Sarah Cornelius is the Creative and Production Executive at Whitewater Films, an independent production company spearheaded by veteran producer Rick Rosenthal whose more than 100 credits include: BAD BOYS HALLOWEEN 2 TRANSPARENT BEAUTY AND THE BEAST BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER SMALLVILLE Whitewater Film's mandate is to discover new writers with unique voices and to produce their projects. This approach has resulted in Whitewater producing numerous notable films which have won Independent Spirit Awards, the Sundance Directing Award, a Primetime Emmy, as well as collecting nominations for an Oscar and the Sundance Grand Jury Prize. Whitewater has produced projects for: Paramount Classics The Orchard Showtime CNN Films Netflix IFC Samuel Goodwyn Films Whitewater Films recently completed their feature STANDING UP, FALLING DOWN starring Billy Crystal & Ben Schwartz with first-time director Matt Ratner. Their film, THE LAST SHIFT premiered at Sundance 2020 with two time Oscar-nominee Richard Jenkins. In addition they produced FIRST GIRL I LOVED (Sundance winner), HALFWAY THERE (Sundance Episodic Showcase winner), SMALL ENGINE REPAIR (SXSW premiere). Whitewater is releasing two features in 2021. The critically acclaimed festival favorite THE BOY BEHIND THE DOOR will release on AMC-owned horror streamer SHUDDER on July 29th. The second feature, SMALL ENGINE REPAIR starring Jon Bernthal and Shea Whigham has been acquired by Vertical Entertainment, release details TBA. Full Bio »
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Writing a great feature screenplay is a gargantuan effort, and putting together something like this doesn’t just happen willy nilly. No matter how good of an idea you have, how fantastic your characters are, or how mind boggling your plot twist is at the end, none of it matters without a solid story structure. Structure is often the hardest aspect of writing for screenwriters of all levels and requires a large amount of discipline and a deep understanding of the craft. But no other elements of your script come together unless they can rest on this crucial foundation. Whether you’re working on your very first screenplay or already have many produced and under your belt, spending time better understanding and improving how you structure your film scripts is worth its weight in gold.
Ask any producer, manager, coverage reader, or gatekeeper of any kind—out of the thousands of scripts they read and the countless issues and problems they come across, no issue is more prevalent in a writer’s screenplay submission than their failure to effectively structure and plot out their story. It makes sense; implementing a tight story structure is HARD, a delicate and complex balancing process that is hard for ANYONE to nail. Yet it’s for this reason that mastering story structure is even more important—if you can present a screenplay with a rock-solid story structure, you’re instantly able to stand out and get your script noticed and considered.
Sarah Cornelius serves as Creative and Production Executive at award-winning Whitewater Films, helmed by director-producer Rick Rosenthal (HALLOWEEN II, BAD BOYS, TRANSPARENT). This approach has resulted in Whitewater producing numerous notable films which have won Independent Spirit Awards, the Sundance Directing Award, a Primetime Emmy, as well as collecting nominations for an Oscar and the Sundance Grand Jury Prize. Whitewater has produced projects for Paramount Classics, Netflix, Showtime, IFC, Samual Goodwyn Films, The Orchard, CNN Films and more. Whitewater Films recently completed their feature STANDING UP, FALLING DOWN starring Billy Crystal & Ben Schwartz with first-time director Matt Ratner. Their film, THE LAST SHIFT premiered at Sundance 2020 with two time Oscar-nominee Richard Jenkins. In addition they produced FIRST GIRL I LOVED (Sundance winner), HALFWAY THERE (Sundance Episodic Showcase winner) and SMALL ENGINE REPAIR (SXSW premiere). Whitewater is releasing two features in 2021. The critically acclaimed festival favorite THE BOY BEHIND THE DOOR will release on AMC-owned horror streamer SHUDDER on July 29th. The second feature, SMALL ENGINE REPAIR starring Jon Bernthal and Shea Whigham has been acquired by Vertical Entertainment, release details TBA. Sarah has been involved with development on each of Whitewater's projects and has the ability to communicate conceptual notes in a direct and effective manner.
Sarah will use her extensive experience evaluating scripts and discovering stories to delve into how you can master story structure for your own feature film screenplay will use notable past screenplays as examples as she breaks down, act by act, the elements necessary to turn your script into something special. She’ll begin by discussing three-act structure in general and explain why it’s necessary as your begin developing your script. She’ll also teach you some of the biggest elements needed for effective story development, including world building, effective characters, stakes, theme, and tone. Next, Sarah will zoom in on act one and explain how to master introductions and the inciting incident as well as spotlighting your central question. She’ll also reveal the most common pitfalls she sees in act one. Sarah will do the same for acts two and three, spending time to go over complications and escalations, transitions, subplots and turning points, effective revelations, climaxes and resolutions.
