Diane Messias is a former BBC Comedy Producer and Director, whose long list of credits includes directing one of the UK's best-loved sitcoms, One Foot In The Grave. Having worked in professional comedy for the past 30 years, Diane has directed, produced and written for many of the country's top comedians and actors including Alistair McGowan, Rory Bremner, Harry Hill, Ian Hislop, Richard Ingrams, Paul Merton, Richard Wilson, Alan Coren, Willie Rushton, Andrew Sachs, Barry Took, and the list goes on. She has recently formed a new satirical comedy group with Days of Our Lives actress Miranda Wilson, The Caustic Sodas, and teaches comedy writing and standup, both with her own company, SecretofComedy.com and for Up The Creek in Greenwich. You can follow Diane on Twitter as @NiceEtoile, and her topical satire blog can be found at AmuzeNewz.com Diane's Stage 32 Blog Posts: Bottom Line on Above the Title (Part I) Bottom Line on Above the Title (Part II) Full Bio »
How many times have you watched a funny show and thought 'I can do that'? Or expected to laugh, but not heard any jokes? Perhaps you feel your whole existence is just one long comedy script, and it's your mission to show how art imitates life...
...whatever your motivation, sitcom writing is fun, safe, and you can try it at home! As with other genres, there are rules and techniques, tricks of the trade and logistical considerations to contemplate, all of which Diane Messias will discuss in this instructional webinar. If you're passionate about witty dialogue, or curious about plot creation, prepare for the mysteries of good comic writing to unfold.
Join Diane Messias, a 30-year veteran in comedy and former Director & Producer from the BBC, who's long list of credits include the UK's best loved sitcom, One Foot in the Grave. For more of Diane's bio, click here.
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"Awesome webinar. Webinar was very interactive and informative and I'll be looking forward to signing up for more through stage32. Thanks!" - Marquese Clack
"I just finished reviewing the recording of your webinar and I just wanted to say thank you for your wisdom and advice! I'm primarily an actress and comedienne, and I've done sitcom acting, but the sitcom writing formula was always a bit of a mystery to me. Not only have you helped me on my way to developing an original sitcom, but your insights really help me with acting in sitcoms as well. Best wishes for 2014 - I can't wait to see the work you do next! Cheers!" - Rachel J. Clark
"Challenging, fun and exciting, Diane Messias's comedy workshop was the most terrifying thing I've done in ages! Worth facing my fears, though - very supportive environment and my sense of achievement was terrific!" - Jacqui Deevoy
"Diane's attitude and enthusiasm helped me (a complete beginner) find my comedy voice and shake off the nerves I fostered about performing. She took us through all areas of comedy to help get the ideas flowing and taught us various helpful exercises for creating jokes. I am now armed with a finely tuned funny-bone and the confidence to try out what I learned in the big wide world!" - Julia Watson
State of the industry Why the majority of TV/Film comes from pre-existing IP "The Executive Bias" Pre-existing Fan Base/Fleshed Out World Adapting Books/Articles Where to Go! How To Choose Material Who To Contact For Film/TV Rights How To Close The Deal Case Study: Game of Thrones, Sex and The City Case Study: The Wedding Sting in the Atlantic, now going to be a film at Paramount Adapting Comic Books / Video Games Where to Go! How To Choose Material Who To Contact For Film/TV Rights How To Close The Deal Case Study (Comics): Guardians of the Galaxy (Marvel/Disney, lesser known/less successful comic became a blockbuster) Case Study: Jessica Jones (Marvel / Netflix) Case Study (Video Games): Assassin's Creed (FOX, to be released this December) Making it your own Most say DO NOT adapt your own material (leads to being too protective of your work/not as open to change) Fun thing about IP, when you build a world, it can keep being adapted into other mediums (Example: Orphan Black the comic book was one of the best-selling comics last year, adapted from TV show. Goes in both directions) The heart of this, however, is making sure the new versions are different enough from the old, AND have your voice in them. LIVE Q&A with Maggie!
