Nikki Levy served as Vice President of Wedge Works, a feature film production company with a deal at Fox Animation where she developed the animated film, EPIC. Prior to that, she was Director of Development at Ron Howard and Brian Grazer’s Imagine Entertainment where she oversaw and developed comedies, as well as Academy Award-nominated Frost/Nixon. She got her start at the Oxygen Network in New York, and cut her Los Angeles teeth in the Endeavor mail room before becoming an assistant and then story editor to Producer, Alison Greenspan at Di Novi Pictures (Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants). Nikki is host and creator of the critically-acclaimed live comedy event DON'T TELL MY MOTHER! where writers and performers share true stories they'd NEVER want their moms to know. She is a graduate of Northwestern University (R/TV/F ’99), and hails from New York City. She currently resides in Los Angeles with her pit bull, and believes storytelling is the meaning of life. Full Bio »
Learn directly from a studio executive, Nikki Levy, Vice President of Wedge Works at FOX!
They say “write what you know” and then we sit there racking our brains for story ideas. What’s that big silver bullet, high-concept idea that will get me noticed? That will sell? That will put me on the map? STOP! There is a better saying, “If you survived childhood, you have enough stories to last for the rest of your life.” And that’s where my money is.
Some of the most important screenplays and TV shows in the last two decades have come from complete TRUTH. Think of Seinfeld or the groundbreaking movie (500) Days of Summer. We don’t have to look outside ourselves for great ideas. What we have to do is look inwards, at our own life and pain and joys, to create great story ideas, comedy and dialogue.
In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, Nikky Levy, veteran feature film executive and creator of the critically-acclaimed comedy event Don’t Tell My Mother!, will teach you how to turn your life into a killer story that gets YOU noticed. She will look at ways to find the gems of struggle and victory in your life, and how to translate those into cohesive stories with an arc, a strong narrative structure and characters we love.
Nikki will examine how to keep our work from becoming a therapy session, and instead crafting it into an emotional, funny, relatable story. She will examine movies that did this successfully, and why. She will also discuss how to spin your own personal history into an engaging “story” so you wow executives, agents, managers and talent.
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!
So, you’re a writer with a great script. You want to get signed! You want to get it sold! Heck, you just want it to be read! This is where you learn what the studios/producers/agents look for in a script, so you can address those points before anyone even takes a look. You will be miles ahead of the screenwriting pack by knowing IN ADVANCE how they evaluate a script. Or you’re a writer/producer. The #1 job of any producer is knowing how to identify material, and how to make that material BETTER. This is where you will learn how to break that script down, and build it back up. Or you’re a director. It is your duty to look at a piece of material (yours or someone else’s) and know how to improve all aspects of it – from story to character to conflict. Or, you’re an actor reading a screenplay. You like the part, but something’s missing. The story needs work. You want to shine, and it’s up to YOU to give notes on that character and that story. But you don’t know how to express to the director/producer what you innately feel. This is where you will learn how to analyze the script, and communicate what you think to make your role pop. This workshop is for anyone looking to break into the industry, or anyone already deep into it who wants a better grasp of story. Story is king in entertainment – now and always – and knowing what makes a good story and how to improve upon one, is vital.
Part 1 - The Industry & Genre Kelly dives into what the industry is looking for in the genre, the recent success of faith based films and how to reach a large audience. He also looks at examples of faith based I/A films throughout history and show why they have worked and what makes them continue to work. Part 2 - Faith Based Kelly looks at what it means to be a faith based film, for example: based on a bible story, a church, a specific religion, other religions beyond Christianity, becoming a pastor, priest or nun. He discusses how churches become involved in the marketing and how studios can find religious meanings in a variety of films. Finally, he covers stories from the bible, how to write them as period or modern day as well as parables. Part 3 - Inspirational & Aspirational Kelly looks over a number of “I/A” films: 42, Lincoln, Million Dollar Arm and War Horse. He covers the sub-genre of Disney, both live action and animated, and what their brand means to the business and to you. Other topics covered include sports films, holiday movies, bio pics, true stories and documentaries, their relevance and what is being sold in the marketplace. Part 4 - Networks & Faith Discussion centers on how faith works on television, how it's portrayed by the networks and it's relevance in the marketplace.
