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

Hosted by Michael Poisson

$49

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.

First Act Blueprint: Setting Up Your Screenplay For Success

Many of us are familiar with the tropes made popular by screenplay gurus like Syd Field and Blake Snyder. Yes, it's true that many great films can be broken down into three clean acts or thirteen story beats. But the same can be said for many unwatchable films too. What are the elements that differentiate the great screenplays from the purely mediocre? In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, creative executive from Zucker Productions (director Jerry Zucker's production company), Farrell Ingle will define the importance of the ever imposing first act of a feature screenplay.  He will show you how much of the groundwork for your story needs to be laid in the first act of your screenplay. If those early pages aren't up to snuff, the rest of your story will suffer, no matter how fantastic the ending is. Your host, Farrell will lay out the many pitfalls writers stumble into without necessarily realizing it while they craft the set-up of their story. Using examples of classic films, you will understand how top notch writing creates multitudes of subtext, character development, and plot advancement with each scene. We will also discuss what constitutes an "act" and why it's so very dangerous to hold yourself within the box of a rigid structure. By the end of this lecture, you should be able to go back through your own writing and break down each scene in your script to ensure that you're putting yourself in a position to succeed. After all, the first act is the most important act for readers and executives when evaluating your ability as a screenwriter. Plus, you will break down the first acts beats of well-known movie scripts as Farrell leads you through an in-depth analysis of films such as Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Professional, Die Hard and more!

PowerNetworking for Film and TV Crew

Learn directly from Heather Hale, an Independent Film and Television Producer, Director and Screenwriter! The entertainment industry is changing dramatically all over the globe. Now, more than ever, there are major opportunities for people who work behind the scenes on set on all types of crew positions. Below-the-line positions are crucial to the success of any film or television. This includes everything from camera operators to gaffers, craft services to costume designers, composers to editors, production assistants to script supervisors – and everything in between! No matter where you live or where you are at in your career, this webinar will help you strategize how to find the best opportunities and points of entry for you to break into the crew business; shift horizontally into new locales or formats; or move up laterally into the higher echelons of professional caliber, marquis value and budgets. Discover an empowered approach to networking to help you get on the right people’s radars, get noticed, gain momentum - and get hired. Learn time-proven techniques and new resources to proactively brainstorm where the opportunities of the moment – and future - might be, who’s doing the hiring – and trace any connections you might have to the decision makers or key players. Learn how to identify, research and prioritize a finely honed hit list of Producers Line Producers, Department Heads, Directors and Below-the-Line Agents who might be accessible to you. Figure out how to track them down, strategize the best approaches to communicate with them and how to develop the kind of track record, resume and interview skills they would most likely respond to. Learn the key words you should be using in your profiles in the online communities that might be worth your time. Below-the-line team members are the lifeblood of any production and an exciting way to work in film and television. Heather uses in-the-trenches humor, candor and real world examples to illuminate the many paths to getting hired - again and again!  Testimonials: "Using Heather's techniques and system, the day after her seminar, I had meetings set up with Oprah and Warren Buffet and now have access to A-List celebrities." - Sarano Kelly, #1 Motivational Speaker on Wall Street "It was that sticky, oppressive day in China Grove, in the church parking lot, when you took time out of your busy day to thank EVERYONE - including extras – for being there and helping out. That speech made me feel as if I was back on the right track with my life and made you an instant hero in my life. So few people would have taken the time to not only show their appreciation but also to treat even random Extras with kindness and respect – I couldn't help but be impressed. That might help explain why I not only consider you to be the best Director I've ever worked with but also why I'll always be willing to help you out with anything." - Kevin McDermott, Actor (Absolute Killers) "If – and when – I win an Oscar, Heather will be the first to get the thanks! Heather is so inspirational, she could raise the dead! Her knowledge and integrity amazes. A walking muse. Like a pep rally from afar. Nothing less than transformational. Heather possesses a keen understanding of how the entertainment industry operates. She was invaluable in helping me construct a game plan to define and reach my goal target audience in the most efficient, effective manner possible – to fill the theater with casting directors for my one woman show. Not only did Heather demystify the art of schmoozing but she also provided me with the tools to overcome my fear of cold calling industry folks." - Jennifer Rosen, Actress/Writer (One Woman Show: Tall Girl) "Heather is so insightful. She gives her heart and her soul to her students and their work – it’s so obvious how much she cares." - Keren Green, Director, Writer, Producer

How To Write A Story That Sells

Learn directly from Jen Grisanti, acclaimed Story/Career Consultant, Writing Instructor for Writers on the Verge at NBC, and a former 12-year studio executive, including VP of Current Programming at CBS/ Paramount and Spelling Television! Many writers wonder what it’s going to take to get them from being a non-working writer to a working writer. You’ve written great scripts. You’ve entered competitions and writing programs. You may have placed, been a finalist, or even won. However, you’re still waiting for your professional career to start. What is it that makes a TV pilot or screenplay hit it out of the ballpark and get sold? What can you do to your writing to make it more sellable? In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, your host Jen Grisanti will teach you the 7 Pillars of Story. What exactly is that? It's the fundamental story components necessary to take your script from good to great. Jen will teach you from the studio executive/analyst perspective how to see your story differently and identify what is currently missing in your script. Jen herself has gone through analyzing countless Oscar and Emmy award-winning scripts and has applied that to her writer's techniques. This has led to over 30 of her clients selling pilots, five of which went to series. After being mentored by Aaron Spelling for 12 years, Jen has emerged as a pro in breaking down story and helping you, as a writer, get the most out of your script. Plus, for Stage 32 members, she will provide case studies for you to learn from! She will be using examples from her clients’ work and how they successfully implemented the 7 pillars to get their scripts sold. Under the guidance of Jen, you will leave this webinar fully prepared to write a marketable story that can help you go from good to great and make the move from non-working to working writer!

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