Mike Disa, director of the highly praised Netflix show Paradise PD, has been working in animation for two decades. With no film training or knowledge of the byzantine workings of the entertainment business, he eventually found success at studios such as Dreamworks, Disney Feature, Warner Brothers, 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 Full Bio »
There are a lot of reasons why the surge in popularity of podcasts is so exciting right now. It makes that rush hour commute to work much more enjoyable for millions of people every day. It opens up avenues for more stories to be discovered and more storytellers to create. And it’s a format that can be a lot easier and more affordable for independent artists to produce. You don’t need cameras, you don’t need a set; you just need a quiet room and a couple of microphones. And unlike visual media, podcasts provide a format where high concept, traditionally expensive genres like fantasy, action, and science fiction are just as achievable as more contained styles—if you want an alien in your podcast, for instance, you don’t need to invest in CGI; you just need an actor to say “Look! There’s an alien!” The art form of podcasts can be an equalizer in a way film and television have never been. It gives independent voices the ability to create something great and display their abilities, all without having to take out a mortgage. Plus, it gives you the ability to create IP that you control - all while helping you build a loyal following to serve as champions to help you carry your message.
That’s not to say producing podcasts is a walk in the park. There is a whole lot that goes into it, and there is a lot you need to do as a podcast producer to ensure your project sounds good, feels professional, and holds its own against the big guns. It might be less expensive, but making the foray into audio fiction can be a daunting prospect if you’ve only worked in film and television (or have never produced before). There are some questions where you might not even know where to start: How do you find and cast voice actors? What kind of microphone should you use? How do you edit audio? What about sound effects? Do you make them yourself or can you source them from somewhere? What aspects of production should you be investing most of your money in? And once you have a finished product, where do you even put it so people can start listening?
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 producing his adaptation exclusively with the Stage 32 community.
Mike will walk you through everything you need to know to produce your own successful podcast. He’ll begin by discussing pre-production and how to know when your script is podcast-ready. He’ll give you tips on finding and setting up your recording and delve into the audio equipment you’ll need to invest in, including how to find the right microphone that’s also affordable. Mike will also discuss the process of casting, finding the right voice actors for your parts and how to navigate read-throughs and rehearsals. Next Mike will teach you how to actually produce your podcast, including how exactly to record, recording pitfalls you should avoid, and what the directing process looks like. Then he will discuss podcast post-production and how to use your recordings to paint a full audio picture. He’ll tell you which editing software to use and how to find music and sound effects to compliment you project. He’ll also discuss where to take your project for post-effects. Finally, Mike will go over how to distribute your finished podcast. He’ll outline hosting services that are available and how to upload your episodes online. He will give you tips on how to create your own website for the podcast and how to publicize it. He’ll also explain why you don’t want to charge money for the final podcast. Throughout, Mike will illustrate the process by using anecdotes and lessons learned from his own podcast SENTINELS: POINT OF NO RETURN.
Expect to walk away with a full picture of the steps you need to take to produce, record and distribute your own successful podcast.
Praise for Mike's Stage 32 Webinar:
It was outstanding. Mike was thorough and generous with his own experiences. Very very well done.
The webinar was well structured with clear and informative slides. Mike gave so much information in a way anyone could understand even with out any industry knowledge.
I thought Mike as a great teacher. I loved the content and his ability to share his knowledge and experience in a very upbeat way.
I have been curious about Podcasting so joined this Webinar. Mike was meticulously detailed about the ins and outs of it from beginning to end. I took copious notes; I was fascinated by everything he said and he said every thing that needed to be said about the entire process. He was so detailed, stressed what NOT to do as well as HOW to do it. He is a superb instructor. It could not have been presented in a more succinct manner.
If you'd like to learn the writing side of a podcast and how to adapt a feature screenplay into podcast format, check out Mike's webinar: Create Your Own IP: How to Adapt Your Existing Script into a Podcast as Proof of Concept
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!
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.
