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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Do you see all types of movies getting made and wonder what you need to do to get your film financed? One of the biggest challenges that you face as a filmmaker is finding real financiers and actually raising the funds to produce your movie. Team building and your presentation is key to attracting both creative and finance partners to your film. Since you are the biggest cheerleader for your project, you need to have the answers to the key questions and steps before you engage. What makes your project attractive? What partners do you need and how do you find them? What exact steps do you take to get your film financed? We’ll discuss all of this to get you ready to start attracting film investors. We will set you up for success. In order to produce a film that actually gets made requires work, research, and a targeted plan of attack. It requires a full understanding of the financial prospects of your project, the marketplace, and potential distribution and recoupment strategies. You also need to present yourself as the kind of partner others are looking for. How you show up is also a key to attracting investors and could be the difference between a successful pitch and one that fails. You have to come with the willingness to listen, learn and collaborate and be nimble enough to pivot when needed. Let’s dive in together and tackle the strategy and art of successfully attracting investors to get your movie financed and made.
Ever since Georges Méliès’ iconic LE VOYAGE DANS LA LUNE came out in 1902, science fiction has had an indelible mark on pop culture and has become a multi-billion dollar industry, evidenced by such popular recent projects as THE MIDNIGHT SKY, TENET, DEVS and BLACK MIRROR. Science fiction doesn’t just offer escapism, but also a unique lens through which to see our own lives and world. As a result, audiences are always going to have an appetite for this type of content, and sci-fi stories and scripts will continue to be discovered, picked up, and produced. If you are a sci-fi writer, there is always opportunity for your work to find success. First, it’s important that it’s what people are actually looking for. Almost everyone is a fan of science fiction in some form or fashion, but we can all attest to the fact that not all of the sci-fi content out there today is exactly good. So what is it actually that separates good sci-fi writing from the bad? And what can you do to not only elevate your own science fiction writing, but find the best medium or platform for it to flourish? Good science fiction will always be a challenge to write, but it’s absolutely possible, especially with guidance from a practiced and proven sci-fi writer. Marc Scott Zicree has written and produced hundreds of hours of drama and science fiction TV for most of the major studios and networks, including Paramount, Universal, Disney, MGM, New Line, CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, Showtime, Syfy, and Marvel. He has written for such sci-fi classics as STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION, DEEP SPACE 9 and BABYLON 5, and his landmark book The Twilight Zone Companion has been credited with creating the modern genre of books on TV series and inspiring a generation of series creators and filmmakers, including J.J Abrams and Damon Lindelof. Marc’s most recent book was co-written with director Guillermo del Toro and debuted as the number one movie book on Amazon. Marc’s decades of writing in the sci-fi space has made him a foremost expert on the art form of science fiction writing, and he has brought his extensive knowledge to the Stage 32 community. Marc will give you the lessons and tools you need to know to deliver exceptional sci-fi writing for film, television and beyond. You will learn the tools necessary to apply to your writing that will help improve the essence and marketability of your sci fi script. Marc will even walk through how to build out your world and what to do continue finding stories in the universe you created. You will walk away with a clear path to identifying your story and incorporating elements to strengthen your characters, story and dialogue. Praise for Marc's Stage 32 Webinar "EXTREMELY USEFUL points!! Loved hearing stories about behind the scenes stuff on Star Trek and his take on why different films worked or didn't. Would love to have a beer with this guy!" -Karyn F. "Very interesting webinar Thanks!" -Ron H. "Very informative and inspiring - I learned a lot and also feel motivated to act upon the information I learned." -Nancy G. "Marc has always been an extremely generous, informative and entertaining mentor/instructor. This webinar is just one more example of that." -Matthew M.
