Steve Desmond is a professional WGA screenwriter who works across a variety of genres. He sold his sci-fi adventure screenplay, HARRY'S ALL NIGHT HAMBURGERS, to Warner Bros in a bidding war and now has an Oscar nominated producer attached. FilmNation (ARRIVAL, KING'S SPEECH) hired him to adapt the Stoker-award-winning horror novel THE CABIN AT THE END OF THE WORLD. He’s also been hired to write a feature film for Legendary Pictures, and two TV pilots for IM Global. His screenplays have been voted onto the prestigious industry Black List three times in the past four years. His short film, MONSTERS, that he wrote and directed, has amassed over one million views online and screened in over 100 film festivals worldwide, winning 45 awards, including being a winning film in the Stage 32 4th Annual Short Film Contest. Full Bio »
You only get one chance to make a first impression… And the same goes for your characters in your scripts. Think about when you go to a party… Sometimes, you meet a new person that just stands out to you, and you never forget them. Those are the kinds of characters you want to create. A compelling character introduction can hook a reader instantly so that they climb aboard for the rest of your story. So many people talk about how a screenplay needs to grab a reader within the first five pages – let's dive in to how you grab them and keep them turning pages.
If we don’t care about the characters, we won’t be invested in the story. Far too often, we’re so eager to get into our script’s plot, that we don’t give our characters the attention that they need. Ultimately, a character doesn’t have to be likeable, or even relatable, but they do need to be captivating. While a character introduction might only take two or three pages, its ramifications are felt throughout the entire screenplay. It’s the foundation that everything else is built off of. If you’ve ever received a note like, “I don’t like your protagonist,” or “I’m not sure what the character wants,” or “the characters felt one-dimensional,” or “the story took a while to get going,” then this is the webinar for you.
Steve Desmond is a professional WGA screenwriter who works across a variety of genres. He sold his sci-fi adventure screenplay, HARRY'S ALL NIGHT HAMBURGERS, to Warner Bros in a bidding war. The project now has an Oscar nominated producer attached and is in active development. FilmNation (ARRIVAL, THE KINGS SPEECH) hired him to adapt the Stoker-award-winning horror novel THE CABIN AT THE END OF THE WORLD. He’s also been hired to write a feature film for Legendary Pictures, and two TV pilots for IM Global. His screenplays have been voted onto the prestigious industry Black List three times in the past four years. His short film, MONSTERS, that he wrote and directed, has amassed over one million views online and screened in over 100 film festivals worldwide, winning 45 awards including being a winning film in the Stage 32 4th Annual Short Film Contest.
Steve will focus on different methods to introduce your protagonist, antagonist, and supporting characters in your projects. By using both real life examples and case studies in film and TV, he’ll help you to tailor your thinking to “character first, plot second.” Whether your characters are larger than life heroes, cruel villains, or average Joe’s and Jane’s, he’ll give you tips to help them leap off the page from the first time that we meet them. Ultimately, your character introductions can become microcosms for entire arcs and plots. Beyond your main characters, this webinar will also cover bit characters as well, so that each introduction makes a strong impression on the reader. Steve will not only dive into your main characters, but supporting characters including your villains. He will also go deeper into how to create suspense, setting up opposites for your characters, and establishing contrasting needs. Finally, Steve will illustrate everything he's gone over with real world examples from films and shows such as PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN, WHIPLASH, THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS and BREAKING BAD.
"Most times, you'll never know why someone passed on your screenplay. But more often than not, it's because your characters didn't grab and hold them in the first 5-10 pages and then they're off to the next script on their desk. Let me help you assure that your characters jump off the page and keep your reader hooked from beginning to end."
- Steve Desmond
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!
Writing is rewriting but that doesn’t just mean dialogue. Scene description is a crucial part of screenwriting, but far too often, it’s not given the attention that it deserves. The reality is, many screenplays are marred by static, wooden scene description. But powerful scene description can help your story to leap off the page and give your screenplay the “pop” it needs. Your scene description is where your writer’s “voice” comes in… And the way you write this prose can make or break your script. In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, professional screenwriter Steve Desmond will help you to elevate your descriptive writing to a professional level. He’ll help you to develop the tone of your story right on the page, long before it hits the screen. And he’ll dispel myths and go over how not to write scene description. Whether you’re working on an existing script or getting ready to start a new one, this webinar will help you to unleash your potential in prose writing and make the most out of every word in your screenplay. Your host Steve's latest script, Orb, was recently voted by industry executives as the #1 entry on the annual 2016 BloodList, honoring the top horror/thriller/sci-fi scripts of the year.
