For over ten years, Phil has worked deep in the true crime television space and produced countless projects for networks such as CNN, Investigation Discovery, Discovery UK, Reelz, and ZDF. After starting on the hit show FORENSIC FILES, where he served as producer, Phil has been a director and lead writer for true crime shows airing throughout the world. More recently Phil served as showrunner for the Reelz series COPYCAT KILLERS and now serves as an executive producer for the company Story House Production. Phil’s decade-plus in the true crime TV world, pitching and selling countless shows to various networks has made him an expert in this space and has given him a keen eye into what makes a murder show sell. Full Bio »
Learn what it takes to get your true crime series sold from a long-time true crime producer with over 100 episodes of true crime TV under his belt.
Includes a Case Study of a Real Pitch Deck for a True Crime Show
For whatever the reason, there is no denying that true crime has become HUGE presence in the television landscape. From TIGER KING, THE JINX and MAKING A MURDERER to more recent limited series like HEAVEN’S GATE and MURDER AMONG THE MORMONS, true crime docuseries have become wildly popular and show no sign of slowing down. Even beyond the banner networks and streamers like Netflix, HBO and Hulu, many smaller networks like Investigation Discovery, Reelz, Oxygen and True Crime Network devote a large portion—if not all—of their slate to unscripted, true crime series and specials. This has led to a very recent explosion in true crime content and an incredible opportunity for content creators interested in this space to find opportunities and get their content sold.
The opportunities may be extra plentiful right now, but you still need to do your homework and understand the true crime docuseries space and what networks are looking for if you want to be noticed. As callous as it may seem, not all murders are created equal, and while some stories are ripe to be uncovered and explored, others might not break through the noise or spark executives’ attention. To find a place in the true crime space, you not only have to find and have access to a great story, but also build a fantastic pitch deck, and a strategic and effective pitch to get buyers on board. And all of these elements don’t need to just be good; they all need to lend themselves to the format and industry that is true crime TV. But if you can ace all of these elements, you may have just found your way in and the piece of material that will fire you off the launch pad.
For over ten years, Phil Claroni has worked deep in the true crime television space and produced countless projects for networks such as CNN, Investigation Discovery, Discovery UK, Reelz, and ZDF. After starting on the hit show FORENSIC FILES, where he served as producer, Phil has been a director and lead writer for true crime shows airing throughout the world. More recently Phil served as showrunner for the Reelz series COPYCAT KILLERS and now serves as an executive producer for the company Story House Production. Phil’s decade-plus in the true crime TV world, pitching and selling countless shows to various networks has made him an expert in this space and has given him a keen eye into what makes a murder show sell.
Phil will lay out how to best develop your own true crime docuseries and pitch and sell it to a streamer or other network. He’ll first explain what kind of story sells today and how you should tailor your pitch to reflect the current market you’re selling to. He’ll give you tips on how to research your story, what info is most important, how to obtain talent, and the legal elements to be aware of. Next, Phil will explain how to build the perfect pitch deck to sell your true crime series and go through one-pagers, treatments and sizzles. He will then explain how to find a production partner for your series, including who’s currently buying and how to know which partners would make t host sense for you. He’ll also tell you what materials can aid a sale and how you can take a meaningful meeting. Finally Phil will explain how to close, including initiating a bidding war and what to do to follow through.
Phil will even share a real pitch deck he put together and explain why he made the choices he made in assembling it.
“No one goes to college and majors in true crime production. It’s something you have to learn from others, but it’s one of the most attainable genres to produce in show business, and I’ll show you how.”
