Vijal Patel is an Emmy-nominated and Peabody Award-winning writer and executive producer who has written for many award-winning comedy series including ABC’s BLACK-ISH and THE MIDDLE. Vijal currently serves as writer and co-executive producer of the ABC comedy series SCHOOLED, starring Tim Meadows and AJ Michalka. He also writes and develops feature film projects for the powerhouse studio DreamWorks. Vijal has built his career on writing comedy and using it to explore race, family, religion, politics, and class struggle. Full Bio »
What is it about the most successful TV comedies that have allowed them to stand the test of time? Whether it’s ALL IN THE FAMILY, SEINFELD, PARKS AND RECREATION, or FLEABAG, it’s not the jokes that have made these shows so successful—as funny as they might be—it’s the characters. Distinct, hilarious, memorable and, above all, authentic characters are always the ingredient that will make a good TV comedy great. Whether you are working on your own comedy project or are hoping to write on an existing show, it’s crucial to have an understanding of what makes TV comedy characters great and how you can create your own Archie Bunkers and Leslie Knopes.
Crafting great comedic characters is not only important in creating a successful show; it’s also how you can get noticed. After all, with so many different types of comedies in the marketplace, it is becoming the toughest genre to break into. Writing great characters can separate your work from the rest and give you the kind of attention that solid jokes and a good sense of humor simply can’t muster on their own. This means it’s vital not only to have great characters, but to know how to make them shine on the page. The good news is there are strategies and actionable lessons you can use to elevate the characters in your own television comedy.
Vijal Patel is an Emmy-nominated and Peabody Award-winning writer and executive producer who has written for many award-winning comedy series including ABC’s BLACK-ISH and THE MIDDLE. Vijal currently serves as writer and co-executive producer of the ABC comedy series SCHOOLED, starring Tim Meadows and AJ Michalka. He also writes and develops feature film projects for the powerhouse studio DreamWorks. Vijal has built his career on writing comedy and using it to explore race, family, religion, politics, and class struggle.
In this exclusive Stage 32 webinar Vijal will teach you how to make your characters funny. He’ll go through the 2 most basic comedy archetypes and explain the difference between jokes and attitude humor. He’ll teach you how to differentiate your characters and ensure they’re unique and will guide you through both the “One Word” exercise and “Situation” exercise to help improve your characters, using examples from THE SIMPSONS, FLEABAG, BLACK-ISH, SEINFELD, and others. Vijal will then delve into how to make your characters feel authentic and how to write impactful character descriptions to ensure they pop on the page. Finally he will dive deep into how to write funny dialogue for your characters, including how to use humor, how to end the joke, metaphors, similes, and reactions. Vijal will leave you with a series of strategies and clear examples that you can bring back to your own project to make your characters, funnier, more memorable, and more authentic.
Praise for Vijal's Stage 32 Webinar
" LOVED IT!!!!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! Vijal was very engaging, intelligent and helpful. He gave so much insight to the nuts and bolts of creating comedic characters that are authentic."
"Exactly what I needed to know"
"Great info, every moment jam packing with knowledge. Great perspective from a working writer."
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!
Getting your work seen and considered is a SLOG, as any writer can attest. No matter how great your script is, even if it has placed in contests, even if you’re repped by a manager or agent, it is hard to break through the noise and get execs or studios interested in what you have to offer. Part of the problem, though, is that execs are often scared to move forward with an original story. It’s more of a gamble than relying on remakes, sequels, or other projects that already have brand awareness and a built-in audience. Yet this doesn’t have to be a deal breaker for you or your script. Instead, you can use this to your advantage. Like it or not, production companies and studios big and small are moving forward overwhelmingly with projects based on IP, or intellectual property—in other words, films that feature characters, worlds, and stories that already exist in other formats or other films. IP is the name of the game now, so let’s play the game! How? Turn your script into IP. It’s actually more possible than you think. Whether it’s a novel, a podcast, a web series, or other formats, you can prove your story’s worth and independently build your own audience so that execs start coming to you and that dream script of yours can actually get made. It’s been done, it continues to be done, and you can do it too. Don’t believe us? Listen to writer Matt Harry. When his original fantasy script SORCERY FOR BEGINNERS was going nowhere, he turned it into a novel that became a hit. The novel was described as “J.K. Rowling meets V.E. Schwab,” and Publishers Weekly declared it “a charming package and drily funny adventure.” Since then, the book was recently optioned for television by Boatrocker Media and Matt was hired to adapt the pilot. Book II in Matt’s series, CRYPTOZOOLOGY FOR BEGINNERS was published in 2019 and his middle-grade adventure novel SUPERKID is slated to be published in June 2021. His first produced feature screenplay, FUGUE, landed on several top-ten lists, won Best Horror Film at the Mississippi Film Festival, and was picked up for distribution by GoDigital. Matt has also written screenplays for Primary Wave, Platform One Media, Co-op Entertainment, and Flynn Picture Co. His short film SUPER KIDS, which he wrote and co-directed, has over 6 million views on YouTube. His