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 »
Includes case studies and free script downloads of:
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 examples of notable past screenplays and you will receive free downloads of each script that exhibits effective story structure after the webinar:
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.
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.
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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 recording, which you can view as many times as you'd like for a whole year!
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. There is a reason why projects like FLEABAG, OZARK, PARASITE, and Jordan Peele's US cut through the noise, with or without big budgets or names. 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.
Learn from top financier Viviana Zarragoitia, VP of Three Point Capital - exclusively through Stage 32! Get access to exclusive handouts including sample budgets, packages and collection account management statement, sales sheets, sales agent contracts and distribution agreements Over recent years, the independent producing model has shown that films budgeted between $5-$10 Million can not only make a considerable return on investment, but also serve as a launch pad for its creators and win critical acclaim. Take some examples: BRUISED was made for $10MM and sold to Netflix after premiering at this year's Toronto International Film Festival PIECES OF A WOMAN was made in this range and sold to Netflix after premiering at this year's Toronto International Film Festival GET OUT was made for $5MM, grossed over $250MM worldwide, won the Oscar for best Screenplay and launched Jordan Peele into the elite entertainment stratosphere MOONLIGHT was made for $5MM, grossed over $65MM worldwide and won the Oscar for Best Picture. SPLIT was made for $9MM and grossed over $278MM worldwide and continued to propel James McAvoy and Anya Taylor-Joy into creative roles. At this budget you can typically attract and secure some star power, one important step toward increasing the odds that your investors will see a return on their investment. And, with key star power, you have the ability to garner awards attention. It's these reasons why this budget range is attractive to many investors. Of course, there are many more variables at play, but first, you must understand the ins and outs of what goes into financing a film with this budget level so you can ultimately find success. Knowing how to raise money intelligently for films and projects with budgets between $5MM-$10MM can be your calling card toward taking the next step in elevating your film career. Simply put, if you understand the strategies and methods to help your investors see a return, you get to keep those investors time and time again. And those investors can, and usually do, bring more investors with them if they're happy. While everyone says that raising financing is the hardest aspect of filmmaking, it's not impossible, and in fact can be well within your grasp, especially with the right guidance and education. Viviana Zarragoitia is the Vice President of Three Point Capital, one of the entertainment industry's top financiers that specializes in senior lending on film and television projects. Through Three Point, Viviana closes the financing on every film that the company is involved in. She has been involved in the financing of over 100 independent films, and worked with such producers as Cassian Elwes (DALLAS BUYERS CLUB), Rob Barnum (MARGIN CALL), Anthony Bregman (ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND), James Schamus (BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN), Aaron Gilbert (JOKER), Kimberly Steward (MANCHESTER BY THE SEA), Nicolas Chartier (THE HURT LOCKER) and Kevin Frakes (HEREDITARY), among others. Before Three Point Capital, Viviana worked in accounting at Millennium Films and Bold Films, as well as in the finance division of Lionsgate, where she oversaw the preparation of multi-million dollar film and television distribution deals. Viviana has seen it all when it comes to film financing and knows intimately well how films in the $5-10MM range can find success. In this advanced level and intensive 4-session class, Viviana will comprehensively teach you how you can finance your own film in the $5-10 million budget range. In Session 1 she will provide an overview of the different types of film financing available to you. In Session 2 she will focus on using tax credits, soft money, and grants to help fund your project. Session 3 will delve into equity, pre-sales, gap, and sales agents. Finally Session 4 will look at waterfalls, recoupment and navigating collection accounts. Along the way, Viviana will provide exclusive and valuable handouts that you can take with you for your own projects, including: Sample Budgets and Packages Sales Sheets Sales Agent Contracts Sample Collection Account Statement Example Distribution Agreements
For the last 5 years, audiobooks have outpaced print media in sales. As traditional publishing becomes harder to crack, and less lucrative for that matter, more and more writers are turning to audiobooks to get their work out to as big an audience as possible. Audible alone has over 250,000 titles and that number is expected to rise tremendously over the next few years. And the number of people downloading audiobooks continues to soar. Of course, with rising demand comes a rising need. And the biggest need in the audiobook space at the moment is for distinctive, engaging and professional voice actors and narrators. Audiobook narration has become a goldmine for many. If you have worked as an actor, done voice over work, been told you have a great voice or believe you have a fantastic one yourself, you owe it to yourself to learn about the space. This is a job where you can often apply by home or simply by submitting a homemade demo. In fact, in many cases, you can narrate the book from home by setting up an inexpensive, yet professional sounding home studio. In fact, getting yourself set up and ready to audition is much simpler than you think. James Patrick Cronin and Julie McKay have narrated more than 300 audiobooks in the space of just over 4 years. They have worked together and individually with most of the major publishers in the field, in addition to having collaborated with numerous independent publishers and authors. Their work spans a wide array of genres, from Children’s Lit to Sci-Fi, Memoir to Historical Non-Fiction, and they have voiced numerous New York Times and USA Today Best-Selling authors and one National Book Award finalist. James and Julie will give you the blueprint and the building blocks toward making money narrating audiobooks. They will teach you how to set up an affordable home studio, discussing in detail what you truly need and what can be left out of the shopping cart. They will dive into performance, the narrator's prerogative, how to maintain vocal health, and how to fully prepare so you deliver your best performance. You will learn how to set your rate (and not undersell yourself), explain time management and give you clear instructions on how to act as your own agent. Most importantly, they will teach you how to find available jobs and put yourself in a position to get hired again and again. "I found the content, insight and knowledge from this webinar to be absolutely fascinating." - Ebs A. "Great primer toward getting into this particular type of VO work." - J. Nissel "Many thanks to Stage 32 for getting talented working professionals like this to give us insights to their professions." - Shaun S. "Voice over work is something that has always intrigued me. I've always been told I had a voice for this kind of thing. Now I'm ready to take the leap! So easy to understand and apply. Thank you!" Rashida C. "Ordering my equipment and getting started tomorrow!" - Angela R.
Learn directly from a studio executive, Nikki Levy, Vice President of Wedge Works at FOX! They say “write what you know” and then we sit there racking our brains for story ideas. What’s that big silver bullet, high-concept idea that will get me noticed? That will sell? That will put me on the map? STOP! There is a better saying, “If you survived childhood, you have enough stories to last for the rest of your life.” And that’s where my money is. Some of the most important screenplays and TV shows in the last two decades have come from complete TRUTH. Think of Seinfeld or the groundbreaking movie (500) Days of Summer. We don’t have to look outside ourselves for great ideas. What we have to do is look inwards, at our own life and pain and joys, to create great story ideas, comedy and dialogue. In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, Nikky Levy, veteran feature film executive and creator of the critically-acclaimed comedy event Don’t Tell My Mother!, will teach you how to turn your life into a killer story that gets YOU noticed. She will look at ways to find the gems of struggle and victory in your life, and how to translate those into cohesive stories with an arc, a strong narrative structure and characters we love. Nikki will examine how to keep our work from becoming a therapy session, and instead crafting it into an emotional, funny, relatable story. She will examine movies that did this successfully, and why. She will also discuss how to spin your own personal history into an engaging “story” so you wow executives, agents, managers and talent.
What an awesome Executive Hour to kick off 2020 with Development & Production Executive Sarah J. Cornelius of Whitewater Films. Despite fighting a cold, Sarah powered through and gave us some awesome insights about the business, the inside story of how their film, Standing Up, Falling Down came together with Billy Crystal, what she looks for in a screenwriter, and the best (and worst) advice she ever received in show business!