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 »
It’s a competitive landscape right now for film and TV writers to break in. 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!”
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!
Hi, Curt Cornelius here! I'm a professional working actor and have been active in the entertainment industry for over 33 years. Commercially, I have over 100 national network spots to my credit, as well as over 3 dozen film & TV shows. In my Stage 32 Next Level Webinar we will discuss, in detail, the current commercial climate, union VS. non-union VS. Fi-Cor Ads, one's materials - including headshots, how to construct a resume and/or a reel and their vital importance. I'll also touch on the online submission game and the importance of creating one's social media presence. We'll also chat about commercial classes and workshops, and even the first steps in regards to how to land an Agent. And, lastly, I'll chat about the commercial audition itself - offering my best advice, knowledge, experience and tools in just how to give your best audition and win the room.
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.
As filmmakers, having your film stand out amidst the throng of weekly releases is no easy task. Oftentimes, you find yourself competing against studio releases and the multitude of small-to-mid-level distributors dropping a plethora of titles. This creates an influx of news that can make it feel impossible for an indie film to be noticed. Since a film’s success hinges so vitally upon a good marketing campaign, there has to be a plan from day one. In order to stand out, there are three things that you need to think about from the very beginning of your project: the assets you can create, the timeline of how you unroll those assets, and how to keep the publicity train chugging along up to and well after your film’s release. Writers and editors of genre and horror websites receive anywhere between 100-400 emails a day. A lot of messages that hit their inbox are automatically deleted because they look like every other press release that they simply don’t care about, don’t have the time for, or they know that their audiences aren’t going to be interested in. Yet with proper planning, you can figure out how to offer websites content on your film that they will be eager to write about, as well as create a lasting relationship for future projects from then on forward. Jonathan Barkan served as the Editor-in-Chief of Dread Central, one of the internet’s leading horror websites, where he spotlighted and championed countless independent horror films. He also served as acquisitions ambassador for DREAD Presents, a genre-centric distribution label under the banner of Epic Pictures Group. Before Dread Central, Jonathan served as the Managing Editor of Bloody Disgusting, another leading horror website. More recently, Jonathan joined forces with Epic Pictures’ Shaked Berenson to form the Horror Collective, where he serves as Vice President of Acquisitions and Distribution and finds and acquires genre titles for North American distribution as well as foreign sales. An internet personality, he has appeared on multiple podcasts and news segments to discuss the social and cultural significance of horror and his writing has been featured on sites such as Rotten Tomatoes, WatchMojo, Atom Tickets, Phantastiqa, ComingSoon.Net, and Shudder’s weekly newsletter The Bite. Through his extensive background, Jonathan has become a bona fide expert on the horror film industry and how independent genre filmmakers find success. Jonathan will teach you how to operate the horror and genre website landscape in order to get your genre film featured and form relationships critical to the marketing and ultimate success of your project. First, Jonathan will walk you through the assets you need to have leading up to your marketing campaign. He’ll show you what content you can create cheaply and efficiently during all stages of production, how to make it look good, how to think outside the box, and what the dreaded “curse of knowledge” is. Next Jonathan will explain how to unroll these assets, including working with your distributor (or yourself) to create a marketing plan, what to unveil and when, who to offer exclusives to, and how to get your cast and crew involved. He will give you tips of what to consider when submitting to film festivals, what to use to promote your premieres when you get accepted and what to hold onto, and how to use festivals as further promotion of your film. Then Jonathan will delve into how to get onto major outlets. He will teach you how to find contact information for writers, how to write emails for the greatest chance of success, and how to maintain a relationship that you can always rely upon. Finally, he will walk you through what to do after your movie has been released. He’ll teach you how to keep interest high moving forward and how you can keep on unveiling content. Standing out and getting your film noticed is always hard, especially in the world of horror, but Jonathan will give you practical and actionable tools to find success and your project the attention it needs. Praise for Jonathan's Stage 32 Webinar "Really valuable and interesting content and told very clearly, concisely and just very open and down to earth, really enjoyed this webinar 5 stars!" -Jaye A. "Excellent and thorough presentation." -Christopher B. "Great host, very insightful webinar." -Matt D. "The webinar and host were both great - lots of useful info" -Matthew L.
We're excited to bring you another riveting Executive Hour with the Senior Vice President of Development at The Wolper Organization, Kevin Nicklaus! The Wolper Organization has a first-look deal with Warner Bros. which covers all divisions, including HBO, HBO Max, Warner Bros. features, and more. Kevin has been integral to the early development and sales of "BATES MOTEL" for A&E, the 2016 Emmy-nominated "ROOTS" for History, STEPHEN KING'S SALEM'S LOT for TNT, THE MISTS OF AVALON for TNT, HELTER SKELTER for CBS, THE BAD SEED for Lifetime and more. The Wolper Organization has been responsible for over 500 films, which have won more than 150 awards, including two Oscars, 50 Emmys, seven Golden Globes, five Peabody’s. During the conversation we discussed developing "BATES MOTEL", how Kevin finds new material, what writers can be doing to break out in this market, and much more!
