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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Short films are all the rage. Not only are more and more film festivals accepting short films, but festivals dedicated to nothing but short films have become more popular than ever. Additionally, more managers, agents, and producers are looking to short films to find untapped talent and new ideas. So many successful filmmakers today, from Christopher Nolan to Damien Chazelle, have used short films as a calling card to showcase their skills and show the world that they were ready for the big time. But shooting a quality short film means raising some financing. And for many, this can be challenging. Allow us to help you out by showing you everything you need to know so that you can attract investors looking to get behind you, your unique vision and your work. One thing that many creatives avoid when putting together a short film is everything that goes into the business end. From determining and compiling a true and realistic budget to being able to tell their creative and financial story within a pitch deck to thinking about a distribution strategy and recoupment plan well before shooting, there is so much to think about toward getting investors in your corner beyond the creative. JT Molner knows a thing or two about raising funds for shorts and feature films. Although JT is a writer and director, he's been deep in the trenches in raising funds for his projects leaving no stoned unturned and nothing to chance. After raising financing for many successful shorts which caught the eyes of producers and talent, JT rolled up his sleeves and helped his producers raise financing for his first feature film, Outlaws and Angels, which was originally shot as a short film as proof of concept. The feature became an Official Selection at Sundance and was sold to Orion Films. JT will teach you everything he's learned from his decade of raising financing for his short films and other projects. He will dive into how you can determine your budget and how you can include that information and other pertinent material in a pitch deck that stands out from the norm and attracts investors. He'll talk about the benefits of private funding vs. crowdfunding (he's done both) and how you can gain support from individuals and the crowd. And he'll dive into distribution strategies and recoupment planning so that you can clearly and concisely explain to your investors your grand vision of how they are not only going to make their money back, but turn a profit! Added Bonus! You'll receive a pitch deck from JT's film OUTLAWS AND ANGELS which started as a short film proof of concept, and went on to be made as a feature, being selected as an Official Selection at Sundance and selling to Orion films! Holy clarity! I've made so many mistakes along the way. Every short film has seemed like a struggle not worth reliving and now I understand why. These wounds were self inflicted. Thank you, JT, for not only (kindly) setting things straight, but for opening my eyes. I can't wait to get started on my next project. - Manford C.
Writing a film for television has a ‘unique set of skills’ which are different from writing a traditional screenplay. If you never learn how to write for the BOOM!, act break structure, number of locations, and characters, you’ll get stuck in re-writing hell or worse yet, never have your script read. Understanding script structure, outlining, and deliverables for television films prior to writing will give you a leg up on the competition. Additionally, each network has its own set of rules and you want to ask the right questions prior to typing ‘Fade In’. With more television networks producing their own content and films, the need for content is higher than ever. However, TV films have their own structure and layout, especially when dealing with networks that have commercial breaks. Additionally, working with producers and executives is a different animal than working with producers and executives in the independent world. Courtney Miller Jr. is a 5-time award winning director who has worked with the biggest names in entertainment including Michael Jackson, Beyonce, Usher, and Britney Spears. He's a staff writer for the hit show Saints & Sinners on Bounce TV and recently completed his first feature film A Stone Cold Christmas for Bounce TV, where he served as the co-writer and director. Courtney has development deals with TBS, Lionsgate, MGM, Legendary, Weed Road, Viola Davis' company Juvee, Bounce TV, and Will Packer. His award winning short film REPAIRations! - The Musical, received the Director's Choice Diversity in Cannes Best Musical. He has directed commercials for Nike, Apple & Hewlett Packard. He knows the television writing and directing landscape inside and out and he's ready to share his knowledge with you. Courtney will dive in by explaining all the differences between writing a TV and a traditional film screenplay. He will discuss how to format acts, how to be sensitive to the shooting schedule, what you can expect regarding deadlines and delivery dates and how to navigate dealing with the network. From there, Courtney will take you to the greenlit phase where you'll need to know what deliverables you are responsible for, how much time you'll be given to deliver your rewrite, and how to handle network notes (there will be plenty). Courtney will then jump into the writing process including how to write for the BOOM!, how many acts you need to have in your script (and if that varies) and the importance of writing a compelling and attention grabbing Act 1. Going even deeper, Courtney will discuss beat sheets, how many beats you need to add, and what your overall beat sheet should look like. And finally, Courtney will explain how to write an outline that keeps the execs happy and off your back so you can go do what you do best...write! "Another winner for Stage 32. I have many scripts I thought would be a better fit for television and now I know how to get it done!" - Fiona C. "I'm ready to write for the BOOM! Thanks, Courtney!" - Miguel P. "It's always been a dream of mine to have something on the Hallmark channel. Now I have the framework and I'm ready to start writing." Melissa H. "Couldn't have been any better. Great detail!" - Ida W.
