On Demand Webinar - For immediate download. Unlimited access for 1 year.
On Demand Webinar - For immediate download. Unlimited access for 1 year.
Lorien McKenna is a full-time screenwriter as well as co-host of the popular podcast THE SCREENWRITING LIFE with her writing partner Meg LeFauve (INSIDE OUT, CAPTAIN MARVEL). Lorien was a former Pixar story manager who worked on such features as UP, BRAVE, INSIDE OUT, and THE GOOD DINOSAUR and served as a producer for Paramount Animation, where she oversaw development for the animated hit WONDER PARK. Lorien and Meg sold their romantic comedy anthology, THIS THING CALLED LOVE, to Hulu with Dan Lin producing; as well as a half hour sitcom, POOG, to NBC and WBTV. Lorien also wrote HOW TO SET A FIRE AND WHY, based on the book of the same name by Jesse Ball, for Straight Up Films. Previously, she served as the Co-EP for Hulu's CURIOUS GEORGE series, and has developed projects for Disney Jr., Funko, and Netflix. Lorien has found her path and road to success through screenwriting, and has learned a slew of lessons along the way. Now she’s excited to share her perspective and advice with the Stage 32 community. Full Bio »
It’s the dream of many to have a career as a writer for TV or film, to be able to make a living creating worlds and telling stories. It is no doubt an exciting career, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. For as many people that find success in screenwriting, there are many others who don’t. This doesn’t just come down to talent, but also to a huge array of other aspects (not to mention a good amount of luck and circumstance). Ultimately if you want to write full time, it’s important not just to hone your writing skills, but also the skills needed to live a writer’s life.
It’s common for people to jump into the world of screenwriting and strive to write full time without really considering what goes into this lifestyle beyond simply writing. But the life of a screenwriter isn’t exactly straightforward or easy. Even the most successful and in-demand writers face unique challenges and difficulties. After all, you’re not just writing; you’re constantly finding new opportunities, you’re developing your craft, you’re building your brand, and balancing all of it with your own personal life. Though of course, along with these obstacles come incredible opportunities to create, to inspire others, and to contribute to today’s culture. So what does it actually mean to write full time, what does that life look like, and how can you best shape your career and your day-to-day to make the most out of your screenwriting profession? Let’s dig in.
Lorien McKenna is a full-time screenwriter as well as co-host of the popular podcast THE SCREENWRITING LIFE with her writing partner Meg LeFauve (INSIDE OUT, CAPTAIN MARVEL). Lorien was a former Pixar story manager who worked on such features as UP, BRAVE, INSIDE OUT, and THE GOOD DINOSAUR and served as a producer for Paramount Animation, where she oversaw development for the animated hit WONDER PARK. Lorien and Meg sold their romantic comedy anthology, THIS THING CALLED LOVE, to Hulu with Dan Lin producing; as well as a half hour sitcom, POOG, to NBC and WBTV. Lorien also wrote HOW TO SET A FIRE AND WHY, based on the book of the same name by Jesse Ball, for Straight Up Films. Previously, she served as the Co-EP for Hulu's CURIOUS GEORGE series, and has developed projects for Disney Jr., Funko, and Netflix. Lorien has found her path and road to success through screenwriting, and has learned a slew of lessons along the way. Now she’s excited to share her perspective and advice with the Stage 32 community.
Lorien will dig into what it actually means to be a full-time screenwriter and offer strategies and advice for those starting out to find their footing and create a long-lasting career. Lorien will describe what a day, month, and a year in the life of a full-time writer looks like and how she’s navigated successes and setbacks along the way. She’ll offer tips into how to make ends meet as you get started and when you might be able to give up the side job. She’ll speak to finding the writing/living balance so you can stay connected. Next Lorien will go into advice into how to get your actual writing done, day in and day out and how to improve and learn along the way. She will discuss what she has done to build her brand and reputation and why she hates networking. Finally, Lorien will share the five most surprising things she’s learned in her writing career.
Every person’s writing career is different, but Lorien will provide you with context, perspective and a collection of tools you can include in your own toolbox as you work to build your own path as a screenwriter.
Check out Lorien on her podcast THE SCREENWRITING LIFE!
