Masterclass: Creating Compelling Characters

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From the Oscar-Nominated & BAFTA Winning Screenwriter of SHREK
Hosted by Roger S. H. Schulman

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On Demand Webinar - For immediate download. Unlimited access for 1 year.

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Roger S. H. Schulman

Webinar hosted by: Roger S. H. Schulman

Oscar- nominated Screenwriter, SHREK

ROGER S. H. SCHULMAN has been a working screenwriter for nearly thirty years. He co-wrote the animated feature “Shrek,” for which he won a British Academy Award (BAFTA) and was nominated for an Oscar® for Best Adapted Screenplay. He previously co-wrote the animated feature "Balto" for Executive Producer Steven Spielberg, and wrote "Mulan II” and "The Jungle Book II" for Disney. Roger has also worked extensively as a producer and writer for television. He co-created the Disney Channel series JONAS; was Executive Producer of "2Gether" for MTV and was Executive Producer for “Living Single" with Queen Latifah. He’s currently co-writing a pilot for HBO with Tom Hanks. Roger started out as a journalist for outlets such as Newsweek and BusinessWeek. He earned an MS in Journalism at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. When he’s not writing, Roger teaches feature and television writing at the University of Southern California. He’s also performed in the Angel City Chorale and hosted episodes of a popular podcast about the Golden Age of radio. He’s blessed to live with his beautiful and talented wife Elizabeth Vienneau and their daughter along with two pug dogs and something else that as far as can be determined is also a dog. Full Bio »

There’s only one way to get your audience to sit still for the story you want to tell: create compelling characters. As human beings, we are endlessly fascinated with ourselves and our interactions. When we find a character to whom we can relate, we lock in. Constructing relatable, entertaining and realistic characters is essential to a successful screenplay, not to mention critical to our own enjoyment of the writing process.

But what separates the memorable personalities on the screen from the “which-one-was-that-again” types? I’ve discovered answers that work for me, and created some guidelines. Follow them and you stand a better chance of producing characters who not only engage your audience, but do the heavy lifting for your story and themes. Miss out and you’ve got page after page of shoulder shrugs.

For almost thirty years I’ve had the privilege of creating and nurturing characters for the big and small screens. From running or co-creating sitcoms like “Living Single” and “JONAS” to writing or co-writing movies like “Balto,” “Mulan II” and Shrek,” I’ve accumulated scores of characters who now sit around my brain, eating my food, drinking my liquor and playing mind games.

When you’re done with my webinar, you’ll know a lot more about what makes good characters tick, what makes bad characters just sit there, and just maybe a little bit more about yourself. And you’ll come away with a tool chest from which you can pick and choose the techniques you prefer to build unique characters so remarkable that sometimes they’ll write their dialog for you.


What You'll Learn:

  • The Function of Character
    • How character, story and theme work together
  • A Brief History of Character
    • Humorism
    • The Alchemist’s Diamond
    • Commedia dell'arte
  • Analyzing Character
    • “American” characteristics
    • “Likeable” characteristics
    • “Relatable” characteristics
      • Handout: My Character Iceberg, a schematic for analyzing character that I’ll share with students.
    • Developing Characters
      • The Iceberg of seen and unseen character traits
      • Questionnaire: build your character
        • Handout: My Character Questionnaire, a quick tool for developing characters that I’ll share with students.
      • To arc or not to arc?
    • Using Characters
      • When, how and why to introduce
      • Tools of Character: Dialog, Action, Behavior
    • The Secret of Character: Relationship
      • Mirroring, complementing and conflicting
      • Anatomy of a cast
    • Q&A With Roger!

 

Examples We’ll Discuss (subject to change slightly)

  • Shrek
  • Breaking Bad
  • Phillips
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • Jaws
  • Guys and Dolls
  • Up
  • Carl Jung (yeah, the guy)

About Your Instructor:

ROGER S. H. SCHULMAN has been a working screenwriter for nearly thirty years. He co-wrote the animated feature “Shrek,” for which he won a British Academy Award (BAFTA) and was nominated for an Oscar® for Best Adapted Screenplay. He previously co-wrote the animated feature "Balto" for Executive Producer Steven Spielberg, and wrote "Mulan II” and "The Jungle Book II" for Disney.

Roger has also worked extensively as a producer and writer for television. He co-created the Disney Channel series JONAS; was Executive Producer of "2Gether" for MTV and was Executive Producer for “Living Single" with Queen Latifah. He’s currently co-writing a pilot for HBO with Tom Hanks.

Roger started out as a journalist for outlets such as Newsweek and BusinessWeek. He earned an MS in Journalism at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

When he’s not writing, Roger teaches feature and television writing at the University of Southern California. He’s also performed in the Angel City Chorale and hosted episodes of a popular podcast about the Golden Age of radio. He’s blessed to live with his beautiful and talented wife Elizabeth Vienneau and their daughter along with two pug dogs and something else that as far as can be determined is also a dog.

Questions?

If you have a generic question about Stage 32 education you can take a look at our frequently asked questions section on our help page, or feel free to contact support with any other inquiries you might have.
 

Reviews Average Rating: 4.5 out of 5

  • Excellent master class! Informative on a whole new level...definitely motivated me to look deeply at the characters I've created to make them more compelling. And with the explanations and tools that Roger presented in this webinar I feel confident I will be able to do that now. Thanks!
  • Roger is one of the best presenters I have ever experienced on Stage 32, not to mention his wealth of information with a unique perspective I have not heard before on writing compelling characters. I'm so glad I took this class. Thank you, Roger.
  • Very impressed with the level of information provided. I can clearly see where I can add two additional dimensions, currently missing from my characters. Thank you!

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