Justine Wentzell is an executive who was a key member of and ultimately led the Acquisitions & Co-Productions team at MarVista Entertainment, a worldwide distribution and production company in the film and television space. There she worked on numerous productions from development through to release. She has a proven track record of forging strategic relationships and bringing in and crafting new business globally. As part of the Recording Academy’s Advocacy Committee, she works with the Academy to update music law and protect creators’ rights. Justine received her Juris Doctorate having completed the Intellectual Property Certificate Program at Whittier Law School in 2013 and is licensed to practice law in the state of Tennessee. She also received her B.A. in Global and International Studies, with a minor in Russian, from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her global background and love for learning languages (she speaks Spanish, Chinese, Russian, and is learning French) gives her deep insights into different cultures and people. Recently, Justine released her first book, “Pocket Full of Dreams,” which is available worldwide on Amazon. 13% of the proceeds goes to Break the Cycle, a non-profit organization working with teens and young adults to create a culture without abuse. Full Bio »
TV movies are very much alive and well, and if you’re a screenwriter or producer looking to break into this huge market niche, you’ve come to the right webinar.
Despite the change in viewer habits with on-demand movies, the TV Movie and the Movie of the Week on Hallmark, Lifetime, and Disney, as well as many other channels are still extremely popular. To breakdown this landscape and share the truths behind the TV Movie model, Stage 32 has brought in MarVista’s former Acquisition and Co-Production executive, Justine Wentzell. Justine has worked on almost 100 different TV movies in MarVista’s core business.
After she digs into the specifics of what these networks are looking for, Julie will offer tips on writing a successful script for this niche. Stick around for a Q&A after the webinar to take an even deeper dive into other key elements of this form of storytelling.
You will not get more in-depth overview of TV movies, what goes into developing, writing and producing them anywhere else!
The Landscape of Movies of the Week
Cold Hard Truths:
3 Biggest Buyers: Hallmark, Lifetime & Disney Channel
Other Elements to keep in mind
Q&A with Justine!
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.
Q: Do I have to be located in a specific location?
A: No, you can participate from the comfort of your own home using your personal computer! If you attend a live online webinar, you will be able to communicate directly with your instructor during the webinar.
Q: What are the system requirements?
A: You will need to meet the following system requirements in order to run the webinar software: Windows 7 or later Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) or later.
If you have Windows XP, Windows Vista and Mac OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion): The webinar software does not support these operating systems. If you are running one of those operating systems, please upgrade now in order to be able to view a live webinar. Upgrade your Windows computer / Upgrade your Mac computer
Q: What if I cannot attend the live webinar?
A: If you attend a live online webinar, you will be able to communicate directly with your instructor during the webinar. If you cannot attend a live webinar and purchase an On-Demand webinar, you will have access to the entire recorded broadcast, including the Q&A.
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 audio recording, which you can view as many times as you'd like for a whole year!
Have you ever sat through a movie that was filled with fights, car chases, gun battles, and explosions and yet it was all you could do to keep from falling asleep in spite of the noise? This is because good action movies aren’t just about kicks, punches, and car crashes. Celebrated recent action films like EXTRACTION or Mile 22 or classics like BOURNE IDENTITY and ENTER THE DRAGON pop off the screen because of strong writing that lends itself to the story. Action writing is an art. And to write it, you’ve got to understand how to make your story matter to the audience. Action movies need to sustain the attention of viewers not just with suspense but with emotional appeal. It needs to have meaning. Explosive scenes are great, but action without a substantive story can only take you so far. Characters still need to have wants and desires, even if they’re armed and dangerous. The stakes need to be high and the flaws of each character apparent. If you are able to master this important balance of storytelling, your script will be a hit to those in the industry who are on the hunt for exciting action stories. Joshua Todd James is a well-established screenwriter, playwright, and WGA member, who wrote the action feature POUND OF FLESH, starring Jean-Claude Van Damme and currently has multiple projects in development with action stars like Jean-Claude Van Damme, Scott Adkins, Alain Moussi, Tony Jaa, Michael Jai White and former UFC champion Micheal Bisping, among others. He also adapted Peter Biskind’s best selling book Down & Dirty Pictures into a feature screenplay and Matthew Polly’s New York Times bestseller American Shaolin into a television pilot. Joshua has spent much of his life writing and learning the art of action writing and is excited to share his experience with the Stage 32 community. Joshua will teach you how to write effective action with meaning for your film or series. After discussing why action doesn’t always work on screen, he’ll break down what can make action effective. Joshua will dive deep into defining character objectives, establishing stakes and crafting identity in each scene. Joshua will also spend time focusing on the elements that action must reveal and walk you through the three primary revelations of story. You’ll walk away with the resources to improve your current script, or fire off a new one. Joshua will be using the action classic THE BOURNE IDENTITY as a case study to illustrate the elements of effective action writing that he will lay out. Everyone who signs up for this webinar, will receive the BOURNE IDENTITY script for free.
