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? Understanding the answer to that question and following some tried and true strategies while outlining and then writing your screenplay will give you 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.
We all know the goal for any screenwriter is to get reads. But the challenge doesn't end there. You have to make sure your reader keeps those pages turning! To assure that your reader is engaged from the jump and stays engaged through the final page, your characters must be compelling and relatable. Whether you are trying to score big in a screenwriting competition, land a manager or agent, sell producers on your material, or secure financing, you must remember that your script is one of dozens your target audience likely reads each week. The competition is fierce and most readers won't go beyond page 5 or 10 if your story and characters don't grab them. Most writers simply do not know how to creative quickly established, well drawn characters. Those that do have an instant leg up on the competition.
Roger S. H. Schulman knows a thing or two about writing compelling, complex and memorable characters. For starters, he co-wrote the animated feature Shrek for which won him a British Academy Award (BAFTA) and earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. Prior to Shrek, Roger co-wrote the animated feature Balto for Executive Producer Steven Spielberg, and wrote Mulan II and The Jungle Book II for Disney. Over his 30 years in the industry, Roger has also worked extensively as a producer and writer for television. He co-created the Disney Channel series Jonas; was Executive Producer of 2 Gether for MTV and was Executive Producer for Living Single with Queen Latifah. He’s currently co-writing a pilot for HBO with Tom Hanks. And now, he's teaching exclusively for Stage 32.
Roger will teach you the function of character, specifically how character, story and theme work together. To help you understand why certain characters work, he'll give you a brief, insightful, and helpful history of character including how humor plays a part in almost all character building. He will breakdown American characteristics, Likeable characteristics, and relatable characteristics. He will dive into developing characters and show you how to discover and write your characters seen and unseen character traits. He will discuss the tools of character including dialog, action and behavior. He will break down the anatomy of your cast and where mirroring, complementing and conflicting strategies can come into play. Roger will use examples from Shrek, Breaking Bad, Phillips, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jaws, Guys and Dolls, Up, and Carl Jung (yeah, the guy).
In addition to all this material presented in Roger's exclusive Master's of Craft presentation, he will give you 2 downloadable handouts related to developing and analyzing characters that you can return to time and time again. This is invaluable information and material you won't find anywhere else.
A Word From Roger
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.
Praise for Roger
"A masterclass, plain and simple."
- Phil C.
"No joke, the best lesson on writing characters I've ever seen (or read). Nothing has come close.
- Margot G.
"Now that I understand how the sausage was made, I have to watch Shrek again. This more than lived up to its "Masters of Craft" label. What a winner, Stage 32!"
- Elyse A.
"Too many times in my writing, I'm so wrapped up in my main character, that I do short shrift to my secondary characters. Not after watching Roger. No how, no way."
- Robin W.
"I am going in for a second viewing immediately. I already have 5 pages of notes written out. Incredible information."
- Stephen D.
Examples We’ll Discuss (subject to change slightly)
Roger S. H. Schulman
Writing a film for television has a ‘unique set of skills’ which are different from writing a traditional screenplay. If you never learn how to write for the BOOM!, act break structure, number of locations, and characters, you’ll get stuck in re-writing hell or worse yet, never have your script read. Understanding script structure, outlining, and deliverables for television films prior to writing will give you a leg up on the competition. Additionally, each network has its own set of rules and you want to ask the right questions prior to typing ‘Fade In’. With more television networks producing their own content and films, the need for content is higher than ever. However, TV films have their own structure and layout, especially when dealing with networks that have commercial breaks. Additionally, working with producers and executives is a different animal than working with producers and executives in the independent world. Courtney Miller Jr. is a 5-time award winning director who has worked with the biggest names in entertainment