This week the Writers' Room welcomes two very special guests into the Pitch Tank! Jason brings in Director of Development Rachel Crouch of Cold Iron Pictures, a production/financing company that most recently produced Being Frank starring comedian Jim Gaffigan and Anna Gunn. Previously Cold Iron produced Swiss Army Man starring Daniel Radcliffe and Paul Dano, as well as Marielle Heller’s directorial debut The Diary of a Teenage Girl starring Bel Powley, Kristen Wiig and Alexander Skarsgård, both of which premiered at Sundance. Previously Cold Iron releases also include Joseph Cedar’s political drama Norman starring Richard Gere which was released by Sony Pictures Classic, Don't Think Twice, and Lake Bell’s second film, I Do...Until I Don't.As a writer, Rachel has had articles published by The Mary Sue, TVGuide.com, EveryGeek.net, and co-founded the geek girl podcast and blog The Babes in the Woods. We are also joined by the Founder and CEO of Stage 32, Rich "RB" Botto. RB is a writer, producer, and actor himself, who is currently writing a biopic with a major company on board! During the Pitch Tank, Rachel, RB, and Jason give feedback on pitches a diverse set of project from members around the world!
Session 1: Initial Contact: Where do producers look for material? If you’re a producer, selecting the right writer for your story. Should you really sign up for those websites that claim to get your stuff read? What makes a producer decide to read your material? How to get past the measures designed to keep you on the outside. Repped vs unrepped. How many projects is a producer developing at any one time? How To Write To Get Read. What hooks a producer, development exec or reader and are those things different at different budget levels? Should you go ahead and write your $100 million dollar summer blockbuster? Writing to get it made now. Pre-existing material. Where you find it, how to get it. Coverage. Who’s reading? What are they looking for? How do they judge? Recorded Q&A with Shaun! Session 2: What is “development” really and how long can it take? From big budget films to indies, the time period can vary wildly. What are the factors? Is there a way to “beat the system” and ensure your film gets going? Building your relationship: Working with a producer or development exec. can be a stressful process. Learn how to navigate this so that you end up with the best version of your project. Fighting/Making up/Moving on. So you’ve hit a wall. They want more changes and you’re not willing to go there. How to move past the inevitable speed bumps and get going again. Is being replaced inevitable? You’ve been optioned/hired… Now what? Beginning to understand the dynamics of your new relationship. If you’re a writer, how to work with your new producer/partner to create the best result. If you’re a producer, how to navigate the process with your screenwriter. Differences between indie/big budget in terms of development Thinking in terms of production: While certainly not a “must” for writers, having some sense of what may go into crafting a single scene from a practical perspective can be of enormous value. Recorded Q&A with Shaun!
So, you’re a writer with a great script. You want to get signed! You want to get it sold! Heck, you just want it to be read! This is where you learn what the studios/producers/agents look for in a script, so you can address those points before anyone even takes a look. You will be miles ahead of the screenwriting pack by knowing IN ADVANCE how they evaluate a script. Or you’re a writer/producer. The #1 job of any producer is knowing how to identify material, and how to make that material BETTER. This is where you will learn how to break that script down, and build it back up. Or you’re a director. It is your duty to look at a piece of material (yours or someone else’s) and know how to improve all aspects of it – from story to character to conflict. Or, you’re an actor reading a screenplay. You like the part, but something’s missing. The story needs work. You want to shine, and it’s up to YOU to give notes on that character and that story. But you don’t know how to express to the director/producer what you innately feel. This is where you will learn how to analyze the script, and communicate what you think to make your role pop. This workshop is for anyone looking to break into the industry, or anyone already deep into it who wants a better grasp of story. Story is king in entertainment – now and always – and knowing what makes a good story and how to improve upon one, is vital.
