Subtext – How to Add Layers to Your Story and Characters

Hosted by Steve Desmond

$49

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 -

$49.00
TOTAL PRICE:
Overlay Icon

Satisfaction Rate:

Steve Desmond

Webinar hosted by: Steve Desmond

Professional Screenwriter

Steve Desmond is a Chicago native, a graduate of the USC School of Cinematic Arts, and a working screenwriter living in Los Angeles. Last year, he sold his thriller spec screenplay with an Academy Award nominated producer attached to it. The script is now out to directors and is slated to shoot later this year. Steve was also recently hired to write a treatment for a mini-series on infamous serial killer Ted Bundy, being produced Discovery Networks, Giant Pirates, and Trigger Street. Currently, Steve is writing a new thriller for Davis Entertainment (Chronicle, The Blacklist), inspired by actual events. He is also in post-production on his Twilight Zone-esque short film that he directed, after raising nearly $30K on Kickstarter. His screenplays have appeared on the 2011 and 2013 Hit List, honoring the best spec screenplays of the year, the 2013 Blood List, honoring the best genre screenplays of the year, and he was voted for inclusion on the Young and Hungry Writers List in 2012. Over the years, he’s written or developed projects with Imagine Entertainment, Level 1 Entertainment, Blacklight Transmedia, Preferred Film & TV, The Walt Becker Company, Dreamworks Animation, and (shockingly) The Disney Channel. Steve is represented by APA, The Gotham Group, and Eclipse Law Firm. Full Bio »

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.


What You'll Learn:

  • What exactly is subtext? What is on the nose dialogue?
    • Defining the concepts to set our foundation.
  • Examining Subtext examples
    • We’ll study some great films and show how subtext creates character chemistry and memorable moments.
  • How to get there – It all begins with characters
    • If you don’t understand who your characters are, you can’t write them.
    • Engaging in pre-writing exercises to discover your characters’ inner voices.
  • Scene Analysis for Writers, Directors, Actors, and Producers
    • What is a scene about? What is a scene really about?
  • Steps to crafting stronger subtext
    • How beginning with on the nose dialogue is the first step towards adding layers.
    • The fine art of trimming to find the real meaning hidden within the clutter.
    • Sometimes not having a character say anything is more powerful than any words.
  • Writing Exercises
    • Creating scenarios and giving yourself limitations.
    • How acting leads to better writing.
  • Using real life interactions to enhance your writing
    • Learning to really listen to how you talk with others.
    • Drawing upon real life memories and examining the subtext behind them.
  • When to go on the nose
    • How to make these moments count. And how often to use them.
  • For Directors & Actors – Finding the subtext within a scene.
    • Sometimes ‘ordinary’ lines are filled with meaning.
    • Discovering multiple ways to play a line, a moment, or a scene.
  • For Producers – Improving subtext within a writer’s script.
    • Tips (from a writer) on how best to give notes to make a script feel less on the nose.
  • Case Studies
  • Live Q & A with Steve!

About Your Instructor:

Steve Desmond is a Chicago native, a graduate of the USC School of Cinematic Arts, and a working screenwriter living in Los Angeles. Last year, he sold his thriller spec screenplay with an Academy Award nominated producer attached to it. The script is now out to directors and is slated to shoot later this year. Steve was also recently hired to write a treatment for a mini-series on infamous serial killer Ted Bundy, being produced Discovery Networks, Giant Pirates, and Trigger Street.

Currently, Steve is writing a new thriller for Davis Entertainment (Chronicle, The Blacklist), inspired by actual events. He is also in post-production on his Twilight Zone-esque short film that he directed, after raising nearly $30K on Kickstarter. His screenplays have appeared on the 2011 and 2013 Hit List, honoring the best spec screenplays of the year, the 2013 Blood List, honoring the best genre screenplays of the year, and he was voted for inclusion on the Young and Hungry Writers List in 2012. Over the years, he’s written or developed projects with Imagine Entertainment, Level 1 Entertainment, Blacklight Transmedia, Preferred Film & TV, The Walt Becker Company, Dreamworks Animation, and (shockingly) The Disney Channel.

Steve is represented by APA, The Gotham Group, and Eclipse Law Firm.


Frequently Asked Questions:

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.

Q: Do I have to be located in a specific location?
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.

