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.
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!
Since announcing our new screenings initiative, thousands of new members have joined the Stage 32 community, and there was no better time than to come together to connect, learn, and grow in our digital universe. So with that, I wanted to welcome our new members to the party by hosting one of my AMAs (Ask Me Anything): Quarantine Edition. Damn, you guys were on fire! The entertainment industry is rapidly changing as we all navigate this evolving landscape. In the last few weeks, in addition to talking with over 800 filmmakers from canceled festivals, I've had countless conversations with executives and industry professionals how creatives can keep hustling and put themselves in position to succeed in this new and ever-changing landscape. With everything going on, I can say without hesitation that I had a LOT to share! And I know you all had questions! In this over 2 hour AMA webcast we got together for inspiring, motivating, and brutally honest craft and industry talk. Remember, no matter what your discipline, skill level, geographical location, etc, this AMA will be helpful for ALL! You all brought your questions and the energy and I handled the rest. Amidst this global crisis that has forced so many of us indoors, we are excited to give film, tv, and digital creatives a safe place to stay creative and build relationships with their fellow entertainment industry folks from all over the world. Let's continue to come together for some inspiration, motivation and community love. And if you know any other creative who is not a member of Stage 32 that could use a lift, please invite them as well by sharing the on demand link to download. I enjoyed spending quality time with you all.
If there has been one genre that has stood the test of time throughout the history of the film industry, it's the biopic. True stories about interesting people and events are always in vogue. Studios, indie production companies and the streamers love them because they draw big audiences and awards recognition. Actors love them because it gives them something meaty to chew on and increases their odds for awards success. Many a writer has broken through by writing a screenplay based on true events. And right now, especially with the streamers upping their game, the genre has never been hotter. But to write a killer, non-rote biopic, you need to understand where to find your material, how to secure it, and then how to best tell your version of the story so that it attracts representatives, producers, financiers, and talent. The last 10 years has seen a biopic renaissance. The Social Network, Wolf of Wall Street, The Imitation Game, 12 Years a Slave, The Theory of Everything, Bohemian Rhapsody, American Sniper, The Two Popes, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, The King's Speech, Dolemite is My Name, The Irishman and Ford Vs. Ferrari all have been nominated or won major awards. And those are just a handful of the biopics that have been distributed either theatrically or digitally over the last decade. And with the streamers going full force, the studios looking for the sure thing, and the independent community looking for smaller, unknown stories, the desire for biopic and true story screenplays is only going to grow. Even short form biopics are booming with TV series and limited series based on real people and events all the rage. Tyler Ruggeri is a screenwriter, story consultant, and former literary manager with over a decade of experience on both sides of the entertainment industry. His biopic script The Making of Rock Hudson sold to veteran producers Celine Rattray and Trudie Styler of Maven Pictures. He also adapted the acclaimed non-fiction book Trapped Under the Sea, which led to a series of writing assignments on both original projects and rewrites. He is currently working on a feature for a major studio and developing a limited series. Tyler began his career as a manager at Exile Entertainment, where he represented screenwriters and directors in addition to developing the company’s film/TV slate – among his clients were Academy Award winner Damien Chazelle (La La Land, Whiplash). Other projects he developed with clients sold to A-list producers/financiers. With his vast experience, Tyler not only knows the world of writing biopics, but how to find and secure material as well. He will teach you resources to help you find the right material and how to find the right story for you to tell. He'll show you how to secure intellectual property. He will instruct you on the benefits of wiring an original screenplay vs. an adaptation. He will dig deep into the process of how to shape your story, including how to find your way into the story before you start writing so that your opening is an attention grabber. He will teach you how to do research and how you can do the extra legwork to go deeper into the world of your story. He will dive into 4 tips to join fact with fiction and 4 tips on dramatic license and when and how to use it. Tyler will show you how to creative the best character arcs possible including character motivation, behavior, stakes, and how the characters exist in time and place. He will help you uncover themes and make sure those themes are fleshed out to attract the widest audience possible. He will then discuss the market, how to sell, how to cover yourself legally and much, much more. If you've ever had a passion to tell a story based on a real person or events, Tyler will take you through everything you need to know to secure the IP, protect yourself legally, develop the story, write the screenplay and put yourself in a position to get the material massive attention. "Legitimately one of the best classes I've ever taken. I've had a story based on a book I've been eyeing forever and didn't know how to go about it. Now I do. What an incredible blueprint to securing, writing, and selling biopics." - Amanda P. "Outstanding in every way." - Marco G. "I'm overcome with gratitude. The best." - Danny C. "I don't think I could be any more inspired." Patricia S.
