Barry Schkolnick is a long-time writer and producer in Hollywood who has written on over 20 procedural TV dramas including LAW & ORDER, UNFORGETTABLE, THE GUARDIAN, THE DIVISION, STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION, and IN JUSTICE. Barry also served as co-executive producer on USA Network’s IN PLAIN SIGHT and consulting producer for CBS’s Emmy-nominated and critically acclaimed THE GOOD WIFE. Barry’s work on LAW & ORDER was honored with a nomination for a Writer’s Guild of America award for Best Episode, Dramatic Series and a Silver Gavel Award from the American Bar Association. In addition, he was a member of the writing staff of LAW & ORDER’s Emmy and Peabody Award winning season. Barry has an incredibly deep experience in the world of procedural drama television and will be sharing what he knows exclusively with the Stage 32 community. Full Bio »
Serialized dramas produced in the streaming and premium cable spaces may be garnering more awards recognition and chatter on social media, but their often-ignored cousins – the procedural dramas that present closed-ended stories within each episode – should not be underestimated. Procedurals continue to not only draw huge crowds, but can stay on the air for many more seasons than their streaming counterparts (can you believe GREY’S ANATOMY has had 17 seasons??). Current ratings for shows like CBS’s EQUALIZER, FOX’s 9-1-1 and NBC’s CHICAGO P.D., CHICAGO FIRE and CHICAGO MED demonstrate just how wildly successful procedural dramas continue to be. The fact is writing and producing the successful procedural remains a highly marketable skill that can offer longevity to a writer's career, though it requires both technical knowledge and an understanding of the current marketplace for these enduring shows.
For something that seemingly sticks closely to a formula, the professional TV procedural script can be deceptively hard to write, and there is little if any published literature addressing this subject. Over the years, many “rules” for writing the procedural or mystery have developed in rooms across Hollywood, and expectations for what such a script must include have grown. But how can up-and-coming writers or writers of other genres learn these rules? What actually constitutes an effective procedural pilot script and how can writers demonstrate this skill in order to find their way into a writers’ room?
Barry Schkolnick is a long-time writer and producer in Hollywood who has written on over 20 procedural TV dramas including LAW & ORDER, UNFORGETTABLE, THE GUARDIAN, THE DIVISION, STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION, and IN JUSTICE. Barry also served as co-executive producer on USA Network’s IN PLAIN SIGHT and consulting producer for CBS’s Emmy-nominated and critically acclaimed THE GOOD WIFE. Barry’s work on LAW & ORDER was honored with a nomination for a Writer’s Guild of America award for Best Episode, Dramatic Series and a Silver Gavel Award from the American Bar Association. In addition, he was a member of the writing staff of LAW & ORDER’s Emmy and Peabody Award winning season. Barry has an incredibly deep experience in the world of procedural drama television and will be sharing what he knows exclusively with the Stage 32 community.
Barry will walk you through procedural drama television, how it fits in to today’s market and to best write in this genre in order to break into the space and create compelling television. After breaking down the actual difference between serialized and procedural dramas, Barry will give an honest appraisal of the market today and the pros and cons of writing procedural television within it. He’ll walk you through the main types of procedural series currently on air and will then lay out some of the main elements any procedural pilot needs. He’ll provide tips and strategies to best write in this space, including choosing the right lead character, how to best outline, and what the Golden Rule of procedurals is.
Barry will conclude the webinar with a case study of the pilot script of THE GOOD WIFE, which he served as a consulting producer on. Using the lessons he taught, he’ll explain why this pilot was so successful and how you can use the script as inspiration for your own procedural project.
Praise for Barry's Stage 32 Webinar:
"Barry presented information that I needed to know whether I was aware of that or not before the webinar. I like that Barry used a script that was available to us ahead of time and knew where he was going to in that script to show us what he wanted us to learn. It was one of the best webinars I have taken."
- Bev I.
"Barry gave great examples to distinguish the different types of procedural drama from serialized drama. They were easy to understand especially since Barry focused in on the key elements of the procedural drama. I did like the fact that Barry broke the pilot into "chunks" and talked about each one separately."
- Susan S.
"Barry spoke very personally and also gave good examples and applied his experience to today. Also he was very focused on what to do to succeed but he also was honest that you have to love writing. He came across as smart and no nonsense but also very warm and kind, which seems like a great combination for a writer. Maybe that's why he has been so successful!"
- Deborah B.
"Barry was very likable, down to earth, forthright. I felt that he really cared about helping writers."
- Elise M.
