Lee Sternthal is a screenwriter, director and photographer. Lee has written screenplays for every major studio, including TRON: LEGACY for Disney, as well as scripts for Johnny Depp, Mel Gibson and many others. His film, THE WORDS starring Bradley Cooper, Zoe Saldana and Jeremy Irons was an Official Sundance Selection. It was bought by CBS Films and is currently the #2 romantic drama on Amazon Prime. He is a Sundance Institute Fellow, having attended the Screenwriters' Lab, and his work has appeared on The Black List. In other areas, he has worked as a photo journalist for the Trace and Vice covering urban gun violence. Lee had his first one- man photo show at the Soho House in West Hollywood in June, 2018 and taught a Master Class in screenwriting/directing at Swarthmore College and at Stage 32 in Los Angeles. Full Bio »
It’s the dream of many to have a career as a writer for TV or film, to be able to make a living creating worlds and telling stories. Just ask almost anyone at any coffee shop. However the life of a writer, even the most successful, isn’t always easy. The career path is fraught, unpredictable, and inconsistent. Every writer breaks in (or doesn’t) in different ways, and as a result, there isn’t a singular roadmap for aspiring writers to find the success they’re looking for. That said, having a keen understanding of the industry you’re trying to break into and a wherewithal of potentially helpful steps on your journey is vital in finding your place and advancing in your career.
The truth is there’s so much more that goes into being a writer than just writing. Creative chops alone won’t save you. You are creating art for a market and therefore need to understand how the market operates in order to work within it. And while every writer’s career is unique, there are still commonalities and patterns among them and mistakes many have made that you can avoid by learning from them.
Lee Sternthal is a screenwriter, director and photographer who has written screenplays for every major studio, including TRON: LEGACY for Disney, as well as scripts for Johnny Depp, Mel Gibson and many others. His film, THE WORDS starring Bradley Cooper, Zoe Saldana and Jeremy Irons was an Official Sundance Film Festival selection and was later bought by CBS Films. Lee is a Sundance Institute Fellow, and his work has appeared on The Black List. Through his journey in this industry he has seen it all - the good, the bad and the ugly - and has come to Stage 32 exclusively to tell you about it.
Lee will reflect on his own career as a writer, the mistakes he’s made and the successes he’s found, both in the indie space and the studio system, to give you the perspective, lessons learned, and strategies to better navigate your own writing career. He’ll begin by focusing on writers just starting out and will discuss whether new writers need a manager and whether they need an agent. He’ll then talk about the pros and cons of having a writing partner and what to expect if you join forces with someone else. He will discuss Sundance Film Festival and reveal what actually happens if your film gets accepted. Lee will also discuss the insider Hollywood script survey the Black List from and illustrate what happens when your script appears on this list. He’ll then delve into screenwriting services, how they can be helpful, and how they can be harmful. Next Lee will then share his own experiences, both writing for a studio for the Disney film TRON: LEGACY as well as writing for the independent project THE WORDS to give you a sense of what those experiences are like from the inside. He’ll discuss how to know how much you’re able to take on and how to grapple with the doubt and Imposters Syndrome that is incredibly common among writers starting to find success. He’ll then go over the best ways to continue to pay the bills as a new screenwriter. Finally, Lee will give you his insider knowledge of the industry, including how to understand who “The Players” are and how to navigate them, what “The Venues” are and how they operate and how to work different rooms.
Praise for Lee’s Webinar:
“It was great to hear about all of Lee’s different experiences. I feel like I have a better sense of what to expect and what to do moving forward to keep on writing!”
“Lee was great! This was such an interesting webinar!”
“I’m so glad I saw this! Lee has so much knowledge to share.”
“Lee definitely answered a lot of big questions I’ve been asking myself about getting into writing, and now I’m excited to take some next steps. Thanks!”
Lee Sternthal, Director, Producer & Screenwriter
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!
