Marcelena Campos Mayhorn is a former television assistant turned WGA writer. A graduate of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Marcelena began her film career working for the Austin Film Festival in Austin, TX, while writing on the side. She moved to Los Angeles in 2015, where she got her start as a line producer’s assistant on the TV show CSI: CYBER and later went on to assist on other shows such as APB and CRIMINAL MINDS before landing the role of Writers’ Room Assistant on the hit Shondaland show STATION 19 on ABC. Marcelena served in this role for two seasons before finding her first staff writing job on Netflix’s upcoming show SELENA: THE SERIES. By slowly moving up the ranks, Marcelena has gained a comprehensive understanding of the television writing landscape and how to be successful within it, and she’s excited to share what she knows with the Stage 32 community. Full Bio »
It’s no secret that television is a hot commodity right now. The “golden age of television” that began ten or so years ago has since exploded, and with new networks and streamers like Quibi, HBO Max, and Disney Plus coming into the fold, the volume of TV content has hit unprecedented levels. In fact over 500 scripted shows were broadcast or streamed in 2019 alone, more than any other year prior. And with more shows, there are more paths for writers to break in. After all, virtually all of these 500+ shows have their own writers' room. Yet even with this influx of opportunities, it’s still not exactly easy for new writers to land a job in this industry. Everyone’s path is different, but a tried and true route is to enter in as a writer’s room assistant and work your way up. Yet this, too, requires some wherewithal, skill, strategy, and luck.
Being an assistant affords you the opportunity to learn first-hand how a writers' room works without the pressure of having to contribute to the same level as staff writers. It can be an incredibly valuable and educational step in your career. In fact, as your career advances, this experience will allow you contribute more than just stories and ideas; you’ll now know how rooms operate, how things run smoothly, and how to keep workflow productive. Yet this journey is easier said than done. Getting into the room as an assistant is one thing, but holding your own, standing out, demonstrating your value, and carving a place for yourself and your future can be even more challenging. So how do people actually get the gig as an assistant in a writer’s room, and how do they find success and further opportunities in the process?
Marcelena Campos Mayhorn is a former television assistant turned WGA writer. A graduate of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Marcelena began her film career working for the Austin Film Festival in Austin, TX, while writing on the side. She moved to Los Angeles in 2015, where she got her start as a line producer’s assistant on the TV show CSI: CYBER and later went on to assist on other shows such as APB and CRIMINAL MINDS before landing the role of Writers’ Room Assistant on the hit Shondaland show STATION 19 on ABC. Marcelena served in this role for two seasons before finding her first staff writing job on Netflix’s upcoming show SELENA: THE SERIES. By slowly moving up the ranks, Marcelena has gained a comprehensive understanding of the television writing landscape and how to be successful within it, and she’s excited to share what she knows with the Stage 32 community.
Marcelena will give you the lowdown of how writers’ room assistants work, how to get these jobs, and ways to use them to get ahead in your own writing career. She will begin by explaining the four main types of TV assistants, including the Writer’s Production Assistant, the Script Coordinator, the Showrunner’s Assistant, and the Writers’ Room Assistant. She will illustrate what these roles do and what they look like day to day, including primary responsibilities and general expectations. She will then teach you about writers’ room etiquette, including unspoken rules, how the four main assistant roles work within the ecosystem, who is actually in the room when and when to speak up and when to blend in. She will go over what the standard rates are for these positions and go over the main benefits of each position, including some you might not have thought of before. Next, Marcelena will explain how to find and apply for these assistant roles, including tried and true routes, and other strategies that are always worth a try. She will teach you how best to shine in each of these four roles and will also propose two additional positions—researcher and personal assistant to a writer—you could also consider in working to break in. Marcelena will detail what the future of TV writing looks like post-pandemic, specifically for assistants, and go over whether it’s important to live in LA for these roles. Finally Marcelena will talk about how assistants have used these positions to take next steps in their careers and become staff writers in their own right. Breaking into television is always going to be hard, but Marcelena will provide you what you need to know to approach it through a tried and true path that may just give you a step up you’re looking for.