One of the great myths about the entertainment industry is that the older you are, the harder it is to break in. The truth of the matter is, there are Baby Boomers working in the industry in all capacities. In fact, with the abundance of film, television and digital content being creative, the opportunities for Baby Boomers has never been greater. Whether you're writing or filming content, looking to produce or work on the business side of the industry, or have an interest in being an actor, crew member, or other on set talent or staff, it's time to get moving and let yourself be seen and heard! Ageism is a word that gets thrown around often when people talk about the entertainment industry. But at the end of the day, those working in the industry want to hire talented, dependable, and dedicated people to help them elevate their personal and professional goals. So much of getting hired has less to do with your age and how you present and handle yourself. Jessica Sitomer has been has worked in the entertainment industry for twenty years as a writer, an independent producer, a development associate, a director, and an actress. She's produced three television shows, had her writing produced by an Emmy award winning producer, and while working in development had the pleasure of being a part of Crazy in Alabama, Antonio Banderas' directorial debut (and yes, Jessica says, he's as charming in real life as he is on screen). Simultaneously, for seventeen of those years Jessica has been a career coach for Entertainment Industry Professionals. Within that period, she served for seven years as the in-house career coach for the International Cinematographers Guild. There she coached over 1000 people one-on-one, created over 40 seminar topics, ran over 30 mastermind groups, and developed a successful mentor program. No one knows this topic better. Jessica will teach all Baby Boomers how to create a relevant career that squashes the myths and stereotypes. She will identify and explain key strategies to circumvent the occasional ageism that historically have turned older generations off to pursuing their entertainment career. You will receive “ageless” tips for making a first impression either in person, by phone or via email. Jessica will also provide marketing tips on how Boomers can market online (social media and websites) to stay current. Further she will show you the advantages you have being a boomer as well as 3 strategies for using them! She will help you identify your strengths and assets to understand what makes YOU stand out so you can parlay those traits into more work. And, through templates (which you can download), she will show you how to simplify your plan of action so you can start down your path toward success. Age does NOT need to be a factor in pursuing a career in film, television and digital. Jessica will give you the tools, the motivation, the strategies, and the confidence to build the career you wish for! "Jesica is an inspirational ball of fire. I came in with doubts and fears and left ready to knock down the intimidating gates of the industry. Can I get an Amen? Thank you Jessica!" - Roberta K. "Coming from a sales background, there are 2 things I know you need to be successful: Information and confidence. This webinar provided so much information, and it was delivered in such a clear and motivating way, I left with all the confidence in the world." - Frank I.
It's an undeniable fact, we are living in a gold rush of comedy content featuring lead female characters. Just think about the major box office and streaming successes we've seen over the last few years. On the feature film side, you have movies such as Late Night, Girls Trip, What Men Want, Rough Night, Bad Moms, and Trainwreck to name a few. On the networks, premium cable channels, and streamers Fleabag, 2 Broke Girls, Mom, Glow, Russian Doll, Insecure, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt have drawn huge audiences and many have won major awards. Is it any wonder why development executives, managers, agents, producers and financiers are looking for writers who have the ability to write screenplays and teleplays featuring memorable and iconic female characters? There are many inroads to breaking and staying in the industry as a writer, but one of the most important factors is understanding what's hot in the marketplace. And right now, thanks to the massive buying power of the streaming platforms along with other major feature film and television production companies looking for comedies, it's never been a better time to understand how to write female driven comedies that pop. David Shecter has has been working in the industry in production, development, and as a writer for over a decade. David has written on many shows, including season 5 of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. His experience and success on that show landed David on the pilot of the CBS show. 2 Broke Girls where he worked his way up as a staff writer on the 6th and final season of the show. David is currently developing a female driven action comedy cop show, Lady Copped, with New Form and STX Entertainment. Most recently David was named one of the WGA TV Writer access honorees for his script For Worse. David will teach you everything he's learned about writing female driven comedies throughout his career. He will show you how to avoid the all to common cliches that seemingly find their way into every female driven script. He will show you why sex sells, but how to properly write sex and sexuality into your screenplay to make it unique. He will teach you the practice of gender flipping and role reversals. He will show you how you can bring a personal connection to your female characters no matter whether you're a male or female. He will show you how to examine your plot and your characters before you begin writing to make the process flow more smoothly. He will show you the difference between one dimensional vs multi-dimensional characters and how easy it is to fall into the former, but how important it is that you learn the latter. Finally, David will present a case study of his latest screenplay Lady Copped which is now in development with New Form and STX. Whether you're a feature or TV writer, you will learn all the important factors in writing a female driven comedy that will get you reads and attention. "Another incredible and insightful webinar presented by Stage 32. I have received notes on my screenplays in the past that my female characters fell into cliche. As a female, that pissed me off! But now I understand why and I'm already on the path to changing things for the better. Thank you, David, and bravo, Stage 32! -Melissa J. "Can men write female driven comedies? I often asked myself that question. I'm not any longer. Loved this presentation. - Kyle P.
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!