Bret Slater is an LA-based TV and Film producer with over a decade of experience in both Production and Development. Bret is the producer on the HBO series "Ballers", starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Rob Corddry, USA Network's "Shooter", starring Ryan Phillippe, Shantel VanSanten and Omar Epps, and Associate Produced the feature BROKEN CITY, starring Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe, and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Bret got his start in the industry working on features including OLD DOGS, BEDTIME STORIES, TWILIGHT, THE PROPOSAL and CONTRABAND, then moved to TV working with veteran producers Mark Wahlberg and Stephen Levinson on series including HBO's "Boardwalk Empire", "Entourage", "How to Make It in America", and "In Treatment". Bret is currently working on a series he co-created and sold to truTV with Reddit and Wahlberg attached to executive produce alongside him. Full Bio »
It's no secret that television is a red hot medium right now. Over the last few years, the average number of shows broadcast has been well over 500. With the advent of even more streaming options (HBO Now, Disney+, and more), some experts expect that number to double or even possibly triple over the next 2-4 years. That doesn't even account for the number of television projects that get sold or brought to pilot that never get picked up! In short, the amount of television pitches being greenlit in the room and the amount of television scripts being optioned and sold has never been higher. But, as is the case with just about anything, the bigger the gold rush, the more people seeking the gold. The content is one thing, how you pitch the content to networks, development execs, financiers, producers, managers, agents and other decision makers is quite another. Experienced professionals can spot an amateur pitcher within the first 30 seconds, if not sooner. You have to be able to stand out. And we're here to help you do just that.
So, you have a great idea for a show, now what? How do you get it to the right people? What to do/how to present it to them? What most people don’t understand, is that once they’re in the door they need to think about the other side of the table. Who they’re pitching to, how many pitches that person reads/hears and how best to position themselves to stand out. Busy producers and executives get pitched all the time - honestly...All. Day. Long. Whether oral, written or Skype, you basically have 30 seconds or the first paragraph to keep them interested. And for both, the format matters! Don’t let your great idea fall on deaf ears or eyes! If you’re a writer or someone who works with writers, you need to know how to orchestrate a good pitch.
Bret Slater has worked as a producer on such acclaimed shows as the multi Emmy nominated Boardwalk Empire and Ballers for HBO. Bret has worked alongside such talent as Steve Buscemi, Mark Whalberg, Russel Crowe, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Steven Levinson (Entourage), Catherine Zeta Jones, Ryan Phillippe and many more. Bret has been reading and listening to television pitches all day and just about every day since he broke into the business over a decade ago. He's seen every style, heard every idea, and knows as well as anyone what makes a television pitch a winner.
Bret will teach you the entire landscape regarding pitching a television pilot or idea. In what is perhaps the most misunderstood aspect of the pitching process, Bret will take you inside the mind of the pitchee, the person hearing the pitch. What are they looking for in the first 30 seconds? What are you portraying when you walk in the room? What details matter and which make the person you are pitching to zone out? How do you craft your pitch to producers, managers and agents? He will teach you the 3 basic, yet much overlooked, rules that must be in every pitch along with the #1 rule on how to deliver your pitch. Bret will break down written, oral and online/Skype pitches and the do's and don'ts for each. He will teach you how to open, and more importantly, close your pitch so that you leave the person or people you are pitching to wanting more. Bret will even show you the proper etiquette for following up after a pitch. Bret will provide all the tools that will help lift the anxiety and doubt of pitching for television and give you the confidence to deliver your pitch in a mannered, informed and professional way.
"Yet another winner from Stage 32."
- Patricia C.
"So much quality information. There were at least 3 things I was absolutely doing wrong with my approach when pitching. This clarified the mistakes I was making. Thank you, Bret."
"Having spent nearly 10 years in the feature world, I recently wrote a pilot and quickly realized the landscape is much different. My old tricks for pitching features didn't apply for TV. It's a different animal. Now I'm ready to get back on the attack."
