The Keys to Writing True Stories, Biopics, and Adaptations

An In-Depth Primer
Hosted by Tyler Ruggeri

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On Demand Webinar - For immediate download. Unlimited access for 1 year.

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Tyler Ruggeri

Webinar hosted by: Tyler Ruggeri

Writer/Story Consultant

About Your Instructor, Tyler Ruggeri: Tyler Ruggeri is a writer with over a decade of experience on both sides of the entertainment industry. His original screenplay The Making Of Rock Hudson sold to veteran producers Celine Rattray (The Kids Are Alright, Bernie) and Trudie Styler (Moon) of Maven Pictures. He is currently adapting a critically acclaimed non-fiction book and writing an original action drama. Prior to his writing career, Tyler was a talent manager at Exile Entertainment, where he represented screenwriters and directors while developing the company’s slate of projects. He signed emerging filmmakers including Lee Patterson (Nicholl Fellowship winner for Snatched) and Damien Chazelle, whose film Whiplash was nominated for five Academy Awards (including Best Adapted Screenplay) and won three, as well as the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival. In addition to Whiplash, scripts he developed with clients have sold to A-list producers/financiers, appeared on the annual Black List, and garnered industry attention and assignments from major studios. Apart from screenwriting, Tyler has written advertising and web content for companies such as Baseline, AwesomenessTV, and Tool of North America. He has also served as a development consultant for independent shorts and features. His expertise ranges from story analysis and adaptation to rights issues and Writers Guild arbitrations, with a focus on shaping both the project itself and the writer's individual voice. Tyler is a graduate of Emerson College and began his career in the development/acquisitions department of Focus Features, following dual internships at DreamWorks and Warner Bros. Pictures. Full Bio »

Learn directly from Tyler Ruggeri, a screenwriter and former manager with a decade of experience on both sides of the film industry!

Since its inception, Hollywood has made films about or inspired by real people and events. In recent years, the "biopic" has become one of the most prestigious and in-demand genres, and six of the nine 2014 Best Picture nominees are based in reality. Compelling true stories are constantly sought after and frequently top The Black List.

From CAPOTE to MILK to THE SOCIAL NETWORK to LINCOLN to THE WOLF OF WALL STREET to 12 YEARS A SLAVE, we'll discuss what makes fact-based films viable today, and more importantly how to separate yours from the rest of the pack. This involves shaping the facts of your story into a fictional narrative that supports your unique point of view.

We'll also explore the specific steps involved, such as research, story structure, legal issues, and the best way to position your project in a competitive market. While parts of certain films will be mentioned in detail, only a familiarity with the genre is necessary - we won't be studying examples from beginning to end.

This overview will serve as an in-depth primer not just for biopic writers, but for all writers to discover stories that can excite and move today's audiences.


What You'll Learn:

Just SOME of What Tyler Covers:

  • Selecting material - how to find the right story to tell
  • Writing an original screenplay vs. an adaptation
  • How to tell your version of the story - shaping your perspective of real people/events
  • Creating character arcs - is it better to tell the whole story or just one part of it?
  • Uncovering themes - how to write specific characters for a broad audience
  • The greater "truth" - joining fact and fiction
  • When (and how) to take dramatic license
  • Public vs. private figures - when do you need book/life rights? What about stories inspired by but not based on reality?
  • Research - getting to know the world of your story
  • When to begin writing - how to condense your notes and shape the first draft
  • Exploring true stories in the marketplace - prestige value vs. box office
  • Setting up a biopic - how to attach talent that can get your project made
  • Recorded, in-depth Q&A - Hear an industry expert answer writer's questions!

About Your Instructor:

About Your Instructor, Tyler Ruggeri:

Tyler Ruggeri is a writer with over a decade of experience on both sides of the entertainment industry. His original screenplay The Making Of Rock Hudson sold to veteran producers Celine Rattray (The Kids Are Alright, Bernie) and Trudie Styler (Moon) of Maven Pictures. He is currently adapting a critically acclaimed non-fiction book and writing an original action drama.

Prior to his writing career, Tyler was a talent manager at Exile Entertainment, where he represented screenwriters and directors while developing the company’s slate of projects. He signed emerging filmmakers including Lee Patterson (Nicholl Fellowship winner for Snatched) and Damien Chazelle, whose film Whiplash was nominated for five Academy Awards (including Best Adapted Screenplay) and won three, as well as the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival. In addition to Whiplash, scripts he developed with clients have sold to A-list producers/financiers, appeared on the annual Black List, and garnered industry attention and assignments from major studios.