A year ago, you might not have believed that one of the biggest limited series phenomena of 2020—or ever—was an intimate story about an orphan chess prodigy battling addiction. Yet here we are. The long-time passion project from Allan Scott started in 1989 when he optioned the rights to Walter Trevis' novel THE QUEEN'S GAMBIT. Now, over 30 years, 9 rewrites and countless directors to get the project off the ground later it is the model of perseverance and inspiration to storytellers worldwide. Scott teamed up with Oscar-nominated writer Scott Frank (OUT OF SIGHT, MINORITY REPORT, LOGAN) and THE QUEEN'S GAMBIT was released on October 23, 2020 and quickly became Netflix's most popular scripted limited-series ever. It was watched by a staggering 62 million households in the first 28 days of release and won 15 awards, including the Golden Globe for Best Television Limited Series. But no one has broken down exactly what makes the series such a critical and commercial success...until now. In an exclusive Stage 32 Script Breakdown Webcast our Director of Script Services, Jason Mirch, will break down the first episode of the series live using excerpts of the book and the teleplay, as well as clips from the episode. 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. During this FREE Stage 32 Next Level Webcast Jason will take you step by step as he examines the four key elements that make up the protagonist's character, how the opening sequence is designed to hook the audience, how theme and tone are exhibited in the text and on screen, how this first episode lays the foundation for the arc of the entire series, and much more! Plus, everyone who registers for the webinar will receive a copy of the pilot script of THE QUEEN'S GAMBIT to study!
Your pitch deck is the most important tool in your initial stage of obtaining financing for your script. A pitch deck is also used as an aid to attaching an actor or director you are interested in. As a tool, your deck is the first impression of your film condensed so the investor can become familiar with your project and determine if this is an opportunity for them. To close the deal or at least garner meaningful consideration and interest, your pitch deck has to stand out. It has to not only tell the story of your project, why it should be attractive to talent, and what the true potential audience may be, but, most importantly, it needs to show a true and realistic path to profitability. And this is where so many decks fail. Sure, you want to paint a rosy picture with your investor pitch deck. But here's the thing, most investors who have put money into films before know BS from reality. They will know if you are overshooting your estimates (an extremely common tactic), whether your film comps are ridiculous (they almost always are) and if you're exaggerating who your potential audience will be (nearly always the case). A great investor pitch deck is filled with equal parts optimism and reality. Sure, every investor wants to dream of unbelievable riches and success, but what truly makes them open their wallets is believing in the team, the project, and being presented a realistic worldview as to the potential return on their investment. Michelle Alexandria knows a thing or two about raising money. As a producer and Head of International Sales and Acquisitions for Glasshouse Distribution, Michelle has raised or assisted in raising funds for dozens of films and other projects. She has personally worked on 25 feature films $6MM and under and 3 television projects in various capacities including producing, line producing and executive producing. Michelle has spoken on the topic of raising financing at the Cannes Producers Network and other prominent film festivals and markets including MipCom, Berlin, Buenos Aires, UniFrance, Sundance, and AFM. Her knowledge is extensive and her advice actionable, and now she's here to deliver the goods exclusively on Stage 32. Michelle will teach you how to create an investor pitch deck that doesn't have that same dusty feeling of so many decks and which fits the current climate of raising funds. She will show you what elements truly matter for an investor and which you can leave out of your deck entirely. She will discuss the value (or lack thereof) of artwork and posters. Additionally, she'll dive into loglines and synopsis to assure that you are giving your potential investors the true vision of the project. She will teach you how to put together a realistic cast list and film comps. She will discuss budgets, scheduling and how to incorporate those elements into your deck. She will talk to you about putting together the right team and how those team members can send the right or wrong signal. As an added bonus, Michelle will share examples of pitches decks that have helped secure millions in financing! "Clear, concise, and brilliant." - Mario D. "No BS, straight to the point information. Loved every second." - Patricia H. "I have a deck for my film. It's going in the garbage. I will be starting over tomorrow with this wealth of information flowing in my head. Remarkable job, Michelle!" - Phil M. "Sure, everyone wants Leo or George in their films. Sure, everyone thinks their film is the next My Big Fat Greek Wedding or some other independent blockbuster. Sure, everyone believes that they have THE idea that is going to get them the money. Michelle just gave me the map as to HOW to get the money by being REAL. I can't wait to get started and to bounce ideas off my team. This was so much fun. Thank you!" - Denise P.