A script's journey of a thousand miles begins with a single page. Well, more accurately, ten pages - that's the amount of space a typical script has to grab the attention of the anonymous, overworked reader that picked their script off a pile for evaluation. If a writer's sample script is excellent enough, the pieces start to fall into place: an entire script read, the writer recommended, the manager's decision to represent, the long and fruitful thousand-mile career. If a producer's script is perfect for the marketplace, a reader will get excited, move it up the ladder and then the wheels start in motion for finding financing, attaching talent and going into pre-production. None of it happens, though, if the script never makes it to the decision maker's desk. But who are these mysterious readers? Who decides which scripts go on to consideration or representation - and maybe one day fame and fortune - while others get a stone-cold pass? It's not exactly who you might think: while the agents and managers of Hollywood excel at their jobs, they only have so much time in the day and most of it is not spent seeking out new talent. That job falls to the Gatekeepers, the assistants and pro readers who tackle stacks of scripts every week hoping to find the diamond in the rough: a script they can confidently recommend. So, who are these gatekeepers, how do you even get to them and, more importantly, how do you win their endorsement to help move your script up the ladder? Gabriel Chu works with artists, writers, and directors to identify and develop new ideas and stories, shepherding them from page to screen. As a story analyst at Sony Pictures, he works on current projects alongside the executive team and helps to field incoming submissions and identify new talent for the studio. Prior to joining Sony Pictures, he was an executive at Vertigo Entertainment, working closely with award winning directors and writers on both animated and live action film projects for Warner Bros., Lionsgate, and Fox Animation. Gabriel started his career at Bad Hat Harry Productions, and has also worked at Summit Entertainment and Mandalay Pictures. Through his career, Gabriel has served as a gatekeeper in multiple roles and knows intimately what it takes for a script to break through and make it to the right person’s desk, and he’s ready to share what he knows with the Stage 32 community. Gabriel will give you a rundown of how gatekeepers manage script submissions and what you can do to give your own script the best chance to be noticed and make it past those first rounds of coverage to make it to the eyeballs you’re aiming for. Gabriel will begin by explaining how scripts are able to get submitted to studios and other gatekeepers in the first place, including through agents and manager, through script competitions, other types of referrals, and through networking. He will also explain how taking the assistant route at an agency could help your chances of getting that script noticed. Next he’ll outline how coverage actually works at production companies and studios. He’ll explain the differences between the procedures at production companies, studios, and other organizations and what their differing expectations might be. He’ll delve into what roles read your script at what point in the process, focusing on the verticals at production companies and studios. He’ll explain the roles of interns and assistants, coordinators, story analysts, and finally executives, and what each role looks for when reading scripts. Gabriel will teach you the common formatting errors that knock scripts out of the running before people even start reading for content, including title page expectations, font and spacing, dialogue formatting, and other issues. He will share real examples of scripts that exhibit these errors to share what they look like on the page. Next he will go over narrative issues that can also sideline a submitted script. Finally, he’ll share other strategies that can make your script stand out to readers in these positions. Through demystifying the process of script reading and coverage as well as the people behind it, Gabriel will leave you with a concrete sense of how to get your script in front of the people you want to read it, and practical ways to help your chances. Praise for Gabriel's Stage 32 Webinar: I was very pleased with the webinar. The speaker got right to the point and explained exactly how the screenplay selling process works. Steven W. I loved how Gabriel didn't pull any punches and gave a realistic assessment of the realities of breaking into the industry as a writer. -Peter M. I loved this webinar because Gabriel talked about a variety of things from how to approach agents/managers/producers, to what not to do in a script. I learned a lot! -Melissa P. Amazing. I liked the "no sugar coating" approach. -Candice E.
How can you write to make the complex understandable? How can you describe a set piece that is both inventive and relatable? That is the goal for this month's Write Now Challenge!
