Michael Schulman is a Story Analyst for Amazon Studios and prior to that was a Feature Story Analyst for Netflix as part of its Independent Original Film Division, and his job revolves around evaluating screenplay submissions and deciding which ones to pass up to the executives to consider. Prior to his role at Netflix, Michael spent nearly a decade in the story department at CAA where he found projects for CAA clients. Over his storied career, Michael also served as an agent at ICM’s Motion Picture Literary Department and held numerous studio creative executive positions at Orion, TriStar, and Disney where he worked to develop film and television projects with some of the top talent in the industry. Michael is very familiar with what it takes for a script to find its way to decisionmakers since this has been a key feature of his job for over a decade. Full Bio »
Learn how the initial readers at streamers evaluate feature film submissions.
Plus! You'll see a breakdown of Netflix internal coverage.
Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Max, Disney+ -- they have become the most sought after homes for screenwriters and emerging talent. And yet as prominent as these platforms have become, the process behind how a film actually finds its way into their library is relatively unknown.
So what actually happens to your submission behind-closed-doors at one of the streamers? Who is reading it and what are they looking for? The professional readers employed by streamers are trained to use very specific criteria to assess material. They do not use the same methodology as agents, managers, or producers who may be more willing to develop material and incubate projects. It’s helpful to know that there are certain types of projects and styles of writing that are more likely to get these readers’ attention and prompt them to escalate your submission to actual decision-makers. Let’s dive in.
Michael Schulman is a Story Analyst for Amazon Studios and prior to that was a Feature Story Analyst for Netflix as part of its Independent Original Film Division, and his job revolves around evaluating screenplay submissions and deciding which ones to pass up to the executives to consider. Prior to his roles at Amazon and Netflix, Michael spent nearly a decade in the story department at CAA where he found projects for CAA clients. Over his storied career, Michael also served as an agent at ICM’s Motion Picture Literary Department and held numerous studio creative executive positions at Orion, TriStar, and Disney where he worked to develop film and television projects with some of the top talent in the industry. Michael is very familiar with what it takes for a script to find its way to decisionmakers since this has been a key feature of his job for over a decade.
Exclusively for Stage 32 in this on-demand webinar, Michael will reveal how streamers evaluate and identify feature film submissions and specifically what the initial readers look for before sending a script along to decisionmakers. He will give you an overall look at the steps a film takes to getting greenlit at a streamer and lay out who exactly these readers are that will be evaluating your script at the beginning. He’ll also show you what these readers are trained to look for and how they know “it” when they see it. Michael will also explain the importance of packaging during this phase and how streamers’ “algorithms” really work. Through Michael’s honest, comprehensive, and in-depth discussion of this often-secretive side of streaming platforms, you’ll be able to leave with a much clearer idea of how to get your own script the best shot of being selected at Netflix or other streamers.
Note: This webinar focuses on streamers' reading and evaluation process after a screenplay has been submitted, and focuses less on the actual submission process. Keep in mind that submitting your project to Netflix and other streaming giants is, by design, difficult and often requires an agent or manager that is already connected with the platform, or to go through production companies or studios that already have a development deal in place. For more information on how to reach managers or production companies, check out some of the on demand webinars below!
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How to Become a Professional Screenwriter 101 The key to packaging yourself as a screenwriter and preparing you for a career in entertainment is all about finding the right people, building relationships, and knowing where your voice fits into the marketplace. Industry veteran, Michael Schulman (THE AVIATOR, SIXTH SENSE) will show you how to navigate your career, from getting your foot in the door and beyond. So you believe you’re ready to launch your screenwriting career. Now what? Most writers hunt for representation in the hopes that they will sell their scripts. But what if you can find the right people to produce with on your own? In this Stage 32 exclusive webinar, industry veteran Michael Schulman will show you how to make yourself and your script an appealing package, and find the right producers to build relationships with. Michael’s extensive career includes time working at William Morris, ICM, and CAA, as well as three studios, including Netflix. His experience makes him uniquely aware of what both producers and representatives are looking for in a writer and their scripts. This gives you fantastic access to years of insight from someone involved with some of the most successful films, including THE AVIATOR, ALI, THE SIXTH SENSE, GROUNDHOG DAY, and many more. Believe it or not, accessing real industry pros is not as difficult as it looks. Michael will help you write to your strengths, determine what exactly your script needs, know how to choose the right producers for your package, and also know how to reach out to them. From there, you’ll learn how to prepare to meet with both producers and representatives, even establishing follow-up steps to keep the conversation going with them. By the end of the webinar, you’ll understand the producer’s mindset of how to look at and market your scripts, viewing yourself as a package that can kickstart your career.
