Crash Course: High Concept Writing

Hosted by Max Adams

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Max Adams

Webinar hosted by: Max Adams

Screenwriter, Author and Founder of The Academy of Film Writing

Max Adams is a screenwriter, author, mentor, and teacher. Recipient early in her career of an Academy Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting, an Austin Film Festival Screenwriting Award, and an America’s Best Screenwriting Award, Max was dubbed “Red Hot Adams” by Daily Variety for selling three pitches over a Christmas holiday. Max’s produced feature films include Excess Baggage, The Ladykillers, One For the Money and she recently appeared in Tony Tarantino’s Underbelly Blues. She has worked on concepts and pitches with industry luminaries including pitch king Bob Kosberg, producers Robert Evans (The Godfather), Gale Anne Hurd (The Terminator), David Valdes (The Green Mile) and Wendy Finerman (Forest Gump, The Devil Wears Prada). She is the author of The New Screenwriter’s Survival Guide, is a former WGA online mentor, is the founder of two international online screenwriting workshops and the founder of The Academy of Film Writing. Max’s students and workshoppers have been featured on The Black List, have won three Academy Nicholl Fellowships, two Austin Film Festival Screenwriting Awards, a Stage 32 Happy Writers award, and most recently a Tracking Board 2015 Launch Pad Feature Award. Many of Max’s students are working professionally in the industry today. You can read more about Max on her websites http://seemaxrun.com and http://theafw.com. Full Bio »

Webinar Summary

Learn directly from acclaimed author and screenwriter Max Adams who has worked with companies such as Columbia Pictures, Touchstone Pictures, Universal Pictures, Walt Disney Studios, and Tri-Star Pictures and Max’s students have won three Academy Nicholl Fellowships, two Austin Film Festival Screenwriting Awards, a Stage 32 Happy Writers Award and more!

We continuously hear from the executives that we work with that concept is the most common mistake in spec scripts today. Readers see so many spec scripts that have no chance of becoming films not because the writing isn’t great, but because the writer did not spend enough time on concept. It is one thing to fall in love with a story idea. It is another to stick with it during the uncomfortable phase of working on that idea to make it bigger, badder, better and more enticing to the world.

How can you ensure you consistently develop ideas that excite readers and push your script toward a sale? How do you know if your idea is “high concept” enough? What exactly does “high concept” even mean?

Stage 32 Next Level Webinars is thrilled to bring you acclaimed screenwriter and writing coach Max Adams to teach you how to create compelling concepts and re-craft existing concepts so that they garner instant attention through one sentence descriptions alone. Dubbed “Red Hot Adams” by Daily Variety for selling three pitches over a Christmas holiday, she will teach you how to pull a story out of the “been there seen that no thanks” file and into the “I have got to read that” file. You’ll learn how to break your story into individual components to find its strengths and weaknesses, which gives you tools to analyze your future writing projects and raise stories’ impact.

This will be your complete crash course in high concept writing, and you will leave this webinar knowing how to make your stories more interesting and enticing for readers, buyers, producers, editors, representatives, cast and industry players!

What You'll Learn

  • High Concept vs. Box Office.
    • People often confuse big box office with “high concept.”
    • How this affects pitching your idea.
  • Breaking a story down into its core parts to evaluate each part’s concept level. Immediate core parts include:
    • Genre.
    • Protagonist.
    • Arena.
    • Character Goal.
    • Stakes.
  • Juxtaposing protagonist with story location and arena to up story.
  • How to add recognition factor to stories.
    • Mental real estate.
  • How to use universal arenas to add a recognition factor to a new twist on a story.
  • How to work with genre to up mundane story lines.
    • Adding a sense of the exotic to your stories.
  • How to identify expected protagonist roles.
    • What you can do to add a sense of novelty through better protagonist choices.
  • Removing filters that separate audience from story.
    • Alice didn’t sit in front of the looking glass and watch a story. Alice went through the looking glass
  • Identifying instant indie anchors that drag concept down.
    • Deciding whether the storyteller can live without them.
    • And, if not? Ways to brainstorm and improve the story in spite of them.
  • Identifying stakes factors in a story and exploring ways to elevate them.
    • Stakes in a story include personal need (love), risk to the protagonist (life threat), but also include elements like risk to important story characters, risk to humanity, risk to the planet, risk to the galaxy – risk factors seriously effect concept level.
  • An examination of the King of Concept, Michael Crichton.
    • How he continually hit high concept notes.
    • Cloning was not enough for Crichton. It had to be dinosaur cloning. Yay! And how class participants can follow Crichton’s lead.
  • Recorded, in-depth Q&A with Max

