How to Avoid Potholes When Building a Writing Career

Hosted by Lee Sternthal, Director, Producer & Screenwriter

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Lee Sternthal, Director, Producer & Screenwriter

Webinar hosted by: Lee Sternthal, Director, Producer & Screenwriter

TRON: LEGACY, THE WORDS (starring Bradley Cooper)

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 »

Webinar Summary

Many creatives dream of the pinnacle - getting to write for a studio, or getting to write and direct your own independent film. Imagine if you can do both!

Our host, Lee Sternthal, wrote TRON: LEGACY for Disney, and went on to write and direct the Sundance indie-darling THE WORDS, starring Bradley Cooper.  He was also a Sundance Fellow and was featured on The Blacklist. Through his journey in this industry he has learned it all - the good, the bad and the ugly - and has come to Stage 32 exclusively to tell you about it.

If you'd like to be prepared for the potholes of what to expect when pursuing a life in writing, Lee is here to help you. From studio to independent, he's hit them all and wants to share his knowledge with you. Best of all, he's looking forward to taking your questions so he can help you through your own situation!

 

Lee will be citing specific examples from his life and work as well as providing you tools to apply to your own writing journey.

What You'll Learn

If you're just starting out:

  • Do you need a manager?
  • Do you need an agent?
  • Should you have a writing partner? If you do, what to expect.
  • Sundance - what really happens if you get accepted.
  • Blacklist - what really happens if you get accepted.
  • Screenwriting services - the good, the bad and the ugly. I'll share a case study that will blow your mind.

Getting the Job and What to Expect:

  • Case Study - Writing for a studio: TRON: LEGACY - what I learned
  • Case Study - Writing independent: THE WORDS - what I learned
  • Making THE WORDS as a Writer/Director and how to navigate when an “Independent” movie becomes a studio movie
  • How much can I take on?
  • Eternal doubt - Am I a fraud? We'll go over how to answer this plaguing question.
  • Day Job/Night Job - what is the best way to pay the bills as a new screenwriter?

Insider Knowledge:

  • Understanding "The Players" and how to navigate them
  • Understanding "The Venues" and how they operate - The Peninsula Hotel, The SoHo House, etc.
  • Understanding the different "Rooms" - studio, production company, agencies, etc. and what you should or should not do.

Q and A with Lee

About Your Instructor

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.

FAQs

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!

Questions?

If you have a generic question about Stage 32 education you can take a look at our frequently asked questions section on our help page, or feel free to contact support with any other inquiries you might have.

Other education that may be of interest to you:

Surprising Yet Inevitable: Creating Realistic Characters for Television and Film

In this exclusive Stage 32 Next Level Webinar we're bringing in Lee Sternthal, writer of Disney's TRON: LEGACY and writer/director of THE WORDS, starring Bradley Cooper an Zoe Saldana to discuss how to create realistic characters for television and film. Having drawn incredible A-list talent to his scripts, character has become one of Lee's favorite part of creating story.  A solid hero and anti hero are crucial to a successful story, and the supporting characters need to help support and move your plot. Lee will be talking through the origins of why character matters and provide you with exercises to ensure that you have solid characters in your own storytelling.    

Deconstructing The Script: Guardians of the Galaxy

Learn directly from Ross Putman, an award-winning producer and founder of PSH Collective! Transformers. Godzilla. Captain America. Groot...? Who knew that this summer's biggest success story would be Marvel's band of unlikely heroes, known as The Guardians of the Galaxy? With their biggest star (Bradley Cooper) playing a talking raccoon, a director whose previous film grossed just $300,000 at the box office, and with a cast of characters so unknown that an entire teaser trailer was devoted just to introducing them, the odds seemed long for Guardians to make any impact at all. And yet it's the only film to gross over $300 million at the US box office--something not even Michael Bay's fourth Transformers movie could accomplish (and that had Marky Mark Wahlberg)! It's a little known fact that Guardians was based on source material that Marvel all but buried. So why did it work? Regardless of whether a good story is based on source material or original material, Guardians would not have been a success if the script, filmmaking, casting and marketing weren't all thought out and executed perfectly. In this webinar, we'll deconstruct how Marvel "flipped the script" on... well, its own scripts. A focus on quirkiness, the establishment of a unique tone, and bringing their first female writer in the fold added up to a great finished product. Whether it's the very specific character traits (like Drax's inability to understand metaphor) to the very clear stakes (even when things go deep into sci-fi), Guardians has all the right moves to please movie-goers tired of the same-old-same-old. Yet it becomes truly revolutionary by sticking to the basics; it's a script that puts one foot in front of the other and never stumbles.

