What Readers from Netflix and Other Streamers Look for When Evaluating Screenplays —An Inside Perspective

Hosted by Michael Schulman

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Michael Schulman

Webinar hosted by: Michael Schulman

Feature Story Analyst at Former ICM, WME, Netflix & Development for Alec Baldwin, Dennis Quaid, Barry Mendel & Michael Mann

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. Full Bio »

Webinar Summary

You'll see a breakdown of Netflix internal coverage

Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO Max--they have become the Holy Grail 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 opaque and enigmatic. 

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 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.

Exclusively for Stage 32, 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!

How to Get Pitch Meetings For Your Project

How to Find and Choose the Right Screenwriting Manager for Your Career

How to Identify, Secure and Build a Relationship with a Great Producer for Your Film Project - with Case Studies

How to Capture the Attention of a Showrunner or Manager with your TV Writing Samples

 

What You'll Learn

  • An Insider’s Perspective into the Kinds of Feature Projects Streamers Are REALLY Looking For
    • How do the streamers deal with the vast volume of submissions they receive?
    • How do streamers determine which projects deserve closer consideration?
    • The types of projects that are more likely to get noticed
    • “Packaging” elements that can help your project get pushed upstairs
    • Why streamers aren’t AMERICA’S GOT TALENT
  • Who Is the Streamer Reader?
    • And why readers are vitally important to a project’s survival
    • And is all studio coverage basically the same? (hint: no it’s not)
    • Who are they as human beings?
    • What does the streamer reader job look like?
    • How streamer readers are different from other kinds of readers
    • What are Streamer Readers trained to look for, and how do they know “it” when they see it?
    • The importance of coverage
    • How likely is it for a submission to fall through the cracks or get “unfairly” judged?
    • What happens at the Streamers when a project gets positive coverage?
  • A Deeper Look into What Streamers Are Really Looking For
    • How does “the algorithm” work?
    • The importance of packaging
    • Looking towards the future
  • Streamers and “Outsider” Writers: An Honest Look at How Possible It Is For Less Established Creatives to Get Their Foot In The Door at a Streamer
  • Q&A with Michael

 

 

 

About Your Instructor

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.

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Reviews Average Rating: 4.5 out of 5

  • Just finished wartching Michael Schulman webinar. It was awesome. Learned a lot from this seasoned pro and hope to use his instruction to further my career in the business.

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