"I know firsthand how hard it can be to break into TV as a writer. Everyone's journey is different, but I was able to grow and find success by working my way up as an assistant in a writer's room. I truly think it can be an invaluable experience and I'm excited to share what I've learned to give you the context and understanding you'll need to go down this path as well."
-Marcelena Campos Mayhorn
Marcelena Campos Mayhorn
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.
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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.
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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!
As an independent filmmaker, screening your project at a film festival may be the best opportunity to put your film (and yourself) on display. It remains a powerful platform for filmmakers of all levels to have their work seen. In fact you’d be hard-pressed to find a successful filmmaker working today who didn’t get their start at a festival. It’s where films get sold, where talent gets discovered, where reputations are crafted, where communities are built, and where the best networking can happen. And with the current movement away from the theatrical model and towards streaming, festivals can also often be the only possible way to physically show your film on the big screen to an audience during its life cycle. Film festivals are indeed often the next desired destination for a filmmaker, but it’s not always easy to get in, even with a great film. It can be disheartening after finishing a film and investing so much money and resources into it to realize there is still more money to be spent in going the festival route. The act of submitting to festivals can set you back hundreds, if not thousands of dollars simply through festivals’ submission fees. It’s probably going to add up no matter what, but it can set way pricier without a plan in place. It’s common for filmmakers ready with a film to more or less blindly submit to festivals: “Sundance? Check. Tribeca? Check. Cinequest? I heard that one was good, let’s do it.” Yet just because you’ve heard of a festival, just because it’s a legitimately great festival, doesn’t mean it’s the right fit for your project, and it doesn’t your film is the right fit for them. Successfully navigating the festival landscape requires a lot more effort and a lot more time than just pressing that submit button. Yet doing the research, understanding your goals, and carefully building your strategy will not only yield more positive results, but will also save you money on unneeded submission fees in the long run. For nearly a decade Harrison Glaser has been immersed in the professional film industry working for Austin Film Festival and Stage 32. As Austin Film Festival’s Film Competition Director, he programmed the festival’s films for five years and discovered his passion for identifying deserving projects and championing exciting and unrecognized talent. During Harrison’s tenure as AFF’s Film Competition Director, over 100 films he programmed went on to secure distribution, six short films were later nominated for Oscars, and one that he qualified ultimately won the Academy Award. His work with Austin Film Festival and Stage 32 allows him to champion undiscovered storytellers and help them amplify their work. He also serves as a professional moderator for many different film related industry panels both online and offline. Through his many years leading AFF’s film selection and working closely with other film fests, he has become intimately familiar with the inner workings of larger festivals, as well as the common missteps many filmmakers make when working with them. He’s excited to share what he knows exclusively with the Stage 32 community. Harrison will walk you through how best to develop your film festival strategy and choose the right festivals for your film, well before you start submitting. He will begin with the basics of why you should or shouldn’t be submitting to festivals in the first place, and how to best think of festivals as a tool. He’ll then lay out what the festival landscape looks like, including what makes up the “Festival Circuit”, what Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3 festivals are, and the lowdown on both niche festivals and destination festivals. Next he will delve into the importance of having your own specific festival goal and how to find it. He’ll provide six examples of valid and common festival goals and how best to adjust your submission strategy for each. Harrison will go deep into how to research festivals before submitting and what you should be looking for before you should feel comfortable paying their submission fee. He’ll also offer various strategies to choose the right festival and giving yourself the best advantage in getting accepted, including considering niche festivals, finding your ‘in’ and developing your network. He’ll spend some time explaining how scam festivals work and what you can do to spot them and stay away from them. He will offer some tips and context of what you should do if you film is ultimately rejected from one of your top choices, and also what to do if your film is ultimately accepted. You will leave with a slew of strategies to tackle your festival run more strategically and more effectively. Praise for Harrison's Previous Stage 32 Webinar: "Helpful and useful information. The Programmer’s perspective was especially helpful." -Elease P. Absolutely great! It was really helpful to hear Harrison's insights and wisdom after having gone through the 2019 International Festival Season. I will definitely take all this with me into my next journey into the festival circuit!" -Becca G. "Very informative and honest. Good coverage and great to hear form someone who knows." -Paula M. "It was very insightful. I learned a lot." -Karen S.
