International speaker Jen Grisanti is an acclaimed Story/Career Consultant at Jen Grisanti Consultancy Inc., Writing Instructor for Writers on the Verge at NBC, former 12-year studio executive, including VP of Current Programming at CBS/Paramount, blogger for The Huffington Post and author of the books, Story Line: Finding Gold In Your Life Story and TV Writing Tool Kit: How To Write a Script That Sells and her new book, Change Your Story, Change Your Life: A Path To Your Success. Grisanti started her career in 1992 as an assistant to Aaron Spelling, who served as her mentor for 12 years, and she quickly climbed the ranks and eventually ran Current Programs at Spelling Television Inc., covering all of Spelling’s shows including Beverly Hills, 90210, Melrose Place and Charmed. In 2004, Grisanti was promoted to Vice President of Current Programs at CBS/Paramount where she covered numerous shows, including Medium, Numbers, NCIS, 4400 and Girlfriends. In January 2008, Grisanti launched Jen Grisanti Consultancy Inc., a highly successful consulting firm dedicated to helping talented writers break into the industry. Since launching the consulting firm, Grisanti has worked with over 700 writers specializing in television, features and novels.Due to her expertise and mentorship, sixty-five of her writers have staffed on television shows and thirty-two have sold pilots, five that that went to series. Grisanti attended USC where she received a B.A. in Communications. Full Bio »
Learn directly from Jen Grisanti, acclaimed Story/Career Consultant, Writing Instructor for Writers on the Verge at NBC, and a former 12-year studio executive, including VP of Current Programming at CBS/ Paramount and Spelling Television!
Many writers wonder what it’s going to take to get them from being a non-working writer to a working writer. You’ve written great scripts. You’ve entered competitions and writing programs. You may have placed, been a finalist, or even won. However, you’re still waiting for your professional career to start.
What is it that makes a TV pilot or screenplay hit it out of the ballpark and get sold? What can you do to your writing to make it more sellable?
In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, your host Jen Grisanti will teach you the 7 Pillars of Story. What exactly is that? It's the fundamental story components necessary to take your script from good to great. Jen will teach you from the studio executive/analyst perspective how to see your story differently and identify what is currently missing in your script. Jen herself has gone through analyzing countless Oscar and Emmy award-winning scripts and has applied that to her writer's techniques. This has led to over 30 of her clients selling pilots, five of which went to series. After being mentored by Aaron Spelling for 12 years, Jen has emerged as a pro in breaking down story and helping you, as a writer, get the most out of your script.
Plus, for Stage 32 members, she will provide case studies for you to learn from! She will be using examples from her clients’ work and how they successfully implemented the 7 pillars to get their scripts sold. Under the guidance of Jen, you will leave this webinar fully prepared to write a marketable story that can help you go from good to great and make the move from non-working to working writer!
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!
“It’s very simple, when Jennifer Grisanti talks, writers listen. And they listen because she gets it, can see where they missed it, and knows how to bring them to it.” - Steve Binder, Co-Executive Producer, NCIS
“A lot of instructors preach ‘write what you know,’ but Jen’s method is more ‘write what you feel.’ She recognizes that every writer has unique experiences from which to draw, and she helps you access those experiences so you can turn them into stories that have a beating heart on the page.” - Rick Muirragui, Co-Executive Producer, Suits
"Jen combines her passion for story with an astute understanding of what makes a story relateable. Nothing gets by her — whether it’s a question of character development, theme, or major story beats, her suggestions are spot on and have helped me realize each script more completely, I trust her instincts implicitly.” - Jude Roth, Feature/Television Writer, Page Int’l finalist, Slamdance and Cinestory semifinalist, Austin second rounder