Finding, securing, and building a relationship with a meaningful and experienced producer can be one of the biggest challenges writers and filmmakers face. Even with a great script and a stacked cast, many producers who can move the needle on a project are often in great demand. Securing a meaningful producer means you have someone on your team who can pull the strings, make the offers and put the puzzle pieces of the project together. But how do you find a producer in the first place? How do you build a relationship and show them that you’re someone they should take a chance on? And once you’ve reached that point, how do you get the most out of that relationship to assure that your vision reaches the screen in the most productive, and hopefully profitable manner possible? One of the biggest misconceptions for talent is that producers stifle creativity. ‘The only word they know is “no!”’ or ‘The only thing they care about is money!’. The truth is, though, that building a relationship with the right producer can be a career-maker and can also make your life easier. Producers help you make connections, take all of the day-to-day questions about making a project off your plate, and can even creatively add to your series or film. But you need to know how best to use your producers if you’re going to succeed. Writers and filmmakers alike need to know how to find the right producer for them, understanding the skills different types of producers bring to the table, and finding the best way to create a good producer/talent relationship. Rachel Crouch is the Director of Development at Cold Iron Pictures, a production/financing company that most recently produced BEING FRANK starring comedian Jim Gaffigan and Anna Gunn. Previously Cold Iron produced SWISS ARMY MAN starring Daniel Radcliffe and Paul Dano, as well as Marielle Heller’s directorial debut DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL starring Bel Powley, Kristen Wiig and Alexander Skarsgård, both of which premiered at Sundance Film Festival. They also produced the Sundance hit UNTITLED AMAZING JOHNATHAN DOCUMENTARY, which premiered in the US Documentary Competition section and is available on Hulu. Rachel has been involved in every step of producing these films and has helped launch careers of the talent involved with them. Rachel will walk you through the nuts and bolts of finding the right producer and forming a great working relationship with him or her. She will discuss the different types of producers and how each contributes to different projects. She will then go into how to find that perfect producer, and the best ways to do research, take meetings, and woo them to get them on your side. She will also discuss the producer’s role in every phase of production—from giving notes during development, to building the team in pre-production, serving on the ground during production, and handling sound, color, and deliverables during post, among many, many other facets. Rachel will help you tackle the tricky issue of dealing with money with your producer and outline the common ways the producer-talent relationships fall apart, as well as flourish. Rachel will even provide case studies from her own background to illustrate how the producer-talent relationship helped create Independent Spirit Award winning DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL, Sundance winning SWISS ARMY MAN, and SXSW nominated BEING FRANK. Like what you heard from Rachel during this webcast? Send Rachel your script and speak with her for a half-hour by clicking here. Praise for Rachel’s Stage 32 Webinars: "Very informative, Rachel is wise beyond her years." -Anthony L. "Very helpful! I learned so much and I am looking forward to going back and rewatching" -Milena W. "Rachel Crouch was awesome. She enriched my knowledge of the world of producers and how as a screenwriter we can make connections with the right ones and how best to work with them! Great job." - Ricki L. "Rachel was terrific! Her thoughts were clear and helpful." -Valerie C.
In this Executive Hour we speak with screenwriter Lorien McKenna! Lorien is a former Pixar Story Manager who worked on such features as Oscar-winning UP, Oscar-winning BRAVE, Oscar-winning INSIDE OUT, and THE GOOD DINOSAUR. She also served as a producer for Paramount Animation where she oversaw development for WONDER PARK. Lorien, along with Oscar-nominated writer Meg LeFauve, sold their romantic comedy anthology, THIS THING CALLED LOVE to Hulu with Dan Lin producing; as well as a half hour sitcom, POOG to NBC and WBTV. Lorien also wrote HOW TO SET A FIRE AND WHY, based on the book of the same name by Jesse Ball, for Straight Up Films. Previously, she served as the Co-EP for Hulu's CURIOUS GEORGE series, and has developed projects for Disney Jr., Funko, and Netflix. She is the co-host of the podcast The Screenwriting Life with fellow screenwriter Meg LeFauve. During the webcast, Lorien discusses her unusual career trajectory, working in the "Brain Turst" on Oscar-Winning animated films at Pixar, battling "Imposter Syndrome", tackling adaptations, writing for television vs. features, how hard it is to take notes even as an established writer, and much more!