Q: What are the system requirements?
A: You will need to meet the following system requirements in order to run the webinar software: Windows 7 or later Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) or later.
If you have Windows XP, Windows Vista and Mac OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion): The webinar software does not support these operating systems. If you are running one of those operating systems, please upgrade now in order to be able to view a live webinar. Upgrade your Windows computer /Upgrade your Mac computer

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!

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

Other education that may be of interest to you:

Crafting Scene Descriptions: Make Your Prose Leap Off the Page!

Writing is rewriting but that doesn’t just mean dialogue. Scene description is a crucial part of screenwriting, but far too often, it’s not given the attention that it deserves. The reality is, many screenplays are marred by static, wooden scene description. But powerful scene description can help your story to leap off the page and give your screenplay the “pop” it needs. Your scene description is where your writer’s “voice” comes in… And the way you write this prose can make or break your script.  In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, professional screenwriter Steve Desmond will help you to elevate your descriptive writing to a professional level. He’ll help you to develop the tone of your story right on the page, long before it hits the screen. And he’ll dispel myths and go over how not to write scene description. Whether you’re working on an existing script or getting ready to start a new one, this webinar will help you to unleash your potential in prose writing and make the most out of every word in your screenplay. Your host Steve's latest script, Orb, was recently voted by industry executives as the #1 entry on the annual 2016 BloodList, honoring the top horror/thriller/sci-fi scripts of the year.

How To Use Crowfundfunding To Turn Your Film Project Into A Reality

Learn directly from Steve Desmond, a filmmaker and screenwriter who completed a successful crowdfunding campaign and nearly doubled his initial raise! Steve has also worked on projects with Imagine Entertainment, Dreamworks Animation, The Disney Chanel, Level 1 Entertainment, Blacklight Transmedia, Preferred Film & TV and The Walt Becker Company! You have a great idea for a feature film, documentary, or short film. You’re tired of just writing stuff and want to make your dream project into a reality. But you don’t have the money to do it… Yet. In this exclusive Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, filmmaker and screenwriter Steve Desmond will help you build a killer crowdfunding plan so that you can raise the funds to get your dream project off the ground. Steve recently ran his own campaign to fund his short film on Kickstarter with a goal of raising $16K. He not only hit his goal, but blew by it raising a total of nearly $30K and his film is now in post-production! From his own experience, he’ll teach you how to craft a compelling pitch, build an online audience, and maximize your project’s potential. He’ll also go over the pros and cons of Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and other major crowdfunding sites, so that you can pick the one that’s best for you. From making your pitch video to writing the perfect funding email to marketing your project across all social networks, this will be a one-stop shop for how to successfully crowdfund your film.

Writing the Psychological Thriller

Learn directly from Steve Desmond, professional screenwriter who has worked on projects with Davis Entertainment, Imagine Entertainment, Treehouse Pictures, and more! In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, host Steve Desmond will help you build your suspense from the ground up. Together, you’ll study some of the masters of psychological thrillers, and he’ll share what he’s learned in the trenches from working with other writers, producers, and executives. From the anatomy of a suspense scene, to how to build compelling characters, to how to hook the reader’s attention early, to the power of murder in a story, all the way to crafting a twist ending that no one sees coming, this will be a fully immersive experience that will leave you excited, inspired and ready to tackle your next project. Steve Desmond is a professional screenwriter represented by APA, The Gotham Group, and Eclipse Law Firm. Recently, Steve sold a thriller screenplay with an Oscar nominated producer attached, and has several other thriller projects in the works with major companies. Steve was also recently hired to write a treatment for a mini-series on infamous serial killer Ted Bundy, being produced Discovery Networks, Giant Pirates, and Trigger Street. Over the years, he’s written or developed projects with Imagine Entertainment, Level 1 Entertainment, Blacklight Transmedia, Preferred Film & TV, The Walt Becker Company, Dreamworks Animation, and (shockingly) The Disney Channel. Steve has repeatedly proved that he knows what it takes to write a great psychological thriller, and he is here to share his knowledge with Stage 32!