More and more, storytellers are being asked to present more than just a script when going out to investors or production companies. Whether you’re pitching a limited series, a feature, or even a doc, executives and investors want to have a sense of what your project will be, beyond just words on a page. What will it look like? What will it feel like? Execs want a visual representation of what the project is—even if you aren’t the director. For this reason, understanding how to put together an attractive pitch deck will give you a distinct advantage as a director, as a writer, as a producer, or as any creative in TV and film. There are people out there who are incredibly skilled with programs like Photoshop or Lightroom and, for those people, creating a pitch deck that will help sell their show can be a snap. But for the average person, these apps are daunting at best and, at worst, completely confusing and overwhelming. However you don’t need to spend hours learning how to use high-end software, and you certainly don’t have to put down a bunch of money for a designer. Anyone can create an amazing pitch deck with basic software and one or two simple apps on your phone. As long as you know the rules and best practices there really aren’t barriers to keep you from making a great looking pitch deck and getting that project sold. Shaun O'Banion is the founder of production company Ravenwood and works as a post production project coordinator on some of the industry's leading films in recent years including JOJO RABBIT, TERMINATOR: DARK FATE, THE AFTERMATH and OPHELIA. O’Banion produced DAKOTA SKYE which became a cult hit and remained in the Top 100 Most Viewed on Netflix. He produced GIRLFRIEND, the first film in North America to star an actor with Down Syndrome in the lead role. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, sold to Strand Releasing and won O’Banion an IFP Gotham Award. He joined the Producers Guild of America and co-produced THE AUTOMATIC HATE which made its World Premiere at the SXSW Film Festival. The film was released theatrically by Film Movement. Through his career, Shaun has become well versed in positioning his projects for success and understanding the best ways to pitch and sell them, including creating knock-out pitch decks. He’s ready to share what he’s learned and empower even the most tech-illiterate members of the Stage 32 community. Shaun will teach you how to use basic software and apps to craft an attractive pitch deck on your own without having to hire a graphic designer. He’ll begin by going through the basics of what a pitch deck is, how they help get projects sold and what they normally look like. He will offer provide examples of effective pitch decks. Next, Shaun will delve into how you can create an effective pitch deck on your own without fancy tools. He’ll discuss getting set up and outline what you need, including the tools and software you should consider using. Next he will go over forming a plan for the pitch deck’s layout ahead of time and the ways to best organize and prepare before diving in. Then he will teach you how best to visually convey the tone of your project in your pitch deck and how to create a flow within it. Shaun will talk about choosing images for the pitch deck, where to find them and how to choose one over another. He will then go over choosing when to use words versus pictures and how to employ visual elements like fonts to break up your document for maximum impact. After teaching you what you need to know about designing a great pitch deck, Shaun will demonstrate it all by working with the registrants in creating a brand new pitch deck in real time, live and on-screen. He will specifically focus on creating with you a general image for the overall background, graphics for the title page, setting page, main character page, supporting character page, and episode page. Shaun will also provide registrants with a resource sheet outlining the tools and software he uses for his own pitch decks. After going through this exercise with Shaun, you’ll never need to hire a graphic designer again. Like what you heard from Shaun during this webcast? Send your script and speak to Shaun for an hour by clicking here. Praise for Shaun's Stage 32 Webinar: "Shaun O’Banion made creating a pitch deck seem downright easy and fun. Before today, I was absolutely dreading it as my skills with graphic design and editing are next to zero. Shaun was so generous with his time and stayed on for an entire extra hour to go over more and have the Q&A which was incredibly kind." -Margaret M. "Just fantastic. Could have spent the whole day in this!" -Dan G. "The best I've taken" -Timothy B. "Amazing detail about specific ways to use the technology and also very creatively inspiring. Loved the as you go, how to way of doing this! I was able to follow along and create my own document and experiment as he spoke!" -Katie B. Please note that this webinar will focus on the graphic visual elements of an effective pitch deck. To learn more about the content and storytelling that goes into a pitch deck, we recommend checking out Ewan Dunbar’s TV Series Pitch Deck Webinar.