Apart from screenwriting, Tyler has written advertising and web content for companies such as Baseline, AwesomenessTV, and Tool of North America. He has also served as a development consultant for independent shorts and features. His expertise ranges from story analysis and adaptation to rights issues and Writers Guild arbitrations, with a focus on shaping both the project itself and the writer's individual voice.

Tyler is a graduate of Emerson College and began his career in the development/acquisitions department of Focus Features, following dual internships at DreamWorks and Warner Bros. Pictures.


Frequently Asked Questions:

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! 

Questions?

If you have a generic question about Stage 32 education you can take a look at our frequently asked questions section on our help page, or feel free to contact support with any other inquiries you might have.
 

Reviews Average Rating: 4.5 out of 5

  • Top notch webinar! To the point and very clear. Wide range covered. A++!
  • Tyler's range of film industry shows to great advantage hosting the True Stories, Biopics and Adaptations webinar. His explanations were perceptive and clear. Thanks for a good learning experience, Tyler.
  • Tyler was clear, concise and practical. He dropped nuggets of information that were solid gold. I used some of his tips almost immediately. Thanks Stage32 Team -- you rock!!

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Class Breakdown: Session 1: Introduction and Instruction on Sequence Work backwards to create a tight chain of cause and effect Separate the necessary from the unnecessary Find the spine of your story, unencumbered by unnecessary detail Get the big picture working, then gradually develop the details Apply reverse cause and effect (Sequence) to the overall story for the practice script Session 2: Instruction on Proposition, Plot Build the core conflict and get the audience on the edge of their seat This works in any genre Test for power and amplify conflict where needed Set up a potential fight and touch off a fight to the finish Apply Proposition, Plot to the overall story for the practice script Session 3: Dramatic Action Create continuous, coherent, compelling dramatic action Work from the macro down to the micro Gradually develop and weave in detail as it becomes necessary Break the overall story down into acts Apply Sequence, Proposition, Plot to Act I of the practice script Session 4: Writer’s Objective vs. Protagonist’s Objective Learn the difference between the writer’s objective and the protagonist’s objective Create structural unity, with each part serving the whole A sense of proportion orients you in the proper use of this tool Find the holes in your story and create solutions as you flesh the story in Do Sequence, Proposition, Plot for Act II of the practice script Session 5: Cause and Effect Find the cause of an effect, not what came before it If the big picture doesn’t work then the details do not matter An argument actually consist of two opposing arguments Do Sequence, Proposition, Plot for Act III of the practice script Session 6: The Central Dramatic Question Going on the offensive—a declaration of war The central dramatic question does not occur in the middle of the script Break each act down into sequences Apply Sequence, Proposition, Plot to Act I, Sequence 1 in the practice script Session 7: Create Order From Chaos Chaos is crucial to story creation. Order is crucial to plot construction Learn to stay on track with reverse cause and effect, and not follow false trails Know that your storytelling has to be top notch because well-structured crap is still crap Apply Sequence, Proposition, Plot to Act I, Sequence 2 in the practice script Session 8: How To Engineer Your Script Before You Start Writing Engineer your screenplay before you write it and save many rewrites Attack the audience Be the master of the tools, not their servant Break down sequences into scenes Apply Sequence, Proposition, Plot to Sequence 1, Scene 1 in the practice script Session 9: Work On Practice Script Total work session using Sequence, Proposition, Plot on the practice script Apply Sequence, Proposition, Plot to Sequence 1, Scene 2 in the practice script Then write the dialog for that scene Apply Sequence, Proposition, Plot to Sequence 1, Scene 3 in the practice script Then write the dialog for that scene Session 10: Wrap Up Total work session using Sequence, Proposition, Plot on the practice script Apply Sequence, Proposition, Plot to Sequence 2, Scene 1 in the practice script Then write the dialog for that scene Apply Sequence, Proposition, Plot to Sequence 2, Scene 2 in the practice script Then write the dialog for that scene Keep going until we drop About The Instructor, Jeff Kitchen: Jeff Kitchen has been one of the top screenwriting teachers in the film industry for twenty years, and is a sought-after script consultant. He worked as a dramaturg and taught playwriting in New York theater, and is the author of Writing a Great Movie: Key Tools for Successful Screenwriting. Jeff has taught development executives from all the major Hollywood studios and they consistently say that he teaches the most advanced