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.
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 recording, which you can view as many times as you'd like for a whole year!
Reality television is more popular than ever as more networks and streamers are greenlighting more reality than any time in history. New shows like Netflix’s INDIAN MATCHMAKING and SELLING SUNSET are finding huge audiences while classics like MILLION DOLLAR LISTING and DEALIEST CATCH continue to find success and spinoffs years later. But it is hard – perhaps harder than ever - to lock in the right on-camera talent sell a new reality concept. The early steps of creating a reality TV concept and finding and locking in the right talent are critical – not just for selling a project but making sure it will work once you get a green light. Yet if you’re able to find the right talent, the right concept, and the right vehicle for your unscripted series, you may have just found a hit that will not only make it to series on a streamer or network, but thrive in today’s landscape for years to come. Creating the perfect new reality show often comes down to finding the right on-screen talent that will pop on camera and find an emotional connection with the millions watching at home. Yet it takes a delicate balance and lot of boxes that need to be checked in order to find this. It can also come down to how the directors and producers work with and treat the talent to ensure they come across well on screen. There are countless mistakes newcomers make when putting together their show, onboarding their talent, conducting interviews, and more, but avoiding the biggest mistakes and going in with a clear plan can make your show come to life and find success. Jim Milio is an Emmy nominated producer, director and writer of reality television with more than 30 years in the business. His credits include RESCUE 911 which ran for 7 seasons on CBS and starred William Shatner, DOG WHISPERER starring Cesar Millan, which ran for 9 seasons on National Geographic, TRUE DETECTIVES for CBS, DISCOVERY CHANNEL ECO-CHALLENGE for Discovery, ROSWELL: STARTLING NEW EVIDENCE for SyFy, and TAKEDOWN for TruTV, among many others. Milio is currently writing, directing and producing the new reality series OPERATION HIDDEN TREASURES that will air on Discovery later this year. Jim is also an author whose latest book Jim's Hollywood Finty Stones, describes how you can break into the industry, illuminated by true tales of his encounters with Alfred Hitchcock, Jimmy Stewart, Will Ferrell, Nia Vardalos, Liza Minelli, Robert DeNiro and dozens more. No one knows better than Jim how to find ordinary people and make a hit show with them, and he’s ready to share his secrets with you. Over an in-depth 90-minute presentation, Jim will break down how you can create and develop a successful reality show by finding and working with the right on-screen talent. To do so, Jim will explain the reality show landscape today to give you a sense of where you can fit in, before diving deep into how you’re able to find and lock in the right talent for your show. He’ll discuss critical aspects like getting rights, interviewing people the right way and what it looks like to build a series around an existing company or business. He’ll even give you tools on how to protect yourself and your talent along the way, so when a network or streamer says yes, you can be sure you’re not fired off your own project. If you have a great idea for a reality show or want to get into this lucrative business, it’s imperative you hear from an expert like Jim first.
The COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine have changed the film and television industry profoundly. Like it or not, we’re thinking about movies differently now, we’re making them differently, we’re selling them differently, and we’re watching them differently. Studios, buyers, and producers are keenly aware of this shift and are applying this to how they are choosing their next projects. As a writer, understanding how the industry is changing and what people are now looking for can make all the difference in being able to take the next steps in your career. With so many new obstacles and challenges now involved in making a film, producers have to weigh a lot more factors when choosing their next projects, including which movies will be safest to put together. Small details in scripts—scenes or moments that might have been no big deal to include as recently as a year ago—might now be all it takes for a producer or financier to reject. So how does production during COVID look like and how can you make your script work and come across as more attractive within these constraints? Let’s take a closer look. Multi Emmy Award-winning filmmaker and author Shane Stanley has worked in almost every capacity on and off the set with hit shows like ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT and SEINFELD and producing films like Sony Pictures’ GRIDIRON GANG a #1 box office hit starring Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. For three years, Shane was Vice President of Sheen/Michaels Entertainment where he produced several motion pictures starring Marlon Brando, Mira Sorvino, Thomas Hayden Church, Donald Sutherland, Marisa Tomei, Sean Penn, John Travolta, and Charlie and Martin Sheen. Shane continues to produce and direct independent films of all levels, including the action thriller BREAK EVEN and action comedy DOUBLE THREAT, currently in production. Shane recently released his book What You Don’t Learn In Film School, which covers filmmaking from concept to delivery and has already landed on required reading lists at several universities across the country. Shane continues to produce films during COVID and is well versed on what it takes to put a film together in this unique time. Shane will dive deep into how producers are operating in the time of COVID-19 and how you can make your script “COVID-friendly” and more attractive for producers to work on. He will begin by outlining how production has changed since COVID, including the biggest new hurdles, new guild requirements, and what’s keeping talent from signing on. He’ll explain what’s making movies more expensive to produce and what locations are now ideal or no longer easy to shoot in. He will next delve into what a COVID-friendly script looks like to a producer. He’ll talk about what kind of stories producers and buyers are seeking out, what red flags in your script will keep producers from signing on and how many characters are too many now. He will also discuss locations as well as the genres and themes that buyers are now gravitating towards. Shane will then discuss how to adjust your script to fit this new era, including deciding whether it’s worth adjusting or saving until things are safer and how to find compromise and middle ground when making changes. Finally, Shane will give you tips on how to get a producer on board during this time. This is a tricky time for everyone, but Shane will give you the lowdown to be smarter and more strategic in finding opportunities and success.