including Michael Jackson, Beyonce, Usher, and Britney Spears. He's a staff writer for the hit show Saints & Sinners on Bounce TV and recently completed his first feature film A Stone Cold Christmas for Bounce TV, where he served as the co-writer and director. Courtney has development deals with TBS, Lionsgate, MGM, Legendary, Weed Road, Viola Davis' company Juvee, Bounce TV, and Will Packer. His award winning short film REPAIRations! - The Musical, received the Director's Choice Diversity in Cannes Best Musical. He has directed commercials for Nike, Apple & Hewlett Packard. He knows the television writing and directing landscape inside and out and he's ready to share his knowledge with you. Courtney will dive in by explaining all the differences between writing a TV and a traditional film screenplay. He will discuss how to format acts, how to be sensitive to the shooting schedule, what you can expect regarding deadlines and delivery dates and how to navigate dealing with the network. From there, Courtney will take you to the greenlit phase where you'll need to know what deliverables you are responsible for, how much time you'll be given to deliver your rewrite, and how to handle network notes (there will be plenty). Courtney will then jump into the writing process including how to write for the BOOM!, how many acts you need to have in your script (and if that varies) and the importance of writing a compelling and attention grabbing Act 1. Going even deeper, Courtney will discuss beat sheets, how many beats you need to add, and what your overall beat sheet should look like. And finally, Courtney will explain how to write an outline that keeps the execs happy and off your back so you can go do what you do best...write! "Another winner for Stage 32. I have many scripts I thought would be a better fit for television and now I know how to get it done!" - Fiona C. "I'm ready to write for the BOOM! Thanks, Courtney!" - Miguel P. "It's always been a dream of mine to have something on the Hallmark channel. Now I have the framework and I'm ready to start writing." Melissa H. "Couldn't have been any better. Great detail!" - Ida W.
Learn directly from Michael Poisson, the former Director of Development at Silent Machine Entertainment, Krysten Ritter’s production company that has a first look deal at Universal TV. Michael is also a comedy writer who used his insider knowledge to land a manager, and get two projects in development at TV production companies. In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, your host Michael Poisson will guide you through the business side of how to become a working writer in Hollywood. Writing an awesome script is only part of the process for becoming successful in this industry. Having worked on various projects from both the executive side, as well as the writer side of things, Michael has obtained great insight for how to avoid the difficult terrain when meeting and working with producers, studios, and networks. And while the process of finding a manager or agent is daunting, keeping a strong relationship with them so that they’re doing the most for you as their client can be equally difficult. Michael will share with you his insider knowledge to help: keep your writing on track, your meetings fruitful, and your industry contacts strong. If you’ve ever wondered what you should talk about in “general meetings”, how to take notes from friends/producers/execs that you don’t agree with, or how to be a more prolific writer, this webinar is for you!
As screenwriters, it is our job to create well-rounded stories. That means not only having a main character whose journey we follow but also including supporting characters and stories. The addition of strong supporting characters and subplots allows the audience to feel as if your story actually has a life outside of the confines of your script. This is the difference between being a professional screenwriter and someone who writes as a weekend hobby. In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, Jordan Barel, who's worked in producing and development for over 15 years will teach how to bring your supporting characters to life. You will learn how to create characters that are integral to the main plot and the shape of your screenplay. He will walk you through using your support characters to subtly deliver key exposition and give insight into your protagonist. In addition, Jordan will show you how to use your subplots to strengthen your second act and keep the action moving along. You'll break down various film genres to show how each utilizes supporting characters and subplots so you can apply it to your projects. You will walk away with the tools necessary to deliver a fully developed script that says "professional" and not "hobbyist"! "It was absolutely excellent information." - Gerri G. "Great speaker, lots of great info. Thanks!" - Ron H.