Pitch your scirpts to FilmRise's Rachel Swearingen. In this Pitch Tank, Rachel offers her critique of pitches that include a murder mystery drama, fantasy television project, a romantic comedy, and home invasion thriller.
Congratulations – you’ve finished your first draft! But now comes the real work. The old adage goes that ‘writing is rewriting’ and that is absolutely true in film and television. A big part of screenwriting is learning how to receive feedback and how to implement it. Most professional writers go through numerous drafts and rounds of feedback before taking their scripts to the market. Just think about the first time you tried anything new – a new instrument, a new workout program, or a new screenplay. Unless you’re a natural, your first attempt isn’t usually your best. It’s the practice – or in this case, the rewriting – that helps you get better and will allow you to create something truly special. Too many aspiring writers think the hard work is over after the first draft. A first draft is a milestone accomplishment, but ultimately just one rung up the bigger ladder. But rewriting and polishing is not always an intuitive process – it’s hard to determine what to change or how much to change it. A big part of rewriting or polishing is learning how to listen to others, and realizing that even a solo screenplay can become a collaborative process. Steve Desmond is a WGA screenwriter whose screenplays have been voted onto the prestigious industry Black List four times in the past five years, including in 2020 with his latest script, The Saturday Night Ghost Club. He sold his sci-fi adventure screenplay, Harry’s All-Night Hamburgers, to Warner Bros in a bidding war, with an Oscar nominated producer attached. FilmNation (Arrival, The King’s Speech) hired him to adapt the Stoker-award-winning horror novel The Cabin at the End of the World. He’s also been hired to work on projects for Legendary Pictures, Sony, Blumhouse, Mandalay, and IM Global, amongst others. His short film, Monsters, that he wrote and directed, has amassed over two million views online and screened in over 100 film festivals worldwide, winning 45 awards. Steve has found his voice as a sought-after screenwriter by mastering the art of the rewrite and his excited to share what he knows with the Stage 32 community. Exclusively for Stage 32, Steve will give an in-depth and practical deep dive of the art of rewriting and polishing that you can take back to your own screenplay or pilot. Steve will share how best to utilize feedback and explain the difference between a rewrite and a polish. He will go through the psychological components of rewriting and show you how to make an effective plan to go through the rewrite process, and then how best to execute it. Next Steve will talk about how to actually trim your script by focusing on scenes and characters and how to work with producers and executives, including how to receive notes and maintain communication. He will then give you tools you can use to determine when you’re actually done. Expect to walk away with a slew of tools and ideas you can use to rewrite your own project and make it the best it can be. Praise for Steve's Previous Stage 32 Webinars: "This was fantastic. Steve offered so much insight, dozens of little nuggets that rang true or gave me pause to think of something I'd never considered before."-Ed K. "Perfectly laid out, clear and concise material taught by a genial host!"-George P. "Steve was fantastic. His examples and insights were on point. Thanks!"-Adam H. "I made 3 pages of notes; good pertinent topics with simple fundamental answers presented. Very helpful, worth the time and fee."-Thomas W.
