Sophie Azran is a producer and Creative Executive at ImageMovers, Robert Zemeckis’ production company, where she has developed projects including THE WITCHES for HBO Max., BIOS with Tom Hanks, PINOCCHIO, ARES, MANIFEST and PROJECT BLUE BOOK for History Channel, and many others. Previously, Sophie worked at Warner Bros., Tom Hanks' company Playtone and Trudy Styler's company, Maven Pictures. As an independent producer and through her role at ImageMovers, Sophie works with countless writers in developing and improving their scripts and will share exclusively with the Stage 32 community the structural and organizational practices she works on for her own projects. Full Bio »
Writing a great screenplay is a gargantuan effort, and putting together something like this doesn’t just happen willy nilly. No matter how good of an idea you have, how fantastic your characters are, or how mind boggling your plot twist is at the end, none of it matters without a solid structure and clear plan. Structure is often the hardest aspect of writing for screenwriters of all levels and requires a large amount of discipline and trial and error to get right. This is why, whether you’re a brand new writer or someone with tens of screenplays already under your belt, outlining is an essential tool. Mastering this skill can elevate your next project to new heights and convince more people to take notice in your story.
Yet it’s not enough just to outline; you have to outline well. At its best, an outline can show you how your story should be shaped—what to cut, what to keep, where to place your beats, and how to take your audience to the perfect ending. Yet an outline can also do the opposite if you’re not careful. It can mire down your story in unnecessary scenes or can help you justify keeping aspects that really should be cut. To have a successful plan and structure for your screenplay, it’s crucial to know not only how to outline, but to read what that outline is telling you about your story. Let’s take a closer look.
Sophie Azran is a producer and Creative Executive at ImageMovers, Robert Zemeckis’ production company, where she has developed projects including THE WITCHES for HBO Max., BIOS with Tom Hanks, PINOCCHIO, ARES, MANIFEST and PROJECT BLUE BOOK for History Channel, and many others. Previously, Sophie worked at Warner Bros., Tom Hanks' company Playtone and Trudy Styler's company, Maven Pictures. As an independent producer and through her role at ImageMovers, Sophie works with countless writers in developing and improving their scripts and will share exclusively with the Stage 32 community the structural and organizational practices she works on for her own projects.
Sophie will walk you through how to successfully create an outline for your own feature project. She’ll begin by discussing the items you’ll need in addition with your outline, including the logline, comparisons, and character descriptions. Next she will discuss how an outline should work and at what point you should start outlining. She’ll lay out tips on how to actually get an outline started, including how it could be formatted. Sophie will then do a deep dive on structure and how each step should be incorporated into your outline. She will show an example of what an effective outline looks like and will talk through common pitfalls to avoid when outlining. She will also discuss what a completed outline can teach you about your own story and how to move forward once you have a finished outline, including transitioning to index carding and how to use your outline to start writing pages. Outlining and structuring your story is never easy, but Sophie will give you a rundown and a series of strategies to make it much more possible.
"Prep work isn’t just for novices—all the great professionals do it. That’s why I’m so excited to talk about outlines, which are the foundation of all screenwriting; helping you iron out structure, character, tone and more."
Q: What is the format of a webinar?
A: Stage 32 Next Level Webinars are typically 90-minute broadcasts that take place online using a designated software program from Stage 32.
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A: No, you can participate from the comfort of your own home using your personal computer! If you attend a live online webinar, you will be able to communicate directly with your instructor during the webinar.
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Q: What if I cannot attend the live webinar?
A: If you attend a live online webinar, you will be able to communicate directly with your instructor during the webinar. If you cannot attend a live webinar and purchase an On-Demand webinar, you will have access to the entire recorded broadcast, including the Q&A.
Q: Will I have access to the webinar afterward to rewatch?
A: Yes! After the purchase of a live or On-Demand webinar, you will have on-demand access to the audio recording, which you can view as many times as you'd like for a whole year!
It's like 10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife...well, actually it's more like the Write Now Challenge Webcast: Isn't it Ironic coming at you this afternoon at 4pm (Pacific)! In this challenge, members were asked to write a short scene (no more than 5 pages) using one of the examples of irony from the Breakdown Webcast: Dramatic Irony. As a reminder the examples for irony are below: Dramatic Irony: A literary and theatrical device in which the reader or audience knows more about a situation, complication, or conflict than the characters they are following. Classical Irony: This term describes irony as it was used in ancient Greek comedy—to highlight situations in which one thing appears to be the case when, in fact, the opposite is true. Cosmic Irony: Cosmic irony highlights incongruities between the absolute, theoretical world and the mundane, grounded reality of everyday life. Socratic Irony: Socrates would feign ignorance of a subject and ask seemingly innocent—but actually leading—questions to draw out information he already knew. Socratic irony differs from verbal irony because it involves intentional deception. Verbal irony, on the other hand, does not connote insincerity or deception. Situational Irony: occurs when there is a difference between what is expected to happen and what actually happens. With situational irony, our discovery that our expectations haven’t been met are the same as the characters in the story. Verbal Irony: is when a character says something that is different from what he or she really means, or how he or she really feels. This is the only type of irony where a character creates the irony.