Bret on set
Bret Slater, Producer
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It's hard to get past the gatekeepers and know your script is in a decision maker's hands. If a writer's sample script is excellent enough, the pieces start to fall into place: an entire script read, the writer recommended, the manager's decision to represent, the long and fruitful thousand-mile career. If a producer's script is perfect for the marketplace, a reader will get excited, move it up the ladder and then the wheels start in motion for finding financing, attaching talent and going into pre-production. None of it happens, though, if the script never makes it to the decision maker's desk. While the agents and managers of Hollywood excel at their jobs, they only have so much time in the day and most of it is not spent seeking out new talent. That job falls to the "Gatekeepers", the assistants and pro readers who tackle stacks of scripts every week hoping to find the diamond in the rough: a script they can confidently recommend. So, who are these gatekeepers, how do you even get to them and, more importantly, how do you win their endorsement to help move your script up the ladder? It's time to find out. Gabriel Chu works with artists, writers, and directors to identify and develop new ideas and stories, shepherding them from page to screen. As a story analyst at Sony Pictures, he works on current projects alongside the executive team and helps to field incoming submissions and identify new talent for the studio. Prior to joining Sony Pictures, he was an executive at Vertigo Entertainment, working closely with award winning directors and writers on both animated and live action film projects for Warner Bros., Lionsgate, and Fox Animation. Gabriel started his career at Bad Hat Harry Productions, and has also worked at Summit Entertainment and Mandalay Pictures. Through his career, Gabriel has served as a gatekeeper in multiple roles and knows intimately what it takes for a script to break through and make it to the right person’s desk, and he’s ready to share what he knows with the Stage 32 community. Gabriel will give you a rundown of how gatekeepers manage script submissions and what you can do to give your own script the best chance to be noticed and make it past those first rounds of coverage to make it to the eyeballs you’re aiming for. Gabriel will begin by explaining how scripts are able to get submitted to studios and other gatekeepers in the first place, including through agents and manager, through script competitions, other types of referrals, and through networking. He will also explain how taking the assistant route at an agency could help your chances of getting that script noticed. Next he’ll outline how coverage actually works at production companies and studios. He’ll explain the differences between the procedures at production companies, studios, and other organizations and what their differing expectations might be. He’ll delve into what roles read your script at what point in the process, focusing on the verticals at production companies and studios. He’ll explain the roles of interns and assistants, coordinators, story analysts, and finally executives, and what each role looks for when reading scripts. Gabriel will teach you the common formatting errors that knock scripts out of the running before people even start reading for content, including title page expectations, font and spacing, dialogue formatting, and other issues. He will share real examples of scripts that exhibit these errors to share what they look like on the page. Next he will go over narrative issues that can also sideline a submitted script. Finally, he’ll share other strategies that can make your script stand out to readers in these positions. Through demystifying the process of script reading and coverage as well as the people behind it, Gabriel will leave you with a concrete sense of how to get your script in front of the people you want to read it, and practical ways to help your chances. Praise for Gabriel's Stage 32 Webinar: I was very pleased with the webinar. The speaker got right to the point and explained exactly how the screenplay selling process works. Steven W. I loved how Gabriel didn't pull any punches and gave a realistic assessment of the realities of breaking into the industry as a writer. -Peter M. I loved this webinar because Gabriel talked about a variety of things from how to approach agents/managers/producers, to what not to do in a script. I learned a lot! -Melissa P. Amazing. I liked the "no sugar coating" approach. -Candice E.
Every actor faces obstacles, but with these proven techniques and exercises, you will access that creative gem that sets you apart. Learn from an acting coach of Oscar-nominated talent on his acting method, using internal growth to raise your performance while overcoming external setbacks. “Andy McPhee helped me lay the foundation for how I approach character development… To be content, prepared, and confident to play, and most of all, rooted in the being of my character. It’s this approach that readied me to work with some of the best directors of our time and to then be elevated further at their hands and genius… In my eyes, he is the best of the best and I have my career and record-breaking achievements to thank him for it.” -Kodi Smit- McPhee, 2022 Oscar Nominee for Best Supporting Actor in THE POWER OF THE DOG Andy McPhee has coached POWER OF THE DOG Oscar nominee, Kodi Smit-McPhee, EUPHORIA and THE WHITE LOTUS break-out star, Sydney McSweeney, and hundreds of talented actors, in addition to garnering over 130 acting credits of his own, including SONS OF ANARCHY and SAVING MR. BANKS. Andy has built a successful career as an actor and coach, using his own mentoring methods and exercises, and now, he wants to share those same lessons with you. Learn these skills directly from the expert exclusively in this Stage 32 webinar. Andy will teach the essential principles of his method, including training for the job, and the importance of preparation and balance. You’ll also be shown how to implement this method, as live webcast attendees will have the chance to work directly with Andy in an exercise using sides. And, most importantly, Andy will show you how to identify your next major steps and raise your game to succeed. You’ll walk away with the tools to apply Andy’s method again and again in your career, and always be ready for that next goal as an actor.