Avoid Stock Characters: How To Create Memorable, Compelling Characters

Learn directly from Melissa Daykin Cassill, VP of Development and Production at State Street Pictures (Faster, Beauty Shop, Barbershop, Notorious, Nothing Like The Holidays)! You hear it again and again: “We’re looking for character driven drama/comedy/action/name your genre.” You may have a great plot, amazing action sequences, or the most hilarious idea for a comedy set piece but without great characters, you’ll be dead in the water. Why? Because everything should be motivated by your characters. What would The Godfather be without Michael’s change from the good man who served his country to a vengeful and tyrannical ruler? What would Star Wars be without the father son drama? Creating memorable characters is such an essential aspect of creating a compelling, sellable story, yet so many writers struggle with doing it correctly and fail to avoid the trap of stock characters that leave their scripts lifeless and weak. The Stage 32 Happy Writers is thrilled to bring you a 3-week online course Avoid Stock Characters: How To Create Memorable, Compelling Characters so you can learn how to create the memorable characters your story deserves. This class is taught by Melissa Daykin Cassill, VP of Development and Production at State Street Pictures, a production company with a first look deal at Fox 2000 Pictures. What Melissa loves most about her job is working with writers and developing exciting, compelling projects and she’s excited to be here teaching with Stage 32 to help you develop compelling characters in your story! In this class, you will learn how to set up a character arc so the character’s change is compelling, how to develop supporting characters who support the story and compliment your protagonists, how to avoid stock characters and scenes and how to adjust what you already have to make your work better. With interactive lectures and weekly homework assignments directly geared toward strengthening your characters, you will leave this class knowing exactly how to create memorable characters for your stories.

The Tools You Need To Attach “A” List Actors to Your Film

Anyone who has ever tried to produce and cast a feature film is aware of the quagmire that attaching “A” List level talent represents. On one hand, you need the star power of a “name” actor in order to acquire funding and on the other hand you need the money in order to acquire the name talent. It's enough to drive even the most seasoned filmmakers crazy. The reason why so many first and second time producers, writers and directors find themselves in this situation is simple. In most cases, they are attempting to approach “A” List celebrity talent to their film much too soon with the hopes of using that “name” to attract investors; a strategy that rarely works. In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, The Tools You Need To Attach “A” List Actors to Your Film, Franco will outline specific steps and strategies that will ensure that the “A” Lister’s will at least read your script giving you an advantage over everyone else trying to secure talent but cannot. In this 90-minute online webinar you will learn specific tools you need - from LOIs to LOCs, Pay or Play, Deferred Payments, Back-End Point Deals, Credit Currency (and so much more!) in order to give your project the chance it deserves in A-list talent's hands. You will also learn negotiating perks that will help you stand out from the pack of scripts the talent may be considering. Some of the actors Franco has had in his films include: Gary Oldman (Oscar-Nominated, Dark Knight) Christian Slater (Golden Globe Winner) Michael Madsen (Reservoir Dogs) Chris Klein (American Pie) Christine Lahti (Oscar Award Winner) David Arquette (Scream) Vivica A. Fox (Kill Bill) Dane Cook (Comedian) Your host, Franco Sama is a financing and producing expert who has produced over 25 profitable independent films ranging from micro-budget to $5M. Franco is bringing his years of experience exclusively to the Stage 32 community to help you get closer to understanding how you can attach A-List talent to your project.  To read more click "What You'll Learn" on the tab above!