It’s an incredibly exciting time to be churning out fresh stories. But when you’re writing feature spec scripts, you’re the boss of the story and no studio executive is there to tell you what they need from a marketing and sales perspective. So how do you know if you’re writing a script that will sell? There are a million ways to tell one story, but how do you tell your stories without spending hours of your precious creative juices only to be told that “It’s good, but I can’t do anything with it”? Don’t worry. We have an incredibly successful writer/producer who is going to bring his years of experience writing hits to teach you what this common mistake is and how to make sure you never hear the words “It's not for me.” Matt Ember is a writer/producer who has worked on over 20 feature films and television shows including THE CONNERS on ABC, THE WAR WITH GRANDPA with Robert Deniro, GET SMART with Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway and FAILURE TO LAUNCH with Matthew McConaghey and Sarah Jessica Parker and many more. Matt has been involved with spec scripts over his storied career and he will be bringing his knowledge exclusively to Stage 32! Matt will be teaching you the functions of a feature spec script, the pros and cons of being a “hired gun” vs. writing your own spec script, PLUS the 5 reasons you should write a spec script. Based on your reasons for choosing to write a spec script, he’ll talk to you about how you should write your script. He’ll also go over the 5 things a spec script is NOT, the spec script as a personal statement, thinking like a professional, and understanding the marketplace. He’ll use three successful spec scripts as examples to give you specific writing tips on character, structure, format, and the things you need to know before you start writing. This is an exciting opportunity to learn from and ask a successful writer/producer all your questions and get direct guidance so you can deliver your best feature spec scripts! PLUS! Matt will provide script downloads of 3 spec scripts you can learn from!
Ask any executive where most screenplays go wrong, and they'll tell you it's in the second act. That's because many screenwriters type FADE IN knowing their opening (Act I) and closing (Act III) inside out, but haven't thought through how to bridge the gap (Act II). Struggling to nail the second act is more common than you might think. After all, how many times have you watched a film and thought that it dragged in the middle? Most writers will agree that the second act is the hardest to nail and usually starts out feeling way too short or way too long. But it’s for this reason that the second act is where you should be spending a lot of your time to ensuring you’re getting it right. Introducing a great concept and fantastic, deeply drawn characters is, of course, a staple of Act I, but the second act is where the heart of the narrative happens and where momentum must be found. Your second act must propel you through to the climactic third act. But this is easier said than done. Writing an effective second act requires many drafts, a solid plan or outline, and some tips and tricks to help get you there. Yet this process is crucial. If your second act stalls, anyone reading your material will likely quit right there and then. But if you can make your second act strong, by this fact alone, your script will be head and shoulders above most scripts that are coming down the pipeline and better your chances of your script getting discovered or even produced. Jason Mirch is a feature film, television, branded entertainment, and digital content producer and executive with over 15 years in the industry. Most recently, he produced a 3D animated feature film starring Jacob Tremblay, Christopher Lloyd, Mel Brooks, Kenan Thompson, and Carol Kane. Mirch was the Head of feature and television development at Image Nation, a finance and production company based in Abu Dhabi, UAE. There, he supervised the Image Nation contributions in the development of FLIGHT, THE HELP, THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL, CONTAGION and more. Prior to his work at Image Nation, Mirch was Co-Head of Development at Zadan/Meron Productions (CHICAGO, FOOTLOOSE, THE BUCKET LIST) where he was actively involved in developing a slate of feature film projects for New Line, Paramount, Summit Ent., and CBS/Paramount. He also developed and sold television projects and mini-series to CBS, NBC, Fox, ABC, and Lifetime. Jason will will give you an in depth look into how to successfully navigate the structure of your second act. He will explain the common pitfalls and why so many second acts fail. You will learn techniques for crafting dialogue that moves the narrative forward, while exposing their characters’ flaws. You will learn how to carefully order your scenes in such a way that it creates a series of authentic and escalating obstacles for your characters to overcome. He will identify and explain key plot points that typically exist in a well-written second act, and explain how you can use these as guidelines for their own projects. Jason will be citing specific examples from films in several different genres as well as providing you tools to apply to your own writing. Praise for Jason’s Stage 32 Webinar "Jason had so much good information to share, he did it at a breakneck speed. It was hard to digest it all at once. The good news is we can revisit the webinar after the fact." - Michael G. "Plan on listening to it again and again!" - Peggy R. "Jason was great. He answered all questions and presented the information effectively!" - Barbie D.
Write Now Challenge: Antihero Character Bios, in which we will hear more about the characters you have created! This month you were challenged to write a character bio for an antihero of your creation. This is unlike any other challenge you've tackled here if you need any last minute inspiration, just revisit the Breakdown Webcast on antiheroes here! As part of this challenge, I will be turning the microphone over to you! If you have submitted your pages and would like to read them for the group, you are more than welcome.