You’re a writer. Your work is entertaining, informative, thought provoking — heck, it’s even clever. You dream of tapping away on your lap-top in a cabin, sending off your material to a publisher or a producer, and collecting your check from the mail-box in the evening before pouring yourself a glass of Malbec red wine and walking your dog by a river. It’s a beautiful dream. But the reality is, no matter how good your writing is, no matter how brilliant your ideas are — if you’re ever going to have that cabin, not to mention enough cash to cover dog food every month, you have to know how to pitch well. In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, TV Writer/Producer Charlie Charbonneau (CW shows: The Secret Circle, The Vampire Diaries, and its spin-off The Originals) will teach you how to successfully pitch your ideas as a writer. You’ll learn about the many different scenarios where you’ll have to translate that spectacular idea in your brain to someone who’s never heard it before. This webinar will lay out the rudimentary yet vital skills used by the pros to win over the show-runners, buyers, and agents. You’ll hear about the nitty gritty do’s and don’ts of pitching in places like the TV Writers Room, a studio or network executive’s office, and at lunch with the agent or manager you’ve been dying to meet with. Also, Charlie will be giving you tips on how to nail your 8-minute pitch so you can take advantage of the Stage 32 Script Services pitch sessions offered every week. He'll guide you through how to start, cultivate interest and leave the executives wanting more. He'll not only cover live pitching but how to deliver a superb written pitch! You will get to examine the biggest enemies to a great pitch — fear and anxiety — and strategies to neutralize them so you can keep your cool. And, of course, those who tune in will get to catch some horrific pitch fails from the trenches of TV staff writing. Writers in any medium and at every experience level will benefit from this webinar — from novices to experts. And anyone else looking to hone their sales tactics in the entertainment industry or elsewhere will walk away with strategies to bring their pitch games to the next level. "The pitching webinar was fantastic. Every I was dotted every T crossed. It helped me to really understand the process than to be afraid of it. I still have lots more work and practicing to do, but it was great. Thank you." - Mindy G "Great real life examples - much appreciated!" - Paul B. "Charlie put a lot of heart in his presentation... that's everything!" - Matthew R. "This was exactly what I need. I'm totally new to the industry and I wanted insight into how to best prepare for pitching my projects. Charlie, thanks for doing such an excellent job of providing that insight." - Cam C.
When making an independent film, finishing the film is only half the battle. You need people to actually see the film you’ve worked so hard on. When it comes to distribution, it’s important to know how to get your film into the worldwide marketplace. Once it’s there, you need to know how to generate interest toward it so the film can make its money back for the investors and back-end participants. Distribution comes in all shapes and sizes, but what kind of distribution is right for your indie film? Sometimes it means getting your film distributed by a studio; sometimes it’s creating a self-distribution path. Sometimes —- most typically — the distribution lands somewhere in between. Every film is different and therefore requires a different marketing plan, release strategy, and team behind it that have the passion and drive to get the most out of its release amongst the myriad other movies available. In this on-demand Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, host Tiffany Boyle will get into the details of what the independent distribution process looks like. She will go over how to get the right representative, foreign sales agent, and domestic distribution, and the different options for each based upon the size, genre and execution of a film. She will also discuss what the key points are to look at when reviewing a foreign sales agent and/or domestic distribution deal. Filmmakers should be making an informed decision when choosing who will be handling the licensing of their film for the next 3-25 years, and Tiffany is here exclusively for Stage 32 to help you navigate the ever-evolving world of indie distribution. Tiffany Boyle is the President at Ramo Law and works with producers, financiers and writer clients to bring their new material to life. Having been a Director of Sales at Crystal Sky Pictures, Tiffany has an extensive background in foreign sales. She now works with the attorneys to review, collaborate, develop, submit and supervise creative materials on behalf of clients within the firm. Tiffany has worked on over 100 features including, Stuck In Love, Pawn, Gimme Shelter, Maladies, and I-Lived. She has been to AFM, Berlin, Tribeca, TIFF, Sundance, and Cannes and is constantly expanding her knowledge of how to match films with production and distribution companies.