Learn directly from Steve Desmond, a filmmaker and screenwriter who completed a successful crowdfunding campaign and nearly doubled his initial raise! Steve has also worked on projects with Imagine Entertainment, Dreamworks Animation, The Disney Chanel, Level 1 Entertainment, Blacklight Transmedia, Preferred Film & TV and The Walt Becker Company! You have a great idea for a feature film, documentary, or short film. You’re tired of just writing stuff and want to make your dream project into a reality. But you don’t have the money to do it… Yet. In this exclusive Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, filmmaker and screenwriter Steve Desmond will help you build a killer crowdfunding plan so that you can raise the funds to get your dream project off the ground. Steve recently ran his own campaign to fund his short film on Kickstarter with a goal of raising $16K. He not only hit his goal, but blew by it raising a total of nearly $30K and his film is now in post-production! From his own experience, he’ll teach you how to craft a compelling pitch, build an online audience, and maximize your project’s potential. He’ll also go over the pros and cons of Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and other major crowdfunding sites, so that you can pick the one that’s best for you. From making your pitch video to writing the perfect funding email to marketing your project across all social networks, this will be a one-stop shop for how to successfully crowdfund your film.
You’re a writer who is struggling with crafting believable dialogue. You’re a director looking for the greater meaning in a scene. You’re an actor trying to connect with what a character is feeling. Subtext is the backbone of emotion in any story, regardless of what genre you’re working in. It also helps to separate great scripts from not so great scripts. In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, filmmaker Steve Desmond will help you to craft engaging subtext to layer your stories with nuance and emotion. Whether you’re going for laughs, drama, or impending fear, he’ll help you to make your screenplay feel more true to life. For directors or actors working with existing scripts, this webinar will help you to dig deeper below the surface to find the true lifeblood beneath a line. For producers, we’ll discuss tips on how to work with writers to make their subtext come alive. Whether you’re a writer, a director, an actor, or a producer, subtext is a major part of your game and this webinar will help you add an entirely new layer to your projects.
How To Build Your Suspense From The Ground Up And Craft A Thriller With Earned Twists, Turns and Thrills If you're paying attention to the trades and seeing which screenplays and projects are being sold and produced, you know that psychological thrillers are highly in demand. With films like Joker, Ma, Escape Room, Glass, Ex Machina, The Invitation, Get Out, Happy Death Day, The First Purge and many more, companies like Blumhouse have propelled the production of thrillers for an audience hungry for suspense and thrills, making creepy, crawly movie-going experiences all the rage. With box office receipts in the billions it's clear that the appetite for psychological stories is raging. And, it's a more exciting time than ever to be able to a screenwriter or filmmaker who has a suspenseful thriller you want to tell. But the art of writing a psychological thriller is one of vulnerable characters, deep secondary characters, memorable set pieces, set ups, reversals, and earned twists and turns. There's a formula to it all, and those who master these skills win the day. Writing a psychological thriller and creating and maintaining suspense and high stakes throughout takes an immense understanding of the history of the genre. It's a genre based in Hitchcockian roots. One that needs to have certain elements in order to be effective to keep the audience involved, engaged and on the edge of their seat. While most psychological thrillers start off with a well thought out premise, that's all they have. The action starts quickly and then falls flat. In many other cases, the premise is in place, but the writer or filmmaker doesn't know how to get past the jumping off point. You must get your hook in place quickly - within your first five pages - and that takes skill. You need to truly create compelling characters, especially protagonist and your villain, and make them layered in order to support your theme and plot and to assure the audience always knows and is invested in the stakes. To be truly successful at getting your reader's attention, keep those pages turning and set yourself up for an offer of representation, an option, a sale, or financing, you need to understand all of the nuances that make a great suspenseful story before you type (or read) FADE IN. Steve Desmond is one of the best in the industry today writing suspense and psychological thrillers. His most recent feature screenplay, Harry's All Night Hamburgers, was adapted from a Hugo award winning short story and was one of the highest priced spec sales of the last 5 years, selling to Warner Bros. in a bidding war worth 7 figures. The film now has Oscar Nominated Producer Andrew Lazar (American Sniper) producing via his Mad Chance production banner and Ted Melfi directing. He has recently been tapped by Film Nation to adapt The Cabin at the End of the World, a Harper Collins title from author Paul Tremblay. The psychological horror and suspense novel centers on a vacationing family terrorized by four strangers who claim to be either attempting to bring about or trying to avert the apocalypse. His short film, Monsters, has played in over 100 film festivals