Lorien McKenna (Judge & Mentor)
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Learn directly from Jen Grisanti, acclaimed Story/Career Consultant, Writing Instructor for Writers on the Verge at NBC, and a former 12-year studio executive, including VP of Current Programming at CBS/ Paramount and Spelling Television! Many writers wonder what it’s going to take to get them from being a non-working writer to a working writer. You’ve written great scripts. You’ve entered competitions and writing programs. You may have placed, been a finalist, or even won. However, you’re still waiting for your professional career to start. What is it that makes a TV pilot or screenplay hit it out of the ballpark and get sold? What can you do to your writing to make it more sellable? In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, your host Jen Grisanti will teach you the 7 Pillars of Story. What exactly is that? It's the fundamental story components necessary to take your script from good to great. Jen will teach you from the studio executive/analyst perspective how to see your story differently and identify what is currently missing in your script. Jen herself has gone through analyzing countless Oscar and Emmy award-winning scripts and has applied that to her writer's techniques. This has led to over 30 of her clients selling pilots, five of which went to series. After being mentored by Aaron Spelling for 12 years, Jen has emerged as a pro in breaking down story and helping you, as a writer, get the most out of your script. Plus, for Stage 32 members, she will provide case studies for you to learn from! She will be using examples from her clients’ work and how they successfully implemented the 7 pillars to get their scripts sold. Under the guidance of Jen, you will leave this webinar fully prepared to write a marketable story that can help you go from good to great and make the move from non-working to working writer!
For Hispanic Heritage Month (or Latinx Heritage Month), it's important to reflect on the contributions made by the Latinx community, consider the progress made and the work that still needs to be done to empower and raise up Latinx voices. This is especially true for the film and TV industry. Incredible work has been done in front of and behind the camera recently that showcases Latinx talent and culture, including films like COCO, ROMA and IN THE HEIGHTS and shows like VIDA, ON MY BLOCK, and more. And as the industry strives for more inclusiveness and equity, this is the time for more Latinx talent to share their voices and their stories around the world.But more than just celebrating accomplishments, it's important we take stock of where we are today. To continue creating change in the industry, we must review what representation exists and what is lacking, what is being made and watched, both in America and in Spanish-speaking countries, and how Latinx creatives can best find their foot in the door.Therefore, in honor of Latinx Heritage Month, Stage 32 has partnered with some of the industry's top leaders from both the U.S. and Latin markets who are dedicated to elevating the voices of the next generation of Latinos in entertainment. Together, we will be hosting a FREE no-holds-barred panel and discussion where our experts will discuss trends in the Spanish-speaking market, opportunities for bilingual content, language barriers in the U.S. and how to overcome them, and how to shorten your path to success.Plus we'll have an exclusive Q&A where YOU will have the opportunity to ask any questions you'd like.We'll see you there! Panelists Diego Cantu, Emmy Award Winning Screenwriter and Producer Guillermo Olivo, Director and Documentarian David Zannoni, International Business Specialist, Fintage House
There aren’t a lot of jobs more challenging than that of an independent producer, but there also might not be any job as rewarding. It’s the producer who turns a bunch of ideas and dreams into reality and a singular product that can be enjoyed by people all over the world. What can be better than essentially creating something out of nothing? From conception and pre-production through distribution and beyond, the producer is with the film from beginning to end, builds the team, and makes the decisions that ultimately make the project a failure or success. This role is an enigmatic one, though, since it covers so much. This can also make it feel difficult or overwhelming to break into. So how does someone actually start off a career in producing in the first place? There is no one correct way to become a successful producer, especially in the indie space. However there are three main paths that most working film producers have taken to get to where they are today: the executive path, the production path, and the independent path. Each path comes with its share of obstacles, but each can also provide the education, connections, and wherewithal to spark a successful career making movies. Better understanding how to find success through these tracks can help you turn your aspirations of becoming a working independent producer into a reality. Jim Young of Animus Films is a leading independent producer, with almost two dozen films under his belt. Jim has created a successful career producing true-story films such as THE CATCHER WAS A SPY with Paul Rudd, LIFE OF A KING with Oscar-winner Cuba Gooding Jr., THE MAN WHO KNEW INFINITY with Oscar-nominee Dev Patel, LOVELACE with Oscar-nominee James Franco and Amanda Seyfried, and the upcoming film, THE PEOPLE VS. VEGAS DAVE. Jim has a long history of producing critically acclaimed features and documentaries including YEAR OF THE BULL at Showtime, THE WORDS with Oscar-nominee Bradley Cooper and Zoe Saldana. Through years of successes and challenges, Jim has learned what it takes to be a working full-time producer and is excited to share what he knows with the Stage 32 community. Jim will explain what it means to be an independent producer and the three main paths you can take to become a full-time producer of your own. Jim will first talk about the main skill set and duties of an independent film producer and give you an honest explanation of what this job really looks like. Next he will explain cow you can start your career as a producer through the three most common career paths: the executive path, the physical production path, and the independent path. For each, Jim will talk about how to get your foot in the door and how best to use these opportunities to learn what you need to get yourself ready to become your own producer. Jim will then teach you how to find longevity as an independent producer and share with you some of the biggest lessons he’s learned through his career. If you’ve ever been interested in starting a career as an independent producer and making the types of films you’ve always been passionate about, Jim will give you the tools and tips you’ll need to make that actually happen. Want to work more closely with Jim? Send your script to Jim and speak with him for an hour by clicking here.
