Michael Colleary is a film producer, screenwriter and television writer who’s career has spanned over 3 decades. Some of his writing credits include Face/Off, which the New York Times praised as one of the “1,000 greatest movies ever made”, Firehouse Dog, The New Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and the story for Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. Most recently in television he wrote for Unnatural History on the Cartoon Network. Michael is an active teacher and consultant who’s students have gone on to careers making movies and writing television shows such as BoJack Horseman, Modern Family, Arrested Development, The Boy Next Door, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, Scrubs, Psyche and CSI Miami. Michael mentors for the Writers Guild Foundation and the CineStory Foundation. Full Bio »
You want to be a studio writer. You have a high concept screenplay. Perhaps you control some blockbuster intellectual property (IP). Or maybe you have the next big trilogy or breakthrough character idea. There are hundreds of studio films that are released each year in need of talented writers. But writing high concept screenplays requires a particular set of skills and understanding.
Landing a studio job as a writer is NOT an impossibility. In fact, more and more studios are turning to writers (and directors) of smaller films to help develop and write bigger budget features. But, as you might imagine, this is a competitive arena. Learning how to write a studio style screenplay is only part of the game. You need to understand how to get from completed screenplay to into the room. And then you have to understand how to work the room. The simplest way to get all this done? You need a team. Securing a manager, perhaps an agent, and, most importantly, a qualified, killer entertainment attorney on your side can make all the difference.
Sounds like a long haul? It's not. It all begins by looking at yourself as an entrepreneur.
Michael Colleary has been working within the studio system for over 3 decades. He was the lead writer on Face/Off and the story creator and editor on Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. And those are a couple of the movies that got made! Michael has made a career and a very lucrative living writing studio films that were purchased and never made. Even though you know some of Michael’s films, he’s made an entire career off of writing things that maybe you’ve never seen get made. Studios pay big money for screenplays, even those that don't make it to the screen.
Michael will take you through everything you need to know about breaking into the studios and sustaining a career. You will learn to think like an entrepreneur and develop the skills you need to get work writing specs, rewrites, pitches and script doctoring. These are the skills that will make you an in demand writer. But that's not enough! Michael will also teach you the business side of working within the studio system. You'll understand how to build your support team and how to negotiate. This often overlooked part of the process is what will separate you from the pack and help you get in and stay in the system.
“Anyone, and I mean anyone interested in becoming a screenwriter – or becoming a BETTER screenwriter has come to the right place. Michael is the best story analyst in Hollywood. Smart, insightful, thorough and creative – he will work his rear-end off on your script or story idea until it sings with commercial and artistic viability. I know this from first hand experience, having collaborated with him on numerous television and feature film projects, beginning with ‘Face/Off.’ Additionally, he has served as my personal mentor and sounding board on practically every sale I’ve ever had in my entire career. You will not be disappointed!”
- Mike Werb; screenwriter “The Mask,” “Face-Off,” “Tomb Raider,” “Unnatural History” and more.
Demystifying "The Business"
The ever-changing landscape of the entertainment industry can be a challenging and confusing place. In this section Michael will discuss:
Screenwriter as Entrepreneur
Screenwriters can be notoriously slow to embrace their "business" side. Here Michael will discuss the crucial importance of connecting with your inner entrepreneur.
Building Your Team
You'll learn what each of your reps provides - and doesn't provide - for you. Common questions addressed:
Let's Make a Deal
In this section, Michael will explain the different categories of screenwriting jobs within the Studio system, including:
Michael will then revisit his "planetary guide" of Hollywood and walk you through - step-by-step - the process of landing a studio writing job, including:
Finally, Michael will break down how a screenwriter gets paid, how a writer's reps are paid, and how to manage economic unpredictability without losing your creative fire.
Q&A with Michael
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“Anyone, and I mean anyone interested in becoming a screenwriter – or becoming a BETTER screenwriter has come to the right website. Michael Colleary is the best story analyst in Hollywood. Smart, insightful, thorough and creative – he will work his rear-end off on your script or story idea until it sings with commercial and artistic viability. I know this from first hand experience, having collaborated with him on numerous television and feature film projects, beginning with ‘Face/Off.’ Additionally, he has served as my personal mentor and sounding board on practically every sale I’ve ever had in my entire career. You will not be disappointed!”