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Learn directly from Tim Moshansky, a 20 year location scout who has worked on hundreds of films and TV shows including The Revenant, Twilight Saga: New Moon, Fifty Shades of Grey, and Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem! There are two things that a production starts doing as soon as they have the “green light” - casting for actors and scouting for locations. In a way, a location scout is like a casting director for locations. Unless a film is shot entirely in a studio with sets or green screen, locations are integral to how the film will look. Anyone can become a location scout, but to become a GREAT scout that people call again and again takes a keen eye, good people and photography skills, and on-the-ground experience. In this webinar Tim Moshansky will guide you through the entire process of scouting - from the moment you get the script or storyboards, to when they call “Action!” on set. Tim will offer you tips and insights from his nearly 20 years of scouting experience. Whether you are someone considering a career as a scout, or a filmmaker looking for ways to increase your production value and anticipate potential location problems, this is the webinar that will help you learn the basics about scouting. This webinar includes FREE bonus materials for download!: Locations Release Location Agreement Location Breakdown Script Breakdown
In a short period of time, the world of podcasts has exploded and become an industry to be reckoned with. Over 100 million Americans listen to podcasts on at least a monthly basis, and individual shows can have millions of fans. We’re not just talking about nonfiction works like THE DAILY or SERIAL; fiction podcasts are also having a moment as more writers are turning to the audio medium to tell incredible stories. An art form in its own right, podcasts have also become a proving ground for stories to be adapted for television or movies. Shows like HOMECOMING, DIRTY JOHN, and LIMETOWN would never have been greenlit or aired if they didn’t first find success and a fan base in podcast form. Now with many more podcast adaptations like CRIMETOWN, THE BRIGHT SESSIONS and ALICE ISN’T DEAD currently in development, this route is becoming much more common and achievable. There might not be a better time than now to adapt your feature screenplay to the podcast medium. If you've had difficulty gaining attention for your screenplay, turning it into a podcast and attracting an audience may provide proof of concept for your story to move it to a show or feature. This type of intellectual property is golden. Adapting your screenplay, of course, easier said than done. Writing for audio is a very different process than writing for a film or TV. Podcasts are written to be experienced as real time events, which is entirely different from a feature or TV script. A good podcast must paint a picture with only words and sounds and be paced to pull a listener in despite any distractions around them. It must also be structured into short episodes that defy traditional film or TV act structure. So, how do you turn 100 pages of a script into a multi-episode podcast? How does writing character or story arcs change when adapting your feature script to multiple episodes? Having a better understanding of what goes into a great comedy, drama, or genre podcast and the rules and expectations that come with this unique format can position you for success in telling your story and finding an audience. Mike Disa is currently the director of the highly praised Netflix show Paradise PD and has been working in the industry, both in television and features, for two decades. With no film training or knowledge of the byzantine workings of the entertainment business, he eventually found success and has worked with studios such as Dreamworks, Disney, Warner Bros., Paramount, and many others. Over a fascinating career, Mike has worked with some of the greatest and most infamous people in Hollywood including Steven Spielberg, Eric Goldberg, Ralph Bakshi, Glenn Close, Steve Oedekerk, David Tennant, Amy Poehler, Adam Sandler, Jeffery Katzenberg and Roy Disney. Always an innovator, Mike recognized the interesting time right now for developing material based off of IP and took it upon himself to adapt his feature script SENTINELS: POINT OF NO RETURN into a 12-part podcast series, which is now produced. Having recently gone through the experience Mike is excited to share his approach and his lessons learned writing the adaptation exclusively with the Stage 32 community. Mike will walk you through the nuts and bolts of writing a fiction podcast and give you the tools you’ll need to adapt your long form script into this new medium. He’ll begin by discussing what the state of podcasts looks like today, including what kinds of podcasts are possible and the different formats of fiction podcasts that people are writing and which ones are currently popular. He’ll then delve into how to approach your podcast adaptation and which things you should decide on from the outset. This includes deciding on the format that will work best for your story, how to adapt your writing style to short form when you’re used to writing features or television, and whether you will use a narrator or go full “radio play”. He’ll also give you tips on how to plan for sound while starting to write. Mike will next go into detail on breaking your long form story into multiple short form episodes. He’ll give you tips on extending your story and show you where to put episode breaks within it. He’ll go over building tension between episodes between episodes and what goes into good cliffhangers on podcasts. He’ll also talk about how to avoid needing recaps between episodes. Next Mike will spend time talking about other writing challenges that come with this format, including how to paint a picture in audio form without creating awkward dialogue, the process of holding on to your subplots without your storytelling getting choppy, and how to use your first episode to grab your audience. He’ll also offer tips of how to give your characters separate voices. Finally, Mike will use his own podcast SENTINELS: POINT OF NO RETURN, which was originally written as a feature, to illustrate the process of adapting for podcasts. He’ll even share samples of both the feature and podcast versions of the SENTINELS script. If you’re excited about podcasts, curious about writing your own or adapting your feature script into one and don’t even know where to begin, start here. Praise for Mike's Stage 32 Webinar FIVE STARS FOR MIKE!!! He is super-awesome! Can't wait for the next session. -Robert S. "Mike Disa is definitely one of the best. He provided advice that is actionable." -Martin R. "I loved how engaging Mike was. It felt like he was genuine and addressing each of us almost individually. I have honestly never had a better Stage32 experience!" -Elle C. "It was great to hear from Mike. What a professional and what great advice from someone who knows the business and the craft of writing for podcasts." -Mary S.