Low budget horror films have never been hotter or more in demand. Last year, The Hollywood Reporter stated that the horror genre was saving the film business and that low budget horror was helping to lead the charge. More and more companies are looking to follow the Blumhouse model of making horror films on the cheap and then raking it in at the box office and VOD. Even the streaming platforms have jumped in with both feet. But make no mistake, just because many of these production companies and filmmakers are keeping their costs down, they are not skimping on quality. Quite the opposite in fact. Horror film aficionados demand great stories, memorable characters and scares that are earned. They want fresh ideas, a unique vision, and an experience they can return to again and again. To stand out from the crowd, you need to be prepared not only to find or produce great material, but to understand how to navigate the landscape. More people produce and shoot horror than just about any other genre. And in such a crowded field, it can be hard to stand out. Go to any film market or horror trade show and you are instantly inundated with posters for dozens if not hundreds of horror features, short films, television shows and digital content looking for a home. After a while, everything seems to look the same. But there is a way to break out of that crowded field and assure that your work gets seen, bought, distributed and/or screened. And we have just the guy to show you how to get it done. Nick Phillips knows horror. In his 20 years in the business, Nick has worked, developed and produced films for Miramax and Sony Screen Gems. In 2012, Nick co-founded his own production company specializing in genre films, the Revolver Picture Company. Just some of the films Nick has worked on include Scream, Halloween, Hellraiser, the Crow, Vacancy, Feast and The Roommate. Now, exclusively for Stage 32, Nick will share his knowledge on how to create terrifying films at not-so-terrifying costs. Films the industry wants to have a piece of and horror fans won't be able to get enough of. Nick will start by teaching you one of the most common failings of producers and filmmakers within the horror space, namely what you should look for in a horror script. From there, he will talk development and the production process during this all important period of the project's evolution. Nick will show you how to stretch your budget dollar, by minimizing locations (but maximizing how you use them), making the right hires, keeping the shoot moving and staying on schedule. He will teach you his tricks on working with actors during the most intense scenes and keeping them motivated. Speaking of actors, he will discuss whether name talent matters or whether choosing the best actor for the part is a better approach. He will show you how to get the best production value throughout the film. And everyone knows, a great horror movie demands a sequel! Nick will show you how to set yourself up so that your project is franchise ready. This is a fully comprehensive overview of how to immerse yourself in the horror genre as a producer and/or filmmaker. "I have no desire to work in any other genre outside of horror. I've been frustrated that my vision always seems to be too expensive for the money I have available. Thank you, Nick, for showing me the path to seeing my vision through while keeping my costs down. I'm inspired again!" Matt H. "There is nothing scary about this webinar. It's fantastic." Devon M. "Man, was this eye opening. I have seen the light and now know how to keep my costs in check. Let the blood flow!" - Francisco D. "My all female slasher grindhouse project is back on my production slate thanks to you, Nick. I don't know how that makes you feel, but I feel fantastic!" - Marissa G.
"Jason was and is wonderfully inspiring!" Watch for FREE here: Want to join Jason's 2-part AD class April 8 & April 15? Register here!
A Vice President of Development at an A-List production company recently said,"Every studio executive is asking me for Rom Coms!" If you look at recent trends, it is clear they are on a come back. With the tremendous box office success of CRAZY RICH ASIANS, BOOK CLUB and THE BIG SICK and the streaming successes of SET IT UP, SIERRA BURGESS IS A LOSER, and TO ALL THE BOYS I LOVED BEFORE, romantic comedies are making a huge comeback for all types of audiences. Variety called Rom-Com's the "Hottest genre". If you have been sitting on a Rom-Com script or been thinking about writing one, now's the time to learn about the current marketplace for romantic comedies. So how do you as a writer approach writing a Romantic Comedy without falling into the trap of tired cliches? Or, how do you take the storytelling conventions and turn them on their head? Jason Mirch is a 10+ industry veteran who's worked in development on films for Image Nation such as THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL, FLIGHT, CONTAGION, as well as in management, financing and producing. Jason is Stage 32's Director of Script Services and has helped dozens of writers in the Stage 32 community springboard their careers. He's the host of the Stage 32 Writers' Room which is a weekly online writers' group that meets online with writing challenges and one-on-one access to top industry professionals who serve as mentors and provide advice on the group's projects. During this 90-minute look inside the Writers' Room Breakdown Webcast, Jason will go over the history of romantic comedy as well as the anatomy of a romantic comedy. He'll teach you the 7 essential story beats in a romantic comedy and you will learn to develop your romcom with a theme or dramatic question. Plus, Jason will break down scripts including WHEN HARRY MET SALLY, 500 DAYS OF SUMMER, THE APARTMENT, KNOCKED UP, WHAT WOMEN WANT and more. Jason will discuss what makes these projects work and how we can apply those same principles to our writing! Plus! Jason will be taking ANY of your writing questions! Like what you heard from Jason during this webcast? Send him your screenplay and speak with him privately for an hour by clicking here! Praise for This Writers' Room Webcast "Thanks for this summary! Loved the rundown ad the clips!" - Bethany B. "Such an insightful breakdown, thanks so much." - Crispin "Jason, you always overdeliver! THANKS so much!" - Petula "This was an amazing breakdown. Wow." - Ricki L. "Great breakdown as always, Jason, with superb choice of clips." - Stephen P.
