An entertainment industry veteran, Brian has been working in the industry since 1999, and he has credits on 23 films and television series for major studios like Disney, Universal, Sony, and DreamWorks Animation. Brian has worked with some of the top story tellers in the animation industry, and has been studying the art and development of storytelling from within for nearly 20 years. While at DreamWorks Animation his work fell under the umbrella of the DreamWorks Education department and Brian taught classes to artists and other staff on story telling, Film Noir, and screenwriting. Brian has been a professional screenplay reader since 2006, and has written coverage for over 1,000 scripts and books for companies such as Walden Media and Scott Free Films. Scripts and books that Brian has read and covered include Twilight, Touristas, Nim’s Island, Hotel for Dogs, and Inkheart. Brian is a life-long fan of good stories and he’s spent years studying the techniques and principles of good storytelling. He believes that great cinema and great storytelling are inseparable. He studied animation and screenwriting at the University of Southern California, receiving an MFA from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts in 1999. With that knowledge and his appreciation of good stories, Brian gets real satisfaction in helping writers get the most out of their stories through their screenplays. Brian was born and raised on Cape Cod and currently lives in Los Angeles, California with his wife, three daughters, and two dogs. Full Bio »
After reading well over 1,000 screenplays over the course of my career, from both professionals and amateurs, I can tell you that I have a solid idea of what makes a good story. Also, as someone who has been a professional reader, I can show you through a reader’s eyes where a story becomes flawed, and how those stories can be improved to prevent you and your script from getting the dreaded PASS on coverage notes.
The Dirty Secret of Story Structure will take a meticulous look at the art of building dramatic structure within your story by learning how to do it in individual scenes.
Each and every scene in your script should serve as an opportunity to move the story forward. If it is not doing that, it’s not serving its correct purpose within the world of your story. Just as your overall screenplay has a beginning, a middle and an end, so too should each scene. Within each scene should be a character who wants something, and another character or entity that is trying to stop her.
Developing a structure within each scene to determine how those events transpire is just as important to telling your story as making sure the Act I to Act II transition happens somewhere between pages 25 and 30. However, the notion of dramatic structure has been misinterpreted for years.
Dramatic structure is not necessarily what you think it is, and when it is re-examined, the thought of fitting a story within the confines of dramatic structure becomes less daunting. This webinar will provide detailed examples on how to build solid dramatic structure within your scenes, as well as within your overall screenplay.
The secret: Most films are told in four acts, not three.
Break 3-act structure (and the Hero’s Journey) down to a scene-by scene level.
Break 3-act structure (and the Hero’s Journey) down to a scene-by scene level.
Applying technique - We'll go over how thinking of a screenplay in 4 acts rather than 3 can help you by:
Q&A with Brian
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Subtext in your dialogue and in your story can be the difference between a studio picking up your script or passing on it. Subtext adds layers to your story and depth to your characters. Mastering the art of subtext is not only preferable for writers, it is absolutely essential. The writers and creators of Film Noir were experts at the use of subtext because, due to the restrictions of the Production Code, their films could not have been made without it. The makers of Film Noir mastered the art of not saying what you’re trying to say, and saying it in a way that sounds like you’re saying something completely different. That subtext allowed the audience to fill in the blanks and become more active participants in the story, and that is why subtext is so important. It gets your audience more involved in the story. Film Noir and the Art of Subtext will show you how to apply the use of subtext in your own scripts in order to add that depth, further engage the audience and take your script to the next level by using examples from some of the great films of that style. After reading well over 1,000 screenplays over the course of my career, from both professionals and amateurs, I can tell you that I can recognize good subtext. Also, as someone who has been a professional reader, I can show you through a reader’s eyes where subtext is needed, and how subtext can be used to prevent you and your script from getting the dreaded PASS on coverage notes.
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.
