David Ian McKendry is a professional screenwriter, script consultant, and script doctor who has worked for Universal, Blumhouse, Lifetime Networks, and The Hallmark Channel as well as numerous independent production companies. He began working in the entertainment industry as a video producer and writer for Fangoria Entertainment before later putting together his own horror films, including the recent ALL THE CREATURES WERE STIRRING, starring Constance Wu (CRAZY RICH ASIANS). Through his own experiences writing and producing horror films as well as fixing other writers’ scripts and teaching screenwriting and production to countless students and aspiring filmmakers, David has a keen sense of what makes a script successful in the horror genre and will be sharing what he knows exclusively with the Stage 32 community. Full Bio »
If you’re a horror writer, you may have tons of great set pieces you can’t wait to terrify audiences with, but unless those pages are compelling and maintain the readers interest, your script will remain just a collection of words. The first priority of ANY writer, horror or otherwise, is storytelling. Before you make a classic horror film, you’ll need an effective and readable screenplay.
Horror movies are no exception to the importance of structure. It’s not just about terrifying the audience; it’s most importantly about telling a story. The story is what makes us care about the characters and the hell they are about to go through. You could have the most original scares imaginable, but if we don’t care about the story then we won’t care about the characters who have to endure those horror set pieces. Most importantly, without elements of structure, a producer may stop reading your screenplay. If that happens, it’s highly unlikely they’ll be interested in making your film.
So how do successful horror screenplays nail story structure? What are the major pitfalls most horror writers fall into and what can you do to make your script stand out from the rest?
David Ian McKendry is a professional screenwriter, script consultant, and script doctor who has worked for Universal, Blumhouse, Lifetime Networks, and The Hallmark Channel as well as numerous independent production companies. He began working in the entertainment industry as a video producer and writer for Fangoria Entertainment before later putting together his own horror films, including the recent ALL THE CREATURES WERE STIRRING, starring Constance Wu (CRAZY RICH ASIANS). Through his own experiences writing and producing horror films as well as fixing other writers’ scripts and teaching screenwriting and production to countless students and aspiring filmmakers, David has a keen sense of what makes a script successful in the horror genre and will be sharing what he knows exclusively with the Stage 32 community.
David will dive deep into how to write and structure an effective horror screenplay. He will begin by first teaching you what the horror industry looks like today, how to find work within it and what sort of horror trends are important to note right now. He’ll then break down effective structure in horror, including dissecting the cold open, Act One, Act Two and Act Three. David will conclude by providing tips on what to do with your script after you’ve written and re-written it to get it out into the world and find the attention it needs.
David will be using the screenplays for 1980’s FRIDAY THE 13TH and 2017’s HAPPY DEATH DAY as case studies as he continues to break down horror film structure. Everyone who signs up for this webinar will receive these screenplays to download for free.
David Ian McKendry
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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 Jessica Sitomer, who has had her writing produced by an Emmy Award Winner, produced TV herself and has coached thousands of professionals who work in the entertainment industry. So you have chosen to pursue one of the most sought out industries on the planet: film, television or theater. People come and go, jobs come and go; this is not like becoming a teacher and once you have tenure, you’ve almost guaranteed your job security. This is an unstable industry. You’ve heard of the corporate ladder? The bad news is in our industry there isn’t one clear ladder to climb. The good news is you can build your own ladder. But before you build it, give yourself a reality check in regards to the nature of the industry you are pursuing. Understand its cycles so they don’t scare you and you’re prepared for them when they come. Take a moment to remember why you’re passionate about what you do… you’ve been given a gift, and you need emotional, financial, and physical stability so you can share it with the world. People have asked me, ‘Can I really have a career in the entertainment industry that I love, make money at it, and still have time for friends, family, self care, health, spirituality, and fun?’ And my answer… YES! Once you understand the nature of the industry and take some steps to plan for the instability, you can build your life any way you want.
