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
We've all read the studies as to the benefits of meditation toward living a more calm and focused life. What you may not know is that many successful people from entrepreneurs to athletes to artists and film creatives use a combination of meditation and visualization to identify and prioritize what's important toward achieving their overall goals, concentrate on important tasks, cut out distractions and stay in the zone. If you find yourself lacking motivation or focus in your creative pursuits, if you're feeling beaten down by global events, if you feel as if you're unable to push through to higher plateaus, CHI energy might just provide the answer you're looking for. The idea behind CHI Energy is to help you free yourself of all mental obstructions by using state of the art techniques and mindset strategies that help elevate performance and results to the highest level of consciousness whether your work is behind or in front of the camera. Patricia Chica is a multiple award-winning director, producer, energy influencer and coach whose mission is to bridge the gap between storytelling, performance and Chi Energy within the film industry. She has been a go to teacher for hundreds of actors, crew members, and film industry professionals. Through individual training and her global CHI Energy Workshops, Patricia has helped legions of people become aware of the power of the mind, body and spirit and how to use that energy to better create, get through blocks, overcome mental obstacles and generally find more happiness in all pursuits. Another goal of CHI Energy is to help you become a better collaborator, something that can serve you well throughout your career. Patricia will introduce you to the unique approach and application of conscious practices that she has not only taught around the world, but uses on with her cast and crew on her own projects as a filmmaker and a producer. She will cover how to boost your immune system so you have less down time and worries about missing your goals due to health issues. She'll teach you the art of zen, but more importantly, how to carry that zen with you in the day to day - especially important in these uncertain times. She will show you how to use your time at home to elevate your performance and creativity to a higher level. In a very key segment, Patricia will speak to the 5 levels of empathy and how to expand our emotional connection. Patricia will then take you through meditation and visualization exercises that you can begin practicing today! This webinar is open to all industry professionals, writers, directors, producers, financiers, sales agents, crew people and actors curious to learn simple techniques involving Chi Energy, visualization, and meditation and how to apply them for filmmaking, peak performance and creativity. Praise for Patricia's Stage 32 Webinar: Very positive and inspiring. Loved her five levels of empathy and how you work with each chakra. -JoAnne E. Great content! -Maritere Y. Awesome topic, Loved it! -Caroline B.
The art of the pitch. In many ways, outside of honing your craft, your ability to pitch may just be the most important skill you can learn as a creative. At its core, pitching is storytelling. But the ability to be a clear, concise storyteller, and, as a result, be someone who can deliver a memorable and winning pitch is something that takes time, knowledge, a clear strategy, and repetition. Understanding how to pitch any person or audience will give you a clear and tremendous advantage in any situation or room. You will stand out from the hundreds if not thousands of pitches a gatekeeper or decision maker hears in a given year. But further, learning how to pitch will help you build confidence, a huge variable in winning over those looking to work with you, buy your material or invest in your project. The bottom line: Whether you're a screenwriter, filmmaker, producer, or any creative or industry professional looking to gain representation, sell their material, attract talent, raise financing, or simply looking to find work, you WILL have to pitch. Further, you WILL be in competition with others pitching as well. You've put so much time and effort into your work and building your reputation, you don't want to have it all undermined with a terrible pitch. And the truth of the matter is that most people that pitch make the same fatal mistakes over and over. They don't know how to tell a concise, riveting story. They don't know what to put in, what to leave out, and what elements really and truly sell someone on their story. But not you. Not anymore. You're about to become a pitching ace. Jared Iacino is a film and television executive who has heard literally thousands of pitches. As the Senior Vice President and Head of Films and Television Production at Panay Films, Jared has overseen the development and production of such films as Hit & Run, Hot Tub Time Machine I and II, Earth to Echo, Mastermind, CHiPS, and numerous television productions in conjunction with Relativity Television. Prior to his time at Panay, Jared worked on such films as The Wedding Crashers, Juno, The Devil Wears Prada, Hairspray, The Bucket List, A Raisin in the Sun, The Proposal, The Muppets, Serendipity, Van Wilder and many more. As Jared can tell you, many of these projects and hundreds more he's see get moved through the pipeline, began with a well crafted pitch. Now, exclusively for Stage 32, Jared is going to teach you everything you need to know to become a pitching ace. He will demystify the pitching process by showing you how to form and outline your pitch in practical, repeatable and memorable terms. He will identify from a studio/network/producer's perspective, the common and fatal mistakes writers, filmmakers, producers and other film creatives make when pitching their projects. He will show you the secret formula he's used when pitching and selling projects to high level executives, gatekeepers and decision makers at independent film companies, studios and networks. He will teach you the 3 most important elements every pitch should have. He will show you how to cater your pitch to different audiences and why this is such an important skill to lear. He will show you how to identify projects worthy of pitching and teach you the secret ingredient that appears in every great pitch. Jared will give you the blueprint to not only craft a memorable and winning pitch, but teach you how to deliver it in a manner that has you finding the success your work and projects deserve! "Great hearing from someone who's actually in the trenches like us. You have great energy and broke the presentation down very well; easily digestible and understandable." - Tom Z. "Terrific webinar thank you Jared. You were clear, concise and most importantly efficient! I learned a ton and I am about to use what I learned in a pitch at 2:30. I am excited to see what happens!" - Maggie G. "Thanks for being incredibly generous with your experience and expertise. I feel way more able to take on creating the brilliant pitch that reflects the story I wrote." - John T.