Whether we’re talking about a comedy or drama, sci-fi or horror, a film or television series, animated or live action, short-form or long-form, having good characters is essential. There’s no escaping it. Even a script with everything else going for it, if it doesn’t have strong, compelling characters, it’s not going to work. Great characters connect the audience to your world and ground it in humanity. They provide stakes, bolster your plot and keep it moving. It’s therefore crucial to understand what make an effective character and how you can create that in your own project. Unfortunately there’s not a step-by-step guide to crafting the perfect character. There’s no secret formula and there’s no surefire algorithm. Good characters are complicated and hard to define because so are people. Good characters hold a mirror up to reality and let the audience see themselves or someone else they know in them. And all of that might be fine and good in theory, but what does that actually mean in practice? If you’re a writer how can you create a character who serves as a mirror, who will stick with audiences long after the movie or show ends? And if you’re a producer or director, how can you recognize a great character from a mediocre one through the written word? Lee Sternthal is a screenwriter, director and photographer who has written screenplays for every major studio, including TRON: LEGACY for Disney, as well as scripts for Johnny Depp, Mel Gibson and many others. His film, THE WORDS starring Bradley Cooper, Zoe Saldana and Jeremy Irons was an Official Sundance Film Festival selection and was later bought by CBS Films. Lee is a Sundance Institute Fellow, and his work has appeared on The Black List. Through his writing career, Lee has spent more time than most considering the art of character and using that to aid his own career, as well as writers he continues to mentor and champion. Lee will walk you through the power of character and how to create great characters for your own project. He’ll begin by discussing why exactly characters are so vital to story and will teach you the key differences between a TV character and a film character. Next he will give you a brief history of character in storytelling and reveal the one fictional character from history that all other characters draw from. Lee will then discuss the difference between heroes and anti-heroes, as well as help you determine which of your characters is the driver and which are the riders. He’ll then delve into the art of a great antagonist and why an interesting adversary is so crucial to a successful story. Lee will help you frame your story through the clarity of need, both in character and in story. Next Lee will go over the classic Hero’s Journey and slightly re-imagine it for modern times. He will give you strategies and exercises to better understand and develop your own characters, including his “What’s Their God?” and “Changing A Flat Tire” games. He’ll then teach you the concept of revealing character through behavior and hiding character with words. Next Lee will delve into the idea of how your characters fit into your world, including how the environment might change your character. He’ll teach you the Shakespearean approach to character and compare it to the Balzacian approach, and will also discuss the difference between neuroticism and human comedy. Finally Lee will go over the dance between plot and character, illustrating how the two should work with and against each other to create a feedback loop that’s necessary for any great script. Praise for Lee’s Webinar “Great insight. Really helped me in moving forward.” -Martin R. “I really enjoyed Lee's perspective on script writing. The examples he provided were very helpful. I'm very appreciative that he would share his knowledge, some of his techniques and be so generous with his encouragement.” -Simone L. “Lee had a great way of explaining how to get a feel for the character and why they have the traits they do. Lee did a great job of covering a lot of character related topics which I am glad I have been exposed to.” -Karl H.
Learn directly from Mark Allan, who currently works in TV Talent development at one of the "Big Six" Hollywood agencies! He'll give you specific insider knowledge of the how to find agency representation if you're a foreign actor. In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, you will learn how you can increase your chances of finding an agent as a foreign actor new to the U.S. market. Using his experience working in the talent department at one of the "Big Six" Hollywood agencies, Mark Allan will guide you through what it takes to secure representation if you're hoping to make the jump. First, he'll cover what you should currently be focused on before arriving in the U.S. and building your career. He'll examine why agents prefer talent that is already established elsewhere over new foreign unknown actors and how you can use your old representation to get U.S. agency attention. Mark also plans to give an overview of the visa process, including the challenges of doing it alone, getting a sponsor or hiring an attorney. Mark will then give you an overview of what to your agency will expect from you. He'll tackle the issue of working on improving your accent to appeal to wider audiences and why this is so important to your chances of securing representation. As well as how you can use your accent to your advantage and how the growing need for diversity can improve your chances as a foreign actor. You will walk away knowing how to approach building your career as a foreign actor seeking to establish yourself in the U.S. marketplace.