Hello Creative Army! Over the last few months, the entire team here at Stage 32 has been working tirelessly to help you stay connected, creative, motivated, and informed. As always, we are committed to bringing you networking opportunities, education and mentoring from top-level industry executives and professionals, and access to decision-makers around the globe all from the safety of your own home. Since the beginning of the quarantine mandates brought about by the spread of COVID-19, I've promised you free education designed not only to keep you inspired and entertained, bit to provide up-to-date, no BS information regarding how the industry is handling business during the better at home orders and give you a glance into what lies ahead. We have brought in top executives in television and animation for state of the industry roundtables, partnered with film festivals to bring you top of the line virtual panels, and even hosted a virtual happy hour and table read, to name just some of our COVID-19 free education initiatives. Every day, the Stage 32 team is on the phone and communicating with industry professionals. Our goal is to have our finger on the pulse of what's happening in the moment. Additionally, since launching Stage 32 Screenings I have had the privilege of speaking with hundreds of entertainment industry creatives and professionals including festival directors, distributors, sales agents, financiers and other executives to get their take on how they're navigating these challenging times. I can think of no better time to host another free AMA (Ask Me Anything) so I can share what I've been hearing and experiencing in my personal creative pursuits and to take your questions on all things craft and business. In June I hosted a new AMA. You brought your questions and energy and I provided a couple of hours of no-holds-barred shop talk. All creatives were welcome to join no matter their profession(s), skill level, or geographical location. We came together for some inspiration, motivation, and community. I had fun spending quality time with you all. As always, registering for my AMA is completely FREE! And the more the merrier, so do invite any of your fellow creative friends and peers to watch. Should any of your contacts not be members of Stage 32 already, you can send them an invite here! If you missed my last few AMA's, you can view them here! Cheers! RB
It's no secret that raising funds for a film is a difficult proposition. Most people who repeatedly invest in the film industry have no shortage of projects from which to choose to place their money. They also have a particular set of standards and requirements that need to be met before they write a check. Even more casual investors in film who go in with lowered expectations still will want to see that you have the knowledge, discipline and understanding on how to handle and protect their money and put them in the best position for a return. The fact of the matter is that you could have the most attractive project with a highly marketable and commercial screenplay and fantastic talent interested in attaching, but if you can't deliver on the important details, know how to answer the toughest questions, and show that you have the savvy to withstand the scrutiny associated with putting together a film financing deal, your potential investment target will be on to the next pitch without a blink. There is no straight answer on how to pitch an investor. Some will tell you that without a pitch deck, you have no shot. Others will tell you that 99% of the time a pitch deck is just a pretty, overblown document designed to dazzle and amazing, but with very little substantiative information. Regardless of the approach, there is one fact that is undeniable: you need to know every angle on how a film can come together and be able to show clearly and concisely a path to how your investor is going to recoup their money and potentially make a profit. To do that, you need to be able to put together an investor kit, first for yourself, and then as something you can tailor to your investor. There's no need to be intimidated by this. Once you understand the various facets of film investing, the rest will fall into place quite naturally. And we're here to help you do just that. Kevin Christoffersen has been producing multi-media content internationally for over two decades across four continents while living in five countries. Currently, Kevin is working as a development executive, producer, writer and consulting with the technology platform Movie Rights Exchange which is changing the way films are being distributed. Kevin's current projects include his co-written feature, Falling Up with Stephanie Drapeau, Dallas Brennan’s Deception Road, a new Hal Hartley feature in development and Rear View Windows being casted by Kerry Barden. Kevin has guest lectured at NYU, teaches workshop classes with the IFP, Art of Brooklyn Film Festival, Filmshop and moderated a producers panel at the Hunter Mountain Film Festival. He then works with students on creating their packages throughout the A to Z Development process. Kevin will be teaching about the step by step process required throughout the development financing stage of your feature film project to create your "Investor Kit". This includes all of the elements from business plans to budgets, proof of concept videos, retaining production counsel and a casting director. Kevin will show you the all important skill of bringing packaging elements to your project, something so very important in this day and age. He will tell you how to handle the common issue of securing "First-in money" and how to navigate talent retainer fees. He will talk co-production agreements, also a valuable thing when putting together a film. He will teach you about distribution agreements, tax credit loans and pre-sales estimates. Kevin will even teach you how to source your investors and how to build a powerful team so you can wear limited hats and divide and conquer. Praise for Kevin "Took the intimidation and fear of approaching investors by presenting clear facts and strategies that make perfect sense." - Michael M. "I've read complex and dense books on this subject that have taken me months to get through and I learned more in 2 hours with Kevin. Brilliant material." - Cheryl Lee K. "This one was off the charts." - Sammie P. "This removed so many questions. So many. I feel as if the clouds have parted. This IS possible. Thank you, Kevin." - Marty K.