There are thousands of shows and films to watch on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and other streaming platforms. Now, more than ever, there is a constant stream of incredible stories being told by content creators from all over the world. It is safe to say that there is something for everyone when it comes to this new form of distribution. But that doesn't mean you can just call up a streaming service and request a meeting! So, how do you get your story on a streaming platform for all the world to see? You need to understand the hurdles that content creators face in getting their product on these important streaming platforms and how to overcome them. Understanding the business structure of these top three players is key for you to break in, get your film or series seen through this distribution option and make money by doing so. It's important that you understand the global structure of these streamers, how they choose their content and what potential revenue might be for you as a filmmaker. Chad Miller has been working in the entertainment industry for more than 15 years and the bulk of his experience has been specifically focused on the business of on-demand entertainment. He's worked with Gravitas Ventures distribution specializing in Amazon, Hulu and Netflix and prior to that was with AT&T working with all the major studios ensuring that both their big tentpole titles were available to customers and also helped evaluate new content from new content aggregators and distributors. Now, he's bringing his extensive and specialized knowledge exclusively to the Stage 32 community. Chad will be discussing the broad differences between Amazon, Hulu and Netflix and how each of these streaming platforms select their content. You will learn the business structures of each of these platforms, what your distribution reach is and what your revenue expectations are as a content creator on these payment structures. You'll even walk away knowing international distribution options and ways you can negotiate the best deal. If you are a screenwriter, filmmaker, producer, or content creator hoping will find a home on Netflix, Amazon or Hulu this is your ultimate guide to understanding how you can make that happen!
A hot topic of conversation in our current COVID-19 world is how film, television and new media productions will resume production safely and effectively. The entire entertainment legal landscape has changed as a result of the world’s pandemic. Producers, filmmakers, directors and crew need to think about protection before you can ever step on set to say “action.” It’s important to take a deeper look at the legal agreements that tie parties together on a project as we contemplate the future. Contract provisions that parties wrote off as “boring” or “boiler plate” will significantly change moving forward. It’s important you understand how this affects your project. You don’t want to get stuck with a production or financial nightmare if you’re not protected legally to move forward on your film, TV or new media project. There are five basic provisions in a legal contract that many dismissed as “boring boiler plate” that now will have significance moving forward. It’s important that you know the basic purpose of these provisions, why they are drafted and what purpose they serve for all parties. With each provision, you will need to know the impact and implications as it relates to COVID-19 and how these provisions will continue to change to comply with government and guilds, insurance coverage and mitigation of risk for both parties. You need to make sure to contemplate unlikely scenarios so that contracts are comprehensive to whatever may occur. Elsa Ramo is one of the top entertainment attorneys in the industry today and the managing partner of Ramo Law. Recently named to Variety’s 2019 “Dealmakers List,” Elsa Ramo has represented over 100 films and 50 television scripted and unscripted series in 2019 alone, including Emmy award-winning shows and films which debuted at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival.Her clients include Imagine Entertainment, FOX, Balboa Productions (Sylvester Stallone’s production company), Scout Productions (creators and EPs of QUEER EYE), Boardwalk Pictures (EPs for CHEF’S TABLE) and Skydance. Elsa has her finger on the pulse of the legal side of the entertainment law and works non-stop to protect her clients in all deals. Elsa will go through the nuts and bolts of contractual provisions in the entertainment industry and a walk through of how these should and will change due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Elsa will start by offering a basic understanding of five contractual provisions that are now much more important in the wake of the pandemic: Force majeure, suspension/termination provisions, assumption of risk and related indemnification provisions, medical releases and disclosures, and scheduling and payment provisions. She’ll discuss why they are drafted and what purpose they serve among the parties. Then, with each provision, she will discuss the impact and implications as it relates to Covid-19 and how these provisions are and will continue to change to comply with government compliance, guild compliance insurance coverage and mitigation of risk for both parties as they contract during a pandemic. Elsa will distill what we can learn from changing these ‘boring provisions’ that we can apply to better prepare ourselves for future unlikely scenarios and ensure contracts are comprehensive to whatever may occur. Finally, Elsa will teach you how to flag and ensure that the modifications placed on these contracts comply with government legislation, union compliance, and other worst-case scenarios.You will be fully prepared to understand how “boring boiler plate” provisions can affect your project and how to best protect yourself. Praise for Elsa’s Stage 32 Webinar: "This was one of the best webinars I have taken so far. Thank you again. I look forward to the next one!" -Romina S. "Awesome presentation - great speaker, made complicated issues much clearer, lots of great info! Great info for anyone in the industry in all positions. Thanks!!" -Ron H. "This webinar was absolutely brilliant! Elsa is clearly a pro, but her manner was so calm and approachable. She didn't talk down to us and explained all these intricacies so that I believe everyone was able to understand them. Bravo! More Elsa Please!" -Becca G. "Elsa is always amazing and legal is always a fantastic topic, now more than ever!" -Lisa G.