Commercial work can provide you with some of the most fun and lucrative work you can secure as an actor. Getting the right commercial spot with the right brand can help elevate you and your profile as an actor on a national level and capture the attention of casting directors, filmmakers and producers who want to work with you. Knowing what it takes to stand out and improve your callback / booking chances is essential to effectively outpace the competition and secure a lasting career in commercials. You've put the work into honing your craft, now it's time to learn how to navigate the landscape and land those roles. Auditioning for commercials takes special skills and knowhow in order for you to stand out from the pack and win the room. Unlike theatrical casting, you have more room to play and let the real YOU shine during your audition. At the end of the day, giving a great performance in the room is important, but being crushing the role and being memorable is even better. Almost always, casting directors see hundreds of actors for each commercial. You want to not only knock your audition out of the park, but keep yourself first and foremost in the minds of the casting director so you're remembered for the next role, the one after that, and so on. It may surprise you to learn, setting yourself apart is not as hard as you think. Karen Ryan has cast hundreds of commercials over the past 15 years and has in-depth knowledge of the things that directors, ad agencies and clients watch out for when choosing who best represents their brand. She has worked with Corona, Hyundai, Home Depot, Toyota, Walmart, Pizza Hut, Hershey's, Just For Men and more, as well as with major studios such as Disney and NBC Universal (among many others!). She has helped guide actors to be more effective in their choices, how they present themselves and how they can set themselves apart to ultimately improve their chances of booking commercial work. And now she's sharing that knowledge with you exclusively on Stage 32. Karen will teach you the knowledge of how to up your game in the fast paced, competitive world of commercials. You will go through the process from breakdown to booking and understand how to prep your commercial copy. She'll share with you what non-verbal clues can give you a competitive advantage and teach you the do's and don'ts (from a casting director's perspective) in the the casting room. You will know what casting directors and producers are ultimately looking for and how you can bring the best YOU to the audition. She'll also teach you where and when to go off script and improv to give yourself a distinct advantage when the time is right. You'll also learn how to deconstruct your reel (honestly) and how to best present it. You will gain complete insight into booking more commercial work and gain the tools and knowledge to help you win the room, book more work, and stay first and foremost in the casting director's mind. "Karen truly cares about bringing out my best self. Since working with her I have booked more roles in one year than I had in the previous 5. The acting industry needs more people like Karen!" - Sean R. "Excellent advice and guidelines for improved auditions" - Steven F. "Bring Karen back! She's great!" - Anne H. "Loved Karen and all the info she shared!" - Roxanne H.
It is clear that this is the golden age of television with one incredible series after another coming out on cable, streaming and network. If you're interested in breaking into the world of television, there is one key position that you must know the ins and outs of in order to understand the set - a TV Executive. An TV Executive plays a huge role in a television production, serving as more than a key developer of story, but also a liaison between various departments on set. We've brought in veteran executive Stuart Arbury from Ramo Law (Ramo Law has worked on Netflix's Altered Carbon & Chef's Table, ABC's This Isn't Working, Hulu's Battleground and more). Stuart himself began his career at Captivate Entertainment, Dimension Films and Canvas Media Studios. Arbury was the on-set TV executive for MTV's Scream TV series for two seasons, which was based on the classic horror film franchise. In this webinar, Stuart will walk you through an explanation of the television eco-system and share war stories of his time during Scream. Having worked with various department heads, Stuart will also share tips on getting started in Hollywood on a television production. You will walk away with a clear understanding of a TV executive's role and how it relates to your part of the business, whether you're a writer, producer, director, actor or crew.
Low budget filmmaking is all the rage these days. But unfortunately, many people equate low budget with low quality. And if we're being honest, that's because most producers and filmmakers don't understand how and where to spend their money to stretch their dollar and make sure the quality is up there on the screen. In short, you don't have to compromise on your vision if you have a smaller budget to work with. Even though you may not be playing with studio level money, you still have the ability to make a high quality film without skimping on spending for what matters. If you are clever in your planning, approach and execution of minimizing costs your will walk away with a movie you will be proud of and that will play much larger than the budget. And this will allow you to stand out in every way, from festival submissions to attracting sales agents, distributors and more. Thinking smart about your indie film must begin at the script stage. There are many tips and tricks successful producers and filmmakers use to ensure that a project will not run amok financially once you start developing and shooting it. You must think outside of the box to be able to find cost-effective ways to assure you get everything you need to make your production go smoothly and on schedule while keeping you in line on your budget. Once you master a few tips and tricks of the trade, you'll assuredly have money left over to spend on what really counts and make your film look and sound like you had money to burn. So, how can you evaluate your script, avoid the common pitfalls, and assure that you avoid the myriad issues that can stall a production or push it over budget? We have the answers. Sara Elizabeth Timmins was a field producer on the hit HBO series McMillions, which was produced by Mark Wahlberg and premiered at Sundance 2020. Her films have been seen in theaters, the Hallmark Channel, Starz, Showtime and internationally. She has worked with talented actors like Jane Seymour, Ellen Burstyn, Chris Cooper, Josh Lucas and Mackenzie Foy and writers like NY Times Best Selling Author David Baldacci. Throughout her career she has learned how to attach award-winning talent and turn a profit on every single one of her films. Sara Elizabeth will teach you the 3 key elements you must not skimp on in order to get your film to come out looking the best possible way. She'll share how she's been able to secure and manage professional talent and crew on a low budget. She'll take you step by step with great examples of where you can minimize costs in the script and development phase, as well as once you're in production. She'll even share things to think about when it comes to transportation, lodging, craft services, locations and more. She'll also give you 9 common production dangers that can sabotage your budget - you'll want to know each one of these before you even say "action!" This is information you'll want to come back to time and time again and can help you for every single production regardless of your working budget. "What clever information Sara Elizabeth. Thank you a million for your insights into your process producing. You gave me so many things to think about that I never would have considered. I'm excited to put this into practice on the film I'm doing next year!" - Robin M. "Brilliant. Just brilliant. I feel like I just got the secret sauce." - Timothy K.