worldwide, winning 43 awards including Best Short Film at the Comic-Con International Film Festival in San Diego and was a finalist at Stage 32's 3rd Annual Short Film Program. Steve filmed Monsters to serve as a proof of concept for his feature script, Twisted Avenue which is now in development. Needless to say, thrillers and suspense are in Steve's blood and the focus of all his writing. And now he's bringing all he's learned along the way to you. Steve will help you build your suspense from the ground up. He'll teach you the ultimate tool you need - the Hitchcock Ticking Clock Method which will help you on your way to setting the vital groundwork for your story. You'll learn how to create a compelling protagonist and an enticing villain. Steve will give you exercises you can use to craft your own characters and give you 5 must have tips on backstory and character confessions to give depth. You'll learn how to hook your reader in the first 5 pages and what the 3 different teasers you can write for your opening. You'll explore the power of murder in your script and the art of a twist ending. He will show you how to craft your script with producers in mind to give yourself the best chance to have your material attractive to the widest audience possible. Steve will go over how you can incorporate visuals into your story and break down case studies of Psycho, The Silence of the Lambs and Se7en. And, finally, Steve will share some advice on how to get your script on the screen by writing it in a producible budget. You will have a fully immersive experience from a suspense expert that will leave you excited, inspired and confident to tackle your next psychological project. This webinar was AWESOME!!! I just finished a thriller and now as a result of listening to Steve Desmond, I am ready to do a re-write which I believe will be one of the best screenplays I have ever written. Let's see what happens! - Michelle C. What a thrilling and insightful webinar, excellent!! - Kathleen W. Super helpful information that you don't find in books! - Pamela C. Very useful information - well structured and clearly presented! - Sara C.
With the help of producer Jason Piette, we'll be taking a look at a few different Writers' Room pitches and giving live feedback to help improve each pitch while simultaneously guiding each of you in your craft.
There are many ways to forge a path toward a directing career in the film industry. But as almost any successful director will tell you, surviving and thriving takes much more than just talent. Packaging, the streaming platforms, and new and intriguing distribution channels have all but upended the independent film world. More and more filmmakers are embracing a DIY (Do It Yourself) mindset and educating themselves on the business - who's making what, what festivals matter, how a producer sees a project, what investors are looking for (and where to find those investors), who's the audience for my film, where can the film live and, most importantly, how can I use this information to build a long, lucrative, and successful career in the film industry. Director Qasim Basir exploded onto the Sundance scene with his film A Boy. A Girl. A Dream.: Love on Election Night. The film received a massive standing ovation at its Sundance premiere which led to a bidding way, a major theatrical release, and enormous critical acclaim. The film not only takes place in once location, but is filmed in single shot. It's a masterclass, and Qasim proved that he is a talent to be reckoned with. The accolades and offers haven't stopped flowing in. Up next for Qasim is to direct the NFL Biopic ‘Hawk’ based on life of Andrew Hawkins. Prior to his Sundance debut, he was nominated for the NAACP Image Award for his film Mooz-Lum, starring Nia Long, Evan Ross & Danny Glover, and premiered at the LA Film Festival with his film Destined starring Jesse Metcalf, Cory Hardrict and Margot Bingham. Qasim has had choices for all of his films as to how they got out into the world and where they were going to live after their release. He's chosen everything from theatrical to VOD releases, and he's learned much along the way. Now, exclusively for Stage 32, Qasim is bringing all his knowledge including the wealth of information he learned from the dream Sundance experience to the Stage 32 community. Qasim will dive right into the deep end of the pool to discuss how to navigate this difficult industry and how to keep yourself intact. He will teach you what you'll learn along the way as you become more successful and how to use that knowledge as fuel. He will discuss short filmmaking as a calling card or as proof of concept of something bigger. He will show you how to identify and engage financiers and production companies. Then, Qasim will delve into the filmmaking process including how casting comes down to understanding the 3 P's. He will discuss pre-production, voice, tone, story, performance & camera. He will teach you how to make decisive and confident creative choices. And he will teach you how to deal with failure and disappointment, but also how to deal with success. "People will tell you many different things in this business, but none is better than when you find what's actually right for you. Let me help get you there." - Qasim Basir Praise for Qasim "I saw A Boy. A Girl. A Dream. at Sundance. The movie is brilliant and watching Qasim during the Q&A it became clear that he is as well. To be able to learn from him here on Stage 32 is such a gift. Inspiration on a whole other level." - Monique T. "Genius in every way." - Tyler K. "Qasim is my hero." - Mikael F. "Another home run for Stage 32. A teacher above and beyond worthy of the subject matter. More please!" - Imani L.