ScreenMasters is an intensive ongoing workshop designed for screenwriters who have mastered the fundamentals of their craft and are ready to move on to the next phase of their creative and professional development. Participants will be led through innovative presentations that will encourage new ways of thinking about the unique creative process of “writing for the screen,” and collaborative workshops sessions will explore how to put these lessons into practice to bring your screenplay to the next level. For every screenwriter, the leap from gifted amateur to working professional can be the most challenging career step they face. ScreenMasters is based on the simple idea that the best way to remove any obstacles to real-world career success is to deliver extraordinary screenplays that speak for themselves. The concept of this workshop goes beyond the basics of screenwriting to delve into the deeper artistic issues that can transform a merely good project into something a little more extraordinary. Each weekly session will begin with a topic discussion led by industry veteran Michael Schulman, and then the remaining class will be a lab environment for intensive workshopping of works in progress or guidance on career development issues, blocks or troubles students may be running into. The workshop is suitable for projects in any genre and at any stage of development. Enrollment in the workshop will be limited, and interested participants will be asked to submit a short (<1 page) statement outlining your background and writing experience, a brief description of the project to be workshopped, and what you would like to get out of the workshop experience. Michael Schulman is an industry veteran whose career includes stints at William Morris, ICM, and CAA as well as creative executive positions on three different studio lots including Netflix. Michael spent two years as VP Development at Michael Mann’s company where he worked on ALI, THE AVIATOR, and TEXAS KILLING FIELDS and other projects. Michael has worked with other top industry professionals in the development and/or acquisition of many well known features including THE SIXTH SENSE, VENGEANCE, HIDEAWAY, SHANGHAI and GROUNDHOG DAY. Michael has led webinars on the streamer acquisition process and has been quoted and interviewed in the industry media. ***Please note: This class is not booked yet, it is an application process. You can submit your application between now and February 4. The class shows booked on this page because that is how our system is technically set up, but it is a private class that Michael will be choosing the 8 from the application.*** THE APPLICATION PROCESS This class is limited to 8 students and is exclusive to active Stage 32 Writers' Room members. You must submit an application for review by February 4, 2022. The application can be found here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/YX6TFYL. Michael will be reviewing applications and will select the 8 students for the workshop. You will be notified by February 11, 2022 if you will be chosen for this class. If you are chosen, you will be invoiced via email from Stage 32. Since this is a private group, login links and recordings will be sent directly from Stage 32 Education.
Streamers like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and HBO Max have quickly become the holy grail for many filmmakers hoping to get their film produced and find success. And it’s no mystery why. With a subscriber base in the tens of millions (Netflix has 74 million subscribers alone!), there might not be a better place for your film to be seen and enjoyed across the globe. And streamers ARE picking up a lot of content, a staggering amount even. Netflix recently announced it is releasing 40 more films this year—that’s twice what most major traditional studios make in a whole year, all in just a few months. That said, even with this huge volume of new content Netflix and the other streamers continue to pick up and produce, it is not easy to get your film noticed or considered at these platforms, especially if you’re not already an established filmmaker. This is not to say it’s impossible, but it does require finesse, strategy, luck, and an understanding of how exactly streamers find their original films. For as prominent as streaming platforms have become, the process behind how a film actually finds its way into their libraries is opaque and enigmatic. With so little information on the inner workings of the streamers, it can seem confusing, maybe even impossible to get your own proverbial foot into the portal and get your project noticed. After all, there isn’t exactly a submission platform to upload your script for Amazon to review. The truth is, unless you’re already established or have that ‘in’ with a streamer, it’s very unlikely to get straight through and have them consider your work blind. There IS another way though, a way to get your project to a streamer, not by going through but by going around. Michael Schulman is a Feature Story Analyst for Netflix as part of its Independent Original Film Division, and his job revolves around evaluating feature screenplay submissions and deciding which ones to pass up to the executives to consider. Prior to his role at Netflix, Michael spent nearly a decade in the story department at CAA where he found projects for CAA clients. Over his storied career, Michael also served as an agent at ICM’s Motion Picture Literary Department and held numerous studio creative executive positions at Orion, TriStar, and Disney where he worked to develop film and television projects with some of the top talent in the industry. Michael is very familiar with what it takes for a script to find its way to decisionmakers since this has been a key feature of his job for over a decade. As a companion piece to his previous webinar that details the script evaluation process at Netflix and other streamers, Michael will teach you a smarter and more viable way to get your own feature film considered by streaming platforms, not by targeting the streamers themselves, but instead focusing on their content suppliers. He’ll begin by laying out how the normal streamer system works and go over specific reasons why your script might NOT be as good of a fit for them as you think. Michael will then delve into how “outsiders” can get in the streaming game by taking advantage of resources along the way and better understanding the content pipeline. He’ll explain what streamer “originals” actually are and show how streamers rely on production companies to fill their slate. Michael will show you how you can use this to your advantage by finding your way in with specific production companies and what you can do to make them want to produce your film with you. Michael will even offer a live demonstration, showing how to find the right production companies for your own project and the best contacts within them. Getting your work on Netflix and other streamers will never be easy, but you will leave this webinar with a better understanding of the best way forward. Praise for Michael's Previous Stage 32 Webinar "I loved Michaels honestly. His advice is invaluable." -Linda R. "Very genuine, authentic, knowledgeable." -Lissa C. "Michael was highly competent, extremely knowledgeable about his subject, and not afraid to share hard truths about the industry that many just won't be upfront about." -Lee T. "Michael did not sugarcoat anything. He gave honest information that clarified a lot of questions I had." -Nikki J.