Think about the classic images of a director—sitting in a canvas chair, making a frame with your fingers and thumbs, yelling ‘action’ or ‘cut’. None of those things could even come up when you’re directing for animation, though. Honesty, the job of an animation television director doesn’t even exist within the public lexicon. If you’re not already directly within the television animation industry, you might not even have a basic sense of what goes into this line of work. Yet the role of an animation director is very real and getting to this level on an animated television show can be rewarding and lucrative. Top animated shows like THE SIMPSONS, BOB’S BURGERS, BOJACK HORSEMAN, PEPPA PIG and RICK AND MORTY succeed because of the top directing talent at the helm. If you’re a writer, an artist, an illustrator, a storyboard artist, a director or just passionate about animated television, there is a path forward to get into this landscape and work towards directing episodes of your dream animated show. But it might help to have a blueprint to get there, understand how the world of animated TV works, how people become directors within this world, and what directors actually do. Veteran director Mike Disa is here to offer you this very opportunity. Mike Disa is the director of the hit Netflix series PARADISE PD and has been in the animation industry for over twenty-five years. Mike found success working 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. Mike Disa has extensive knowledge of countless facets of animated TV and film. Mike will give you the nuts and bolts on the overall landscape and the details of what it takes to direct for animated TV. Mike will begin by discussing what it actually is that a TV animation director does and how it differs from other types of directing. He’ll go over the relationship between storyboarding and directing and one can, but doesn’t necessarily, lead to the other. He’ll discuss the how to be successful, valuable, and noticed while working on animated TV and how that will differ at an indie company compared to a larger studio. Mike will then walk you through the different types of animated TV, including children’s scripted, prime time scripted, anime, and premise-driven unscripted, and how the role and expectations of the director differ from one category to another. Next, Mike will delve into the general TV animation pipeline, the 9 steps you should expect from script to finished product. Mike will discuss the dangers of getting typecast within the animation world and how to navigate this tricky area. He will then walk you through 13 necessary skills you will need to learn and display in order to become a director and what skills might not be as important as you think. Mike will prepare you for the biggest challenges of this line of work and go through 5 common mistakes directors make. He’ll then discuss what sort of pathway there is to creating your own animated show and the way to make a lot of money in this line of work. He’ll finally give some practical advice on how to better succeed within the world of animation, including the benefits of getting an agent and the possibility of switching to live action down the line. Praise for Mike's Webinar "Mike is clear, insightful and conveys ideas and concepts very well. It was an excellent webinar!" -Jon P. "Mike Disa was amazingly generous with his time and information. And he was real. It doesn't get better than that. I'll be able to apply his insights and the information he shared immediately. I'm so glad I decided to participate." - Elizabeth A. "The webinar was excellent and very well paced. I truly appreciated the honesty and straightforwardness of the presenter. I learned a lot and look forward to the next one." - Jerry M. "Great information, Mike did an awesome job and I will look forward to his next webinar." - Diane M.
Animation offers screenwriters one of the most flexible mediums for the imagination. Animated stories have been capturing our minds ever since media hit the screen through characters like Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Bugs Bunny to what we see today in The Simpsons, American Dad, Bojack Horseman, Rick and Morty, Spider-man, Incredibles and (so many) more. Writing animation feature or television requires a special skill - not one that can be taught through traditional feature & TV writing resources. The tools you need to succeed in animation are quite unique and once honed can offer you a long career creatively animating the stories in your mind. But, where do you begin? There are all different types of animated writing - including pre-school, children's comedy and adult animation. Further, how do you find your niche? There are many different animation genres (and styles) in features and television today. Is the writing universal for all genres? It takes a seasoned professional to understand the nuances of all types of animated writing and being able to write efficiently for the story and the project. Educating yourself in all aspects of how animation writing works for features and television will assist you greatly in achieving your goal whether it's attracting representation, trying to sell an original concept, pushing an animated feature or TV pilot, or finding work in an television animation writer's room. Mike Disa, director of the highly praised Netflix show Paradise PD has been working in animation for two decades. With no film training or knowledge of the byzantine workings of the entertainment business, he eventually found success at studios such as Dreamworks, Disney Feature, Warner Brothers, 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. Mike will cover everything you need to know about writing animation for features & TV. He'll start with formatting and script length (two aspects surprisingly ignored or misunderstood by most writers). He'll discuss writing low budget vs. high budget and how to write within the scope of each. He will dive into how to write around special effects and other post production implementations. He will discuss reading and production drafts and how to collaborate with your writing and producing teams. He will talk premises, outlines, first draft strategies and how to go about pitching your idea. He will get into writer's room expectations, strategies in working the room, and the steps to take from being a show writer to a showrunner. Mike will use real world examples to show you the entire landscape of writing animated features and TV. And this is just some of what you'll learn! This is 3 HOURS of comprehensive education from a director of a top animated Netflix show on how to write, sell, and build a career in writing feature AND television animation! Praise for Mike: "Mike Disa was amazingly generous with his time and information. And he was real. It doesn't get better than that. I'll be able to apply his insights and the information he shared immediately. I'm so glad I decided to participate." - Elizabeth A. "Excellent webinar. I think that I learned more than I expected to about animation writing and how it relates to working in the industry. I had a good time watching this and appreciate how kind everyone was with their time." - Kari H. "Mike was very informative. He was friendly and open very easy to listen to. I learned some valuable lessons.." - Lind J. "The stories and ideas and descriptions were excellent. Straight talk from a true professional." - Don S.