Mike Werb; screenwriter “The Mask,” “Face-Off,” “Tomb Raider,” “Unnatural History” and more.
“Among the most serious—and common—mistakes writers make is to expose their screenplays before they’re truly ready. Nothing better could happen to writers than to have Michael Colleary review their pages and provide notes prior to submission to agents, managers, and producers. This is true not only for first-time writers but also for seasoned professionals, even those who have development deals with production entities, writers smart enough to have Michael ask the hard questions before the producers ask them.
I have worked closely with Michael Colleary now for over thirty years, first as my student, and now as my longtime friend and colleague. That we regularly engage him to teach advanced classes in UCLA’s graduate screenwriting program represents eloquent testimony to the nosebleed-high regard in which he is held by all of our faculty.
Michael Colleary is an approachable, gentle taskmaster with a keen eye for what is superfluous, the roiling, swirling paraphernalia that burdens scripts when writers inevitably get in our own way, blocking our narratives, suffocating our chances for success with a particular project or an entire career. Rarely do I encounter a script consultant with chops as strong as Michael’s. Never have I met one who is stronger.”
Prof. Richard Walter, Screenwriting Chairman; Associate Dean, UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television
“Not every great athlete is a great coach and likewise, not every artist is a great teacher. Michael Colleary is that rare find who excels in both areas. As co-area head of the UCLA screenwriting program, I have watched Michael with his students. He is generous, supportive, involved. his critical insight is laser sharp, delivered with the kindest of hands.”
Hal Ackerman, former co-chair of UCLA MFA Screenwriting Program
“Michael is one of the smartest script consultants around. I first met him when I was a UCLA screenwriting grad student and was lucky enough to have him as an instructor. His notes were incredibly insightful and delivered with such finesse that I left my critique not only feeling that I could rewrite my script with ease, but that’d I’d become a better writer from that note session alone. I have since invited him to come to numerous CineStory Foundation retreats, where he is a beloved mentor, not only because his notes are outstanding, but because he is also outstanding as a person, mentor and critic. He is on our permanent mentor ask list – he’s that good.”
Lisanne Sartor is an award-winning writer/director whose short film “Six Letter Word” has screened at over fifty film festivals worldwide, including the Telluride Film Festival and the American Pavilion at Cannes (www.sixletterword.org).
She made “Six Letter Word” via the AFI Directing Workshop for Women.
Payment plans available - contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details Limited Class Size - Only 12 Spots Remain Get Guidance in Rewriting and Improving Your Half-Hour Pilot Script with Experienced TV Writer Meghan Pleticha of SILICON VALLEY Rewrites can make or break a pilot. It’s the time when you can take your script to be a cut above the rest, or overwork it and undermine its potential. Nowhere is this truer than in the half-hour comedy pilot, where jokes can halt the story's momentum and the plot can overwhelm the characters. But with the guidance of a professional half-hour writer, you can take your script to the next level and kickstart your career with a ground-breaking comedy. In this exclusive Stage 32 lab, you’ll work with SILICON VALLEY writer Meghan Pleticha as she mentors you through rewriting your half-hour comedy pilot. In addition to writing for the Emmy-nominated HBO series, Meghan has also worked on Cartoon Network’s POWER PLAYERS, FX’s MARRIED, ABC’s CHARITY CASE, and VH1’s HIT THE FLOOR. Over eight intensive weeks, you will cover: How to know what’s working in your script A, B, and C stories and how they work together Tracking cause and effect throughout your story Honing your characters’ voices The most common challenges faced in rewriting Who to send your script to when you finish rewriting You’ll also read successful half-hour comedy pilots to see what made them stand out in the booming television marketplace and will be able to ask Meghan questions directly as you work in a limited setting. With only 12 spots available, you’re guaranteed quality time with Meghan and your new network of fellow comedy writers. Using her own unique and tested rewrite process and a series of assignments and exercises, Meghan helps you tackle your script the best way possible so that you leave with a stronger pilot you can be proud of. Don’t miss out on this incredible chance to be mentored by a professional staff writer on a critically acclaimed show. These spots are filling fast. "Writing pilots is hard! You have to come up with characters, a world, AND a story?! In script after script, I've seen writers spend so much time on the first two, the story gets lost. Even worse, without a strong pilot story, your world and characters won't reach their full potential. I love helping writers find the best structure for their show so their script can most accurately represent them and their idea. And I'm looking forward to doing that with Stage 32. See you in class!" -Meghan Pleticha
Devon got his start as a Development Exec at Ideate Entertainment before launching the management company, First Friday Entertainment, last year with Krista Sipp. We discuss what makes a writer stand out to reps, trends in film and TV, writer voice and standing out, & more, plus a live Q&A!