In a short period of time, the world of podcasts has exploded and become an industry to be reckoned with. Over 100 million Americans listen to podcasts on at least a monthly basis, and individual shows can have millions of fans. We’re not just talking about nonfiction works like THE DAILY or SERIAL; fiction podcasts are also having a moment as more writers are turning to the audio medium to tell incredible stories. An art form in its own right, podcasts have also become a proving ground for stories to be adapted for television or movies. Shows like HOMECOMING, DIRTY JOHN, and LIMETOWN would never have been greenlit or aired if they didn’t first find success and a fan base in podcast form. Now with many more podcast adaptations like CRIMETOWN, THE BRIGHT SESSIONS and ALICE ISN’T DEAD currently in development, this route is becoming much more common and achievable. There might not be a better time than now to adapt your feature screenplay to the podcast medium. If you've had difficulty gaining attention for your screenplay, turning it into a podcast and attracting an audience may provide proof of concept for your story to move it to a show or feature. This type of intellectual property is golden. Adapting your screenplay, of course, easier said than done. Writing for audio is a very different process than writing for a film or TV. Podcasts are written to be experienced as real time events, which is entirely different from a feature or TV script. A good podcast must paint a picture with only words and sounds and be paced to pull a listener in despite any distractions around them. It must also be structured into short episodes that defy traditional film or TV act structure. So, how do you turn 100 pages of a script into a multi-episode podcast? How does writing character or story arcs change when adapting your feature script to multiple episodes? Having a better understanding of what goes into a great comedy, drama, or genre podcast and the rules and expectations that come with this unique format can position you for success in telling your story and finding an audience. Mike Disa is currently the director of the highly praised Netflix show Paradise PD and has been working in the industry, both in television and features, for two decades. With no film training or knowledge of the byzantine workings of the entertainment business, he eventually found success and has worked with studios such as Dreamworks, Disney, Warner Bros., Paramount, and many others. Over a fascinating career, Mike has worked with some of the greatest and most infamous people in Hollywood including Steven Spielberg, Eric Goldberg, Ralph Bakshi, Glenn Close, Steve Oedekerk, David Tennant, Amy Poehler, Adam Sandler, Jeffery Katzenberg and Roy Disney. Always an innovator, Mike recognized the interesting time right now for developing material based off of IP and took it upon himself to adapt his feature script SENTINELS: POINT OF NO RETURN into a 12-part podcast series, which is now produced. Having recently gone through the experience Mike is excited to share his approach and his lessons learned writing the adaptation exclusively with the Stage 32 community. Mike will walk you through the nuts and bolts of writing a fiction podcast and give you the tools you’ll need to adapt your long form script into this new medium. He’ll begin by discussing what the state of podcasts looks like today, including what kinds of podcasts are possible and the different formats of fiction podcasts that people are writing and which ones are currently popular. He’ll then delve into how to approach your podcast adaptation and which things you should decide on from the outset. This includes deciding on the format that will work best for your story, how to adapt your writing style to short form when you’re used to writing features or television, and whether you will use a narrator or go full “radio play”. He’ll also give you tips on how to plan for sound while starting to write. Mike will next go into detail on breaking your long form story into multiple short form episodes. He’ll give you tips on extending your story and show you where to put episode breaks within it. He’ll go over building tension between episodes between episodes and what goes into good cliffhangers on podcasts. He’ll also talk about how to avoid needing recaps between episodes. Next Mike will spend time talking about other writing challenges that come with this format, including how to paint a picture in audio form without creating awkward dialogue, the process of holding on to your subplots without your storytelling getting choppy, and how to use your first episode to grab your audience. He’ll also offer tips of how to give your characters separate voices. Finally, Mike will use his own podcast SENTINELS: POINT OF NO RETURN, which was originally written as a feature, to illustrate the process of adapting for podcasts. He’ll even share samples of both the feature and podcast versions of the SENTINELS script. If you’re excited about podcasts, curious about writing your own or adapting your feature script into one and don’t even know where to begin, start here. Praise for Mike's Stage 32 Webinar FIVE STARS FOR MIKE!!! He is super-awesome! Can't wait for the next session. -Robert S. "Mike Disa is definitely one of the best. He provided advice that is actionable." -Martin R. "I loved how engaging Mike was. It felt like he was genuine and addressing each of us almost individually. I have honestly never had a better Stage32 experience!" -Elle C. "It was great to hear from Mike. What a professional and what great advice from someone who knows the business and the craft of writing for podcasts." -Mary S.