Every year tens of thousands of filmmakers go out to market or submit to festivals with the hope of getting their films distributed, only to learn that by not taking the proper steps to deliver a cleared film, they're dead in the water. In a recent survey in a popular filmmaking magazine, over 40% of filmmakers had never heard of clearances and 75% didn't know how to go about clearing their film. Managing clearances ahead of time can save you huge headaches down the road. Not only will you allow yourself the best chance to secure a sales agent and/or distribution for your film or project, but you will protect yourself legally! The last thing anyone wants after all the time and effort it takes to make a film is to find out it's being held up by expensive legal issues. The truth of the matter is, understanding and working through the issues associated with clearances is not as difficult as it sounds. It does however require knowledge, focus and discipline. It requires someone keeping an eye on the entire shoot and that begins with a script breakdown report and continues throughout production. To teach this all important webinar, we're bringing you two times the knowledge! First, Stephanie Weier is the CEO/Founder of The Domain Group. Holding a passion for filmmaking, branding and legal compliance, Stephanie has worked on building The Domain Group to be a leader in the industry with 20 years of service working for studios, indie producers, game companies, web content and commercials. Founding the company in 2001, Stephanie has lead The Domain Group to having completed over 1000 films in 15 years. She holds a EJD in Contract and IP Law from Concord Law University. Lori Dalton is the President of The Domain Group and is one of the most comprehensive and detailed clearance analysts in the industry. Her project management ability has helped position The Domain Group as both a clearance house and branding company. Combined, Stephanie and Lori have over 40 years of experience. Their company has over 1,000 credits including Happy Death Day, Breaking Bad, Crazy, Stupid, Love (Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, Steve Carell), Blue Valentine (Ryan gosling, Michelle Williams) Edge of Darkness (Mel Gibson) Gimmie Shelter (Vanessa hudgens) and Ray (Jamie Foxx, Kerry Washington) to name a few! Together, Stephanie and Lori will lead you through the land of clearances, so you can concentrate on making the film you want to make without worry! Stephanie and Lori will teach you how to make sure your delivered project is a rockstar with distributors, and why a little more work in this area during pre-production and production can save you lots of time and money down the road. They'll start by showing you the details of a script breakdown report and explain why you need to have one. Then, they'll dive into the world of clearances, big and small so you know exactly how to handle each situation. On the fence about what to clear? They'll explain what you need to clear and what to leave alone. They'll explain what to do if your clearance request is denied. They'll also explain the all important difference between featured use and background use and why the distinction matters more than you think. They will break down title reports and copyright reports and discuss trademark law. And, most importantly, they will show you exactly what you need to do to protect yourself in case you are challenged legally in any way. Don't overlook this all important aspect of the filmmaking and producing process! Lori and Stephanie will have you navigating the world of clearances like a pro and assuring you're protected from the start of pre-production. Praise for Stephanie and Laurie "These women rock!" - Laurie T. "A masterclass. So, so, good!" - Monica H. "This is one of those subjects that prevented me from moving from screenwriting to making my own films. I always worried that I would do something wrong and get sued. No longer. Fantastic information delivered in a fun way." - Michael E. "I had no idea. I should have, but I didn't. Now I do. This was a fantastic webinar on a subject every filmmaker and producer - and probably writer - should understand." - Gary G.