Rich and diverse talent exists all over the world. We see it in stories like Netflix hits THE QUEEN'S GAMBIT and UNORTHODOX, both produced in Germany, and LUPIN, the hit Netflix series that originated in France and has exploded to the global audience. Or even SUBURRA, the Netflix hit which launched Italian lead actor Alessandro Borghi into the global series DEVILS. It is no surprise that multi-cultural, multi-national stories are here to stay. And, now with film and television productions taking place in every country, more and more filmmakers and actors have opportunity to work. The exciting part about this global storytelling is that it opens the door for creatives all over the world to work internationally - as long as you do the research and put in the work to find opportunities. It's time to stop thinking locally and start thinking globally for your career. Who you are, where you've lived, your heritage, your background makes you unique in the global industry. There are key differences between the US and EU film and television markets, and at the same time there are unique needs within both. By educating yourself on the different type of structures in each region you will open up the possibility to understand how your own personal background can play a key role in an international production's need. Whether you have a strong family heritage that allows you to speak multiple languages, or you are German or Portuguese and moved around to different countries, or a Texan that now lives in the Netherlands, or Emily who lives in Paris ;) - all of that is valuable in today's global filmmaking industry. How can you take these unique characteristics that you have and apply them to help you get more work? Alex Surer is a producer and manager who leads the Berlin division of the global talent management company Bohemia Group. Through this position, Alex links multi-lingual actors, writers and filmmakers from Europe with the US film and TV industries. Born in San Francisco to Swiss parents, Alex grew up in Vancouver and Basel, Switzerland, and was shipped off to Houston as an exchange student, returning to graduate in Zurich, adding proper German, French and Latin to her native Swiss-German and English. Alex has used her deep multilingual, multicultural and multinational background to help actors bridge these gaps and has helped countless performers find roles and long-lasting careers in other countries. Alex will teach you how European creatives can find success in America and how American creatives can find success in Europe. She’ll first go through the differences between European and US acting communities, how opportunities are found on stage and on screen for each region and how unions work. She’ll then compare how European filmmakers work compared to US filmmakers, and how this informs casting. She will also explain how film festival can be the key to expanding your sights and the resources you can be using aside from just IMDB. Alex will even bring in a few special guests--actors and filmmakers who have found success by moving to different countries--to dive into their journeys. ***And, even if you are based outside of the US or EU, there are key things you can learn from this webinar which you can apply to your own region. If you’ve been contained to your own region or country in looking for creative opportunities, prepare to have your mind permanently expanded by Alex’s deep experience and global perspective
Learn how to pitch remotely from the writer of JIGSAW and SPIRAL (Number one movie at the box office this year) Includes a live pitch demonstration and an exclusive pitch workshop with 5 volunteers! As Zoom pitches continue to be our “new norm,” it’s important to know how to deliver the most effective virtual pitches, because let’s face it, it’s not the same as pitching in person. The energy is different, and you need to make sure you keep the energy high and engaging. How do you keep producers interested through a computer screen? Now, more than ever, you have to be quick, clear, and concise. Structure is key, but so is knowing how to handle small talk. Pitching is as much about selling your project as it is about selling yourself. Armed with the right tools, conversation, and materials, your chances are as good as anyone else’s. Pete Goldfinger is an incredibly successful feature and television writer in Hollywood, perhaps best known for penning the two newest features in the SAW horror universe, including JIGSAW, which grossed over $100 million, and SPIRAL, starring Samuel L. Jackson and Chris Rock, which debuted at number one at the box office this year. He’s going to teach you how to quickly hook producers and showrunners with the most valuable and authentic pitch. Pete will share his years of experience handling everything from small talk to delivering strong loglines with pitch decks so that you’ll have all the tools to feel confident in your next virtual pitch. To demonstrate a live Zoom pitch and being quick on your feet with your pitches, Pete will deliver one of his own pitches, and then give you the opportunity to practice your own one-minute pitches and provide you with feedback. This is an amazing opportunity to fine tune and get advice on nailing your pitch from someone who knows just how to do that.