We have found ourselves in an age of content overload. As audiences, everywhere we turn we are inundated with stories online, on screen, in podcasts and on the radio. And these are just the stories that make it to these platforms. Script readers and producers are going through much, much more, often reading hundreds of screenplays a month. And yet, with so much content out there, scripts still rise to the top. There is a reason why projects like FLEABAG, OZARK, PARASITE, and Jordan Peele's US cut through the noise, with or without big budgets or names. It’s not theme or content matter that achieves this; it’s authenticity. The industry is changing, but this simple truth never does. Executives, producers, studios, and audiences will always seek out authentic voices. The question, then, is what exactly is authenticity and how does it read on a page? Adding authenticity to your work is a lot harder than adding, say, character headings. It’s not a switch to turn on and it’s not something that can be easily engineered. Cultivating an authentic voice is a challenge every writer faces and takes years of honing your craft. However, there are things you can do right now to better zero in on your own voice and show it off to executives and other gatekeepers. Better understanding what authenticity looks like on a page, how executives identify it, and the steps writers with strong authentic voices take before approaching a script will give you the best possible chance of your project standing out, continuing into production and ultimately premiering to the masses. Sarah Cornelius serves as Creative and Production Executive at award-winning Whitewater Films, helmed by director-producer Rick Rosenthal (HALLOWEEN II, BAD BOYS, TRANSPARENT). This approach has resulted in Whitewater producing numerous notable films which have won Independent Spirit Awards, the Sundance Directing Award, a Primetime Emmy, as well as collecting nominations for an Oscar and the Sundance Grand Jury Prize. Whitewater has produced projects for Paramount Classics, Netflix, Showtime, IFC, Samual Goodwyn Films, The Orchard, CNN Films and more. Whitewater Films recently completed their feature STANDING UP, FALLING DOWN starring Billy Crystal & Ben Schwartz with first-time director Matt Ratner. Their film, THE LAST SHIFT premiered at Sundance 2020 with two time Oscar-nominee Richard Jenkins. In addition they produced FIRST GIRL I LOVED (Sundance winner), HALFWAY THERE (Sundance Episodic Showcase winner) and SMALL ENGINE REPAIR (SXSW premiere). Sarah has been involved with development on each of Whitewater's projects and has the ability to communicate conceptual notes in a direct and effective manner. Sarah will use her extensive experience evaluating scripts and discovering talent to delve into what goes into finding your authentic voice and how to bring it into your script. She’ll begin by discussing the main questions you should ask yourself before writing a script, including how to prevent writer’s block, how to anchor your concept, and the three ‘whys’ you must address before getting started. Sarah will then approach the concept of authenticity from the point of view of an executive, and what specific things they look at to identify a writer’s voice. She’ll speak to format and clarity, imagery and action, dialogue, point of view, and creativity and risk-taking. Sarah will even teach you how to retain your authenticity past the writing phase. She’ll discuss how to ask for and incorporate feedback while still holding on to your voice and how to pitch what you wrote with authentic confidence. Finding your own authentic voice is never easy, but Sarah will give you the tools you need to better understand how to bring your voice forward and hone in on it with more confidence. Plus, you will receive 10 downloads of notable screenplays that exhibit an authentic voice (and 2 downloads of scripts without an authentic voice) that Sarah will use to demonstrate how authenticity reads on the page: Jordan Peele's US CAPTAIN FANTASTIC THE SHAPE OF WATER PARASITE AMERICAN BEAUTY RESERVOIR DOGS WHIPLASH HARRIET TRAINSPOTTING APOCALYPSE NOW SHOWGIRLS CATWOMAN Praise for Sarah's Stage 32 Webinar "Sarah was incredible! Loved her teaching style and insight. Great webinar!" -David P. "Very informative, well worth it!" -Caroline B. "Great webinar - loved the use of scripts and clips. Wonderful speaker!" -Ron H. "Sarah Cornelius was wonderful. Time well spent today." -Brian B. Like what you heard from Sarah during this webcast? Send your script to Sarah and speak with her for a full hour by clicking here.