Learn how to create a terrifying horror movie villain with a top horror expert who has worked on countless horror films including Rob Zombie's THE LORDS OF SALEM, 13 SINS Starring Ron Perlman, SKYLINE starring Donald Faison, and more. PLUS! Receive an exclusive handout that will help you develop your horror movie villains and monsters! Horror movies are all about the main threat - the monster lurching off the screen and into our nightmares. Ever since 1931, when Bela Lugosi swirled his opera cloak and made Dracula a movie icon, horror movie audiences have been more thrilled by the bad guys than the good. And this makes sense, as the villain is usually the catalyst in the story. The major horror franchises revolve around the villain, not the hero. A horror villain can be a slasher killer like FRIDAY THE 13th's Jason, a ghost like NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET's Freddie, an object come to life like CHILD'S PLAY's Chucky or monsters like the creatures in A QUIET PLACE. So, how do you as a screenwriter make your monster or villain come to life - and wreak havoc - on the page? How can you create a monster that stands out from the rest, while also building off of the horror villain icons that have come before? And how can you craft an engaging story around your monster that will terrify audiences and maybe even lead to sequels? In this exclusive Stage 32 webinar, horror specialist Karina Wilson will guide you through everything you need to know to create a compelling horror movie villain for your horror project. Karina is an independent story and development consultant with a focus in horror who has worked on many films including SECRET IN THEIR EYES with Nicole Kidman and Julia Roberts, 13 SINS with Ron Perlman, and THE CIRCLE with Tom Hanks and Emma Watson. Previously the in-house story consultant at IM Global, she is considered an expert in the horror genre and her analysis of horror trends through the decades has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, on NPR, in medical textbooks and in documentaries alongside luminaries such as Jason Blum, Joe Dante, and Andy Muschietti. Karina is also the lead screenplay judge for the indie horror festival Shriekfest. Along with Rob Zombie, John Carpenter, Sid Haig, Tom Savini and many others, Karina can currently be seen on screen discussing horror in the documentary THE HISTORY OF METAL AND HORROR and in the Blumhouse TV series COMPENDIUM OF HORROR. In this webinar, you will learn the essential monster/villain categories and how to shape your story around the type of monster you are working with. Karina will assess the ways in which your villain can put your protagonist through the fire (both metaphorically and literally), while simultaneously terrifying your audience. You will learn how to put a fresh spin on classic villains, tapping into fears specific to the 2020s where successful horror movie antagonists are often nuanced with complex character arcs. Whether you’re tapping into psychological evil in the form of a serial killer, exploring a traditional haunted house, crafting a creature feature, or working with a monster from outer space, this webinar will provide you with everything you need to elevate your horror movie villain or monster to the next level! PLUS! Karina will provide you with an exclusive handout that will help you develop your horror movie monsters in your own screenplays. If you're working on a horror project or simply interested in learning more about the genre and how to craft terrifying horror villains that keep audiences coming back time and time again, Karina's webinar is a must! Praise from Karina's Previous Stage 32 Webinars: "Her presentation was well organized, her slides contained the right amount of information to digest and takes notes from. Her delivery was excellent." - Martha C. "I was so impressed!" - Loretta C. "Karina is a master of all things horror and story! She knows more about crafting an effective horror story - from the plot to the villain and the scares - than anyone I've ever worked with or learned from. I can see why she's in high demand in the industry!" -- Mark L.