There's a fine line between introducing a writer to a new world or ruleset and spouting exposition. We’ll break down how writers created the fantasy world of “Game of Thrones”, the frigid winter of WIND RIVER, the digital dystopia of THE MATRIX, and the 1919 England of "Peaky Blinders".
**This video presentation contains English closed captions. To view the webinar without captions, click here. Stage 32 + Netflix join forces to bring you an exclusive television pitch workshop Learn best practices to make your pitch work and what your pitching document should look like You do NOT want to miss this! For many, the holy grail of television has become Netflix. It’s a titan in the industry, and with over 200 million subscribers worldwide, no one can put out content quite like them. Just look at the recent hit show BRIDGERTON, which has already been seen by a massive 80 million households (!!) since its release. If you’re a writer or creator, getting your series onto Netflix’s platform can spell success in a big way. But first there’s the matter of getting your series in front of them and pitching it effectively. It should be a comfort to know that you’re not the only one who wants your series on Netflix. Netflix wants that too! Netflix execs are constantly on the lookout for exciting new voices and new series to fill their slate. Yet it takes more than just a good series or a good pilot script to get on Netflix’s radar; you need to be able to communicate it well and pitch it in a way that will get their team excited. This certainly takes some work, but it’s absolutely achievable. If you’re interested in getting your show on Netflix, it’s time to learn directly from the source what it will take to make that happen. In an effort to reach more writers and find more content, Netflix has joined forces with Stage 32 to present a FREE and invaluable workshop on what it is that they’re looking for in new shows and how you can best pitch your series to their executives. In Stage 32's continued effort to help level the playing field for content creators worldwide, we felt it's important that we help you get tools you need to be able to make sure that you can pitch effectively. Kicking off the workshop will be Stage 32 CEO, Richard "RB" Botto (@rbwalksintoabar), and hosting this presentation will be Stage 32's Managing Director Amanda Toney with Netflix’s Director of Creative Talent Investment and Development for International Originals Christopher Mack. Christopher was previously Senior Vice President of Scripted Content for Stage 13, overseeing all of the brand’s original scripted series and development slates across multiple genres, including Emmy nominated Netflix series’ SPECIAL and IT'S BRUNO. Before Stage 13, Chris headed the Warner Bros. Workshop, the writing and directing program for professionals looking to start and/or further their careers in television. Over a period of 10 years in this role, Chris curated a roster of close to 100 writers and 50 directors representing the breakthrough emerging voices working on high-profile television shows today. In addition to these responsibilities, Chris has covered hit shows such as TWO AND A HALF MEN and SMALLVILLE for the Current Programs department. Prior to joining Warner Bros., Chris spent seven years writing on various one-hour dramas including ER, THE PRACTICE and THE NEW TWILIGHT ZONE. After graduating from Loyola Law School, Chris got his start in television at NBC Studios as an associate and he quickly rose to becoming an executive. During his time at the newly created NBC Studios, he oversaw a varied list of shows including: THE FRESH PRINCE OF BEL AIR and IN THE HOUSE, among others. In this exclusive Stage 32 workshop, Christopher will delve into what exactly makes a television pitch work at Netflix. He’ll discuss the essentials you’ll need to catch Netflix’s eye and will zero in on how to write an effective pitch document. He’ll pose questions you be able to answer and communicate for your series and give you ideas on how best to communicate your show’s overview, world, tone, and characters. Christopher will then discuss how season summaries should be built and give you ideas on how to think about and present potential episodes. Finally, you will have the invaluable opportunity to ask Christopher your own questions. You will leave this presentation with the understanding of how to structure and present your series, not in theory, but directly from the source.
Producer Development Exec Anna Henry joins our Panel as we listen and read your pitches live to help educate the Writers' Room screenwriters on what is and isn't working in their pitch.