Advanced Plot Construction Technique

Learn directly from Jeff Kitchen, 20-Year Advanced Screenwriting Teacher who has taught Development Executives at all of the major Hollywood Studios! This course was previously recorded. All sessions now available on demand. It's for seasoned writers and development executives; Beginners are absolutely welcome, but please be aware this will be high-impact and fast paced. Dramatic writing is considered the most elusive of all the literary disciplines, and plot construction is notoriously tricky. You must weld together a seething amalgam of ideas, actions, characters, and powerful moments—and the finished product has to roll out one scene after another in a specific order to create maximum dramatic impact. The story has to move ahead crisply and grip the audience in a powerful transformative experience, in any genre. Even seasoned pros struggle with this. Stage 32 Next Level Education is thrilled to bring you our first ever Advanced Screenwriting 10 Week Working Writers Lab! This lab is taught by Jeff Kitchen, who has taught his three-step process, Sequence, Proposition, Plot, to development executives from all the major Hollywood studios—and they consistently say it’s the most advanced development tool in the film industry. Now, for the first time anywhere, Jeff is doing a high-intensity training program on this remarkable tool, an exclusive for Stage 32! In this lab, Jeff will train you in the detailed mechanics of how to work with reverse cause and effect and sophisticated conflict structuring to strip your story down to its absolute essentials and make it work. Then once you got your core story solid, you use Sequence, Proposition, Plot to systematically build out each of the acts, then all the major sequences, and finally all the scenes, writing each scene as you structure it. This gives you a remarkably solid working draft of your story. The lab will be a high-intensity training program, focusing entirely on technique, so you learn how to turn a fairly developed idea into a structured outline that gradually knits all your story elements into a coherent script, developing details as they becomes necessary, and creating gripping conflict that keeps the audience on the edge of their seats. Sequence, Proposition, Plot enables you to take all the energy that goes into rewrites and engineer your script properly before you write it. Because this is a highly intensive, hands-on format, Jeff will use a mix of lecture, drills, analysis, class work, and homework. Each person should be familiar with the movie, Training Day, starring Denzel Washington. The last hour of each class will be spent building an original story as a class, with each person constructing their own version of the practice story as they learn the detailed mechanics of using this tool fully and properly. The last two sessions will be devoted entirely to intensive work with the demo script that each person is building, structuring scenes and writing dialog based on the deep structure that you’ve developed and constructed. You will emerge with a powerful mastery of this tool, and the habits of mind of the trained dramatist. Class Breakdown: Session 1: Introduction and Instruction on Sequence Work backwards to create a tight chain of cause and effect Separate the necessary from the unnecessary Find the spine of your story, unencumbered by unnecessary detail Get the big picture working, then gradually develop the details Apply reverse cause and effect (Sequence) to the overall story for the practice script Session 2: Instruction on Proposition, Plot Build the core conflict and get the audience on the edge of their seat This works in any genre Test for power and amplify conflict where needed Set up a potential fight and touch off a fight to the finish Apply Proposition, Plot to the overall story for the practice script Session 3: Dramatic Action Create continuous, coherent, compelling dramatic action Work from the macro down to the micro Gradually develop and weave in detail as it becomes necessary Break the overall story down into acts Apply Sequence, Proposition, Plot to Act I of the practice script Session 4: Writer’s Objective vs. Protagonist’s Objective Learn the difference between the writer’s objective and the protagonist’s objective Create structural unity, with each part serving the whole A sense of proportion orients you in the proper use of this tool Find the holes in your story and create solutions as you flesh the story in Do Sequence, Proposition, Plot for Act II of the practice script Session 5: Cause and Effect Find the cause of an effect, not what came before it If the big picture doesn’t work then the details do not matter An argument actually consist of two opposing arguments Do Sequence, Proposition, Plot for Act III of the practice script Session 6: The Central Dramatic Question Going on the offensive—a declaration of war The central dramatic question does not occur in the middle of the script Break each act down into sequences Apply Sequence, Proposition, Plot to Act I, Sequence 1 in the practice script Session 7: Create Order From Chaos Chaos is crucial to story creation. Order is crucial to plot construction Learn to stay on track with reverse cause and effect, and not follow false trails Know that your storytelling has to be top notch because well-structured crap is still crap Apply Sequence, Proposition, Plot to Act I, Sequence 2 in the practice script Session 8: How To Engineer Your Script Before You Start Writing Engineer your screenplay before you write it and save many rewrites Attack the audience Be the master of the tools, not their servant Break down sequences into scenes Apply Sequence, Proposition, Plot to Sequence 1, Scene 1 in the practice script Session 9: Work On Practice Script Total work session using Sequence, Proposition, Plot on the practice script Apply Sequence, Proposition, Plot to Sequence 1, Scene 2 in the practice script Then write the dialog for that scene Apply Sequence, Proposition, Plot to Sequence 1, Scene 3 in the practice script Then write the dialog for