Courtney 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. Full Bio »
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."
"Couldn't have been any better. Great detail!"
- Ida W.
Differences Between a TV Film and a Traditional Film
What Happens After the Greenlight
TV Film Script Structure
Creating a Beat Sheet
Creating the Outline
Q&A with Courtney
Courtney Miller Jr.
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.
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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.
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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!
Learn directly from Patrick Raymond, a development executive at Mandalay Pictures which sold biopic Birth Of a Nation at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival for a record-breaking $17.5 million! Stage 32's "Deconstructing the Script" series has emerged as one of the most helpful ways to learn and improve your own screenwriting skills. By breaking down some of the top scripts in the marketplace, this exclusive series shows you choices screenwriters make in plot, dialogue, pacing, tone, world and description that will help inform your own writing. Even better - Stage 32 brings in working creative and development executives to break down each script - from their own perspective - so you can better understand how executives see writing and develop projects. In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, Deconstructing The Script: Oscar-Nominated Straight Outta Compton, we have brought in Patrick Raymond, Creative Executive at Mandalay Pictures, as your host to break down the script for this Oscar-nominated biopic. Recently Patrick's production company sold biopic Birth of a Nation at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival for a record breaking $17.5 million! Even though Straight Outta Compton is a biopic, the structure, themes and world-building is applicable to any narrative feature screenwriting. In this 90-minute online webinar Patrick will work through the script, identifying the key elements, characters, and plot points that make this more than just a biopic but also a statement, keeping the tone and voice consistent throughout as it relates to the subject matter. He will identify specific scenes that support the themes and identify not just specific plot points, but also highlight relevancy for the modern audience/culture. You will be able to see margin notes and specific script examples from Straight Outta Compton to learn how and why choices were made. As a development executive in Hollywood, Patrick has a plethora of experience reading and developing various musical biopics. Straight Outta Compton is one of Patrick's favorite scripts from 2015 and "...from a story and script level, stands as one of the best." Find out why by registering for this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar.
In this Stage 32 Next Level webinar, Simon Graham-Clare will discuss 10 business steps for giving your project momentum and creating a viable package that feels right to investors. Having been involved in the production and/or financing of over 200 projects, Simon will discuss how a filmmaker can benefit by teaming up with a producer who understands this world, and he looks at all projects from an international point of view to give you a full spectrum idea of film financing. The last two films The Future Film Group produced were both first time directors, so Simon knows exactly what it takes to get your project in production, no matter if it is your first film or one of many. Simon Graham-Clare is a Producer at The Future Film Group, established in London in 2000 as a film financier, utilizing the expertise of its principles in both the entertainment and business worlds. It quickly established itself on the UK scene through its involvement in films such as Bend It Like Beckham (starring Keira Knightley), The Queen (starring Dame Helen Mirren) and Mrs. Henderson Presents (starring Dame Judi Dench and Bob Hoskins). The company quickly formed a production division to work alongside its financing arm and, through an ever-expanding structure, has since been involved in the production and/or financing of nearly 200 films and television shows. Some of The Future Film Group’s notable productions include Transsiberian (starring Woody Harrelson and Sir Ben Kingsley), 50 Dead Men Walking (starring Jim Sturgess and Sir Ben Kingsley) and Flawless (starring Sir Michael Caine and Demi Moore).
They say not to speak ill of the dead. What about when the dead speak ill of you? We challenged you to deftly write a 3 page scene conveying the nuances of character reactions to getting called out for being exactly who they are, but wish they weren't.
This month we welcome Lindsay Schwartz the Director of Development at FullyFormed Entertainment, the venture from producers Brad Fuller and Andrew Form, who co-founded Platinum Dunes with Michael Bay in 2001. Fuller and Form are the producers behind the hit film A QUIET PLACE and sequel, as well as THE PURGE franchise, OUIJA, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, and THE AMITYVILLE HORROR. FullyFormed Entertainment's latest project, THE FOLLOWER is set up at Paramount Pictures. They are eagerly anticipating the release of A QUIET PLACE 2, and are developing numerous features and series with studios such as Paramount, Sony, MGM, Universal, and Amazon, amongst others. Before FullyFormed and Platinum Dunes, Lindsay worked at Paramount Pictures and Happy Madison Productions with Adam Sandler. As you can imagine this Executive Hour webcast is packed with a wealth of stories, insights, and advice from Lindsay! She discussed the inside story of how A QUIET PLACE came together and sold to Paramount, how she approaches development with writers, how Horror and Thriller are very similar to Comedy, and what writers can be doing to break out in a crowded market!