When we write scripts there are so many elements to consider in order to create a great story. There’s world building, introducing a vast ensemble of characters, interweaving conflict, creating stakes, and so much more, all while having to hook your audience in a short amount of time. It’s very easy to go overboard and try to cram all of these elements into your story where it gets to a point of oversaturation. This is why it's common for first drafts to be overcomplicated and hard for others to read or get through. Of course, we want to include all the aspects that make the formula of our script a success, but it’s important to do it in a way that is clear, concise, and effective. Making your script clear and not overcomplicated isn’t necessarily always the easiest thing to do. Learning how to trim our stories is difficult and cutting out things that we love is challenging as writers, especially when we’ve spent so much time investing in our projects. However, there are useful strategies and tools you can use to simplify the complexity of your script and create a product that gatekeepers will want to read and executives will want to produce. Screenwriting is all about telling a lot in a short amount of time. Being concise is a skill every writer should master. Samm Haillay is an award-winning producer and BAFTA member whose films have premiered at Cannes, Venice, Sundance, Tribeca, Toronto and London Film Festivals and have collected 35 international awards and nominations worldwide. Samm is also the founder of the BFI Vision Award and MEDIA Slate Funding Award-winning production company Third Films and his short films have collected over 50 international awards and nominations including at BAFTA, Berlin, Venice, Edinburgh and Chicago. Samm has picked up much talent and expertise from the filmmaking industry and shares his experience with the Stage 32 community. Samm will give you invaluable tips, strategies, and exercises that you can use to simplify your own complex script. He will discuss all the vital components of what scripts should include - and then help you boil down everything from what you want to keep in your story to what it actually needs. Samm will share the practice] he developed called “The Story Rainbow”, which examines the relationship and interconnectivity between Story, Narrative and Plot and can be used to further develop your own project.. He will be focusing on how to keep your script simple - yet complex - rather than confusing and complex. Samm's unique understanding of how to simplify complex script has greatly elevated his own career and he is beyond ecstatic to help members of the Stage 32 community to achieve the same.
YOU WILL SEE EMAIL EXAMPLES AND HEAR MOCK COLD-CALLS SO YOU KNOW EXACTLY HOW YOU SHOULD APPROACH YOUR QUERIES! Talk to any executive and they'll tell you that they receive dozens if not hundreds of query letters a day. Because most of them don't have an attention grabbing subject line or little to no personalization, almost all end up in the trash. But, any executive will also tell you that if a subject line grabs them, or if the query letter shows the recipient that this was a personal, non-mass, attempt to get their attention, you have a very real shot of doing just that. The same holds true for cold calls. Having a solid, wise approach and knowing exactly what to say will give you the best chance of breaking the ice and securing the conversation you were hoping for. It's all about creating intrigue, interest, and value while approaching your subject from a place of selflessness and thoughtfulness. So, where do you even start and how do you even know if what you send will grab their attention? Wendy Kram has over 20 years of experience as an entertainment industry executive, consultant, and producer, developing and producing projects for Disney, Universal and Sony Studios, HBO, Showtime, Lifetime, NBC, ABC, CBS and USA Networks. Her credits include Mad Money with Diane Keaton, Queen Latifah, and Katie Holmes, the award-winning miniseries Sally Hemings: An American Scandal for CBS with Sam Neil, and current projects she's producing with Anonymous Content (the company responsible for True Detective, Mr. Robot, The Revenant, and Spotlight). With longstanding industry relationships, Wendy understands buyer and creative talent needs, and has direct access to principals at the major studios, networks, streaming providers and agencies. Throughout her storied career Wendy has knocked down many doors and she will teach you exactly how you can do the same! Wendy will show you how query letters and cold calling can become powerful tools in your arsenal + she will go through actual examples of letters and do mock cold-calls for you. You will walk away feeling confident the next time you query or call for your project!