that scene Session 10: Wrap Up Total work session using Sequence, Proposition, Plot on the practice script Apply Sequence, Proposition, Plot to Sequence 2, Scene 1 in the practice script Then write the dialog for that scene Apply Sequence, Proposition, Plot to Sequence 2, Scene 2 in the practice script Then write the dialog for that scene Keep going until we drop About The Instructor, Jeff Kitchen: Jeff Kitchen has been one of the top screenwriting teachers in the film industry for twenty years, and is a sought-after script consultant. He worked as a dramaturg and taught playwriting in New York theater, and is the author of Writing a Great Movie: Key Tools for Successful Screenwriting. Jeff has taught development executives from all the major Hollywood studios and they consistently say that he teaches the most advanced development tools in the film industry. You can read more about him on his website: www.DevelopmentHeaven.com. Testimonials About Jeff Kitchen: “I've worked with Jeff one-on-one for many of my projects. His tools and insights push me to explore the material in a deeper way — and find the dramatic core of the situation. I know he's made me a better writer and made my process more organized and more effective. I highly recommend his book, his classes, and his personal attention.” - Jessica Sharzer - Writer/Producer - American Horror Story “Jeff Kitchen’s writing techniques and teaching have been invaluable tools in my own creative work. His attention to character, process, and form have informed all of my work and will continue to do so. I start every script with the simple question that Jeff asks daily, “What do you want to leave the audience with?” The question and Jeff’s teaching form the foundation for compelling, honest work.” - Ted Melfi - Writer/Director - St. Vincent “Your seminar for Development Executives was by far the best seminar I have ever taken. I have found the tools you discussed to be very instrumental in my analysis of scripts on a day to day basis. Your class is the most comprehensive one offered as far as making people understand how to apply the tools and make them work. This was one class that I can honestly say has helped me to become a stronger executive. I am very grateful to you. I recommend your seminar to anyone in the entertainment industry who wants to know what it takes to make a strong script.” - Jen Grisanti - Story/Career Consultant at Jen Grisanti Consultancy Inc.; Writing Instructor for NBC’s Writers on the Verge; former 12-year studio executive “I found your class to be user-friendly and very informative. I especially enjoyed your technique of working backwards from the climax--it really helps to streamline a screenplay and strengthen the throughline. I highly recommend this class to screenwriters of all levels of proficiency.” - Debra Meringa - Sony Pictures “Having taken virtually every screenwriting course in existence, I found Jeff Kitchen's workshop to be the most valuable in town. His techniques and tools guide one through the entire process of screenwriting: from basic concept to general script structure and further down to the scene level. Jeff is a master teacher who truly understands the art and technique of the screenplay. His course is worth its weight in gold.” - Chris Brancato - Writer - Hannibal, Law & Order: Criminal Intent “From within the swarm of gimmicky screenwriting seminars and trendy new how-to's, it is Jeff Kitchen's approach, relying heavily on the classic principles of dramatic structure and logic that emerges as truly innovative. His technique is the answer for anyone seeking practical tools with which to diagnose script problems, generate effective solutions, or transform story ideas into compelling drama. Jeff's seminars are aggressive; they are work sessions that produce real results immediately. Come with your sleeves rolled up”. - Erin Quigley - Producer, Development Exec., 23 Red Prods. “Jeff Kitchen’s technique and his dedication to the art of screenwriting taught me writing skills that took my script to a whole new level. I’ve never seen anything like what he teaches, and it works better than anything out there. After taking his course I got top representation and sold a script to New Line Cinema.” - Sam Brown, Screenwriter “I recently attended Jeffrey Kitchen's screenwriting seminar and cannot praise it too highly. He is one of the best teachers I've ever had. His attributes are that rare to find. First, he is clear and concise and is a master of the techniques he teaches. Secondly, he has infinite patience and instinctive generosity so that everyone feels that their project is worthwhile, even as he uncovers its flaws. The technique he teaches is truly extraordinary and Jeffrey, it turns out, may be the only person in the world using it in this particular way. I have taken other screenwriting courses and his is head and shoulders above them all. As a result of Jeffrey's course I feel much more secure in my writing. I finally feel that my script will have the best possible structure.” - Mira Tweti, Screenwriter “Jeff Kitchen teaches the most powerful and practical screenwriting tools in the business. I’ve studied numerous techniques, but Jeff is the first person I’ve met who presents a fully developed craft that screenwriters can actually use. His expertise unlocked, energized, and structured a script that I was completely stumped on and now a major studio is considering it for an A-list actress.” - Jon Van Dyke, Writer-Director “Years ago, I was fortunate to begin my ongoing training with the generation of masters that first wrote for stage, then live television, and then film. Jeffrey is one of the few contemporary writer-teachers with a grounding in those ageless techniques of good drama, a tradition rarely passed to current generations.” - George Higginson, Screenwriter “Jeff Kitchen is the best screenwriting teacher in the world.” - Tom Huckabee, Executive Producer, Frailty   To read Jeff Kitchen's book, Writing a Great Movie: Key Tools for Successful Screenwriting click here!

register for stage 32 Register / Log In