Matt Duffett is an LA-based screenwriter who recently completed writing CRASH UNIT for Sylvester Stallone to star in and direct. He has been hired to adapt New York Times' Book of the Summer THE DESTROYERS for Star Thrower Entertainment (THE POST). Meanwhile, his Boston crime thriller THE GUNSMITH has Tommy Wirkola (HANSEL & GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS, WHAT HAPPENED MONDAY) attached to direct. His sci-fi spec script FLASHBACK was on the Blacklist and his first comic, COLD ZERO, is also headed to print this year. Matt's scripts have received several awards, including the 2017 HOT LIST for Best Screenplays of the Year, the 2017 YOUNG & HUNGRY Breakout Writers list, Best Screenplay at the 2017 LA FILM AWARDS, and two BLACK LIST Shortlist nominations. He is represented by United Talent Agency and Circle of Confusion. Full Bio »
As a screenwriter, if you want to stand out and get that next job, you need to prove that you have the goods. This might require you to do the work ahead of time and write a dynamite script on your own dime to later show to interested parties. This is a spec script, or a speculative screenplay. It’s a script that you write for free to hopefully sell or garner interest for once it’s complete. Writing on spec is a gamble, since it’s not guaranteed you’ll ever get paid for your work. But it can also be the best (or only) way to get in front of executives and put your best foot forward.
Writing the right spec script is intimidating. This has to serve as your calling card, after all. This one script should show Hollywood not only that you’re a great writer, but also who you are, what makes you different, and what you can bring to the table that no one else can. It needs to be exciting and it needs to be something that people are going to want to make. That’s a lot of pressure, enough to psych out anyone. But this doesn’t mean it’s impossible. The spec market is booming and executives are constantly looking for new voices to invest in. Learning some simple tips and tools to apply to your script could be what it takes to get you over the edge, get you in a room, get your project sold, and get you that next job.
Matt Duffett is an LA-based screenwriter who recently completed writing CRASH UNIT for Sylvester Stallone to star in and direct. He has been hired to adapt New York Times' Book of the Summer THE DESTROYERS for Star Thrower Entertainment (THE POST). Meanwhile, his Boston crime thriller THE GUNSMITH has Tommy Wirkola (HANSEL & GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS, WHAT HAPPENED TO MONDAY) attached to direct. His sci-fi spec script FLASHBACK was on the Blacklist and his first comic, COLD ZERO, is also headed to print this year. Matt's scripts have received several awards, including the 2017 Hot List for Best Screenplays of the Year, the 2017 Young & Hungry Breakout Writers list, Best Screenplay at the 2017 LA Film Awards, and two Black List Shortlist nominations. He is represented by United Talent Agency and Circle of Confusion. Throughout the journey he’s mastered the art of getting in the room, winning the job and delivering the goods.
Matt will go over how you can make your spec stand out and how it can help you land your next job. He’ll begin by discussing what things you should consider before you start writing your spec, including how to take advantage of your own unique background, how to zero in on your writing brand, and how to better understand the marketplace to make a more informed decision. He’ll then teach you how he outlines his scripts and how to use this to not only better structure your script, but to have more fun while writing. Matt will delve into what makes a good scene in a spec script, what types of scenes always work, and what types never do. Next he’ll talk about characters and how best to create your own not only to work on the page, but also to attract high profile actors to play them. He’ll detail the important people to focus on during the process of delivering a script. Matt will give you tips on how to best put finishing touches on your spec and how to use that spec to land a manager or agent. He’ll then talk about what to do once that spec script starts generating some interest. He’ll go over how to work with your reps to find the next paying gig and how best to pitch your project, including how best to prepare, the number one thing that sells in every pitch meeting, and what you should never do. Next, Matt will discuss how to handle notes from reps and executives. Finally, Matt will use his own past work as case studies to better illustrate the points he’s making. These include CRASH UNIT, which Sylvester Stallone is attached to direct, THE GUNSMITH with Tommy Wirkola (HANSEL & GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS) directing, his adaptation of New York Times Book of the Summer THE DESTROYERS, and The Black List script FLASHBACK.