As animators we pour our heart and soul into creating content we can be proud of. What most people don't realize is how many hours, days, months and even years it takes to create even the shortest form animation content to showcase your skills. Often you aspire to be noticed, not only by a viewing audience, but also by professionals who can help move the needle on your career. So how can you be assured that all your time and effort will pay off by not only reaching the widest audience possible, but by those who can help you get to the next level? Writing, boarding and creating animation content takes immense discipline. It takes the distinguished voice of a storyteller, the skillful eye of a director and the polished chops of an artist to make your vision come to life on screen. Once you've decided to embark on the path of creating content, how do you go about getting noticed? Animation is difficult to break into, but it's certainly not impossible and you CAN be seen by people that matter if you take the right steps to creating your content and getting it out there online. You have powerful tools in your hands and at your disposal through platforms like Vimeo, YouTube, Instagram and more - if you know how to use them to your advantage. Mike Disa knows a thing or two about animation. He's been working in the industry for over two decades and is currently the lead director on Netflix's hit show Paradise PD. He's worked with companies such as Disney, Dreamworks, Warner Bros., Paramount, and many others on feature films, television shows and digital series. Before he got his start, he knew no one in animation or entertainment and used his own methods to get noticed and sustain a nearly twenty five year career, which he will share with you. Mike will teach you what type of content you can create that will help you stand out online to those working in animation. You will learn how online platforms can be best utilized to show your content and learn to set clear goals of what you are trying to get out of creating content and reach your target audience. You will know what to expect if you embark on the path for the genre of animation you work in. Mike will walk you through the development process to make sure your time is worth it before you start investing your time creating content. And, Mike will even walk you through how to promote yourself to get noticed! Remember, it just takes one champion of you and your work to kick start your career and Mike will help you know what type of content you can create and how you can get it out there in the right places to capture the right person's eye! We're thrilled to welcome Mike back exclusively to Stage 32. Here are testimonials from Mike's previous Stage 32 Webinars: "Mike Disa was amazingly generous with his time and information. And he was real. It doesn't get better than that. I'll be able to apply his insights and the information he shared immediately. I'm so glad I decided to participate." - Elizabeth A. "The webinar was excellent and very well paced. I truly appreciated the honesty and straightforwardness of the presenter. I learned a lot and look forward to the next one." - Jerry M. "Excellent webinar. I think that I learned more than I expected to about animation writing and how it relates to working in the industry. I had a good time watching this and appreciate how kind everyone was with their time." - Kari H. "I believe such given information was highly inspirational, utterly legit and true regarding the industry and show business. I've always wanted to learn what it takes to write an idea for an animated series, and how to put it on screen, and this webinar truly answered these vital questions. Conclusively, I would really take these tips into consideration during the writing of my ideas, and would highly recommend them to those who are ambitious to spread their stories world-wide." - Mohammed H.