Robert McKee returns to Stage 32 with The Secret to Writing Compelling Characters - a rare online teaching appearance exclusive to Stage 32! Since 1984, more than 100,000 students have taken McKee’s courses in various cities around the world and now, exclusively for the 3rd time on Stage 32, Robert McKee is back and better than ever with a Masters of Craft webinar teaching you The Secret to Writing Compelling Characters. McKee’s former students include over 60 Academy Award Winners, 200 Emmy Award Winners, 1,000 Emmy Award Nominees, 100 WGA (Writers Guild of America) Award Winners, 250 WGA Award Nominees, 50 DGA (Directors Guild of America) Award Winners, and 100 DGA Award Nominees. In this exclusive Stage 32 Masters of Craft webinar, Robert McKee teaches the principles of character creation and dimension, characterization and the secret to writing complex protagonists, providing you the tools needed to construct compelling characters that will fascinate your audience. Robert McKee, a Fulbright Scholar and member of the Hollywood Hall of Fame, is the most sought after writing lecturer around the globe. He has dedicated the last 35 years to educating and mentoring screenwriters, novelists, playwrights, poets, documentary makers, producers, and directors internationally. Those who have learned from McKee have called him “the Aristotle of our time” (Quincy Jones, Ed Saxon, Steve Pressfield to name a few) because of his insight into the substance, structure, style, and principles of the grand art of story. Peter Jackson (writer/director THE LORD OF THE RINGS, THEY SHALL NOT GROW OLD) lauds him as “The Guru of Gurus.” For the creatives at Pixar (TOY STORY, FINDING NEMO, UP, INSIDE OUT), McKee’s Story Seminar is a rite of passage.
Sorry, this lab is fully sold out. Keep checking back for upcoming labs and other education! This continues to be an opportune moment for family film content to get picked up and produced. More studios, streamers and production companies than ever before are looking for all ages content, meaning the opportunities are plentiful if you understand how to best put together, pitch, and sell your project. If you have a family feature film you’ve been trying to get off the ground, now is the time to make this goal a reality. The opportunity is certainly prevalent for new family films and series to be sold and produced, but it will still be difficult to get your own project off the ground if you don’t understand how exactly your project can fit in. That’s why it’s critical you have a clear understanding of your project, your story, your world and your characters. It’s also why it’s important to understand what the industry looks like today and what buyers are specifically looking for. Beyond a great story and a great script, knowing how to communicate your project, pitch it to the right people and actually get it sold can make all the difference. If you can ace all of these elements, you may have just found your way in and the piece of material that will fire you off the launch pad. Let us give you the guidance to improve your family film project and get it market-ready Mike Sammaciccia is the founder and producer at Afterglow Pictures, which specializes in family friendly content and has over 15 projects in development, including a documentary and TV series with Will Smith's Westbrook Studios. Mike also produced the action thriller SURVIVE for Jeffrey Katzenberg, which starred GAME OF THRONE’s Sophie Turner and STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON’S Corey Hawkins. Before creating Afterglow Pictures, Mike served as Walden Media’s first creative executive, bringing in the book HOLES and serving as the executive in charge of production for the hit family film starring Shia Labeouf and Sigourney Weaver. He also served as Senior Vice President of live-action movies and series for Nickelodeon for many years, producing 4-5 live action and animated movies per year. This content consistently broke audience benchmarks and propelled the careers of many young stars. Mike has been at the forefront of family content—both film and television—for almost 20 years and knows better than most what it takes right now to get a family project off the ground. Over the course of four weeks, you will work closely with Mike in a virtual class setting to develop your family-friendly feature film, understand the market today, and build your film’s outline and pitch in order to work towards a market-ready and standout project. If you already have a concept, or even a completed script, Mike will use the same tools to help you hone your material. Throughout the course of this exclusive online lab, you will have direct access to Mike as a mentor by email and via video conferencing as you develop your family film project. WHAT TO EXPECT This lab is designed for writers and creators of all levels