In today’s marketplace, not only are more and more films are becoming female focused, but the demand for screenplays and films with female driven lead characters is growing rapidly. With the success of blockbusters such as WONDER WOMAN, ATOMIC BLONDE, RED SPARROW, ALIEN: COVENANT and TERMINATOR: DARK FATE, the box office is proving that not only is there an appetite for female-starring films, but also that they can be profitable. Everyone is looking for the next original idea with a female lead that can be turned into a franchise. There are many misconceptions and challenges that writers fall into when it comes to creating female characters for a large, global audience. The most common is the gender flip, which is taking a male character and write it as a female. It’s examples such as this that are most often believed to be the correct approach to creating a female character in a male driven genre when in fact it’s the opposite. This webinar will provide these kind of examples and explain where the mistakes lie, how to correct them and the importance of creating authentic female characters. Aimee Rivera is the development executive at Skydance Media. Skydance produces blockbuster films such as TOP GUN: MAVERICK, Netflix's 6 UNDERGROUND, directed by Michael Bay and starring Ryan Reynolds, ANNIHILATION, MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: FALLOUT, TERMINATOR: DARK FATE, and WORLD WAR Z. Aimee is focused on finding female driven blockbusters and franchises for Skydance's upcoming slate. Aimee will go over how the #MeToo movement has changed the way female characters are written and an overview on how female leads in today's world have evolved. She will get break down WONDER WOMAN, ATOMIC BLONDE, RED SPARROW, THE HUNGER GAMES, TERMINATOR: DARK FATE, and ALIEN: COVENANT and look at the differences between these female characters and compare them to male franchise characters in films such as MISSION IMPOSSIBLE, JASON BOURNE and JAMES BOND. She'll teach you what makes a great character, what are the tropes and common misconceptions and break down the types of female characters you can write. She will discuss writing characters in male driven genres for today's market including whether there are boundaries you must be aware of when writing female characters, what the modern female character looks like in today's filmmaking world, whether male writers can write female characters, and what today's audience looks and connects with as it relates to strong, but flawed, female leads. Aimee will also get into her ultimate tips on writing female characters - not only in male-driven genres, but also in a post #MeToo world. She'll even share some writing exercises to assure that your female characters JUMP off the page. This is an opportunity to develop, hone and, ultimately, write female characters that not only will attract representation, producers and financiers, but to make sure your script is as market ready (and perhaps, franchise ready) as possible. Praise for Aimee's Stage 32 Webinar: The webinar was great and so was Aimee! She's extremely knowledgeable about the movie industry and writing screenplays and provided excellent examples of strong female characters in action movies. -Lyle D. This was great - a lot of information talked about very succinctly, with tips and discussions on the different facets and difficulties that can present themselves. Very enjoyable! -Dawn P. A great theme about female characters. Needed this very for my story. I like the simplicity of the elements taught with the details of what's needed for films nowadays. -Mary M.
Learn how to pitch your family film or TV project from a former Nickelodeon executive. Includes a case study from a real pitch deck for a produced family film. More studios, networks, streamers and production companies than ever before are looking for content that appeals to all ages. This means opportunities are plentiful for the creator who understands how to put together, pitch, and sell this family friendly genre. More than other genres, family content comes with strict mandates and specific audience demos, each with their own unique profiles and specifications. Projects that can’t easily align or fit into these already defined sections have a much harder time selling. In order to put your best foot forward and get executives to notice your family-friendly film or series, you first need to understand how the industry works and how best to adjust your project and your pitch. 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. Exclusively for Stage 32, Mike walks you through how to approach developing, pitching and selling your own family friendly series or film. He’ll lay out the different demos and what kind of content studios, networks and streamers are embracing. He’ll also point to where family content may be headed in the future. Mike will then teach you how to get your own family film or series market ready by defining your own demo, deciding if it’s better as a film or series, making your characters family-friendly, and developing necessary partnerships along the way. Next he will discuss how to get your project in front of the right studio, network or production company and how to determine which one is the right fit for your project. He’ll also speak to whether you need a manager or agent. Mike will then go through how to best pitch your family project, the documents you should have, how to pitch, and what goes into your pitch deck. Mike will even share a real pitch deck for a family film he went out to pitch and explain why he made the choices he did in assembling it.