Learn how to write a great horror script or improve one you've already written with the support and guidance of horror expert David Ian McKendry who's worked with Blumhouse, Universal, Fangoria and More! From classics like PSYCHO and THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, to newer and highly acclaimed films like A QUIET PLACE, GET OUT, and SMILE, there is a worldwide audience that loves a good scare! Horror is consistently one of the most popular and sellable genres. This is an exciting space to be in for a writer, because there are endless possibilities for storytelling and production. Yet not just any horror script is going to find success. Writing a great horror screenplay is surprisingly hard and requires the writer have a handle on many important elements. David Ian McKendry is a professional screenwriter and filmmaker who has worked for Blumhouse, Universal, Lifetime Networks, and The Hallmark Channel as well as numerous independent production companies. He began working in the entertainment industry for Fangoria Entertainment before later putting together his own horror films, including the recent ALL THE CREATURES WERE STIRRING, starring Constance Wu (CRAZY RICH ASIANS). He also produced the Nerdist's BLOOD AND GUTS with Scott Ian. Through his vast experience in the industry as well as writing, producing and directing horror films, David has a keen sense of what makes a script successful in the horror genre and will be sharing what he knows exclusively with the Stage 32 community. David is going to take you through the elements of any good horror screenplay and walk you through how to improve your own by focusing on characters, setting, and each act. In this 4 session on demand class you will: Learn all about story and building your iconic protagonist and villain. Learn to build a strong foundation in Act One and hook audiences in within the first few minutes. Learn Act Two and building out the story and your protagonist’s journey. Learn how to keep audiences guessing at your ending throughout Act Three and write mind-blowing endings. At the end of this class, you’ll be able to deliver a fresh scare with unforgettable characters. Case Studies for This Class Include: HELLRAISER AMERICAN PSYCHO BLACK SWAN JENNIFER'S BODY SCREAM Praise for David's Previous Stage 32 Webinar "Excellent presentation, easy to follow examples, real advice, and I felt hope after listening and participating." -John M. "Such a fantastic deconstruction of the way to construct a horror story." -Shrader T. "David was really great and well-versed. He confirmed I was on the right path for some of my storytelling methods and I became aware of areas I need to work on." -John R. "David was extremely knowledgeable, well prepared, articulate and enthusiastic. His answered during the Q&A were honest and not sugar-coated yet supportive." -Margaret M.
With the tremendous box office success of CRAZY RICH ASIANS, BOOK CLUB and THE BIG SICK and the streaming successes of SET IT UP, SIERRA BURGESS IS A LOSER, and TO ALL THE BOYS I LOVED BEFORE, romantic comedies are making a huge comeback for all types of audiences. Variety called Rom-Com's the "Hottest genre" for 2018 and beyond. If you have been sitting on a Rom-Com script or been thinking about writing one, now's the time to learn about the current marketplace for romantic comedies.
Do you find that writing your half-hour comedy at a world-class level is more challenging than you thought? It's probably because you didn't start by generating a professional-level treatment before you began writing the script. A top-flight treatment is essential when crafting your half-hour comedy script. Between a gripping hook, memorable characters, and a cohesive setting, all packed into a tight 30 minutes, sitcom writers have a tall order to fulfill. Many writers are driven by a great concept, only to lose steam when it comes time to go to pilot, abandoning what could be the next watercooler hit. The solution? Write the treatment. Fleshing out a proper treatment that establishes what the show and world will be will save you time, frustration, and anxiety when you go to write your script. In this Stage 32 exclusive webinar, you’ll walk through the process of how a professional sitcom writer creates a treatment by establishing the characters, their relationships, the style and tone, and the central conflicts, resulting in a better story and roadmap for your comedy. Showing you how the pros tackle treatments is Michael Sokol, a screenwriter and producer whose pilot, TACO TUESDAY, was optioned by PopTV (SCHITT’S CREEK) and Drew Barrymore’s Flower Films. His other credits include CAKE for FXX, MANDY for SpectreVision, and executive producing the feature film POSTAL. Michael has also developed and produced content for Vh1, Comedy Central, Funny or Die, Comcast, Adult Swim, and more. Whether you’re setting out to write your first sitcom pilot or your 20th, this webinar will show you a new way to look at creating a hilarious and compelling pilot. By putting in the time to create your treatment today, with a proven process from a professional, you can raise the odds that you’ll finish a great, fully realized half-hour comedy script. Testimonials from Michael's previous Stage 32 Education: "While incredibly knowledgeable in comedy and writing and structure in general, [Michael] is never trying to impose his own sensibilities on new writers. Instead, he has an innate sense for how to allow that writer to bring out their own sensibilities, even if they've never written a single page before" - Madison H. "Michael is an incredible comedy teacher. Not because he’s hilarious and a really experienced writer, but because he’s such a good listener and mentor. He encouraged me to better understand my point of view and then up the ante on the funny based on that. And my work got so much better with every pass because of his methodology." - Loretta C.