Any filmmaker who has worked with animals on set even once knows things can get complicated fast. Even actions as simple as walking a dog or petting a cat get tough when the animal is uncooperative or overwhelmed by crew, equipment, and multiple takes. No matter how small or independent your production is, it’s often worth it to bring on an animal trainer or handler when dealing with your furry (or scaly or feathery) castmates. And whether you have a trainer or not, it’s critical that you understand some key protocols and strategies to get the performance you’re looking for and keep the animal, cast and crew safe, comfortable and happy. Getting a great animal performance for your project can be a huge boon, but there’s a lot that goes into this and a number of considerations you need to make ahead of time. Yet this side of filmmaking can feel fairly niche—it’s not something a lot of people in the industry are adept at, and it’s certainly not usually taught in film school. So where do you even start? Do you hire an existing animal actor or can you bring on your own pet? How do you find a good animal trainer or handler that doesn’t use adverse training methods? And what do you need to do to keep everyone safe and comfortable but still get the animal performance you’re hoping for? There’s a lot to consider, but knowing general safety preparation, protocols and strategies can make all the difference. Theresa Carroll is an accomplished animal trainer and coordinator with over 15 years of experience and credits on projects like THE GREATEST SHOWMAN, ANNIE and SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE. Starting her career by providing pet therapy at children’s hospitals, Theresa has since provided animal acquisition, training and set coordination for countless films, TV shows, theater productions and commercials. Her other recent credits include MR. ROBOT, HIGH MAINTENANCE, THE LEFTOVERS, BILLIONS, POWER, LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MYERS, and commercials for AMERICAN EXPRESS, BLUE BUFFALO and NICKELODEON, among many others. Theresa’s deep experience working with animals on many different projects of varying budgets and requirements has made her an expert in this field and given her a passion in ensuring animals and the cast and crew around them are safe and have positive experiences. Theresa will teach you how to safely and effectively work with animal actors for your independent production and bring in animal trainers or handlers to get the performance you’re looking for and keep everyone safe and happy. She will first explain how you should find and bring on an animal trainer, including when you need one, where you should look, what aspects you should focus on, and how much you should expect to pay. She’ll also outline what you need to do ahead of production to prepare for shooting with animals, including setting safely guidelines, insurance, and proper documentation and paperwork. Theresa will then dive into how to actually navigate the shoot day with animal actors and will show you how cast and crew should interact with animals, where to hold them, how to acclimate animals, and much more.
Learn how to protect your content online directly from Jaia Thomas, an Entertainment Attorney who specializes in federal copyright registration and licensing as well as film financing, production and distribution! Content creators are increasingly relying on digital and social media platforms to build their brand. Whether you’re a screenwriter, an actor, comedian, or anything, creating content for platforms like Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo, TikTok, and Instagram can be a powerful way to be discovered, find fans, and give yourself the chance for bigger opportunities. Yet despite the positives, the internet isn’t exactly the safest place, and having your work stolen or plagiarized is unfortunately far too common. Keeping your content protected on online platforms can be complicated but if you put your own work online, it’s crucial you first understand how to best legally protect yourself. Just because your work is posted and widely accessible on platforms like Twitter or Instagram doesn’t mean you can’t take steps to have it protected. The internet can be tricky, but it’s not the wild west it once was. Understanding how to be safe and what happens to your ideas when they’re posted can make all the difference. For instance are your YouTube videos protected under the U.S. Copyright Act? Who owns your tweet or snap? And what steps can you take from the outset to dissuade people from stealing your work? Better understanding the legal side of this world and being aware of the steps you can (and should) take is incredibly important if you’re interested in building your online presence and putting your own ideas out there for everyone to see. Jaia Thomas is an entertainment attorney with over ten years of legal experience who has brokered deals with companies like ABC, NBC, HBO, and Bravo and has been quoted as a legal expert in such publications as The New York Times, USA Today and ESPN. Jaia regularly assists clients with transactional and intellectual property matters and counsels filmmakers and producers on all aspects of film financing, production and distribution. She also regularly assists content creators with federal copyright registration and licensing and has had several works published in the American Bar Association, National Bar Association and multiple law journals. Through her many years specializing in federal copyright registration and licensing, Jaia has become an expert on how creators can keep their work safe, and is going to share what she knows exclusively with the Stage 32 community. Jaia will equip you with the tools necessary to protect your work and ideas in an increasingly online world. She will first outline the copyright registration process and how it applies to online content She’ll even go through step-by-step how to get your online work registered with the U.S. Copyright Office. Next she will delve into specific online sites and platforms, discuss their terms and conditions and give you tips on how to protect your work on each. This includes YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and Faceboook. Jaia will discuss legal issues surrounding the ownership of social media posts. She will also highlight recent infringement lawsuits in the entertainment industry surrounding content being shared on social media platforms. Lastly, Jaia will discuss the requisite steps necessary to remove infringing material from the web.