Starting a filmmaking career requires a knowledge of the craft and an unyielding will to succeed. Maintaining a filmmaking career requires a knowledge of how the industry works, where the landmines are buried, and how to navigate the politics like a pro. Who better to learn from than from someone who has been in the trenches and out on the battlefield again and again? Get ready to have some serious fun and to learn how to build a lasting career as a filmmaker. This is the s*** they don't teach in film school. Or for that matter, anywhere else but here on Stage 32. Michael Davis has worked with the likes of Spielberg, Lucas, Eastwood, McTiernan, and Ross, and with actors such as Giamatti and Owen to name a few. He's navigated the studio world and the challenges of independent filmmaking multiple times. The man has seen things. And he wants to share what he's learned from all his experiences, triumphs and failures with you. In this jam packed webinar, Michael will teach you about the politics of studio and independent filmmaking. He'll tell you when to kiss the ring, kiss ass, and kick ass. He will discuss, explain, and instruct you on the strategic decisions that advanced his career as well as the huge mistakes that held him back and stalled his career for huge chunks of time. He will teach you how to run your set and how to keep pesky executives and producers off your back. As if that wasn't enough, from his wealth of experience writing and directing six feature films, Michael will reveal the mistakes he’s made so you can learn from them and avoid making these same missteps, as well as discuss the smart moves he made that led him to directing a studio feature so you can emulate them. "You will leave this webinar with a comprehensive understand of how to maximize your directing work, gain bigger and better exposure, and build a lasting career as a filmmaker." - Michael Davis
Taught by 25+ year producer (GOOD WILL HUNTING, AMERICAN PIE, MANCHESTER BY THE SEA), director (KILL THEORY, THE PEOPLE SPEAK) and Project Greenlight Co-Founder, Chris Moore. Want to see a free Q&A with Chris & Stage 32 Founder & CEO Richard Botto? Click here. "I chose to teach at Stage 32 over Masterclass because I believe in their mission. Their education isn't storytelling hour or dated material, it's exclusively about offering practical, actionable, and motivational information on what's happening in the industry right now. This is going to be a fun, but honest 2-part class that will help you navigate the business today." - Chris Moore With so many variables in today’s entertainment industry how do you know the steps to not only give yourself the best chance of breaking in, but also the guidelines on how to sustain a high profile and highly successful career? What if you were able to have a legendary industry veteran look at your current trajectory and give you advice? Stage 32 is going to give you just that. Chris Moore has asked and answered these questions over a remarkable and diverse 25+ year career in entertainment. As an award winning director and producer of over 30 projects such as Oscar-winning Good Will Hunting, American Pie and Oscar-winning Manchester by the Sea Chris has seen and experienced just about everything. And as the co-creator of the wildly successful Project Greenlight, Live Planet (both with Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and Sean Bailey) and The Chair, Chris has made mentoring and teaching creatives serious about a life in entertainment his mission. Chris is here exclusively on Stage 32 to shed a light on the big picture questions that you should be focusing on including: How to manage a career over time What truly matters from a professional and personal standpoint How to take the long view in your approach How to cut out the noise and listen to the “right” voices How to navigate the industry today! Session 1 How to Learn from Your Successes and Failures & Stay Focused on the Career you Desire - Chris will walk through tangible, actionable advice you can walk away with and apply to your own projects and/or jobs. He will provide an overview of the different paths and the resources that can help you reach your goals. ***In this on demand class, Chris will no longer be reviewing loglines and synopsis from students. Session 2 Evaluating & Learning Why and How You Choose the Next Move to Make - Chris will go over a select number of submissions that students have submitted from the first session. He’ll go over, in detail, an analysis of the situation and provide real-time, actionable information to help you better understand how to navigate your next steps. We’ll do our best to chose examples that apply to multiple levels in the industry so you can apply it to your own career.
Part 1 - Overview of the Staffing Process Amanda discusses the strategy and steps of the staffing process from the studio, network and production company perspective. You will gain incite into what producers are looking for from a staffing sample and how to improve your chances of standing out in crowd. Part 2 - Tips for Writing an Original Pilot A discussion on the creation of a strong, unique and memorable original pilot; Choosing the right concept to display your original voice, crafting characters who can last for seasons and improving dialogue skills. Part 3 - Pilot Format, Structure and Plotting Amanda details structure and formatting techniques, for drama and comedy, as well as the importance of a strong, steady plot and why you need to keep the reader engaged with big plot moments every few pages in a staffing sample. Part 4 - Spec Scripts & Next Career Steps Amanda answers why it’s important to have a spec script to send as a follow up to your original pilot, and how to write a spec script through copying an existing show’s voices and format. She also covers reaching out to agents, managers, and studio training initiatives with your writing samples. Purchasing gives you access to the previously-recorded live class.Although Amanda is no longer handing out or reviewing the assignments, we still encourage all listeners to participate!