looking to write and put together their feature family film. This is an in-depth, practical, and detailed lab with significantly more content than a standard 90-minute webinar. By the end of this 4-week writing lab, you will have an outline and practiced pitch for your more market-ready and clearly developed feature family film Sessions will vary between 2-hour group settings and personal one-on-one Zoom meetings with Mike. You will be held accountable to take the lessons from each week and move your work forward. Plus, to keep you motivated and inspired, you will have access to a private, dedicated Stage 32 Lounge where you can communicate with your fellow classmates throughout the development process. To see the full writing lab schedule, see below under "What You Will Learn". PLEASE NOTE: This exclusive Stage 32 lab is limited to 8 writers and will be booked on a first come, first served basis. The opportunity to work this closely and for this long with a working executive and an expert in the field is an incredibly unique and valuable opportunity. If you are interested, please do book quickly. Once the spots are gone, they’re gone for good. Payment plans are available - please contact Harrison at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information
Jason Mirch interviews Alexia Melocchi, a producer and film executive with more than more than 25 films and series credits to her name! With more than twenty years in the industry, Alexia has worked in nearly every aspect of the entertainment industry. Working at Little Studio Films since 2000, Alexia serves as Partner and Producer, involved in all aspects of company operations, including distribution and co-production deals, managing production activities, and film and television marketing. Little Studio Films, created by Alexia and Alexandra Yacovlef, is a multilingual boutique consulting, distribution and production company with an extensive background in all areas of the Entertainment Business. It provides services to a variety of clients including producers, production companies, authors, screenwriters, directors, international distributors and Wall Street Companies.During the webcast, Alexia and Jason discuss her career, the state of the global markets, what types of scripts writers should be in the current market, how to find a producer and if the "dollar option" is really a good idea.
WEEK #1 – The Story of Me; Your Questions; Your Stories General class overview. Patrick's history and experiences. What Patrick loves writing about and why. What he looks for in a good story/screenplay. Any initial queries raised in the pre-class questionnaire. NOTE: Given the online format, Patrick will use this week’s “office hours” to more personally respond to/discuss the ideas you are contemplating working on during the Lab. WEEK #2 – Character Creating strong, unique memorable characters. How to have them best serve your story, the genre, themes, etc. Dialogue and voice. Patrick will cover some examples, including personal experience. WEEK #3 – Act I; Premise into Story How to make the leap from basic premise/concept and characters into a full-blooded story. Where to start. What to include in Act 1. Where does Act 1 end and Act 2 begin? Creating a world and setting a tone. Patrick will discuss examples of strong (attention-grabbing and/or smartly-chosen) and weak (meandering, overstuffed, unfocused, etc.) beginnings. WEEK #4 – The Story So Far (Consultation) No on-line class this week. Instead, you will submit premise, Character Bio(s), and Act I outline for review; Patrick will discuss the materials individually in 30 minute phone calls and advise any changes/concerns. WEEK #5 – Act II; Structure and Plotting Plotting and development of your story across Act 2. Examples of structure (midpoints, end of Act 2, Internal/external conflict, etc. WEEK #6 – Theme; What’s it All About? How to ensure that your script isn’t just an escalation of events, but is a rich narrative experience that is hopefully actually about something. Topics to include Theme, Topicality, Relatability, Universality. WEEK #7 – Act III; Sticking the Landing Why 'when and how' to achieve a strong finish is arguably one of the most difficult parts of writing a screenplay. Examples of scripts/films that have accomplished this, as well as those that have not (and why). WEEK #8 – The Completed Outline (Consultation) No on-line class this week. Instead, you will turn in your completed outline for review; Patrick will then discuss with you over a 30-minute consultation. The Objective of the Lab is: To take the mystery work out of picking a concept that can sell. To match you with an executive that will assist you with making sure all your script's elements is as strong as possible. Give you an experience on how development executives develop projects that are now on their company's slate.