Hi, Curt Cornelius here! I'm a professional working actor and have been active in the entertainment industry for over 33 years. Commercially, I have over 100 national network spots to my credit, as well as over 3 dozen film & TV shows. In my Stage 32 Next Level Webinar we will discuss, in detail, the current commercial climate, union VS. non-union VS. Fi-Cor Ads, one's materials - including headshots, how to construct a resume and/or a reel and their vital importance. I'll also touch on the online submission game and the importance of creating one's social media presence. We'll also chat about commercial classes and workshops, and even the first steps in regards to how to land an Agent. And, lastly, I'll chat about the commercial audition itself - offering my best advice, knowledge, experience and tools in just how to give your best audition and win the room.
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.
Pre-production is the most important time for a director because it's where you go through a "process of discovery." It's also during this time that all departments discover a director's work style, vision and expectations as to how to do their jobs and make the production run smoothly and efficiently. In most cases, if a movie doesn't turn out as expected or runs over budget, it's a failure of execution during pre-production that can be pointed to as the cause. Many directors are simply too dependent on their producers and are way too anxious to get filming. This mentality is a huge mistake. So how can you assure that you handle the pre-production process effectively and in a manner where your cast and crew want to run into fire for you? How can you know which variables are most important and where you can delegate? We're here to help. Much is expected of the director during the pre-production process. You are in charge of making crucial decisions that can either make or break any production. It can all seem very overwhelming no matter how many times you've done it. But in reality, taken step by step, it could be a fun and rewarding part of the process of making a film. All this takes time - and the more time you have in prep, the more you will discover and sort out before you go to camera. It's the planning, the patience and the perseverance that wins the day and ultimately makes for a winning project for all involved. Peter D. Marshall has worked in the film industry for over 40 years as a film director, television producer, first assistant director, TV series creative consultant, and screenwriter. Peter has directed over 30 episodes of Television Drama such as John Woo's Once a Thief, Wiseguy, 21 Jumpstreet, Neon Rider, The Black Stallion, Scene of the Crime, Big Wolf on Campus and Largo Winch. As a First Assistant Director, Peter has worked on over 12 Features (including Dawn of the Dead, The Butterfly Effect, Happy Gilmore, The Fly II); 16 Television Movies; 8 Television Series; and over 20 Commercials. He has written, directed or produced over 50 hours of documentary and educational programs and his documentaries and dramas have won, or been nominated for, 14 International film awards. Peter has worked with directors such as John Woo, Phillip Noyce, Ed Zwick, John Badham, Roger Vadim, Dennis Dugan, Anne Wheeler and Zack Snyder. He has also worked with actors such as Peter O'Toole, Kevin Spacey, Morgan Freeman, John Travolta, Kathy Bates, Michelle Pfiefer, Marcia Gaye Harden, Madeleine Stowe, Mel Gibson, Ashton Kutcher, Goldie Hawn, Judy Davis and Adam Sandler. In this exclusive Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, Peter will guide you through pre-production, the most important phase for a director. He will help you navigate the business and politics with a step by step guide. He will teach you how to break down your script, how to effectively put together your shot lists, storyboards, and access the budget. He will explain how to set the tone you want to have on the set early and in a non-threatening manner. He will show you how you should conduct meetings with your producers, writer, 1st AD, and other department heads. He will explain how to work with your cast during pre-production so they are confident in their roles and in your vision so they're ready to go on the first day of shooting. He will take you through production meetings, wardrobe fittings, camera tests, script read throughs and rehearsals. He will provide you with a complete overview of a director's role in the pre-production process to assure that everything goes exactly as you wish and that your vision is served. "I have taken several directing courses and Peter's course by far, takes the gold star. This impressive, condensed seminar saturates years of experience and learning and presents it in an easy to use package. A definite recommendation." - Trevor M. "I really enjoyed the webinar. I liked the fact that the density of material was rich enough I was always busy taking notes. Thanks for covering the artistic and the logistic side of directing." - Brad L. "I'll be shooting my first film in the next 30 days. This course came as a surprise birthday present. It was a godsend. I would have been fracked if I hadn't taken the workshop. There were so many essential elements that I would have missed. Peter's course is helping me hit the ground running and as a result, I feel much more confident and sure. Thanks Peter." - Fredrick H.
Part 1 - Playing the Field Steve discusses the kinds of 1 hour TV pilots networks are looking for, and more importantly, what kinds they are not. He talks about the differences between cable, network, and online (Netflix, Hulu, etc.) as well as the differences between procedurals and serialized series. Part 2 - Character and Structure Steve leads a discussion on characterization. He runs through some of his favorite TV characters and explores the development process most networks go through to amp up the characterization in scripts. He also explores supporting cast, archetypes, structure and act breaks. Part 3 - Creating an Engine to Your Show Steve discusses the engine of a TV show. He runs through the importance of a clear week-to-week and explores series longevity and how to craft story lines that can stretch out for 3-8 years.