Over recent years, the independent producing model has shown that films budgeted between $1-$3 Million have become a "sweet spot" for investors. At this budget you can typically attract and secure some star power, one important step toward increasing the odds that your investors will see a return on their investment. But this is just one reason why this budget range is attractive to many investors. There are many more variables at play which will help you raise money for a film or project in this price range. But first, you must understand some tried and true principles that will help you find investors, present your project in the proper fashion and lock them down for an investment. Knowing how to raise money intelligently for films and projects with budgets between $1MM-$3MM can be your calling card toward making a life working in independent film. Simply put, those who understand the formula to the strategies and methods that can help your investors see a return get to keep those investors time and time again. And those investors can, and usually do, bring more investors if they're happy. While everyone says that raising financing is the hardest aspect of filmmaking, there are smart ways to find money that you may not have thought of, and there are also ways you can expand your dollars once you start raising funds for your project. In addition, there is a well-known group of professionals and creatives that have been working on films between $1-$3MM for years and it's important that you know who they are, how to approach them and what expectations are once you do. Brad Hibbs Wyman has produced over 40 feature films in all budget ranges, including Monster starring Charlize Theron in her Oscar-winning role, Freeway starring Oscar-winner Reese Witherspoon and actor Steve Buscemi's directorial debut, Trees Lounge. Brad has learned all aspects of financing and the elements that are needed for a successful raise and he's going to bring his years of knowledge exclusively to the Stage 32 community. Brad will teach the basic principles of motion picture financing for under $3 million dollar features which include: Rule #1 - “GET THE MONEY" Rule #2 - Always remember to “GET THE MONEY” Rule #3 - Never forget to always remember to “GET THE MONEY" If that gives you the insight into Brad's fun personality, then you're in for a treat with this webinar. Brad will teach you the common obstacles that get in the way of raising financing. He'll go over all the various types of financing: equity, private equity, pre-sales, GAP, tax incentives, deferred and crowdfunding. In addition, he'll go in depth on guidelines for your financial package and what you'll need for tax incentives, pre-sales, debt and domestic MG. He'll even go over your plan of execution including your investment proposal and what it looks like, completion and guarantor bonds and pitching your project. You will not only know the basics of how to smartly raise up to $3MM, but you'll also walk away with knowing the names of the players and the companies that are in this landscape, giving you an instant advantage to becoming an insider. And if that doesn't make you feel great enough, Brad’s proceeds from this exclusive Stage 32 webinar will be donated to his favorite arts charity! "Brad was great. I loved his style and how frank he was. Really appreciate his demeanor." - Robert G. "It was one of the most amazing experiences. The most entertaining and true presenter I have ever come across." - Ranadeep B. "Awesome experience - great learning opportunity and very well organized. I look forward to more." - Brien Gorham "Brad brought the goods and the funny. And he removed my initimidation factor when it comes to approaching investors. Great webinar!" - Alyssa K.
The magnitude to which the television landscape has changed over the past few years really can’t be overstated. Traditional models have been shattered and the dominance of network and cable television has given way to the streamers. Just look at this year’s Emmys—Netflix shows received 160 nominations, compared to NBC, which received only 47. With the way paved by Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Video, the past few years have seen an explosion of streaming platforms and with it, new content and new opportunities for creatives to jump on board. The TV landscape has changed and continues to change, but most would agree: streaming is the place to be. Yet it’s not that simple, is it? With the world of television changing so quickly, it can feel like whiplash to keep up with everything. The world of streaming this year alone has seen new players (hello, Peacock) and others that have already fallen by the wayside (R.I.P., Quibi). Platforms continue to innovate and reinvent themselves to stay current and compete with their fellow networks, and as they change, so does what they’re looking for and how they look for it. If you’re a writer, producer, or creator working to get your television show on a streaming network, it’s hard to know where to start. There are always isolated articles in the trades as well as whatever you can find out through word of mouth, but what you might really need is for someone to lay it all out—what are the players right now, what content is performing well on their platforms, what are they looking for, and where are they headed? As luck would have it, Stage 32 has put this all together for you. Arielle Cohen is a Senior Manager in Strategy at NBCUniversal's streaming service Peacock, which launched this past July. In this role, Arielle works to grow and improve Peacock by researching what’s working and where the industry is headed. Arielle is also a Development Executive for Broadway Producer Eric Falkenstein's Spark Productions, whose Broadway credits include MOULIN ROUGE and TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. She is on the board of the Hollywood Radio and Television Society Associates, a member of TEDx Young Professionals, Women in Cable Television and Ladies of Comedy Association (LOCA). Through her work, Arielle has become a veritable expert in the world of streaming television and has a clearer view than most of where it’s headed. Arielle will provide a comprehensive look at the world of streaming TV today, focusing on who the major players are and what kind of content they are focused on. She’ll begin with an overall look at the television industry and how it has changed. She’ll also explain what the current streaming landscape looks like today. She’ll lay out the major players and how the recent additions of streamers have altered the ecosystem. She’ll also explain the difference between premium and ad-supported streamers. She will then offer strategies for you to determine which streamers could be the right fit for your project. Arielle will offer a deep dive into the seven biggest streamers today, going over their top performing shows and where they’re headed. She’ll do this for Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Peacock, Apple TV+, HBO Max and Disney +. She will next delve into where we are going from here, including new trends and developments we should expect to see and whether we can sustain so many streaming networks moving forward. Finally Arielle will offer suggestions of what streaming execs are looking for and suggestions for making your own project more interesting to them. You’ll leave with a much clearer and fuller picture of this quickly shifting industry.