About Your Instructor

Max Adams is a screenwriter, author, mentor, and teacher. Recipient early in her career of an Academy Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting, an Austin Film Festival Screenwriting Award, and an America’s Best Screenwriting Award, Max was dubbed “Red Hot Adams” by Daily Variety for selling three pitches over a Christmas holiday.

Max’s produced feature films include Excess Baggage, The Ladykillers, One For the Money and she recently appeared in Tony Tarantino’s Underbelly Blues. She has worked on concepts and pitches with industry luminaries including pitch king Bob Kosberg, producers Robert Evans (The Godfather), Gale Anne Hurd (The Terminator), David Valdes (The Green Mile) and Wendy Finerman (Forest Gump, The Devil Wears Prada). She is the author of The New Screenwriter’s Survival Guide, is a former WGA online mentor, is the founder of two international online screenwriting workshops and the founder of The Academy of Film Writing.

Max’s students and workshoppers have been featured on The Black List, have won three Academy Nicholl Fellowships, two Austin Film Festival Screenwriting Awards, a Stage 32 Happy Writers award, and most recently a Tracking Board 2015 Launch Pad Feature Award. Many of Max’s students are working professionally in the industry today.

You can read more about Max on her websites http://seemaxrun.com and http://theafw.com.

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Testimonials

Max Adams is the kind of smart, engaging teacher that made me want to be a better writer — and she helped me do it.” – Alvaro Rodriguez, Machete, From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series

Max Adams is the real deal. I’ve taken three of her classes so far and they’ve upped my game as an author and a screenwriter. I still refer to her class lectures as I work on new projects. Max offers real tools you will continue to use over and over again in your career.” – Doug Solter, Skid, My Girlfriend Bites, Legends

You laid the foundation, Max. Best teacher ever.” - Debi Yazbeck, 2015 Tracking Board Launchpad Feature Winner

Max Adams is one of the most knowledgeable and talented people in screenwriting that I know, all writers need to hear what Max Adams has to say.” – Kerry Valderrama, Garrison, Sanitarium

The brilliance of taking Max Adams’ classes is that you start seeing improvement in your writing almost immediately. She has that indescribable knack for finding methods and exercises and examples that break open your understanding of how to be the best writer you can be, how to improve on your voice without mimicry, and how to get your story on the page in such a way that you start getting those “wow” responses… and sales. Not long after Max’s classes, I sold a three book deal to St. Martin’s Press on a pre-empt, hit the USA Today Bestseller list, and am now considering offers on my fourth book.” – Toni McGee Causey, Charmed and Dangerous, Girls Just Wanna Have Guns, When A Man Loves A Weapon

I’ve taken all of Max’s classes and quite simply, her focused methods and attention to detail blow every other screenwriting class out of the water.” – Jules Howe, Best Comedy Screenplay Austin Film Festival, Best Family Film Screenplay

The input I got from Max Adams lifted my script, “Redemption,” from a SemiFinalist to a Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting award winner. She is smart, savvy, experienced, and generous. She is a fabulous teacher. If you’ve got what it takes, she will pull it out of you. ” – Patricia Burroughs, Winner Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting

Questions?

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Reviews Average Rating: 4.5 out of 5

  • Very good webinar. For the first time I really understood what makes high concept, well... high concept!
  • Lots of information--which I love. I really appreciated the language she used to break down how to explain high concept writing. Very happy with the experience.
  • Max Adams' lecture has been informative, entertaining and brilliantly presented. Max Adams offered a broad introduction to high concept writing, explained different techniques and explored suitable examples. Her answers during the discussion section were intelligent and funny at the same time. I loved every single minute of this event.

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