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Unscripted (reality) television has burst onto cable and streaming platforms with a vengeance. In fact, reality seems to be everywhere these days with shows covering just about every subject imaginable. However, much has changed since the pioneers of reality TV came into people's living rooms (remember THE REAL WORLD and JOE MILLIONAIRE?). Gone are the days of simple formats allowing unfiltered access into the day to day lives of real people. Today, the networks and streamers are interested in shows providing a behind the curtain peak into all sorts of different subcultures. Mostly everyone can think of a time when they've thought "Wow, that would make a great reality TV" - But where do you start if you want to develop and pitch an unscripted show ? The challenges in developing unscripted/reality shows are lengthy. Unscripted shows don’t have scripts or actors, and they deal with real people and the personal conflicts they deal with in navigating their work and personal lives. And, just like networks and streaming platforms have mandates for scripted shows, they also have mandates for unscripted shows. So, how do you plan and develop the trajectory of a show if it's not scripted? If you have a great concept and cast, it's your job to function as a producer - read: therapist and gatekeeper - to prove that you can sustain the concept through multiple seasons. You have to make sure that you have a reliable cast that's on board with your vision. And you have to know how to sell that vision in a clear and winning fashion. This all begins by understanding what networks and the steaming platforms are looking for, who's programming what, what materials you will need to have in order to pitch, and how to put together a sizzle real and/or deck that rises above the rest. Catherine Keithley is the Vice President of Current and Development at Brian Graden Media. She produced Season 1 of INSTANT INFLUENCER with James Charles for YouTube Originals, Seasons 1 - 4 of ESCAPE THE NIGHT for YouTube Originals starring Joey Graceffa, the hour special also for YouTube Originals BAND TOGETHER WITH LOGIC and season 1 of MS. T'S MUSIC FACTORY for Lifetime. She's sold and developed a number of shows for BGM at various stages of development, casting, presentations, and pilots for networks like Lifetime, NBC, BET, POP, E!, Bravo, GSN, A&E, Fullscreen, & YouTube Originals. Catherine will teach you what makes a network interested in an unscripted show. You will learn how to pick "characters" that are watchable and whey they'd be attractive to a buyer. She'll go over the various genres that are produced for unscripted television and break them down by network. She will take you through what goes into development for each of the genres, including what materials you will need and what your sizzle needs to look like. She will even go into detail by network on who is buying what in unscripted - breaking down budget ranges so you're fully understanding on where your unscripted idea stands. Like what you heard from Catherine during this webcast? Send your concept to Catherine and speak with her for half-hour by clicking here. You will see what types of characters stand out to a network, what your pitch deck needs to look like and how you can hook someone immediately with your sizzle. Catherine will give you all the tools you need to make your unscripted pitch sing. "After working in unscripted selling to mostly all major networks, I'll help give you the insight into what it takes to pitch a winning unscripted idea that will get sold." - Catherine Keithley
In this challenge, you were asked to use The Breakdown Webcast: What the *&%$ is a Dramedy? as a guide to write a short scene (1-5 pages) that uses all of the principles discussed. Make sure to watch the Breakdown Webcast for those tips! You can find that by clicking here. We received some excellent submissions that all attempted to ride that fine line of truly being a "Dramedy."
We are turning the spotlight - and the microphones - back over to you during the Write Now Challenge webcast!In this challenge, you were asked to write a scene (3 pages) in which a character anticipates the arrival of one character, but instead, an unexpected visitor shows up, and that visitor is the absolute most wrong person. Your main character then needs to come up with a creative lie to get rid of the unexpected visitor. Ask yourself, why is that person the most wrong person in that moment? What tactics does he or she use to try and get rid of the unexpected visitor? How does the tension escalate between characters? How are you conveying the differences in the characters' voices in your writing?
4 part class taught by WGA Award-nominated writer John Shepherd, Director of Development at Cross Creek Pictures. AVAILABLE ON DEMAND! The first 10 pages and the last 10 pages of a script are the most important. Making an executive walk away from a read of your script with a powerful impression is crucial to getting your script made. The last pages of a script come with their own web of problems (how to tie everything together, how to complete a character's arc, how to create a powerful final image, etc.). Sometimes a time crunched executive will read the first and last 10 pages of a script before deciding to read the whole thing. A writer has to make sure that they "stick the landing." Stage 32 Happy Writers is excited to bring you the previously-recorded 4 part class: “Always Be Closing” - How to Write a Killer Final 10 Pages taught by John Shepherd, Director of Development at Cross Creek Pictures (Black Swan, The Woman In Black, Ides of March). Learn how to make your last act resonate for your characters, your audience, yourself and the executive reading it. Purchasing gives you access to the previously-recorded live class.Although John is no longer reviewing the assignments, we still encourage all listeners to participate!
Learn how to raise financing for your project by creating an Investor Kit to attract interested investors! 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 knowhow 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. 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 investors. 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 you 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, which are a valuable tool 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's Previous Stage 32 Teaching "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.
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! PRAISE FOR MIKE'S TEACHINGS ON STAGE 32: "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.