You’ve heard the phrase “the content gold rush” get bandied about much these days, but as it relates to TV, it’s never been more true. Drama television is at it's peak with such iconic shows like OZARK, KILLING EVE, BETTER CALL SAUL, THIS IS US, THE HANDMAID'S TALE, MR. ROBOT, STRANGER THINGS, BLACK MIRROR, BIG LITTLE LIES and so much more. With the influx of networks and streaming platforms either moving into or expanding their original content libraries, the demand for dramatic TV ideas and pilots has never been greater. Thanks to streamers such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max and others, over 600 shows were greenlit last year and some industry experts are predicting we may see as many as 1,000 television shows greenlit per year by 2025. But not only is the quantity increasing, so is the quality, as companies are funneling an unprecedented amount of money, resources, marketing and talent into their shows. And the impact of COVID-19 is even having an impact that could benefit writers all over the world as many shows are planning to implement virtual writer’s rooms. In short, there has never been a better time to write for TV. Now it’s just a matter of breaking in. The opportunities are plentiful and the prospects have never been more exciting, but if you want to write dramatic television you need to prove that you have the chops, and to do that, you better come armed with a great pilot script sample. Something that shows that you have what it takes; something that shows that you understand the structure and craft that goes into a good teleplay; and something that shows off your own unique voice and sensibility. This is your calling card, your way in, the piece of material that will fire you off the launch pad. The intention of this lab is to help you create that piece of material that stands out, gets you the right meetings, and, ultimately, gets you representation, meetings with decision-makers, and/or a coveted seat in a writer’s room. Spencer Robinson is a literary and talent manager at Art/Work Entertainment who's been in the industry for over twenty years. His clients have been in films with directors Quentin Tarantino, Steven Soderbergh, Clint Eastwood, Gore Verbinski and more. In the TV world, his clients have been regular cast members on shows for Netflix, The CW, Cinemax, CBS, NBC, FX, Starz, Nickelodeon, EPIX, and TBS, to name a few. His writing clients work in both features and television on broadcast, cable, and streaming platforms. He currently has a client writing on two Netflix series, and another client who just sold a show to Amazon. He also reps a writer who currently has a project at Aggregate Films, which has a deal at Netflix. Spencer has taught numerous webinars, classes and writing labs for Stage 32 and remains one of our most popular and in demand educators. In this lab, he will be working directly with you in a class setting and also during one-on-one sessions with the goal of helping you write a fantastic, market-ready pilot. To do so, Spencer will guide you through picking a concept, creating engaging characters, perfecting your structure, constructing an outline and, finally, writing your pilot. If you already have a concept or even a completed pilot, Spencer will use the same tools to help you hone and sharpen your material. WHAT TO EXPECT By the end of this 8-week writing lab, you will have a completed drama television pilot script ready to be shown to reps, development execs and other executives and professionals. Sessions will vary between 2-hour group settings and personal one-on-one Skype meetings with Spencer. You will be held accountable to take the lessons from each week and move your work forward. Plus, to keep you motivated and inspired, you will have access to a private, dedicated Stage 32 Lounge where you can communicate with your fellow classmates throughout the writing process. To see the full writing lab schedule, see below under "What You Will Learn". PLEASE NOTE: This exclusive Stage 32 lab is limited to 10 writers and will be booked on a first come, first served basis. The opportunity to work this closely and for this long with an executive and an expert in the field is an incredibly unique and valuable opportunity. If you are interested, please do book quickly. Once the spots are gone, they’re gone for good. Payment plans are available - please contact Amanda at email@example.com for more information This lab is limited to 10 people ***only 1 spot remains*** This lab is designed for beginner and intermediate screenwriters looking to build a pilot from scratch or expand on an existing idea or polish an existing pilot. Praise from Spencer's previous Stage 32 webinars: "Spencer will get those who are ready on their way to a kickass first draft that you can send for coverage, which is what I did. 2 Considers and I'm in rewrites now to move that needle. This was my first ever TV pilot!" - Erika N. "Spencer was amazing!" - Summer K. "Enjoyed the class. Spencer was a good teacher and I appreciated his insight!" - Stephen C. "Had a great time learning and progressing my knowledge of the craft of writing and working directly with a mentor who is a professional in the industry. Spencer was fantastic to be taught by! Thank you!" - Natalie A. "Spencer's teaching style is the best! His patience and easygoing approach is ideal and unique to him. Kudos to Stage 32 and to Spencer!" - Armando O.