Comes with invaluable handouts and downloads including example pitch documents, structure diagrams, and up-to-date information on production companies and studios to reach out to It is the Content Gold Rush for television and the industry needs television writers. Are you looking to be staffed on your favorite show? Are you looking to sell your TV project? Now is the time. But first, it's important that you understand the overall TV landscape, how you fit in, and where to begin. With so many fresh shows emerging on television and various streaming networks, more and more writers' rooms are looking to be staffed and original ideas are getting bought. The opportunity to start a career in TV writing is more attainable than ever. Literary manager Spencer Robinson can help you get there. Spencer is literary manager at one of the top management companies Art/Work Entertainment who has been selling and staffing his clients on the industry's leading series for years, including shows on Amazon, HBO Max and Jason Bateman's production company Aggregate just this year. He's also had clients work for Netflix, The CW, Cinemax, CBS, NBC, FX, Starz, Nickelodeon, EPIX, and TBS, to name a few. Spencer is one of the most sought-after literary managers in the business for nearly two decades and is one of Stage 32's most popular and in-demand educators. In this 3-week interactive class, Spencer will go in-depth on the steps you should be taking to find work as a writer in TV. Whether you're interested in selling your own TV show or film, or if you want to join a writers' room, there are specific steps you need to be taking aside from simply writing well, and Spencer will break it all down for you. Spencer will provide you with the proper approach when it comes to talking with reps, managers, agents, attorneys, showrunners and execs. What’s more, he’ll share his powerful pitching knowledge for writers looking to sell their show idea or screenplay. You’ll leave this four week class understanding what it takes to write on assignment, what kinds of written tools you should have prepared prior to meetings, and the general etiquette you should come to the table with so you can land a job as a writer in the industry. In this exclusive Stage 32 class you will be working with and interacting virtually with Spencer so bring your questions! Plus, he'll be available on email for any questions you have throughout the class! Plus! Along the way Spencer will provide exclusive and helpful downloads and resources you can take back to your own projects including: The real STRANGER THINGS pitch deck The real ADVENTURE TIME pitch deck Story Structure Diagrams Sitcom Chart 2021 Facts on Pacts TV "I had a great time learning and progressing my knowledge of the craft of writing and working directly with a mentor who is a professional in the industry. Spencer was fantastic to be taught by! Thank you!" - Natalie A.
Research is a component of almost any writing project-- often, a major component. It gives you the ability to write with authenticity, to better understand your characters, and to find story ideas you might not have otherwise considered. Yet research isn’t just useful for solo writers working on their feature or pilot. Research can make or break your pitch to an executive or allow you to stand out in a special way when trying to bring stakeholders on board. More so, research can help you stand out as a member of a TV writers’ room, building story arcs with your colleagues as part of a writing staff. In almost every situation, research can be a writer’s best friend, but only if you know what you’re doing when starting the research process. Not all research is made equal, and some forms of research will serve writers better than others. The internet makes a practically infinite range of material available to television and feature writers, on almost any subject imaginable. 'Doing research online' in a general way isn't enough. Every writer you're competing with for an open assignment, a staff job, or a slot on a development slate is also 'doing research online.' You need to figure out the most effective way to wield what you learn, which varies from situation to situation and project to project. So what's the best way to approach researching your project? Perhaps even more importantly, what are the most effective strategies for deploying the tool of research to further your writing career? Michael Sonnenschein is a long-time and practiced TV writer who has been staffed on shows like The CW’s 90210, NBC’s political conspiracy thriller CRISIS the original, and the groundbreaking syndicated comedy reality series BLIND DATE. Michael began his career as part of the Disney/ABC Television Fellowship after working as a freelance journalist and reporter for publications like the Village Voice, GQ, LA Weekly and elsewhere. He has also developed and sold several series and pilot pitches; current projects include an unannounced series at a streaming service adapting a novel set in the little-known violent aftermath of the American Revolution, a revisionist history of the Roman Empire, and a legal thriller set in Washington, DC. Michael has been able to sell his projects through his careful use of research