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:
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 from Lee Jessup, Screenwriting Career Coach and author of best selling book 'Getting It Write: An Insider's Guide to A Screenwriting Career'! First impressions are everything. And in today's industry, where screenplays are not easily read and many writers are competing for every rep's or executive's attention, screenwriters deliver their best first impression with their loglines, one-sheets, pitches and all-important personal narrative. This is how an executive becomes interested not only in reading a particular script, but also in working with the content creator behind it on assignments, adaptations, or future works. True story: One of my coaching clients was pitching via Happy Writers. His material was strong, but represented some subject-matter challenges right out of the gate. However, he kept getting screenplay requests. I called up one of the managers who requested to read the work, and asked for her impression. "The work has issues" she said "but the presentation was so strong, the writer's identity was so clear, I just wanted to read for voice." Careers are rarely built on any one script these days; instead, they are build on the writer's identity and voice, and nowhere are those more powerful than in the materials you use to introduce yourself. In today's shifting industry climate where single script sales present a challenge, agents, managers, development executives and producers are seeking to get involved with content creators who will deliver again and again, complete with a strong understanding of not only how to market their work, but also how to position their personal narrative and brand, the sort that executives want to work with, and reps want to sell. Remember: Executives get in business with people, not with a piece of paper. They want to know that you understand how to present both your material and yourself. In order to take you on as a client or a creative partner, they want to know that they can send you on a general meeting or a pitch assignment in which you will thrive and impress. Those are the skills that will get you into the room again and again. Stage 32 Next Level Webinars is excited to present Developing Your Marketable Identity: Loglines, One-Sheets, and the Critical Personal Narrative presented by Lee Jessup, career coach for professional and emerging screenwriters. Lee is the best-selling author of Getting It Write: An Insider's Guide to A Screenwriting Career, whose clients include television fellows, contest winners, produced screenwriters, and more. Lee will discuss the various materials you should prepare for meetings, pitches and events, and provide practical examples and guidelines for each. She will also explore the often-under-prepared personal narrative, which will allow you to effectively communicate who you are as a person and a writer, and the critical life events that inspired you to explore the specific themes, wounds and worlds that will set you apart in your work. This webinar is for screenwriters aiming to present their work to the professional space, be it via Skype or in-person pitches, general meetings or screenwriting events.
State of the industry Why the majority of TV/Film comes from pre-existing IP "The Executive Bias" Pre-existing Fan Base/Fleshed Out World Adapting Books/Articles Where to Go! How To Choose Material Who To Contact For Film/TV Rights How To Close The Deal Case Study: Game of Thrones, Sex and The City Case Study: The Wedding Sting in the Atlantic, now going to be a film at Paramount Adapting Comic Books / Video Games Where to Go! How To Choose Material Who To Contact For Film/TV Rights How To Close The Deal Case Study (Comics): Guardians of the Galaxy (Marvel/Disney, lesser known/less successful comic became a blockbuster) Case Study: Jessica Jones (Marvel / Netflix) Case Study (Video Games): Assassin's Creed (FOX, to be released this December) Making it your own Most say DO NOT adapt your own material (leads to being too protective of your work/not as open to change) Fun thing about IP, when you build a world, it can keep being adapted into other mediums (Example: Orphan Black the comic book was one of the best-selling comics last year, adapted from TV show. Goes in both directions) The heart of this, however, is making sure the new versions are different enough from the old, AND have your voice in them. LIVE Q&A with Maggie!
Week 1: Introduction & Concept/Theme – Every script begins with an idea. I’ll give an intro to the workshop process and discuss the basics of crafting a script with a strong central premise. Week 2: Character – Great scripts revolve around great characters. In this session, we’ll explore how to create compelling, three-dimensional characters that jump off the page and attract talent. Week 3: Plot/Structure – Plotting and structure are among the most difficult elements for any writer to master. We’ll dive into examples and determine how it’s best to craft a strong (but not necessarily conventional) storyline. Week 4: Dialogue & Where to Go From Here – Truthful and natural-sounding dialogue is the secret weapon of any screenplay. We’ll end the workshop by discussing the subtle ways dialogue can improve any script, and writers will determine their plans moving forward. In addition to the scheduled topics, I’ll also speak on general dos and don’ts in the industry, advice on getting representation, and other issues creatives commonly face. Writers are encouraged to participate and ask any questions that would be helpful for their projects or overall career goals.
As a television writer, staffing season is a high-intensity, high-stakes time. You not only need to show your chops with your writing talent, but you also need to show what you will be like in a writing room. Many writers are vying for the same spots, so how do you stand out? How do you make an impression in front of the executives and producers hiring? We've brought in Marla White, the former development executive for Emmy-Award Winner Peter Tolan's Fedora Entertainment who has sat in on hundreds of writer meetings from the executive side of the table. She's worked with writers who have sold pitches to Fox, TNT, CBS, NBC and ABC and have been staffed on premium cable dramas. Marla will take you through the thought process of what executives are looking for when you walk in the room. She'll walk you through the difference between a general meeting and a staffing meeting and arm you with all the tools necessary to be "good in the room" for each case. Plus, she'll also talk about "do's and don'ts" and how you can get invited back for the all important pitch meeting. This webinar will be useful for every level of writer, whether you’re just starting out in your writing career as preparation to talk to agents or managers, or if you are a working writer on a show looking to move to a new show and need tips on playing the networking game. You don't want to miss out on learning from one of the industry's top executives!
As screenwriters, it is our job to create well-rounded stories. That means not only having a main character whose journey we follow but also including supporting characters and stories. The addition of strong supporting characters and subplots allows the audience to feel as if your story actually has a life outside of the confines of your script. This is the difference between being a professional screenwriter and someone who writes as a weekend hobby. In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, Jordan Barel (Development, for Producer/Actor Paul Scheer and Abominable Pictures) will teach how to bring your supporting characters to life. You will learn how to create characters that are integral to the main plot and the shape of your screenplay. He will walk you through using your support characters to subtly deliver key exposition and give insight into your protagonist. In addition, Jordan will show you how to use your subplots to strengthen your second act and keep the action moving along. You'll break down various film genres to show how each utilizes supporting characters and subplots so you can apply it to your projects. You will walk away with the tools necessary to deliver a fully developed script!