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!
Can you tell your whole story in just six sentences? This month, we're challenging you to use Pixar's dead-simple approach to outlining to breakdown your story or help you come up with something completely new!
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 "I've worked with countless writers in this industry and know how hard it is to stand out. I also know how important a sense of authenticity can be for any script. I love helping writers find their own unique voice and know how to pull it out of them. I'm so excited to share what I know with the Stage 32 community." -Sarah Cornelius
Your host, Wes Ambrecht, has helped sell projects to FX, HBO and Amazon and previously worked with Gersh! So you’ve finished your pilot, congratulations! The first step is out of the way. Now, it’s time to get things into shape. Very rarely does a first draft come out like a golden egg. In fact, by the time you actually see something on TV, it’s probably been through upwards of twenty drafts. From initial notes and revisions to producer notes, studio notes, network notes and maybe even a note or two from an actor who thinks there’s a better way to word that one line. In this webinar, Wes Ambrecht will walk you through the process of getting your pilot to a place where it’s ready to be looked at by representation and producers. A writer, producer and former development exec, Wes has been on both sides of the table. This class will offer an unabashed look at the development process and help students see their pilot not just for its story but also its component parts.
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.
As a writer, receiving notes on your material may be a difficult part of the process but, ultimately, it's part of your job. And understanding how to deal with and apply those notes to your writing may be your most important job of all. Make no mistake, all writers are precious about their work, and taking notes is never easy, but the sooner you open yourself to receiving and understanding your notes, and the note behind the note, the more likely your work will become tighter and you'll signal that you're a writer that people want to hire and/or pay for your work. Film and television are the ultimate collaborative medium. You write alone (or in a team), but to make the final product, the work of dozens to hundreds of people is required, and they all have a contribution to make. The work is a product to be sold to buyers and an audience, and they get a say in what they want to purchase and consume. Screenwriting is also the ultimate iterative process. No script is ever perfect on the first draft, and scripts evolve and grow even during production itself. So you will be receiving notes – lots and lots and lots of them. Some you will ask for: notes from other writers, professional consultants, managers and agents. Some you will hope for: producers, executives, directors and stars. Some you will agree to: showrunners, studio and network executives. And some will remind you that necessity is the mother of invention: from line producers, casting directors, set dressers, and costume designers. The bottom line is you need to understand what these notes mean and how to execute them when you agree and what to do when you don't. Anna Henry is a Producer and Development Executive. Anna has set up projects at Sony, 20th Television, EOne, Starz, Amazon, Netflix, Corus, ITV America and more. Anna began her career as a development executive at Nickelodeon, then crossed over to prime-time television working at CBS and ABC in drama development and programming before working in management and establishing herself as a Producer. Anna has been on the giving and receiving end of script notes of literally hundreds of scripts throughout her career. She has developed a strong understanding on the "lingo" of script notes and what the note behind the note means when it comes to your script. Now, you will learn how to dissect the feedback you get on your script from an executive's perspective. Anna will take you through the entire process of receiving notes. She will take away the anxiety of the entire process and teach you how to accept notes with professionalism and grace. She will explain to you who you should be getting notes from and how listening to the wrong voices can set you back. She will teach you what notes you should think about and when you should take a note as gospel. She will explain what notes are worth challenging and which you should absolutely adapt. She will help guide you through what it means when you get notes that go over structure, plot, stakes, character and exposition. She will take you through logic and clarity, cuts, action lines, dialogue and scene notes. And, she'll even go over what you should do if you get vague notes, nit picky notes and when you get suggestions and alternatives. Anna will remove all the fear and apprehension one feels when asking for and receiving notes, giving you a comprehensive guide to reference every time you get notes on your work. You will learn how apply them to tighten your work and put yourself in a position to sell your material and/or get hired!
So you want to direct. You've been bitten by the filmmaking bug and now all you can think about is making a film. You've got a script (or the concept for one) and have envisioned exactly how you want to see it on the screen. And, now more than ever, with equipment more accessible, the costs of shooting affordable, the barrier of entry lower than it's every been, and the options for distribution growing seemingly by the minute, you know the path from script to screen has never been more viable. We get it. As a director you are the lynchpin of a production and the commander of a creative army in service of your vision. But, in order to truly realize that vision, you have to know everything there is about development, pre-production, physical production, and post production. Even though you can clearly see the film in your mind that's only a small part of the process of being a director. It takes hard work, discipline, and wearing many hats to be able to execute every aspect of developing and filming a movie - and to do it in a way that holds the entire production together. What you do (or don't do) in pre-production will set the tone for the entire shoot, good or bad. How you command the set on the first day will determine whether your cast and crew put forth their best effort or zone out. You have to be cognizant of shooting time/days, your budget, and assuring that your are delivering on every promise. But you're not done when you shout "That's a wrap!" There's still more to do when you get to post-production, working hand in hand with your editor, colorist, sound designer and more. It sounds overwhelming, but we're here to tell you it's not only a manageable environment, but one you can thrive in. Stacia Crawford started as an actress, but had the overwhelming desire to manage and film projects. So, she moved into producing and directing. Last year alone, she had two feature films that premiered on Netflix and Lifetime. With the success of those films, she has been hired to direct two more features this year. Stacia has worked with NBC, The History Channel, A&E, AMC, Spike and more, and has used her experience to make sure she runs a tight and efficient set. She's a pro at managing a project from the script phase through seeing her work on screen and beyond. Stacia will guide you through the entire directing process so you can understand what your responsibilities will be through pre-production, physical production and post-production. She will help you understand what to look for in your contract before you even get hired. She will teach you best casting strategies, how to find and enlist the help of your creative departments, and how to choose the right DP and AD (beyond important!) You'll also learn how to prepare your shot list and how to confidently run your set by learning how to work with actors, producers and your crew and keep them all happy. She'll teach you about your dailies and picking up scenes if the schedule shifts. Finally, she'll take you through post-production and how to work seamlessly and diplomatically with your editor, composer and your color and audio team. You'll be well-armed with all the pertinent and vital information you need to manage every aspect of being a film director. Stacia will remove your anxiety and fears by giving you the tools to succeed, thrive and have your cast and crew looking to work with you again and again. "If you are thinking of going into the industry it was amazing, hit all the points, and she went above and beyond when she expanded on a lot of her points...like making sure you get your insert shots (which I've been a victim of.). Overall she was great, clear and to the point." - Ryan H. I'm a screenwriter and always wanted to direct, but found the idea of it daunting. Stacia not only lifted my fears, but gave me so many "I can do that!" moments that I'm already kicking myself for not doing it sooner. She's a marvel. - Monica R.