Throughout, Sarah will be drawing from the Oscar-winning screenplay of PARASITE and you will receive free downloads of the script.
Praise for Sarah's Stage 32 Webinar
"Just a ton of information from someone that is clearly on the 'inside' of the industry."
"Sarah was spot on about structure, It aligns with everything else i have learned, seen, experienced.:
"She was informative and great."
Like what you heard from Sarah during this webcast?
Send your script to Sarah and speak with her for a full hour by clicking here.
Sarah Cornelius (Educator)
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We have found ourselves in an age of content overload. As audiences, everywhere we turn we are inundated with stories online, on screen, in podcasts and on the radio. And these are just the stories that make it to these platforms. Script readers and producers are going through much, much more, often reading hundreds of screenplays a month. And yet, with so much content out there, scripts still rise to the top. It’s not theme or content matter that achieves this; it’s authenticity. The industry is changing, but this simple truth never does. Executives, producers, studios, and audiences will always seek out authentic voices. The question, then, is what exactly is authenticity and how does it read on a page? Adding authenticity to your work is a lot harder than adding, say, character headings. It’s not a switch to turn on and it’s not something that can be easily engineered. Cultivating an authentic voice is a challenge every writer faces and takes years of honing your craft. However, there are things you can do right now to better zero in on your own voice and show it off to executives and other gatekeepers. Better understanding what authenticity looks like on a page, how executives identify it, and the steps writers with strong authentic voices take before approaching a script will give you the best possible chance of your project standing out, continuing into production and ultimately premiering to the masses. Sarah Cornelius serves as Creative and Production Executive at award-winning Whitewater Films, helmed by director-producer Rick Rosenthal (HALLOWEEN II, BAD BOYS, TRANSPARENT). This approach has resulted in Whitewater producing numerous notable films which have won Independent Spirit Awards, the Sundance Directing Award, a Primetime Emmy, as well as collecting nominations for an Oscar and the Sundance Grand Jury Prize. Whitewater has produced projects for Paramount Classics, Netflix, Showtime, IFC, Samual Goodwyn Films, The Orchard, CNN Films and more. Whitewater Films recently completed their feature STANDING UP, FALLING DOWN starring Billy Crystal & Ben Schwartz with first-time director Matt Ratner. Their film, THE LAST SHIFT premiered at Sundance 2020 with two time Oscar-nominee Richard Jenkins. In addition they produced FIRST GIRL I LOVED (Sundance winner), HALFWAY THERE (Sundance Episodic Showcase winner) and SMALL ENGINE REPAIR (SXSW premiere). Sarah has been involved with development on each of Whitewater's projects and has the ability to communicate conceptual notes in a direct and effective manner. Sarah will use her extensive experience evaluating scripts and discovering talent to delve into what goes into finding your authentic voice and how to bring it into your script. She’ll begin by discussing the main questions you should ask yourself before writing a script, including how to prevent writer’s block, how to anchor your concept, and the three ‘whys’ you must address before getting started. Sarah will then approach the concept of authenticity from the point of view of an executive, and what specific things they look at to identify a writer’s voice. She’ll speak to format and clarity, imagery and action, dialogue, point of view, and creativity and risk-taking. Sarah will even teach you how to retain your authenticity past the writing phase. She’ll discuss how to ask for and incorporate feedback while still holding on to your voice and how to pitch what you wrote with authentic confidence. Finding your own authentic voice is never easy, but Sarah will give you the tools you need to better understand how to bring your voice forward and hone in on it with more confidence. Plus, you will receive 10 downloads of notable screenplays that exhibit an authentic voice (and 2 downloads of scripts without an authentic voice) that Sarah will use to demonstrate how authenticity reads on the page: Jordan Peele's US CAPTAIN FANTASTIC THE SHAPE OF WATER PARASITE AMERICAN BEAUTY RESERVOIR DOGS WHIPLASH HARRIET TRAINSPOTTING APOCALYPSE NOW SHOWGIRLS CATWOMAN Praise for Sarah's Stage 32 Webinar "Sarah was incredible! Loved her teaching style and insight. Great webinar!" -David P. "Very informative, well worth it!" -Caroline B. "Great webinar - loved the use of scripts and clips. Wonderful speaker!" -Ron H. "Sarah Cornelius was wonderful. Time well spent today." -Brian B. Like what you heard from Sarah during this webcast? Send your script to Sarah and speak with her for a full hour by clicking here.