TV pilot MONSTER COPS was awarded Grand Prize in the Second City Original Sitcom Contest, and is currently in development. Matt has experienced firsthand what can happen when you turn your own work into existing IP and is ready to give you the lowdown. Exclusively for Stage 32, Matt will teach you how you can turn your own script into IP to prove your story’s worth and get producers and execs interested. He will dig into why IP is so valuable, what types of IP exist, and how time consuming or expensive each type can be to create. Matt will lay out the seven main types of IP you can adapt your story into, all of which can offer your script leverage. Matt will discuss each type of IP and explain the steps you can take to make each happen and will also give you tips on deciding which IP format is right for your own project. He will also lay out what to do after your IP is out there to build your audience, get reviews, and incorporate your success into your pitch for production companies and studios. If you have an original script you believe in, keep at it. Matt will show you how you can use IP to your advantage and beat Hollywood at their own game. Praise for Matt's Stage 32 Webinar "Overall it was very informative. The fact that there was an actual tried and true professional of the industry willing and able to answer questions and give the talk was a very huge plus for me." - J. Brown "Matt has such a way with words. Articulates concepts exceptionally well." - K. Masters "I loved how well-rounded he was in his creative endeavors. Matt knew about so many avenues to getting a script noticed." - Peter M "Matt Harry is a very knowledgeable person. Matt went into it with a solid plan that made picking up what was left out easier due to him referencing materials to look into for ourselves." - Jaboris B.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought film production to a standstill last year. The risk of holding close gatherings required everyone to profoundly change how a film is produced in order to keep everyone safe. Yet we’ve luckily found a way to create new projects, on both a major studio and independent level. This doesn’t mean it’s easy, though. The preparation and process for producing a film have changed drastically, as have the rules and guidelines a crew needs to follow. There are ways to safely put your own film together even under these extreme circumstances, but doing so will require a new understanding of how to move forward. As a producer or filmmaker of any level, it’s your job not just to make sure a film comes together, but that the team you assembled stays safe in the process. This is extra difficult due to the pandemic, but it’s not impossible. In fact, independent productions have been finding a ways to do this successfully for a while now and you can as well. But this won’t be accomplished through business-as-usual approaches. Every aspect of the filmmaking process needs to be examined, altered, or even turned on its head in order to comply with new regulations, make the team feel comfortable, and most importantly to keep everyone virus-free. This is a big undertaking, but other independent outfits have figured this out, and learning how they did it can be instrumental in you finding success for your own project. Multi Emmy Award-winning filmmaker and author Shane Stanley has worked in almost every capacity on and off the set with hit shows like ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT and SEINFELD and producing films like Sony Pictures’ GRIDIRON GANG a #1 box office hit starring Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. For three years, Shane was Vice President of Sheen/Michaels Entertainment where he produced several motion pictures starring Marlon Brando, Mira Sorvino, Thomas Hayden Church, Donald Sutherland, Marisa Tomei, Sean Penn, John Travolta, and Charlie and Martin Sheen.. Shane recently released his book What You Don’t Learn In Film School, which covers filmmaking from concept to delivery and has already landed on required reading lists at several universities across the country. Shane continues to produce and direct independent films of all levels, and just wrapped production on his latest action thriller BREAK EVEN, which was safely shot over December and January during the peak of COVID-19. Shane learned how to find success in the midst of a pandemic and is ready to share the lessons he picked up. Shane will teach you what you need to do to successfully and safely plan and produce a film during the COVID-19 pandemic. He’ll delve into the new rules you need to follow, issued by guilds, government agencies and film/permit offices. He’ll also discuss how location scouting works now and what sort of locations can be safely shot in. He’ll go through the changes in production insurance and how to hire and work with a COVID Compliance Officer during production. Shane will also discuss how to conduct COVID tests with your crew and how to work with guilds along the way. He will then go over how to work with actors during this time and will share with you the biggest tips and must-dos he learned to keep your crew safe. Finally, Shane will share the details of how he produced his own recent film DOUBLE THREAT and wrapped his 6 week production without a single COVID positive test. Even in times as tough as this, there’s a way forward and a way to create your art, and Shane will show you how to do so smartly, effectively, and while keeping yourself and everyone on your team safe. Praise for Shane's Previous Stage 32 Webinar "Shane was thorough, gave me a realistic view into the market as it is now, yet encouraging. Easy to listen to and follow. I'll be signing up for other classes he teaches in the future." -Karena K. Just straight-forward, real, the kind of producer most of us would kill to work alongside. -Clark R. "Shane was relevant, knew what was happening, and could walk the walk." -Chuck R. "I loved the inside look from someone in the industry that is dealing with Covid restrictions on a daily basis." -Marven L.