development tools in the film industry. You can read more about him on his website: www.DevelopmentHeaven.com. Testimonials About Jeff Kitchen: “I've worked with Jeff one-on-one for many of my projects. His tools and insights push me to explore the material in a deeper way — and find the dramatic core of the situation. I know he's made me a better writer and made my process more organized and more effective. I highly recommend his book, his classes, and his personal attention.” - Jessica Sharzer - Writer/Producer - American Horror Story “Jeff Kitchen’s writing techniques and teaching have been invaluable tools in my own creative work. His attention to character, process, and form have informed all of my work and will continue to do so. I start every script with the simple question that Jeff asks daily, “What do you want to leave the audience with?” The question and Jeff’s teaching form the foundation for compelling, honest work.” - Ted Melfi - Writer/Director - St. Vincent “Your seminar for Development Executives was by far the best seminar I have ever taken. I have found the tools you discussed to be very instrumental in my analysis of scripts on a day to day basis. Your class is the most comprehensive one offered as far as making people understand how to apply the tools and make them work. This was one class that I can honestly say has helped me to become a stronger executive. I am very grateful to you. I recommend your seminar to anyone in the entertainment industry who wants to know what it takes to make a strong script.” - Jen Grisanti - Story/Career Consultant at Jen Grisanti Consultancy Inc.; Writing Instructor for NBC’s Writers on the Verge; former 12-year studio executive “I found your class to be user-friendly and very informative. I especially enjoyed your technique of working backwards from the climax--it really helps to streamline a screenplay and strengthen the throughline. I highly recommend this class to screenwriters of all levels of proficiency.” - Debra Meringa - Sony Pictures “Having taken virtually every screenwriting course in existence, I found Jeff Kitchen's workshop to be the most valuable in town. His techniques and tools guide one through the entire process of screenwriting: from basic concept to general script structure and further down to the scene level. Jeff is a master teacher who truly understands the art and technique of the screenplay. His course is worth its weight in gold.” - Chris Brancato - Writer - Hannibal, Law & Order: Criminal Intent “From within the swarm of gimmicky screenwriting seminars and trendy new how-to's, it is Jeff Kitchen's approach, relying heavily on the classic principles of dramatic structure and logic that emerges as truly innovative. His technique is the answer for anyone seeking practical tools with which to diagnose script problems, generate effective solutions, or transform story ideas into compelling drama. Jeff's seminars are aggressive; they are work sessions that produce real results immediately. Come with your sleeves rolled up”. - Erin Quigley - Producer, Development Exec., 23 Red Prods. “Jeff Kitchen’s technique and his dedication to the art of screenwriting taught me writing skills that took my script to a whole new level. I’ve never seen anything like what he teaches, and it works better than anything out there. After taking his course I got top representation and sold a script to New Line Cinema.” - Sam Brown, Screenwriter “I recently attended Jeffrey Kitchen's screenwriting seminar and cannot praise it too highly. He is one of the best teachers I've ever had. His attributes are that rare to find. First, he is clear and concise and is a master of the techniques he teaches. Secondly, he has infinite patience and instinctive generosity so that everyone feels that their project is worthwhile, even as he uncovers its flaws. The technique he teaches is truly extraordinary and Jeffrey, it turns out, may be the only person in the world using it in this particular way. I have taken other screenwriting courses and his is head and shoulders above them all. As a result of Jeffrey's course I feel much more secure in my writing. I finally feel that my script will have the best possible structure.” - Mira Tweti, Screenwriter “Jeff Kitchen teaches the most powerful and practical screenwriting tools in the business. I’ve studied numerous techniques, but Jeff is the first person I’ve met who presents a fully developed craft that screenwriters can actually use. His expertise unlocked, energized, and structured a script that I was completely stumped on and now a major studio is considering it for an A-list actress.” - Jon Van Dyke, Writer-Director “Years ago, I was fortunate to begin my ongoing training with the generation of masters that first wrote for stage, then live television, and then film. Jeffrey is one of the few contemporary writer-teachers with a grounding in those ageless techniques of good drama, a tradition rarely passed to current generations.” - George Higginson, Screenwriter “Jeff Kitchen is the best screenwriting teacher in the world.” - Tom Huckabee, Executive Producer, Frailty   To read Jeff Kitchen's book, Writing a Great Movie: Key Tools for Successful Screenwriting click here!