It’s undeniable that we’re witnessing a new era of unscripted television. The staggering, cultural success of shows like TIGER KING, CHEER, I’LL BE GONE IN THE DARK, and LAST CHANCE U signify in no uncertain terms that the appetite is huge for premium docuseries and will likely continue to be for at least the near future. The water is warm for premium docuseries, but that doesn’t mean someone can just put together their own unscripted series willy nilly. Finding a subject and crafting a format that will resonate with audiences and find success with a network is no small feat and requires a lot of hard work and an understanding of what makes this type of content successful. In today’s rapidly evolving television landscape, one of the greatest challenges that producers face is how to develop series that will actually resonate in such an increasingly crowded space. Gone are the days of having an idea, putting a 3-page deck together and pitching it to 30 different networks in the hopes that several of them will make offers to further develop the series. Instead, the most effective way to produce a docu-series in today’s world is to secure many more parts of the package when bringing a new project to market. In a world of talent, access, format and projected story arc, the development of different types of shows require us to ask different questions of ourselves early on and throughout the development process. Doing this and working to stay ahead of the curve can very well situate you for success and put you on your way to produce your own premium docuseries. Andrew Fried is the Founder and President of Boardwalk Pictures, producers of premium non-fiction content for multiple networks and distributors, including Netflix, Showtime, Quibi, YouTube and many others. A recipient of multiple Emmy wins and nominations (including six nominations and three wins for breakout Netflix hit CHEER just this year), Fried and Boardwalk strive to elevate and expand the idea of documentary television across an ever-growing unscripted landscape. Boardwalk has been responsible for some of the most prestigious unscripted series of the last few years. CHEF'S TABLE, now in its 7th season, received 8 Emmy nominations, won 3 James Beard Awards and the IDA Award for Best Documentary Series. CHEER, also on Netflix, has proven to be one of the platform's biggest successes. Other huge commercial hits include Gwyneth Paltrow's THE GOOP LAB, 7 DAYS OUT, STREET FOOD and LAST CHANCE U (now in its 4th season), the Showtime series ACTION and YouTube’s BEST SHOT. Andrew will give you the tools to put together, pitch, and hopefully sell your own docuseries to a streamer or network. He will begin by giving you a general overview of unscripted programming, including the different types, where we see these shows, who potential buyers are and how the industry has grown and evolved recently. Next he will delve more closely into the different types of docuseries that people are currently watching. This includes anthology vs. arced stories, format vs. a documentary approach, and how this landscape will continue to evolve through time. Andrew will then use his own Circus Analogy to explain how we find story versus create story, and how that informs both casting and access. He will teach you how to create material that will sell. He’ll go over how to develop a deck and how to create a sizzle reel to better communicate your vision. He’ll even give you tips on how to put all of this together without breaking the bank. He will also show you how to avoid over-developing your idea while being sure not to under-develop it either. Next, Andrew will give you tips on navigating the “Hollywood” of it all. He’ll explain when celebrity attachments can help, how to package your project without cutting yourself out, and will outline the elements you need to actually get a green light. Andrew will then delve into how docuseries are developed and cast, and how these steps work. He’ll walk you through what a show bible looks like for a docuseries and when you actually get to make the thing. He will finally discuss the process in the field and in post to put everything together. By revealing how the industry works behind popular docuseries and walking you through the entire timeline of what putting together content like this looks like, Andrew will give you clear tools and a practical roadmap you can use to make your own docuseries a reality. Praise for Andrew's Stage 32 Webinar "Really really great info. As someone who has had success in pitching docuseries before Andrews's information was spot on and I still got new info and ideas out of it!" -Matt R. "Great presentation. One of my top 2 favorite Stage 32 webinars I have attended. -Heather L. "Truly a great overview on pitching and selling docuseries." -Michael G. "Clear, well organized and a pleasant approachable personality." -Amita S.
This week the Writers' Room welcomes in Development Executive Anna Henry into the Pitch Tank! Anna began her 20-year career as a development executive at Nickelodeon, working on the development and production of animated television series, pilots and features. Anna has been a script consultant and screenwriting instructor, as well as building her own slate as an independent producer. Her clients have worked on hit television series on all major networks, such as "THE DEUCE", "POWER", "IN CONTEMPT", "TOMMY", "HUNG", "CHICAGO FIRE", "FEAR THE WALKING DEAD", "THIS IS US", and "THE FLASH". Her clients have worked on shows at virtually every broadcast, cable and streaming television network, and have set up projects at Amazon, Starz, HBO, Sony, Fox, EOne, ITV America, OddLot Entertainment, Corus, and others. Anna enjoys having a close collaboration with writers in refining scripts, expanding their range of material, and finding the best home for each project, which is why she was an incredible guest!