60 Minutes With Emmy Award Winning Producer Kip Konwiser

I was born for this. Started on street corners tap dancing, doing comedy, telling stories & holding an audience until they pay me J A Masters Degree from USC Film School and three decades later there hasn’t been a day when I wasn’t writing, directing, producing or managing as an executive a feature film, television, documentary, live event and/or new media program.  I’ve been blessed to learn from and collaborate with some of the luminaries of sports and entertainment producing and business management. For these efforts, I picked up a shelf full of awards & trophies, maintained an upward financial trajectory and learned to enjoy the ride. A few of the collaborations in my career include: Netflix, YouTube, NBC, CBS, ABC, Univision, HBO, Showtime, TNT, MTV, VH-1, Sony Pictures, Paramount Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate Studios, Legendary Pictures, Blizzard Entertainment The Grateful Dead, Quincy Jones, Michael Jordan & David Falk, Phil Knight/NIKE, Magic Johnson, Peter Guber/Mandalay, Dr. Dre, Snoop & Eminem, Arthur Miller, Michael Bloomberg, Laurence Fishburne, the NFL, MLB and NBA, and most of the financing entities in Hollywood. I’ve established tax incentives that spark states into profitable production while structuring large scale financing. Easier said than done, trust me!      Now, I’m thrilled to join with Stage 32 to talk about my journey and share my experiences from over the years. I love to give back to up and coming filmmakers and I’ll be holding an online Q&A to talk with you, the Stage 32 community, and tell you about the things I’ve learned along the way. If you’re in the middle of your filmmaking journey, now, no matter where you live in the world, I’ll be taking questions from you live, so ask away! So relax, this opportunity to not give up on your daydream just got a lot closer.     Clint Eastwood, Kip & Kern Konwiser Kip & Virginia Madsen Kenny Ortega (director/choreographer), Jim Belushi, William Levy, Emilio Estefan Kip, Ron Shelton (director/writer), Pete Rose, Kurt Soderling (DP) Pre-production at Legendary Studios "The Konwiser Bros." Kern & Kip Konwiser 

How to Find & Adapt Comic Book, Video Game, Book & Article IP for Film & TV

State of the industry Why the majority of TV/Film comes from pre-existing IP "The Executive Bias" Pre-existing Fan Base/Fleshed Out World Adapting Books/Articles Where to Go! How To Choose Material Who To Contact For Film/TV Rights How To Close The Deal Case Study: Game of Thrones, Sex and The City Case Study: The Wedding Sting in the Atlantic, now going to be a film at Paramount Adapting Comic Books / Video Games Where to Go! How To Choose Material Who To Contact For Film/TV Rights How To Close The Deal Case Study (Comics): Guardians of the Galaxy (Marvel/Disney, lesser known/less successful comic became a blockbuster) Case Study: Jessica Jones (Marvel / Netflix) Case Study (Video Games): Assassin's Creed (FOX, to be released this December) Making it your own Most say DO NOT adapt your own material (leads to being too protective of your work/not as open to change) Fun thing about IP, when you build a world, it can keep being adapted into other mediums (Example: Orphan Black the comic book was one of the best-selling comics last year, adapted from TV show. Goes in both directions) The heart of this, however, is making sure the new versions are different enough from the old, AND have your voice in them. LIVE Q&A with Maggie!

Writing the Original One-Hour TV Series Pilot Based on IP

Hollywood studios will release less than 100 movies in 2019, most written by veteran writers. The Independent Film market is struggling. All the while TV is exploding. More than 90% of working WGA writers are in TV, which is the market for quality writing and entertainment. Why? TELEVISION IS RUN BY WRITERS. In 2019, Television will produce more than 500 original scripted shows – that’s more than 5,000 scripts – with Netflix, Hulu and Amazon alone spending a combined $20 to $25 BILLION on programming. What’s the secret to breaking in, finding a job on staff or selling a new show? A GREAT, ORIGINAL PILOT. James Dalessandro will work with aspiring Writers, Directors, Producers to focus them on what it takes to make the dream come true – a career in Television. Your host James was handpicked by Stan Lee to write the TV Pilot and Bible for THE RESTLESS for POW! Entertainment. In addition he also has Brad Bird (Incredibles, Incredibles 2, Ratatouille) attached to direct a feature film '1906' based on his own novel. He's also written and produced TV for FX, Eone, Televisa USA, Starlings Entertainment and Gross/Jacobson Entertainment.  ***All attendees will receive a pdf of THE AMERICANS pilot!

Surprising Yet Inevitable: Creating Realistic Characters for Television and Film

In this exclusive Stage 32 Next Level Webinar we're bringing in Lee Sternthal, writer of Disney's TRON: LEGACY and writer/director of THE WORDS, starring Bradley Cooper an Zoe Saldana to discuss how to create realistic characters for television and film. Having drawn incredible A-list talent to his scripts, character has become one of Lee's favorite part of creating story.  A solid hero and anti hero are crucial to a successful story, and the supporting characters need to help support and move your plot. Lee will be talking through the origins of why character matters and provide you with exercises to ensure that you have solid characters in your own storytelling.    

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