Praise for Matt’s Stage 32 Webinar:
“This was a great webinar! Matt made things feel a lot more possible and achievable”
“Matt has had so much success so recently that he really is uniquely qualified to talk about selling specs. I appreciated hearing what he had to say”
“I’m so glad I saw this webinar. It got me excited to take another stab at my script”
“This was so helpful! Thanks!”
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There aren’t a lot of jobs more challenging than that of an independent producer, but there also might not be any job as rewarding. It’s the producer who turns a bunch of ideas and dreams into reality and a singular product that can be enjoyed by people all over the world. What can be better than essentially creating something out of nothing? From conception and pre-production through distribution and beyond, the producer is with the film from beginning to end, builds the team, and makes the decisions that ultimately make the project a failure or success. This role is an enigmatic one, though, since it covers so much. This can also make it feel difficult or overwhelming to break into. So how does someone actually start off a career in producing in the first place? There is no one correct way to become a successful producer, especially in the indie space. However there are three main paths that most working film producers have taken to get to where they are today: the executive path, the production path, and the independent path. Each path comes with its share of obstacles, but each can also provide the education, connections, and wherewithal to spark a successful career making movies. Better understanding how to find success through these tracks can help you turn your aspirations of becoming a working independent producer into a reality. Jim Young of Animus Films is a leading independent producer, with almost two dozen films under his belt. Jim has created a successful career producing true-story films such as THE CATCHER WAS A SPY with Paul Rudd, LIFE OF A KING with Oscar-winner Cuba Gooding Jr., THE MAN WHO KNEW INFINITY with Oscar-nominee Dev Patel, LOVELACE with Oscar-nominee James Franco and Amanda Seyfried, and the upcoming film, THE PEOPLE VS. VEGAS DAVE. Jim has a long history of producing critically acclaimed features and documentaries including YEAR OF THE BULL at Showtime, THE WORDS with Oscar-nominee Bradley Cooper and Zoe Saldana. Through years of successes and challenges, Jim has learned what it takes to be a working full-time producer and is excited to share what he knows with the Stage 32 community. Jim will explain what it means to be an independent producer and the three main paths you can take to become a full-time producer of your own. Jim will first talk about the main skill set and duties of an independent film producer and give you an honest explanation of what this job really looks like. Next he will explain cow you can start your career as a producer through the three most common career paths: the executive path, the physical production path, and the independent path. For each, Jim will talk about how to get your foot in the door and how best to use these opportunities to learn what you need to get yourself ready to become your own producer. Jim will then teach you how to find longevity as an independent producer and share with you some of the biggest lessons he’s learned through his career. If you’ve ever been interested in starting a career as an independent producer and making the types of films you’ve always been passionate about, Jim will give you the tools and tips you’ll need to make that actually happen. Want to work more closely with Jim? Send your script to Jim and speak with him for an hour by clicking here.
Inclusivity is not a checklist you run through to avoid a negative media attention or a lawsuit, though many productions may treat it this way. Inclusivity and accessibility are vital for creating more jobs and reaching the widest audience. This ultimately gives you the highest possible return on investment as the more people there are who can enjoy your film, the more money you stand to make. The longer you wait to consider inclusivity and accessibility in your production, the more it will cost and stress you out later. Do you know how to identify tax incentives so that your production is accessible? Or the legal requirements to make an inclusive film? How do you even begin to discuss these topics while being sensitive and constructive? Whether you want more creative storytelling, opportunities to better engage audiences, or are looking for new money sources, with this webinar, you'll immediately have everything you need to put the information into action in your project. Independent producer of Tuck and Roll Productions, Amanda Upson, guides you through how she does it all! Using her own experiences making the timely-themed project RENEGADES: KITTY O'REILLY for PBS's AMERICAN MASTERS, and the social justice documentary, A LONG MARCH, no one better understands diversity, accessibility, and inclusivity better than Amanda. She'll show you how to navigate this expanding aspect of filmmaking through her experiences as someone hard of hearing, as a producer, and as a lawyer admitted to the US Supreme Court bar, who advocates for others. She also includes exclusive resources that you can use for your productions: Budgeting considerations How to discuss disability