So you want to shoot a micro-budget film. You've got your idea. You're excited as hell. You can't wait to get going. There's just one problem. You have little to no money, need to shoot this film on the cheap, and you can't do it without an experienced crew. So how can you get quality, talented people to work for you for little to no money? It happens every day. If you know how to navigate. The old saying goes, a filmmaker is only as good as his or her crew. Making sure that everything is buttoned up on set, from your script supervisor to your sound engineer to your DP and gaffer, the more quality you throw at your film in pre-production and during production, the less headaches and "let's try to fix it in post" problems (which are also painfully expensive) you'll face in post-production. The thing is, regardless of your budget, and in this case we're talking ultra low to $250,000, you can find passionate, creative, and qualified people to work for you well below their normal rate. Barry Andersson is an award-winning director and cinematographer. He has directed 5 feature films (time and time again with some of the best crews imaginable) and has had his features theatrically released in theaters with his latest film distributed by Lionsgate. Barry's has also shot several television pilots, acclaimed short films, numerous commercials, and countless commercials and corporate videos. As if that wasn't enough, Barry is also the author of the hugely successful and revered DSLR Filmmakers Handbook. Barry will teach you how to secure top level, Hollywood quality, crew members for cheap no matter where you live in the world. He will instill in you the confidence to identify and then go in for the proper "ask". He will show you why sometimes a positive and visionary attitude is everything. He will even teach you how to be flexible with your story and locations in an effort to give yourself the best chance of finding and securing a crew that can take your film from OK to masterpiece. Barry is an excellent teacher. He never fails to inspire and make you understand that what you always believed to be impossible, or at least ridiculously daunting, is not only possible, but absolutely attainable if you follow his methods. I wouldn't be where I'm at without him. - Julia V.
To see a video sample of the class, see below! 3 part class taught by Jordan Barel, who works TV Coordinator for Verve Talent and Literary Agency! In the past four years, we have seen The Avengers, Batman Vs Superman, Deadpool, Captain America, Man of Steel, The Amazing Spider-Man, Guardians of the Galaxy, Iron Man, The X-Men, The Dark Knight and many other comics turned into major studio films that smash the box office. There is no doubt that there is a demand for super hero and comic-based stories. Have you found a comic that you think would make a great film? Have you ever read a Marvel or DC comic and thought “how did they screw up the movie so bad?” Do you have your own comic series that you think would make a hit movie? Do you dream of being a writer but don’t yet have your angle? Or do you want to write a Major Summer Tentpole based off an original idea? Stage 32 is excited to bring you the previously-recorded 3 part class: How to Write a Film Based Off an Original Idea or Comic Book Adaptation taught by Jordan Barel, who works in Development at Paul Scheer's company, Abominable Studios. Jordan gives you a how-to on translating comic books into film writing, and how to write a summer Tentpole based off an original idea. He covers everything from story structure and dialogue, from legal issues to pitch packets. Here's a sample of what to expect in this exciting Stage 32 Next Level Class: Purchasing gives you access to the previously-recorded live class. Although Jordan is no longer reviewing the assignments, we still encourage all listeners to participate.
Let's rock and roll, Creative Army. We've been well overdue to get together live. I've got just the solution. Let's hang AMA (Ask Me Anything) style. Since the last AMA in May, I've been running all over the globe fulfilling Stage 32 partnership responsibilities, conducting business, exploring creative writing/filming/producing opportunities, and mentoring in such places as Cannes, Budapest, Majorca, Paris, Dordogne, Trinidad and Tobago, London, Munich, Hamburg and, of course, right here in Los Angeles. To say there's been much going on would be the understatement of the century. I have much to share! And I know you all have questions! So let's chill together for a couple of inspiring, motivating, and brutally honest 2 hours of craft and industry talk. Remember, no matter what your discipline, skill level, geographical location, etc, this AMA is for ALL! Bring your questions and the energy and I'll handle the rest. As always, registering for my AMA is completely FREE! And the more the merrier, so do invite any of your fellow creative peers to join us as well. Cheers! RB