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.
Examples We’ll Discuss (subject to change slightly)
Roger S. H. Schulman
Producer Chris Moore has done it all. From producing 2 Oscar-winning films Good Will Hunting and Manchester by the Sea, to producing some of the biggest franchises of our time like American Pie - he's seen it all. What's even more impressive is that Chris is committed to creative careers and the journey it takes to sustain one. Chris was the co-founder of Project Greenlight with Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Sean Bailey and The Chair - and continues to help inspire those who chose a life in entertainment. With the evolution of the industry causing dramatic shifts in the way you create and consume content (film, television, digital) more and more opportunities are being presented for a creative career. In this Stage 32 webinar Chris is going to discuss what the shift entails and how you make an educated decision on which path you should take with your career in “the industry” to satisfy the lifestyle you want. Producer Chris Moore will be hosting an interactive webinar where he’ll be discussing the future of the industry and will workshop with a select group of students from the class. He’ll talk about your intended primary path and discuss possible alternative paths if you can’t find the right fit with your primary goals. For example, if you are setting out to be a director and you’re having trouble gaining traction, Chris will go over alternative ways you can break in and gain your footing. Or, if you’re a screenwriter and have been at it a long time and haven’t gotten your break, what are alternatives for your lifestyle in this industry? Or, if you're a cinematographer looking to move from digital shorts to streaming TV, what can you do? All creative professions are welcome to attend!
Learn directly from a studio executive, Nikki Levy, Vice President of Wedge Works at FOX! They say “write what you know” and then we sit there racking our brains for story ideas. What’s that big silver bullet, high-concept idea that will get me noticed? That will sell? That will put me on the map? STOP! There is a better saying, “If you survived childhood, you have enough stories to last for the rest of your life.” And that’s where my money is. Some of the most important screenplays and TV shows in the last two decades have come from complete TRUTH. Think of Seinfeld or the groundbreaking movie (500) Days of Summer. We don’t have to look outside ourselves for great ideas. What we have to do is look inwards, at our own life and pain and joys, to create great story ideas, comedy and dialogue. In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, Nikky Levy, veteran feature film executive and creator of the critically-acclaimed comedy event Don’t Tell My Mother!, will teach you how to turn your life into a killer story that gets YOU noticed. She will look at ways to find the gems of struggle and victory in your life, and how to translate those into cohesive stories with an arc, a strong narrative structure and characters we love. Nikki will examine how to keep our work from becoming a therapy session, and instead crafting it into an emotional, funny, relatable story. She will examine movies that did this successfully, and why. She will also discuss how to spin your own personal history into an engaging “story” so you wow executives, agents, managers and talent.
Robert McKee returns to Stage 32 with Building a Character - a rare online teaching appearance exclusive to Stage 32! In this exclusive Stage 32 Masters of Craft webinar, Robert McKee teaches the principles and tools required to build fascinating characters, from using both external and internal sources for inspiration, to the importance of self-knowledge as a writer when creating characters for stage, page or screen. Robert McKee, a Fulbright Scholar and member of the Hollywood Hall of Fame, is the most sought after writing lecturer around the globe. He has dedicated the last 35 years to educating and mentoring screenwriters, novelists, playwrights, poets, documentary makers, producers, and directors internationally. Those who have learned from McKee have called him “the Aristotle of our time” (Quincy Jones, Ed Saxon, Steve Pressfield to name a few) because of his insight into the substance, structure, style, and principles of the grand art of story. Peter Jackson (writer/director THE LORD OF THE RINGS, THEY SHALL NOT GROW OLD) lauds him as “The Guru of Gurus.” For the creatives at Pixar (TOY STORY, FINDING NEMO, UP, INSIDE OUT), McKee’s Story Seminar is a rite of passage. McKee’s former students include over 65 Academy Award Winners, 250 Academy Award Nominees, 250 Emmy Award Winners, over 1000 Emmy Award Nominees and 100 Writers Guild of America Award winner.
