International Writers: How to Make Your Series Succeed in the US

Hosted by James Crawford

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James Crawford

Webinar hosted by: James Crawford

Global Producer and Development Executive

James Crawford is Canadian/Australian, US-based producer and development executive who has worked with writers from Mexico, Finland, Spain, England, Scotland, South Africa, Brazil, Australia, and the Philippines. James has developed several one-hour television series, pitching to EPiX, WGN America, Cinemax, and Universal Cable Productions, among others. James worked as Creative Executive at Cartel Entertainment, a television and film literary management and production company, and was responsible for identifying, developing, and pitching content for its first-look deal with Entertainment One, including the Stephen King novel The Regulators. At Cartel Entertainment, James developed pitches for Amazon, FX, Hulu, Netflix, Cinemax, UCP, and other major networks. While working at Cartel Entertainment, he developed formats from the Brazilian network Globo for the American market. He has taught at screenwriting retreats in France and worked for the Australian Film Commission (now called Screen Australia.) A man of the world, James also holds Estonian citizenship. James has a storied background as a producer and executive and is intimately familiar with working with foreign writers to get their projects seen and sold. Full Bio »

Webinar Summary

With the runaway success of breakout international television shows like HBO Max’s GOMORRAH and Netflix’s MONEY HEIST and LUPIN, US-based networks and studios are looking more and more to the international markets for creative inspiration. Whether in the guise of formats (established foreign shows adapted to air domestically) or direct buys from writers and producers, companies have finally realized that importing talent is good creative business. This means there has never been a better opportunity for writers outside of America to find success and interested buyers stateside, especially if you can write something that fits American sensibilities.

It’s clear that writers from abroad bring fresh ideas and unique perspectives that reinvigorate the film and television. Yet they still need to adapt their sensibilities to make them successful across the pond—NBC’s adaptation of BBC’s THE OFFICE, for instance, didn’t find its footing until it took the core of its uniquely British perspective and polished it to reflect the unique politics of the American workplace. This same adjustment can be made for your own project, provided you understand what exactly this adjustment should look like. So what are American sensibilities? What makes a show more relatable to American viewers and what can you do as a writer to make sure American decisionmakers will see value in your film or series?

James Crawford is Canadian/Australian, US-based producer and development executive who has worked with writers from Mexico, Finland, Spain, England, Scotland, South Africa, Brazil, Australia, and the Philippines. James has developed several one-hour television series, pitching to EPiX, WGN America, Cinemax, and Universal Cable Productions, among others. James worked as Creative Executive at Cartel Entertainment, a television and film literary management and production company, and was responsible for identifying, developing, and pitching content for its first-look deal with Entertainment One, including the Stephen King novel The Regulators. At Cartel Entertainment, James developed pitches for Amazon, FX, Hulu, Netflix, Cinemax, UCP, and other major networks. While working at Cartel Entertainment, he developed formats from the Brazilian network Globo for the American market. He has taught at screenwriting retreats in France and worked for the Australian Film Commission (now called Screen Australia.) A man of the world, James also holds Estonian citizenship. James has a storied background as a producer and executive and is intimately familiar with working with foreign writers to get their projects seen and sold.

James will teach you how to make your series idea salable in the US market. This doesn’t mean selling out, but rather translating your unique voice so that it’s better heard by American producers and development executives. Which subjects will or won’t work for the American screen? How do we understand the different cultural sensitivities of different marketplaces? What story structures and arcs are common internationally but don’t land over here? How does the entertainment business structure US (agents, managers, execs) differ from what you experience at home? And how does that environment change how your story is received? As we answer these, you will better understand how to adapt the cultural issues that are important in your home country and make them resonate abroad.

 

 

Praise for James's Previous Stage 32 Webinars

 

James was awesome. Clear, concise, and knowledgeable.

-Stephen B.

 

“James Crawford was very informative, and the way he brought the webinar across was entertaining and kept you engaged. I loved every bit of it! I hope he comes back for a round 2”

-Imo C.

 

Super helpful and very clear. Right to the point. Not full of anecdotes but actual teaching.

-Helena W.

 

“It was very informative in a practical way. James was great!”

-Dave M.

What You'll Learn

  • An Introduction to James
  • The Global Marketplace
    • International formats selling to the United States
    • Foreign productions airing domestically on networks and OTT platforms
    • American shows adapted internationally
    • Global outposts of networks and OTT platforms
      • HBO Latino
      • Netflix "Canada" Pitch Day
    • Domestic content rules
      • CAVCO (Canada)
      • Australian Content Regulation
      • International
    • Government-sponsored domestic production and grants
    • Co-productions and working internationally
  • Subject Matter (Lost in Translation)
    • The "international voice"-- the paradox of making your writing both universal and specific
    • Controversial themes or subjects (sex, violence, and all things taboo)
    • Character archetypes and regional specificity
    • Genre hybrids and feeling stuck between two cultures
    • The problem with "middle" America
  • Structure and Format
    • Genre hybrids and feeling "new" (i.e., the Money Heistproblem)
    • Limited versus ongoing series
    • The "curse" of the 22-episode order
      • Stretching your original concept to fill a full season
      • How to start andfinish a season strong
    • Preparatory materials
      • Loglines
      • Pitches
      • Bibles
      • Samples
  • The Perils of Adaptation
    • How to keep yourself in the picture
      • Straight sale vs. adaptation
      • Showrunners abroad, "creators" in the US, and keeping yourself in the room
  • The Structure of the American Entertainment Industry
    • Studios and networks and platforms, oh my!
    • Is the “Golden Age of Television” over?
      • Understanding the brands and mandates of different buyers
    • Managers, agents, and development executives--abroad and in the United States
    • The major players in making international buys and importing formats
  • Q&A with James

About Your Instructor

James Crawford is Canadian/Australian, US-based producer and development executive who has worked with writers from Mexico, Finland, Spain, England, Scotland, South Africa, Brazil, Australia, and the Philippines. James has developed several one-hour television series, pitching to EPiX, WGN America, Cinemax, and Universal Cable Productions, among others. James worked as Creative Executive at Cartel Entertainment, a television and film literary management and production company, and was responsible for identifying, developing, and pitching content for its first-look deal with Entertainment One, including the Stephen King novel The Regulators. At Cartel Entertainment, James developed pitches for Amazon, FX, Hulu, Netflix, Cinemax, UCP, and other major networks. While working at Cartel Entertainment, he developed formats from the Brazilian network Globo for the American market. He has taught at screenwriting retreats in France and worked for the Australian Film Commission (now called Screen Australia.) A man of the world, James also holds Estonian citizenship. James has a storied background as a producer and executive and is intimately familiar with working with foreign writers to get their projects seen and sold.

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