Learn directly from Rachel Chervin, former Development Department at Broadway Video (Saturday Night Live, Portlandia, Man Seeking Woman), Gersh Agency and Imagine Entertainment! A screenwriting journey of a thousand miles begins with a single page, to paraphrase an old saying. Well, more accurately, ten pages - that's the amount of space a typical writer has to grab the attention of the anonymous, overworked reader that picked their script off a pile for evaluation. If a writer's sample script is excellent enough, the pieces start to fall into place: an entire script read, the writer recommended, the agent's decision to represent, the long and fruitful thousand-mile career. None of it happens, though, if the script never makes it to the agent's desk. But who are these mysterious readers? Who decides which scripts go on to consideration or representation - and maybe one day fame and fortune - while others get a stone-cold pass? It's not exactly who you might think: 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. In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, host Rachel Chervin will bring you an insider's perspective on agency submissions and what you can do to maximize the impact of your writing on the unsung decision makers of Hollywood. Rachel will discuss fun and informative strategies for giving yourself the best chance possible to make a lasting impression on everyone who reads your script. There are so many ways that writers can take themselves out of the running with easily avoidable mistakes, but fortunately, there are just as many ways to stand out from the pack and deliver a calling card script that demands recognition. The key, besides great writing, is knowing the Gatekeepers' game plan - and then blowing it out of the water. Rachel Chervin has been on both the buying and selling sides of the business and has extensive experience with what industry executives are really looking for and the language they use to talk about scripts under consideration. She has worked in development for Broadway Video (Saturday Night Live, Portlandia, Man Seeking Woman) in both features and television, working to find and promote up-and-coming comedic voices in the industry. She has previously worked for several years at Imagine Entertainment and the Gersh Agency on several feature films including The Rite (2011) and Katy Perry: Part of Me (2012).
Low budget horror films have never been hotter or more in demand. Last year, The Hollywood Reporter stated that the horror genre was saving the film business and that low budget horror was helping to lead the charge. More and more companies are looking to follow the Blumhouse model of making horror films on the cheap and then raking it in at the box office and VOD. Even the streaming platforms have jumped in with both feet. But make no mistake, just because many of these production companies and filmmakers are keeping their costs down, they are not skimping on quality. Quite the opposite in fact. Horror film aficionados demand great stories, memorable characters and scares that are earned. They want fresh ideas, a unique vision, and an experience they can return to again and again. To stand out from the crowd, you need to be prepared not only to find or produce great material, but to understand how to navigate the landscape. More people produce and shoot horror than just about any other genre. And in such a crowded field, it can be hard to stand out. Go to any film market or horror trade show and you are instantly inundated with posters for dozens if not hundreds of horror features, short films, television shows and digital content looking for a home. After a while, everything seems to look the same. But there is a way to break out of that crowded field and assure that your work gets seen, bought, distributed and/or screened. And we have just the guy to show you how to get it done. Nick Phillips knows horror. In his 20 years in the business, Nick has worked, developed and produced films for Miramax and Sony Screen Gems. In 2012, Nick co-founded his own production company specializing in genre films, the Revolver Picture Company. Just some of the films Nick has worked on include Scream, Halloween, Hellraiser, the Crow, Vacancy, Feast and The Roommate. Now, exclusively for Stage 32, Nick will share his knowledge on how to create terrifying films at not-so-terrifying costs. Films the industry wants to have a piece of and horror fans won't be able to get enough of. Nick will start by teaching you one of the most common failings of producers and filmmakers within the horror space, namely what you should look for in a horror script. From there, he will talk development and the production process during this all important period of the project's evolution. Nick will show you how to stretch your budget dollar, by minimizing locations (but maximizing how you use them), making the right hires, keeping the shoot moving and staying on schedule. He will teach you his tricks on working with actors during the most intense scenes and keeping them motivated. Speaking of actors, he will discuss whether name talent matters or whether choosing the best actor for the part is a better approach. He will show you how to get the best production value throughout the film. And everyone knows, a great horror movie demands a sequel! Nick will show you how to set yourself up so that your project is franchise ready. This is a fully comprehensive overview of how to immerse yourself in the horror genre as a producer and/or filmmaker. "I have no desire to work in any other genre outside of horror. I've been frustrated that my vision always seems to be too expensive for the money I have available. Thank you, Nick, for showing me the path to seeing my vision through while keeping my costs down. I'm inspired again!" Matt H. "There is nothing scary about this webinar. It's fantastic." Devon M. "Man, was this eye opening. I have seen the light and now know how to keep my costs in check. Let the blood flow!" - Francisco D. "My all female slasher grindhouse project is back on my production slate thanks to you, Nick. I don't know how that makes you feel, but I feel fantastic!" - Marissa G.