Learn directly from Daniel Stellan Kendrick, Manager and Development Executive at Chatrone LLC (The Book of Life). From our first exposures to Mickey Mouse to the off-color adult humor of South Park, animation spans the human experience. One of the most unlimited and flexible mediums of entertainment, it often remains an outlier in the film industry. Aspiring writers are constantly inundated with information and resources about writing the perfect feature screenplay, but rarely do they have the opportunity to glimpse inside the animation industry. This practical and informative webinar will illuminate the trade secrets and industry culture of cartoons. Over the years, Daniel Stellan Kendrick has heard countless pitches from aspiring animation writers. After a while, he realized that the tools required to succeed at writing this unique and unfamiliar specialty are not easy to find. In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, Daniel will walk you through the lay of the land of the animation industry. From concept creation, to the big players, to the final pitch, Daniel will help you master this boundlessly imaginative field we call “animation.” Daniel Stellan Kendrick is a manager and development executive at Chatrone LLC, a production / management company, which specializes in animation. His clients include writers, artists, and creators that have worked on projects such as Robot Chicken, Spongebob Squarepants, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and The Lego Movie. Chatrone’s first animated feature, The Book Of Life, was nominated for five Annie Awards and a Golden Globe.
Learn directly from Tyler Ruggeri, a screenwriter and former manager with a decade of experience on both sides of the film industry! Since its inception, Hollywood has made films about or inspired by real people and events. In recent years, the "biopic" has become one of the most prestigious and in-demand genres, and six of the nine 2014 Best Picture nominees are based in reality. Compelling true stories are constantly sought after and frequently top The Black List. From CAPOTE to MILK to THE SOCIAL NETWORK to LINCOLN to THE WOLF OF WALL STREET to 12 YEARS A SLAVE, we'll discuss what makes fact-based films viable today, and more importantly how to separate yours from the rest of the pack. This involves shaping the facts of your story into a fictional narrative that supports your unique point of view. We'll also explore the specific steps involved, such as research, story structure, legal issues, and the best way to position your project in a competitive market. While parts of certain films will be mentioned in detail, only a familiarity with the genre is necessary - we won't be studying examples from beginning to end. This overview will serve as an in-depth primer not just for biopic writers, but for all writers to discover stories that can excite and move today's audiences.
Bonus! Get 2 contract templates: Option Agreement Template & Producer Attachment Agreement "Conrad you were so very informative, had absolutely great advice, information a person would need to understand when going to a meeting for negotiations with executives. You covered most everything I wanted to ask. Thank you stage 32, this was the best webinar I have taken." - Diane K. "Great summation of the ins and outs of right options. Thank you for the contract templates." - Karla T. Ideas for movies, TV shows, web series etc. can come from anywhere. Often times it’s an original idea that comes from within your own creative mind, but as you know, a lot of the best stories can be based on other source material like books, real people’s lives, big brands, or any other already existing property. In all of the latter scenarios, you can’t legally create your vision without controlling the rights to the source material. This often discourages people from pursuing these rights because it involves contracts, dealing with rights holders and costs money. In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, Conrad Sun will change your perspective not only on how to acquire the rights to material, but how to develop great story ideas. He will explore creative ways on how to find and control the rights to stories that you’re passionate about without having to pay for them. Whether you’re a writer looking to adapt a screenplay, or a producer looking to set up a property with a financier, this webinar will provide useful information how to effectively control the rights to your passion project and hopefully lead to its creation. Conrad Sun is currently working as a TV Lit Manager and Development Executive at Meridian Artists in Los Angeles and represents TV writers in both the comedy and drama space. Conrad has also worked in content development with companies like Epix, Hasbro Studios, Gran Via Productions (Breaking Bad), New Wave Entertainment and Motion Theory Films. Conrad is also the founder of the popular website FilmEscape, an online resource and encyclopedia for learning anything relating to the film and television industry.