaching producers and production companies. Many content creators fail to attach production companies to their material because they forget the vital steps that go into developing an idea.  In Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, Rachel Crouch will show you how to develop your idea from a good concept to a strong story that will grab the attention of financiers and production companies. She'll help you break down your story to figure out your project's main audience and lead you through the tropes you'll want to exploit in order to leave that audience satisfied. You'll find out how to determine your story's budget range and see how letting go of those HBO dreams might help you find a better home for your project (and improve your pitch)! Whether you're just starting out as a writer or have produced multiple projects, this webinar will help you more effectively develop your ideas to make for a better script and a better pitch.

How To Create An Outstanding TV Drama Pilot

To see a video sample of the class, see below! 2 part class taught by Conrad Sun, TV Literary Manager and Development Executive for Meridian Artists, who has worked in development with companies like Epix, Hasbro Studios, Gran Via Productions (Breaking Bad), New Wave Entertainment and Motion Theory Films! Most of Hollywood would agree: we’re currently living in the golden age of television. With the rise of distributors like HBO, Netflix, AMC, Showtime and FX, and the accolades of shows like Breaking Bad, Man Men, Game Of Thrones, Fargo and True Detective, creators are constantly elevating their stories and going beyond the boundaries of traditional television. Each year the bar gets set higher and the marketplace for content becomes more competitive. So how does a TV drama pilot stand out from the rest? How does a writer generate an amazing premise for a television show? Then once they do, how do they convey its essential elements in a pilot script? Stage 32 Happy Writers is excited to bring you the previously-recorded 2 part class: How to Create an Oustanding TV Drama Pilot taught by Conrad Sun, TV Literary Manager at Meridian Artists who has worked with Epix, Hasbro, Gran Via Productions (Breaking Bad), New Wave Entertainment and Motion Theory Films. Learn what separates the good dramas from the great ones, and how to write one all your own.  Here's a sample of what to expect in this exciting Next Level Class: Purchasing gives you access to the previously-recorded live class. Although Conrad is no longer reviewing the assignments, we still encourage all listeners to participate.

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