and knows the steps to take to get research on your side. Using real Hollywood examples and projects from his own past, Michael will teach you the most effective research strategies for any project you’re working on. He will focus on the specific research processes for writing your own project, pitching to studios and execs, and serving on a TV writers room staff. He’ll also discuss how to make sure your research doesn't backfire and weigh down your pitch, bog down your story, or annoy your showrunner-- all of which happen more often than people realize. He will reveal unusual and little-known research sources that will yield material Google won't show you. He’ll also dive into how to gain research from the real world-- unconventional ways to find out about things, researching through experience, and how to get interview subjects to open up and give you the real stuff you need to tell the story you want to tell. "Every project I've sold, and every writing sample that's gotten me a job, has involved research, and I think that's the norm. But when writers treat research as a blunt instrument, it's often ineffective or even counter-productive. I'll share some specific tools and tactics I use in this underdiscussed part of being a working writer in Hollywood." -Michael Sonnenschein
Learn how to write a great horror script or improve one you've already written with the support and guidance of horror expert David Ian McKendry who's worked with Blumhouse, Universal, Fangoria and More! This class will fill up so register now! **Payment plans available - contact email@example.com for more info** From classics like PSYCHO and THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, to newer and highly acclaimed films like A QUIET PLACE, GET OUT, and US, there is a worldwide audience that loves a good scare! Horror is consistently one of the most popular and sellable genres. This is an exciting space to be in for a writer, because there are endless possibilities for storytelling and production. Yet not just any horror script is going to find success. Writing a great horror screenplay is surprisingly hard and requires the writer have a handle on many important elements. David Ian McKendry is a professional screenwriter and filmmaker who has worked for Blumhouse, Universal, Lifetime Networks, and The Hallmark Channel as well as numerous independent production companies. He began working in the entertainment industry for Fangoria Entertainment before later putting together his own horror films, including the recent ALL THE CREATURES WERE STIRRING, starring Constance Wu (CRAZY RICH ASIANS). He also produced the Nerdist's BLOOD AND GUTS with Scott Ian. Through his vast experience in the industry as well as writing, producing and directing horror films, David has a keen sense of what makes a script successful in the horror genre and will be sharing what he knows exclusively with the Stage 32 community. David is going to take you through the elements of any good horror screenplay and walk you through how to improve your own by focusing on characters, setting, and each act. In this exclusive 4-week virtual class you will: Have a virtual writers group that you will interact with under the guidance of David. Have David available on email in between classes to help you with any questions you have about your own projects. Learn all about story and building your iconic protagonist and villain. Learn to build a strong foundation in Act One and hook audiences in within the first few minutes. Learn Act Two and building out the story and your protagonist’s journey. Learn how to keep audiences guessing at your ending throughout Act Three and write mind-blowing endings. At the end of this class, you’ll be able to deliver a fresh scare with unforgettable characters. Case Studies & Script Downloads for This Class Include: HELLRAISER AMERICAN PSYCHO BLACK SWAN JENNIFER'S BODY SCREAM Praise for David's Previous Stage 32 Webinar "Excellent presentation, easy to follow examples, real advice, and I felt hope after listening and participating." -John M. "Such a fantastic deconstruction of the way to construct a horror story." -Shrader T. "David was really great and well-versed. He confirmed I was on the right path for some of my storytelling methods and I became aware of areas I need to work on." -John R. "David was extremely knowledgeable, well prepared, articulate and enthusiastic. His answered during the Q&A were honest and not sugar-coated yet supportive." -Margaret M.
During the December Pitch Tank, Director of Script Services Jason Mirch welcomes Literary Manager Jon Hersh of Housefire Management, a company that represents writers and directors in film, television, and digital content. They specialize in deep development, strong client relationships, and incendiary material that stands out like a house on fire. Jon's client list includes writers and filmmakers for film and TV including emerging writers with projects at Universal, Paramount, Lionsgate, Atlas Entertainment, and Gidden Media! Prior to forming Housefire, Jon was at CAA and Broad Green Pictures. He is a graduate of USC's School of Cinematic Arts. Jon and Jason listen to pitches from 4 members and offer their thoughts and feedback!