We've brought in Zeke Thomas, a VR producer who recently did the 360 experience for HAPPY DEATH DAY for Universal & Blumhouse and who's clients include: Paramount Pictures, Legendary Pictures, Nerdist Industries, VidCon, Youtube, Outside TV and more. Zeke will be breaking down the business of VR/360 in this exclusive Stage 32 Next Level Webinar. Billions of dollars have been poured into Virtual Reality & 360 spherical capture, but is there really a business for this form of storytelling? If you're already filming in VR/360 or are interested in pursuing this medium, it's important to understand not just the craft, but the business of it.
One of the most useful things a writer can do is to team up with a mentor to help them on their journey. Too many writers try to navigate through the script writing process without guidance. Wouldn't you want a mentor that develops and sells material for a living to help you take the mystery work out of your journey? The most successful writers in the industry have their own mentors to make sure they are going in the right direction - do the same for yourself. Stage 32 Happy Writers is thrilled to bring back our 8 Week Working Writer's Lab. This is one of our most hands on, prestigious and talked about labs and we only offer it a few times a year. To find the perfect teacher we go through our rolodex of 400 executives and hand pick an executive that is one of the most raved about from our writers. Your teacher for this lab will be Patrick Raymond, creative executive at Mandalay Pictures! Patrick has assisted a number of our writers on strengthening their scripts and he is excited to help you bring your concept to life. With interactive lectures and weekly homework assignments directly geared towards bringing your concept to life, PLUS ongoing contact with Patrick in between classes, your experience writing has never been easier. Under The Guidance of Patrick Raymond you will: Pick a unique and commercially viable concept. Craft engaging, unique characters that pop off the page. A solid structural skeleton that successfully carries your concept. Cinematic set pieces that will give your story that much-wanted theatrical feel. A fully realized outline highlighting every major plot point in your script. The Objective of the Lab is: To take the mystery work out of picking a concept that can sell. To match you with an executive that will assist you with making sure all your script's elements is as strong as possible. Give you an experience on how development executives develop projects that are now on their company's slate. Class ScheduleWEEK #1 – The Story of Me; Your Questions; Your Stories General class overview. Patrick's history and experiences. What Patrick loves writing about and why. What he looks for in a good story/screenplay. Any initial queries raised in the pre-class questionnaire. NOTE: Given the online format, Patrick will use this week’s “office hours” to more personally respond to/discuss the ideas you are contemplating working on during the Lab. WEEK #2 – Character Creating strong, unique memorable characters. How to have them best serve your story, the genre, themes, etc. Dialogue and voice. Patrick will cover some examples, including personal experience. WEEK #3 – Act I; Premise into Story How to make the leap from basic premise/concept and characters into a full-blooded story. Where to start. What to include in Act 1. Where does Act 1 end and Act 2 begin? Creating a world and setting a tone. Patrick will discuss examples of strong (attention-grabbing and/or smartly-chosen) and weak (meandering, overstuffed, unfocused, etc.) beginnings. WEEK #4 – The Story So Far (Consultation) No on-line class this week. Instead, you will submit premise, Character Bio(s), and Act I outline for review; Patrick will discuss the materials individually in 30 minute phone calls and advise any changes/concerns. WEEK #5 – Act II; Structure and Plotting Plotting and development of your story across Act 2. Examples of structure (midpoints, end of Act 2, Internal/external conflict, etc. WEEK #6 – Theme; What’s it All About? How to ensure that your script isn’t just an escalation of events, but is a rich narrative experience that is hopefully actually about something. Topics to include Theme, Topicality, Relatability, Universality. WEEK #7 – Act III; Sticking the Landing Why 'when and how' to achieve a strong finish is arguably one of the most difficult parts of writing a screenplay. Examples of scripts/films that have accomplished this, as well as those that have not (and why). WEEK #8 – The Completed Outline (Consultation) No on-line class this week. Instead, you will turn in your completed outline for review; Patrick will then discuss with you over a 30-minute consultation. About Your Instructor, Patrick RaymondPatrick Raymond is a Creative Executive at Mandalay Pictures, Peter Gruber’s decades-old production company responsible for films such Sleepy Hollow, The Score, The Jacket, Into the Blue, When the Game Stands Tall and Horns. At Mandalay, Patrick gets to work on his passion every day: cultivating amazing stories and working with great writers.Prior to joining Mandalay, Patrick studied business and film production at the University of Southern California. He worked in the financial services industry for four years before transitioning to entertainment, where he worked as a production assistant in television for four years.After that he transitioned to working at Gersh in the production department but he also gained exposure to the literary world, working with writers and story. He then moved over to LD Entertainment for three years, where he was a Creative Executive, working with writers and helping build scripts and acquire ideas for new projects. Here he had the opportunity to work for Tate Taylor on a James Brown biopic entitled, Get On Up, and learned about assembling large studio films. He has since transitioned to the Creative Executive position at Mandalay Pictures. Patrick was born in Alaska and raised in Seattle prior to moving to LA.