Ever heard an exec say something like: "I'm looking for a grounded, high-concept genre film"? Join Stage 32's Allen Roughton and learn to decipher what execs are actually saying when they tell you what they're looking for! As the Stage 32 Writing Services Coordinator, I spend most of my time talking to execs about the kind of material they want, specialize in, or think is the next big thing. And I have to admit that sometimes it feels like I need a translator. High-concept? Grounded? Smart? Supernatural... but not horror? A Ten-by-ten? What the heck are these people talking about? Luckily, I've googled my hear out, asked a ton of questions, immersed myself in the script development world, and learned their language so you don't have to! Now I'm here to put it all together in a FREE Webinar breaking down the lingo of Screenwriting Development! Live Wednesday, May 2nd at 1pm PST, I'll become your translator and help you understand the world of development as I break down the lingo so you can make sure you're sending the right project to the right exec. Have a question for Allen? Join Allen live and participate in the Q&A at the end of the webinar! or
Yes, you can build a complete development package to attract investors with little (or even no) budget. We are going to show you how. There is a misconception that you need millions of dollars in order to move forward. This isn't true. If you have access to a computer, internet and passion, YOU can make your project attractive to high-net worth individuals. If you have limited funds, we will show you the best places to spend money to yield results. It may seem daunting to build a package with little or no budget but we are going to break it down, step by step, and explain in detail how to build an enticing package with things you can do for FREE, under $150, under $500 and beyond. Your Stage 32 Educator Michelle Alexandria has over 20 years working in sales and distribution. She has personally worked on 25 feature films with budgets $6MM and under. Michelle knows what gets the attention of both financiers and distributors. In this class she will share what you can do regardless of a small or non existent budget to create an enticing package that gets your project noticed. You will walk away from this class knowing how to create a development package, no matter your budget, that gets your project off the ground! Praise for Michelle's Stage 32 Teaching "Clear, concise, and brilliant." -- Mario D. "I have a deck for my film. It's going in the garbage. I will be starting over tomorrow with this wealth of information flowing in my head. Remarkable job, Michelle!" -- Phil M.
One of the most critical and underappreciated roles necessary to make a film work is the script supervisor. This person is vital to helping a director achieve his or her vision and is one of the most important positions a director must choose for his or her team. A good script supervisor not only keeps track of script progress and continuity, but serves as the director’s trusted confidante. They save time, money, and are instrumental in helping a director achieve his or her creative goals. But for this to work, the relationship between these two roles needs to be solid. A director and script supervisor have an interesting and complex relationship. You can have a great script, a spectacular cast, the most talented cinematographer, production designer, and gorgeous costumes, but if your film doesn’t edit well, it will be a disappointment. A good, experienced script supervisor helps a director avoid missteps, gives them cinematic choices in the editing room, and becomes their narrative storytelling accomplice. A bad script supervisor can be a real nuisance, interrupt the creativity on a set, and fail to protect a director’s vision. It all comes down to understanding and communication. Forming the vital and promising relationship between a director and the right script supervisor will have a lasting, positive impact on the film. No matter the size of your film, mastering this complex relationship can make all the difference. Let’s explore how to make this work. Brenda Wachel is an accomplished and sought after script supervisor with over 30 years of experience and credits on some of the biggest films of all time, including JURASSIC PARK 3, OCTOBER SKY, BRIGHT, COLLATERAL, FURIOUS 7, and CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER. She has worked with countless directors like Paul Haggis, Joe Johnston, Michael Mann, David Ayer, Tim Robbins, and Terry Gilliam and continues to serve as script supervisor for upcoming projects like Netflix’s just released mockumentary feature DEATH TO 2020, written and directed by BLACK MIRROR’s Charlie Brooker and starring Hugh Grant, Samuel L. Jackson, and Lisa Kudrow. No one knows the role of script supervisor and how to find success through this position better than Brenda, and she’s prepared to share what she knows exclusively with the Stage 32 community. Brenda will break down the importance of a script supervisor throughout the process of making a film and demonstrate how to make the vital relationship between a director and script supervisor work. She will begin by delving into the job of a script supervisor and why they’re especially important to directors. She’ll also explain their duties during prep, filming, and post production. She’ll also explain why a script supervisor is necessary for films of all levels, from low budget features and shorts to big budget blockbusters. She’ll give tips on how to find the right script supervisor for your project as well. Next, Brenda will look at how to shape the relationship between a director and script supervisor