and accessibility Resources for legal requirements This isn’t a list of helpful resources, but rather, an in-depth look at how to create fantastic opportunities by being an ally, and you’ll be amazed at how simple it can be. This shift in your mindset, guided by someone with first-hand knowledge, creates awareness that ripples through the creative process, from development to assembling a diverse cast and crew to your marketing strategy. PRAISE FOR AMANDA'S TEACHINGS: "Amanda Upson is an exceptional producer. Increasingly, accessibility and inclusion are a necessary part of productions. Beyond her expertise as a producer, her knowledge and experience ensured that our production not only met the technical requirements for accessibility, which was important to our distributor, but also ensured that we created an inclusive space for a diverse cast and crew. Her understanding of these concepts helped us to provide more nuanced storytelling, and support long term success." Day Al-Mohamed, Series Creator/Writer/Director RENEGADES: KITTY O’NEIL
Learn directly from Jen Grisanti, acclaimed Story/Career Consultant, Writing Instructor for Writers on the Verge at NBC, and a former 12-year studio executive, including VP of Current Programming at CBS/ Paramount and Spelling Television! Many writers wonder what it’s going to take to get them from being a non-working writer to a working writer. You’ve written great scripts. You’ve entered competitions and writing programs. You may have placed, been a finalist, or even won. However, you’re still waiting for your professional career to start. What is it that makes a TV pilot or screenplay hit it out of the ballpark and get sold? What can you do to your writing to make it more sellable? In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, your host Jen Grisanti will teach you the 7 Pillars of Story. What exactly is that? It's the fundamental story components necessary to take your script from good to great. Jen will teach you from the studio executive/analyst perspective how to see your story differently and identify what is currently missing in your script. Jen herself has gone through analyzing countless Oscar and Emmy award-winning scripts and has applied that to her writer's techniques. This has led to over 30 of her clients selling pilots, five of which went to series. After being mentored by Aaron Spelling for 12 years, Jen has emerged as a pro in breaking down story and helping you, as a writer, get the most out of your script. Plus, for Stage 32 members, she will provide case studies for you to learn from! She will be using examples from her clients’ work and how they successfully implemented the 7 pillars to get their scripts sold. Under the guidance of Jen, you will leave this webinar fully prepared to write a marketable story that can help you go from good to great and make the move from non-working to working writer! PRAISE FOR JENNIFER'S TEACHINGS: “It’s very simple, when Jennifer Grisanti talks, writers listen. And they listen because she gets it, can see where they missed it, and knows how to bring them to it.” - Steve Binder, Co-Executive Producer, NCIS“A lot of instructors preach ‘write what you know,’ but Jen’s method is more ‘write what you feel.’ She recognizes that every writer has unique experiences from which to draw, and she helps you access those experiences so you can turn them into stories that have a beating heart on the page.” - Rick Muirragui, Co-Executive Producer, Suits"Jen combines her passion for story with an astute understanding of what makes a story relateable. Nothing gets by her — whether it’s a question of character development, theme, or major story beats, her suggestions are spot on and have helped me realize each script more completely, I trust her instincts implicitly.” - Jude Roth, Feature/Television Writer, Page Int’l finalist, Slamdance and Cinestory semifinalist, Austin second rounder
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.
While the scene will be heavy with exposition, disguise the exposition in dialogue and conflict as much as possible. How does the character make the complex simple? What props does the person use? How does the character who receives the info react?
In Stage 32's continued effort to shine the light on women in the entertainment industry we have partnered with Female Voices Rock for a thrilling virtual event. On March 8, International Women's Day, some of the industry's top leaders who are dedicated to empowering women will be coming together to host an inspiring webcast celebrating women in entertainment. The panel features five powerhouse female voices of entertainment, including: Carmen Carbana - Cinematographer, Marvel & Disney Plus Ms. Marvel; Hulu's High Fidelity; Lionsgate/Starz LatinX hit show Vida, Netflix's Narcos Robyn Watson - Director, WarnerMedia Distribution & Board President of Women in Film & Television, Atlanta (WIFTA) Kristi Shuton - Walt Disney Television, Creative Talent Development & Inclusion Amanda Toney - Stage 32, Managing Director Moderator: Catherine Delaloye - Female Voices Rock,Founder & Executive Director After our live panel, join us for an exciting networking happy hour! We will break off into smaller groups and meet and toast your fellow female filmmakers, actors, screenwriters, cinematographers, production designers, and entertainment creatives & professionals from all over the world.