It's like 10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife...well, actually it's more like the Write Now Challenge Webcast: Isn't it Ironic coming at you this afternoon at 4pm (Pacific)! In this challenge, members were asked to write a short scene (no more than 5 pages) using one of the examples of irony from the Breakdown Webcast: Dramatic Irony. As a reminder the examples for irony are below: Dramatic Irony: A literary and theatrical device in which the reader or audience knows more about a situation, complication, or conflict than the characters they are following. Classical Irony: This term describes irony as it was used in ancient Greek comedy—to highlight situations in which one thing appears to be the case when, in fact, the opposite is true. Cosmic Irony: Cosmic irony highlights incongruities between the absolute, theoretical world and the mundane, grounded reality of everyday life. Socratic Irony: Socrates would feign ignorance of a subject and ask seemingly innocent—but actually leading—questions to draw out information he already knew. Socratic irony differs from verbal irony because it involves intentional deception. Verbal irony, on the other hand, does not connote insincerity or deception. Situational Irony: occurs when there is a difference between what is expected to happen and what actually happens. With situational irony, our discovery that our expectations haven’t been met are the same as the characters in the story. Verbal Irony: is when a character says something that is different from what he or she really means, or how he or she really feels. This is the only type of irony where a character creates the irony.
Development Exec from Rosey TV joins our Panel as we listen and read your pitches live to help educate the Writers' Room screenwriters on what is and isn't working in their pitch.
Networking. The mere word puts a chill up the spine of many creatives, especially when you may not even know anyone or know where to start. But if there's been one thing that's been proven time and time again, it's that we work in a relationship business. Winning champions of you and your work is as important than creating and honing the work itself. Whether you're introverted and have a distinct fear of putting yourself out there, or if you're an extrovert who isn't getting the results you're looking for in your relationship building efforts, we're here to help. Let's start by merging the idea of networking with the mindset of relationship building. The truth is relationship building can be a fun exercise you'll want to tackle every day. It's all about setting a positive approach, embracing a long term mentality, and building upon every success. The most successful people in film, television and digital media have spent years cultivating relationships, and remember, they all started without knowing anyone. They've understood that by being likable, selfless, and collaborative that people are going to not only want to help them succeed, but work with them as well. This is why the tribe mentality is so prevalent. And it's why the people who put relationship building strategies into practice every day are those who have found longevity in the business. Industry veteran Jessica Sitomer has over 20 years in the industry as a development executive, producer, writer and career coach for the Cinematographers Guild. Through the years she has perfected the art of relationship building - helping creatives grow their networks from one to two people to hundreds to thousands. When she moved to Los Angeles, she knew two people and one of them moved the day after she got to LA. She made it her mission to learn how to survive and thrive in the creative industry. And survive and thrive she has. Not only is Jessica's network huge, but she has also written three best-selling books on the subject of networking and relationship building, And… Action! Powerful, Proven, and Proactive Strategies to Achieve Success in the Entertainment Industry, The Greenlight Coach and You Got This: For Those Who Work Hard and Play Hard - How to go From Burnout to Bliss. Here Jessica brings her unique brand and boundless energy exclusive to Stage 32 to help you get to the next level by giving you concrete steps and tools to build relationships that lead to roles, jobs, reads, financing, and more. Jessica will show you how to best approach social media and how to utilize this valuable tool in a way that takes away the intimidation factor to meeting people. She will show you how to be more collaborative, to check your ego at the door, and to make sure you're communicating in the right fashion. She will tackle live events and how you can make sure you get the most bang for your buck. She will teach you strategies to help you grow as a communicator and collaborator. She'll even teach you how to reach out to those you may have previously thought untouchable and show you that no one is off limits! This is a comprehensive overview of how you can take your networking and relationship building skills from good to great. You will learn everything you need to know to step up, stand out and change the course of your career. I've been following, reading, and listening to Jessica for years. It's little wonder why she's been so successful. This webinar challenged me to put all my self-made BS to the side and just let myself go. And the results are already speaking for themselves. She's a superstar in every sense of the word. - Miriam P.
As the Vice President of Three Point Capital, Viviana Zarragoitia is one of the most prolific financiers who routinely lend on tax incentives, both domestically and internationally, on independent films. She is aware of the rules and regulations of tax incentives in many jurisdictions, and have spoken on numerous panels about tax credits. In this webinar she will cover working with transferable vs. non-transferable credits, give an overview of the states and countries that are most popular right now, the reasons why and the incentives that each of them offers. Viviana will also go through the general steps that are required to take advantage of tax incentives from beginning to end, as well as the requirements to qualify for tax incentives. She will highlight the importance of working with CPAs, the roles of production accountants and line producers, as well as how all departments in a production are affected. She will also use 2 states as case studies for how to go through the process of applying for and receiving a tax incentive. You will walk away gaining a deeper understanding of the details involved with tax credits; how to take advantage of them, how to monetize them and how to follow the guidelines to ensure they are in compliance with the rules.