including how to establish one and how to grow and maintain it. She will then teach you how best to communicate between these two roles and then go into how a script supervisor can help with the relationship between directors and actors. Finally Brenda will share the biggest lessons she’s learned in her storied career as a script supervisor. If you are a director preparing to start a new project in the new year, no matter the size, it’s imperative you have a good script supervisor on your side and a good relationship with them. Brenda will show you how to do this. “The role of a Script Supervisor is vital for any film production, but also often a misunderstood, under-utilized, and underappreciated one. Doing it well sometimes means being invisible. I’ve been on enough films and worked with enough different directors to know how much a good relationship between a director and script supervisor can elevate a film, and how much a film suffers when the relationship isn’t there. I am very excited to share my experiences with you and teach you what I know about being an invaluable script supervisor.” -Brenda Wachel
Learn how to create and fund your own streaming series from a TV series creator who has been involved with over 500 hours of content! The surge of television platforms, networks, and streamers in recent years has opened up the world of television content production, spelling good news for aspiring content creators around the world. We’re not just talking Netflix and Amazon; countless other channels and streamers like Tubi, Shudder, Roku, Snap, and many more are actively building their slates and looking for new content to buy outright. With these opportunities, it’s more than possible to create, sell and be profitable on your own independent TV series. Over twenty-five years and working across three continents, Jeanette Milio has been involved in the production of over 500 hours of content for film and television, with a total production value of over $250 million, including Academy Award® winning talent in front of and behind the camera. Recently, Jeanette has focused on the development, financing, and production of television series. She co-created, co-financed and executive produced the beauty competition series GLOBAL BEAUTY MASTERS on TLC and its spin-off series THE LOOK ALL-STARS on The CW. She further managed the renowned dog series TV series and brand DOG WHISPERER WITH CESAR MILLAN, which aired for 9 seasons on the National Geographic Channel and sold in over 180 countries. Jeanette’s decades working and finding success in the TV industry has given her a unique and unrivaled perspective of how to finance television content and get it sold. In this exclusive Stage 32 webinar, thoroughly lay out Jeanette will rules to follow and the traps to avoid for you to fund, produce, and sell your own independent TV content to a streaming service! If you are looking to create film and television projects for streaming services, this webinar is a must! Praise For Jeanette's Teaching "Jeanette has invaluable knowledge and made me feel like seeing my project get made and distributed was possible." -- Phillip F. “This was an excellent overview of all that is involved, and a great encouragement to reach out to people who do this kind of thing for a living, instead of trying to do it by myself for the first time.” -- Sarah D. “Jeanette was so detailed about the how to's and why you need to take and research every step. I love getting the details that really feel behind the curtain.” -- Melissa B. “I liked it. Specifically, the content. Jeanette was very informative and clearly knows her stuff.” -- Crystal B.
Learn How To Produce In The Global Entertainment Marketplace From An International Producing Expert "Alexia is clearly very experienced & she is so gracious in sharing her wisdom with all of us. I'm truly grateful that you all put on this class!" -Becca G. As global audiences continue to grow, the entertainment industry is building internationally, and in this exclusive Stage 32 class, you’ll learn exactly how to get into the global entertainment marketplace with your projects. Over four weeks, you’ll be guided by international producer Alexia Melocchi of Little Studio Films. Alexia has made a career out of successfully acting as a bridge between Hollywood and the international marketplace. She previously worked as a distributor and sales agent, where she sold over 50 films to profit for clients and acquired more than 150 major studio and independent films, including LA LA LAND, NOW YOU SEE ME 2, and more. Alexia will show you the ins and outs of the international industry, including: The processes and etiquette you need to know The rules and regulations to follow The pitching materials you need, depending on the market How to access the players when you don’t have connections Financing options, including tax credits vs. co-pros vs. in-kind services And more You'll also receive these confidential handouts from Alexia: The top companies in Europe, Canada, and Australia taking project submissions Marketing one-sheet used by international sales agents Sample email for contacting international buyers Don’t miss out on the chance to learn from one of the most prolific international executives by taking this class. You’ll walk away a step closer to seeing your films and TV shows made as you embrace the global wave and launch your international producing career. Praise for Alexia's Previous Stage 32 Education "Really great. Actually useful, practical advice. Wasn't full of bullshit platitudes, Alexia shot straight with us." -Max W. "Alexia did a fantastic job of making it all relatable and cutting through the noise." -Clint G.