Only 6 Spots Left! Develop, perfect and practice your television series pitch with Emmy-nominated showrunner Todd Slavkin, the showrunner on hit series including SMALLVILLE, SHADOWHUNTERS, MELROSE PLACE 2.0, and most recently THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY! ***Flexible Learning: if you cannot attend any of the sessions live don't worry - you will be sent the links to the recordings of each session within 48 hours of the live session and you will have direct access to Todd on email to ask him any questions about your craft or career so you can keep up at your own pace and schedule.*** Payment plans available - contact email@example.com for details Pitching is an art and a business. If you want to successfully pitch and sell your television series, you not only need to create a standout show, but you need to build a world-class pitch and hone your pitching skills in order to seize the day and win the room. Everything from the structure of your pitch and the visuals in your pitch deck to your tone, voice, body language, and demeanor in the room (or on zoom) is crucial in having a successful pitch. In this interactive Stage 32 8-week pitching lab, you will work directly with veteran television/film writer and top showrunner Todd Slavkin to develop every aspect of your pitch and, ultimately, pitch your project to Todd to receive professional-level feedback on your work. Todd will teach you the art and craft of pitching and selling your television project to producers, studios and networks/streamers while you build your market ready pitch so you are armed for success. Todd's experiences showrunning series for Disney, The CW, ABC, and more have provided him with an arsenal of showrunning tools that he will share with you to prepare you and your pitch for the marketplace. Todd has worked in all different kinds of genres and has been involved with many popular television shows, including SMALLVILLE, SHADOWHUNTERS and most recently THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY, for which he was nominated for two Emmys. He has written pilots for ABC, NBC, FOX, FREEFORM and The CW, where he developed and was the showrunner of MELROSE PLACE 2.0. Other television credits include NO ORDINARY FAMILY, ALPHAS, DEFIANCE, DOMINION and GUILT. He began his career in features, penning DARK REFLECTION and CONTROL, starring Ray Liotta, Willem Dafoe and Michelle Rodriguez. Over 8 intensive, information-packed weeks, including a one-on-one consultation with Todd where you will work together on your pitch, you will actually craft the verbal and visual sales tools to successfully sell your project. You will delve into pitch structure, voice control, emotional intonation, the effective pause and even how to use sound effects. You will also build and learn how to best use a visual deck/lookbook. Some sessions will also include guests, mainly writers who have had success selling their pitches to major companies and outlets, as well as agents and managers, all sharing their own stories and tips for success. One-on-one time with an industry expert of this caliber is incredibly rare. You will walk away from this lab having built and practiced your TV series pitch with Todd so you can go out into the market and confidently sell your project! Praise For Todd's Teaching "Todd's experience and expertise shine through. If you've ever wanted to be a showrunner on a TV series then learn all you can from him." -- Rahime B. "I never realized how much fell on the showrunner before working with Todd. He's a fantastic educator!" -- Meg L. "You brought to the zoom screen the qualities I’m sure you excel at as a showrunner – humour, vulnerability, candidness, insight, patience, wisdom, respect, humility, confidence, inclusion. Each of these words have been selected specifically!" -- Jan R. "I just wanted to send a quick note to say THANK YOU for the wonderful showrunner class! The amount of information given in the 4 classes was incredible and you can tell by the stellar guest speakers that Todd you are truly admired for not only your work, but also for being a kind, thoughtful human :)" -- Sage P "Todd is an absolute angel! This was the most wonderful class I’ve ever taken! If we ever does another class, I’d love to join." -- Lauren M. "I loved Todd's class. Todd is so enthusiastic and informative, he has a true love of teaching. I would take future classes with him, no question. I really came away with an understanding of how showrunning works and the responsibilities and career paths." -- Allyson M.