Like it or not, the film and television industry is and will always be a business. It may produce stunning works of art and lead to social and cultural impacts, but it still comes down to the bottom line. That means that as a writer, unless your name is Christopher Nolan, you’re going to have to deal with more constraints that just the words on a page in order to make your vision a reality. You’ll need to convince a producer that the script can be made and can be made with the money available. And, if you’re a filmmaker or producer, you’ll need to understand how much of the budget is going to each page in order to make your film profitable. In order to do this, it’s important to understand how to read scripts from a cost perspective and what stands out to them as red flags or unnecessary challenges. Considering this throughout the writing and development process rather than being caught off guard after a script is fully written can be invaluable. It can be frustrating to have limitations get in the way of your creative expression, to be told that the world and story in your head can’t be made because of financial constraints. It can feel like selling out to alter your script in order to fit a financier’s budget. This doesn’t have to be the case, though—you don’t have to sacrifice your narrative in service of the bottom line. Instead, there are ways to meld your creativity with some financial savvy and learn to think about how story, character, and structure translate into dollars on the page. So before you write that ambitious live action space opera, the one on the rain planet with children and exotic animals, join producer James Crawford and learn how a producer thinks and breaks down pages.This will give you a leg up on the competition when trying to get your script made. James Crawford is the Head of Development for Fireside Pictures. Prior to joining Fireside Pictures, James was the Executive Director of Development at Engage Entertainment, where he developed, sold, and produced seven movies to Hallmark Channel over three years, including THE ROOFTOP CHRISTMAS TREE, SLEIGH BELLS RING and A DECEMBER BRIDE. In addition to his feature production experience, James has developed several one-hour television series at Engage, pitching to EPiX, WGN America, Cinemax, and Universal Cable Productions, among others. James worked as Creative Executive at Cartel Entertainment, a television and film literary management and production company, and was responsible for identifying, developing, and pitching content for its first-look deal with Entertainment One, including the Stephen King novel The Regulators. At Cartel Entertainment,James developed pitches for Amazon, FX, Hulu, Netflix, Cinemax, UCP, and other major networks. James has a storied background as a producer and executive and is intimately familiar with what it takes to turn a script into a produced film or series. James will provide you with an understanding of the unforeseen costs that go into producing a script. He’ll begin by going over what it generally means to think like a producer in the first place. He’ll then delve into the specific financial challenges that come with genre and ‘genre-ish’ projects and how you can prepare yourself for these issues. James will break down the seven main types of producers on a project and what each one does. James will focus on the relationship between the producer and the line producer, a critical partnership for finding the resources to keeping your vision. James will then give you a full breakdown of what costs could go into every single page of your script, from above-the-line and below-the-line talent to locations, production design, and small things you might not have ever considered before that can seriously add up. To illustrate this, James will provide you with a case study of a real scene of a real shooting script, illustrating line-by-line where the costs lie in the script. Finally, James will teach you 10 strategies you can use if you’re starting to go over-budget. You will leave with a firmer understanding of how your script will translate to costs, and clear strategies to keep your vision while going easier on the budget. Praise for James’s Webinar: James was awesome. Clear, concise, and knowledgeable. -Stephen B. “James Crawford was very informative, and the way he brought the webinar across was entertaining and kept you engaged. I loved every bit of it! I hope he comes back for a round 2” -Imo C. Super helpful and very clear. Right to the point. Not full of anecdotes but actual teaching. -Helena W. “It was very informative in a practical way. James was great!” -Dave M.
There are thousands of shows and films to watch on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and other streaming platforms. Now, more than ever, there is a constant stream of incredible stories being told by content creators from all over the world. It is safe to say that there is something for everyone when it comes to this new form of distribution. But that doesn't mean you can just call up a streaming service and request a meeting! So, how do you get your story on a streaming platform for all the world to see? You need to understand the hurdles that content creators face in getting their product on these important streaming platforms and how to overcome them. Understanding the business structure of these top three players is key for you to break in, get your film or series seen through this distribution option and make money by doing so. It's important that you understand the global structure of these streamers, how they choose their content and what potential revenue might be for you as a filmmaker. Chad Miller has been working in the entertainment industry for more than 15 years and the bulk of his experience has been specifically focused on the business of on-demand entertainment. He's worked with Gravitas Ventures distribution specializing in Amazon, Hulu and Netflix and prior to that was with AT&T working with all the major studios ensuring that both their big tentpole titles were available to customers and also helped evaluate new content from new content aggregators and distributors. Now, he's bringing his extensive and specialized knowledge exclusively to the Stage 32 community. Chad will be discussing the broad differences between Amazon, Hulu and Netflix and how each of these streaming platforms select their content. You will learn the business structures of each of these platforms, what your distribution reach is and what your revenue expectations are as a content creator on these payment structures. You'll even walk away knowing international distribution options and ways you can negotiate the best deal. If you are a screenwriter, filmmaker, producer, or content creator hoping will find a home on Netflix, Amazon or Hulu this is your ultimate guide to understanding how you can make that happen!
Nowadays many independent film and TV productions that have multiple parties involved are looking for the best way to recoup profits on a completed project. One of the best ways to assure the parties involved with your film (producers, investors, financiers, sales agents and talent) see their returns is to have a collection account in place. A collection account is an account in the name of a neutral third party who receives revenues generated by an independent film or TV project on behalf of the multiple beneficiaries from local distributors. This process is called collection account management and is an effective tool to guarantee that the beneficiaries receive their share of the revenues. The beneficiaries include producers, investors, financiers, sales agents and talent. Often times financiers, production partners and international sales agents put a collection account up as a requirement before even boarding project. During this webinar we will explain the functions and benefits of having a collection account in place for an independent film or TV project, how collection account management is set up and which parties should be involved in the entire process. We will further discuss the allocation and distribution of revenues, how to put together the Recoupment Schedule, and the importance of signing, or being a beneficiary to, the Collection Account Management Agreement.