Instagram is, of course, a visual social media platform. As such, it's a perfect platform for all creatives to showcase their personalities, collaborative mindset, reels, screenplay ideas, storyboards and other media. But it's also a fantastic arena to showcase not only the brand of your work, but your personal brand. But many creatives are intimidated by Instagram. They are afraid of falling into the void or not having anything interesting to say. You have to break free from that mindset! You just may be leaving one of your most important tools in your creative arsenal in the shed. Whether you’re working on a story for film, TV, or digital, every storyteller must use the power of social media (including Stage 32!) to promote and share their work...and currently, one of the most powerful and impactful platforms to do so is Instagram. From static posts, to video posts, to Instagram stories, to IGTV, Instagram allows you to show the scope and breadth of your creative vision, dreams, and strategies. Harnessed correctly and with the right approach, IG can bring instant and much desired attention to your portfolio. Brian Rodda knows everything there is to know about the IG game. He has vast experience in viral marketing and has worked passionately in YouTube Strategy and Social Media strategy since 2007. He is a proud member of Interactive Media Peer Group of The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (Emmys) and a founding member of an aggregator for WGA written web series. Brian has worked on promoting numerous notable digital series, including: Husbands (31,143 Subscribers, 2,145,151 views on Youtube) the web’s first marriage-equality comedy, Squaresville (31,401 Subscribers, 1,772,230 views on Youtube) and Whole Day Down ( Starring Willie Garson, Successful 40K+ Kickstarter campaign). Brian will teach you how you can quickly create and establish a personal brand on IG. He will force you to complete some truthful self-analysis to assure you know exactly how you want you and your work perceived on the platform. He will whack through the jungle of resources related to IG and show you the best of the best to not only take the intimidation and fear out of becoming a regular poster of your content, but also save you a ton of time. He will show you how to plan posts, what posts get the best engagement, and how to attract influential and desired people to your page. This is a full deep dive designed to give you maximum exposure for you and your work. "I've always known the value of social media, but felt that it wasn't for me. This webinar not only removed my apprehension, but shattered my beliefs on what social media could do for me. I'm a true believer. I'm bringing my brand to the masses!" - Samantha T. "Excellent insight into a confusing world of digital. Bring Brian back!" - Michael S.
This was by far the best webinar on pitch documents that I have experienced. I've seen others where they give certain advice that she warned not to do! - Tiffany C. This is the age of peak TV and you have an incredible, original idea for a show! You have it all planned out: the setting, the characters, what the show will be about... maybe you've even written the pilot script. Now it's time to pitch! Perhaps you have a meeting with a manager or a producer, or someone is already interested in your idea and has asked you to send some "pages." Or you've signed up for a Stage 32 pitch session with the perfect exec who's looking for a show just like yours. You will learn how to write a professional pitch document that can serve as the outline for your in-person pitch to a manager, producer or studio executive, or be sent after your meeting - using the template and requirements the big agencies and studios use. You will also learn how to translate that into a shorter version for Stage 32 pitch sessions, contests, or just to be able to briefly pitch your idea as you're networking. PLUS! Anna will include these handouts for you to download: Stranger Things Pitch Document New Girl Pitch Document New Girl Short Pitch Document Example Lookbook Example This was my first Stage32 webinar, and it exceeded my expectations, both in terms of quality (and quantity) of information and overall value. Anna was personable, knowledgeable, and organized. The slide deck was helpful, and her overall presentation hit all the key topics. Anna and Stage3 2 delivered the goods. - John R. What a thoughtful, thorough and inspiring webinar. It's clear that Anna Henry put an enormous amount of work into this presentation. Not only was the content there, but the structure was also superb. I feel educated and inspired to go back to my own work and do better than what I thought was my best. What could possibly be better than that! Thank you Anna for your genius and your generosity. - Crispin L. See more testimonials below!
So you’ve finally fleshed out your ideas for your next TV project and you’re off to the races developing your next screenplay. While working on your pilot, you’re constantly reminded of the one thing that every executive looks for: CHARACTER CHARACTER CHARACTER. Every executive says they want to read compelling characters. But what exactly does that mean? And how do you accomplish this? Literary Manager Conrad Sun represents TV writers in all genres for shows such as Blindspot, Two Broke Girls and Bojack Horseman and is a master at building character in scripts. In this top rated Stage 32 Next Level Webinar Conrad will teach you how to bring your characters to life and go from good to GREAT. You will learn empathy vs. sympathy and how the best characters invoke both feelings from your audience. Conrad will breakdown real-life examples from characters on shows such as Fargo, Orange is the New Black, Breaking Bad, The Sopranos and more. And, most importantly, you'll walk away learning how to apply character development to your own writing. This webinar is vital to help you strengthen your TV pilot!
Since 2006, Bobby Reed has amassed 62 IMDB credits! 62! For this exclusive Next Level Webinar, Bobby shares his secrets for getting noticed and remaining in the minds of casting directors and producers! Come join Bobby Reed in an info-packed session about today's marketing for the modern artist, hear promotional techniques you may not have thought of, and get your questions answered about how and why to take charge of your own acting future. You and only you make it happen. The solution to your actor promotional questions is looking at you in the mirror: you are the boss, you will not be discovered sitting in the drug store. Bobby will show you some hot ways to get your career moving, and keep it that way. He's done if for himself; just check out his IMDb page. Come share his tips and tricks on how to promote your acting career each and every day (that's seven days a week, not five!). Well timed for the approaching new year, eh, when all your creative juices are flowing nicely? This will be your fresh start formula.