Masterclass: Creating Compelling Characters

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

$59

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

Rating   | Read reviews

Start Learning

Please make sure you use the same email address as the one you use to sign in to Stage 32
apply Your coupon will be applied after you agree to terms below.

- or -

$59.00
TOTAL PRICE:
Overlay Icon

Satisfaction Rate:

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: 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!

Other education that may be of interest to you:

Beyond The Page: The Business Side of Breaking In & Getting Work as a Screenwriter

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!  

Robert Ogden Barnum - Today's Master Producers: Part 1

This is the 1st installment of the Stage 32 + Bondit Media Capital Masterclass featuring Matthew Helderman (CEO of Bondit Media Capital) and Robert Ogden Barnum (Co-Founder of Fortitude International and e2b Capital).

PowerNetworking for Film and Television Producers

Learn directly from Heather Hale, Independent Film and TV Producer and Director who is vetted to pitch projects to NBC Universal and whose 50 hours of television have won Emmys, Tellys and Ace Awards as well as "Best New Series Pilot"! Our industry has changed dramatically - and it continues to evolve. This webinar will help you strategize how to find the best points of entry for your projects in the overlapping but distinct media marketplaces. Learn time-proven techniques and new resources to proactively brainstorm the right attachments and elements for your project. Learn how to identify, research and prioritize a finely honed hit list of marquis-value actors appropriate for not only the roles – but your budget and genre; bankable, "gettable" directors that will do justice to your project's sensibilities; legitimate financiers and distributors proficient in your niche and the brands that are eager to hit your target demographics. Figure out how to track them all down, strategize the best approaches to get on their radars and develop the kind of materials and pitches they will most likely respond to. Heather uses in-the-trenches humor, candor and real world examples to illuminate the many paths to getting a project up onto the big (or little) screen.

Learn the Ropes Of Film Music Clearances

If you're a filmmaker, producer or any creative head looking to incorporate music into your film & television, advertising or media project, you'll need to understand the basics steps of how to secure the music rights for the music you desire to use. From well known hit songs from major recording artists, to indie bands to public domain to original compositions and cover songs of music hits, you will need to be armed with all the knowledge of clearing the rights to that music for your film or project in order for it to play at festivals, screen theatrically, stream on the internet or be released on DVD/VOD.  The memorable song placeholder you are in love with and want to use in your opening credits that you found online - is that song even able to be used and licensed within your budget if you screen your film theatrically? What type of rights will you need to exploit your project globally? Or, what about that jukebox song your editor tempted into the background during one of your bar scenes - is that okay to use? And for how much will the licensing fee be for the rights you need? Knowing all these details and nuances will inform you as to why you must prepare in well in advance and allow time for the music clearances, along with knowing the type of rights your project requires for the music needed. Stage 32 Next Level Education is excited to present Anna Grannucci, a Los Angeles-based film producer and music supervisor and Yale School of Drama graduate, with more than a decade of experience working on films such as WHIPLASH and STICKY NOTES for the jam-packed 90-minute Webinar Learn the Ropes of Film Music Clearances. You will learn a variety of valuable information starting with the types of other source music available for film, television, advertising, video games and every other digital media source, which also includes public domain music, royalty free, original composition, and score. You will learn how to gauge what songs are licensable or not for use in your film or project. Once you've chosen your music, you will learn music rights, the clearance process, the difference between festival, theatrical, DVD/VOD and advertising clearances and more!    You will walk away from this Webinar with a clearer understanding of your music planning and the understanding of the music clearance process you need in order to make your film's music soundtrack a success! And, who better to educate you than the Music Supervisor for both the WHIPLASH short and feature film who controls the music library associated with the film - we bring you only the best instructors at Stage 32!

Subtext – How to Add Layers to Your Story and Characters

You’re a writer who is struggling with crafting believable dialogue. You’re a director looking for the greater meaning in a scene. You’re an actor trying to connect with what a character is feeling. Subtext is the backbone of emotion in any story, regardless of what genre you’re working in. It also helps to separate great scripts from not so great scripts. In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, filmmaker Steve Desmond will help you to craft engaging subtext to layer your stories with nuance and emotion. Whether you’re going for laughs, drama, or impending fear, he’ll help you to make your screenplay feel more true to life. For directors or actors working with existing scripts, this webinar will help you to dig deeper below the surface to find the true lifeblood beneath a line. For producers, we’ll discuss tips on how to work with writers to make their subtext come alive. Whether you’re a writer, a director, an actor, or a producer, subtext is a major part of your game and this webinar will help you add an entirely new layer to your projects.

Building Blocks: How to Write a Great Scene Every Time

Do you suffer from writer’s block? Do you ever get stuck on a scene — at odds with how to proceed, what your character should do or say — for hours, days, sometimes weeks? Do you ever read a scene and think, something’s just not working? Join the illustrious club of every writer ever. Luckily, this very common problem has a simple solution. In this webinar, you will dig down to the building blocks of excellent scene work, those elements which are fundamental to establishing character, advancing plot, capturing tone, and planting memorable moments. By using iconic scenes from landmark film and TV and by citing examples from his 5+ years of TV writing and producing experience, Charlie will offer an array of tools and skills that will harden any writer against the obstacles and pitfalls that come with attacking any scene. Perhaps more importantly, participants will come away with some vital ways to overcome the feared writer’s block that plagues us all.

register for stage 32 Register / Log In