When making an independent film, finishing the film is only half the battle. You need people to actually see the film you’ve worked so hard on. When it comes to distribution, it’s important to know how to get your film into the worldwide marketplace. Once it’s there, you need to know how to generate interest toward it so the film can make its money back for the investors and back-end participants. Distribution comes in all shapes and sizes, but what kind of distribution is right for your indie film? Sometimes it means getting your film distributed by a studio; sometimes it’s creating a self-distribution path. Sometimes —- most typically — the distribution lands somewhere in between. Every film is different and therefore requires a different marketing plan, release strategy, and team behind it that have the passion and drive to get the most out of its release amongst the myriad other movies available. In this on-demand Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, host Tiffany Boyle will get into the details of what the independent distribution process looks like. She will go over how to get the right representative, foreign sales agent, and domestic distribution, and the different options for each based upon the size, genre and execution of a film. She will also discuss what the key points are to look at when reviewing a foreign sales agent and/or domestic distribution deal. Filmmakers should be making an informed decision when choosing who will be handling the licensing of their film for the next 3-25 years, and Tiffany is here exclusively for Stage 32 to help you navigate the ever-evolving world of indie distribution. Tiffany Boyle is the President at Ramo Law and works with producers, financiers and writer clients to bring their new material to life. Having been a Director of Sales at Crystal Sky Pictures, Tiffany has an extensive background in foreign sales. She now works with the attorneys to review, collaborate, develop, submit and supervise creative materials on behalf of clients within the firm. Tiffany has worked on over 100 features including, Stuck In Love, Pawn, Gimme Shelter, Maladies, and I-Lived. She has been to AFM, Berlin, Tribeca, TIFF, Sundance, and Cannes and is constantly expanding her knowledge of how to match films with production and distribution companies.
Learn directly from Melissa Daykin Cassill, Vice President of State Street Pictures (Faster, Beauty Shop, Barbershop, Notorious, Nothing Like The Holidays) The Hangover, Bridesmaids, Little Miss Sunshine. What is it, exactly, that makes these comedies stand out from the crowd? With so many different types of comedies in the marketplace, it is becoming the toughest genre to break into. More executives are turning to A list comedians to write than actual screenwriters, so how do you get an executive's attention? How do you get past executives that have different senses of humor, jokes that don't translate internationally, and storylines that can easily get deemed outdated a year later? Stage 32 Happy Writers is excited to bring you our 4 week online intensive class How To Write A Fresh, Stand Out Comedy taught by the Vice President of State Street Pictures, Melissa Dayin Cassill. In this hands on 4 week course, you will learn the importance of the emotional crescendo of a comedy script, how to balance the comedy with the humanity of the characters, and how to pitch your comedy script once you're ready, all while molding your pages under Melissa's supervision. With interactive lectures and weekly homework assignments directly geared towards strengthening your pages, this class will help you craft your writing into a fresh stand out comedy script that will grab executives' attention! Purchasing gives you access to the previously-recorded live class. Although Melissa is no longer reviewing the assignments, we still encourage all listeners to participate.