Skydance Animation Director of Talent Acquisition Shares the Secrets of How Artists and Animators Get Hired Comes with a Case Study of a REAL Artist Portfolio that Got the Artist Hired! A lot of students and artists who complete prestigious academic programs with degrees in Film, Animation, Digital Media, and similar fields, emerge from their institutions with incredible craftsmanship and no clue what to do next in terms of seeking work. That’s okay! You weren’t out sick the day they taught it; they didn’t teach it at all. The one step in career development that most academic institutions fail to address is the methodology of how to seek work and attain it. But there IS a methodology, and if you’re interested in applying your art and animation skills to film and television, understanding this methodology is critical to get your foot in the door. Submitting your application to an online job posting feels like you’re tossing your resume and portfolio link into a black hole. You know the competition is steep and the number of applicants is daunting. Standing out, getting your submission seen amidst the fray, and landing an interview – let alone getting hired! – feels like a luck of the draw. But it doesn’t have to be like that. There are sequential steps you can be taking to improve your chances of getting noticed, getting interviewed, and getting hired. How exactly can you stand out amongst the crowd? What art should you be including in your portfolio? And what are the biggest mistakes applicants make that you can avoid from the get go? Ariel Goldberg is an artist and animator who now serves as Director of Talent Acquisition for Skydance Animation, working to grow the new high-profile studio into a major player in both feature and episodic animation. Earlier in his career, Ariel worked as a Senior Concept Artist at Zynga, designing costumes and characters for social games FarmVille and CastleVille. He later joined the recruitment team at Disney Interactive and was then asked by Nickelodeon to oversee Talent Acquisition for its animated productions. At Nickelodeon, Ariel developed a staffing pipeline for the hiring of designers, storyboard artists, directors, production assistants, and script coordinators, among other positions. With his background, Ariel has seen it from both sides – as the artist trying to break in AND as the recruiter determining who makes the cut and has a deep understanding of how artists can break through and find success. Ariel will use his recruiting expertise to lay out how you can find art and animation opportunities in film and television and improve your chances of getting noticed, getting interviewed, and getting hired. He’ll break down what the animation pipeline in film and TV looks like, outlining the different steps and how it differs between TV and features. He’ll also talk about the main artist roles throughout the process and what the career trajectories look like. Ariel will give you tips on networking and finding your in as well as looking for opportunities and listings and how best to reach out to companies and recruiters that are hiring. Next Ariel will dive deep into putting together an effective portfolio and what it should look like. He will also teach you what an effective artist’s resume should contain and how to nail the job interview. He’ll finally explain the most common mistakes and misconceptions he has seen when trying to break in. Ariel will even show a REAL artist’s portfolio that helped get the candidate hired and explain why the portfolio earned him the job. Finding opportunities as an artist is hard work, but Ariel will show you how to pursue your career the right way and achieve your creative and professional goals.
Learn how to pitch remotely from the writer of JIGSAW and SPIRAL (Number one movie at the box office this year) Includes a live pitch demonstration and an exclusive pitch workshop where YOU can practice your Zoom pitch and receive notes! Pitching films and series has changed DRASTICALLY over the past year, as we’ve moved from traditional in-person pitches between writers and producers to remote ones. And even as we continue on our path to a stronger semblance of “normal”, all signs point to Zoom pitches sticking around and remaining a consistent aspect of the industry. Zoom has become the norm for eager writers, and if you’ve never pitched before, having the right tools, tips, and materials at your fingertips can really make your pitch shine. If you’ve never pitched to an executive or showrunner before, you may not know what it takes to deliver. Now, more than ever, you must be quick, concise, and clear. To avoid aimless rambling or unnecessary detail and conversation, structure is key. And once that structure is in place, your well-developed pitch can take you to the next level. What are the elements you need to pitch to a development executive or producer to get you to that next level? If you don’t know how to pitch efficiently while keeping your concept clear, the virtual call you’ve waited weeks to have could come to an abrupt end. Those who don’t take the time to practice and think they can roll through on the fly quickly, discover they’ve missed out on an incredible opportunity. But armed with the right tools, conversation, and materials, your chances are as good as anyone else’s. Pete Goldfinger knows what those tools are. Pete is an incredibly successful feature and television writer in Hollywood, perhaps best known for penning the two newest features in the SAW horror universe, including JIGSAW, which grossed over $100 million, and SPIRAL, starring Samuel L. Jackson and Chris Rock, which debuted at number one at the box office this year. Other credits of Peter’s include SORORITY ROW, PIRANHA 3D and TV shows like TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES and AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER. When he’s not writing for the screen, Pete is running and hosting his own screenwriting retreats, in-person workshops, and Zoom classes. Students of Pete’s classes learn how to turn their projects into marketable, saleable products, and he’s going to deliver these same principles to Stage 32’s community. During this timely and much-needed webinar, Pete will show you how to deliver the most valuable and authentic pitch possible by discussing the elements that need to go into a pitch so that you hook producers and showrunners quickly. From handling (sometimes) awkward small talk to delivering strong loglines with pitch decks, Pete will share his years of experience so that you leave feeling confident about your next (or first!) virtual pitch. After passing on his golden nuggets of wisdom, Pete will deliver a live pitch demonstration, who will take attendees’ ideas on what to pitch and then deliver his pitch on the spot to give you a feel of what Zoom pitching and thinking on your feet is really like. Pete will even offer an invaluable pitch workshop after his presentation, opening the floor to volunteers who will practice giving pitches and then receive valuable notes from Pete!