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.
Lorien McKenna (Judge & Mentor)
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.
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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!
Zero Gravity Management is a progressive entertainment company whose strength lies in the development and representation of screenwriters, directors, and actors. ZG Management maintains a list of some of the industry's most established professionals in all arenas.
We have found ourselves in an age of content overload. As audiences, everywhere we turn we are inundated with stories online, on screen, in podcasts and on the radio. And these are just the stories that make it to these platforms. Script readers and producers are going through much, much more, often reading hundreds of screenplays a month. And yet, with so much content out there, scripts still rise to the top. There is a reason why projects like FLEABAG, OZARK, PARASITE, and Jordan Peele's US cut through the noise, with or without big budgets or names. It’s not theme or content matter that achieves this; it’s authenticity. The industry is changing, but this simple truth never does. Executives, producers, studios, and audiences will always seek out authentic voices. The question, then, is what exactly is authenticity and how does it read on a page? Adding authenticity to your work is a lot harder than adding, say, character headings. It’s not a switch to turn on and it’s not something that can be easily engineered. Cultivating an authentic voice is a challenge every writer faces and takes years of honing your craft. However, there are things you can do right now to better zero in on your own voice and show it off to executives and other gatekeepers. Better understanding what authenticity looks like on a page, how executives identify it, and the steps writers with strong authentic voices take before approaching a script will give you the best possible chance of your project standing out, continuing into production and ultimately premiering to the masses. Sarah Cornelius serves as Creative and Production Executive at award-winning Whitewater Films, helmed by director-producer Rick Rosenthal (HALLOWEEN II, BAD BOYS, TRANSPARENT). This approach has resulted in Whitewater producing numerous notable films which have won Independent Spirit Awards, the Sundance Directing Award, a Primetime Emmy, as well as collecting nominations for an Oscar and the Sundance Grand Jury Prize. Whitewater has produced projects for Paramount Classics, Netflix, Showtime, IFC, Samual Goodwyn Films, The Orchard, CNN Films and more. Whitewater Films recently completed their feature STANDING UP, FALLING DOWN starring Billy Crystal & Ben Schwartz with first-time director Matt Ratner. Their film, THE LAST SHIFT premiered at Sundance 2020 with two time Oscar-nominee Richard Jenkins. In addition they produced FIRST GIRL I LOVED (Sundance winner), HALFWAY THERE (Sundance Episodic Showcase winner) and SMALL ENGINE REPAIR (SXSW premiere). Sarah has been involved with development on each of Whitewater's projects and has the ability to communicate conceptual notes in a direct and effective manner. Sarah will use her extensive experience evaluating scripts and discovering talent to delve into what goes into finding your authentic voice and how to bring it into your script. She’ll begin by discussing the main questions you should ask yourself before writing a script, including how to prevent writer’s block, how to anchor your concept, and the three ‘whys’ you must address before getting started. Sarah will then approach the concept of authenticity from the point of view of an executive, and what specific things they look at to identify a writer’s voice. She’ll speak to format and clarity, imagery and action, dialogue, point of view, and creativity and risk-taking. Sarah will even teach you how to retain your authenticity past the writing phase. She’ll discuss how to ask for and incorporate feedback while still holding on to your voice and how to pitch what you wrote with authentic confidence. Finding your own authentic voice is never easy, but Sarah will give you the tools you need to better understand how to bring your voice forward and hone in on it with more confidence. Plus, you will receive 10 downloads of notable screenplays that exhibit an authentic voice (and 2 downloads of scripts without an authentic voice) that Sarah will use to demonstrate how authenticity reads on the page: Jordan Peele's US CAPTAIN FANTASTIC THE SHAPE OF WATER PARASITE AMERICAN BEAUTY RESERVOIR DOGS WHIPLASH HARRIET TRAINSPOTTING APOCALYPSE NOW SHOWGIRLS CATWOMAN Praise for Sarah's Stage 32 Webinar "Sarah was incredible! Loved her teaching style and insight. Great webinar!" -David P. "Very informative, well worth it!" -Caroline B. "Great webinar - loved the use of scripts and clips. Wonderful speaker!" -Ron H. "Sarah Cornelius was wonderful. Time well spent today." -Brian B. Like what you heard from Sarah during this webcast? Send your script to Sarah and speak with her for a full hour by clicking here.
We take a look at how writers put together montages to explain complex plots in V for Vendetta, makeover a character in Crazy, Stupid Love, bring levity and character to the dark comedy of Groundhog Day, make working out interesting in Rocky, drive home a theme in The Godfather, and tell us an entire, moving prequel in Up.
To see a video sample of the class, see below! 4 part class taught by Nate Matteson, literary manager named one of “Hollywood's New Leaders” by Variety Magazine. No matter if you write comedy, drama, horror or sci fi, every page has to count. It's easy for an executive to get distracted or lose focus if a script doesn't have high enough stakes for the protagonist, and/or the antagonist and secondary characters. One of the biggest reasons for passing we hear from executives are lack of clear or tangible stakes. Learn what it takes to keep the stakes high and keep the executive reading! Stage 32 Happy Writers is excited to bring you the previously-recorded 4 part class:How to Keep the Stakes High in Your Script - Keeping An Executive and Audience Engaged taught by Nate Matteson, literary manager at Gotham Group. Learn straight from the source on what he teaches his clients to keep them working! Here's a sample of what to expect in this exciting Next Level Class: Purchasing gives you access to the previously-recorded live class.Although Nate is no longer reviewing the assignments, we still encourage all listeners to participate!
What's going on, Creative Army? It's been a moment since we last had the time to interact in a live setting. Let's remedy that with another AMA (Ask Me Anything), pre-Cannes style. We got together for another inspiring, motivating and energy-packed question and answer session. For 2 hours I left you with tips, tricks and actionable information to help you move forward with your 2019 (and beyond) goals. Remember, no matter what your discipline, skill level, geographical location, etc, this AMA is for ALL! As always, registering for my AMA is completely free. Spreading some positive vibes. Cheers! RB
Long-time family film and TV executives will teach you how to make your family project market-ready and get it sold. Comes with a case study of a real pitch deck for a produced family film If you’re interested in creating family friendly content for film or TV, you have come across a fantastic time to make something happen. Recent family films like THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN, A DOG’S JOURNEY and OVER THE MOON have been hugely popular, and often produced at a lower budget than their more adult competitors, whetting the appetite of studios to create more like these. And on the TV side, family series continue to be wildly successful as streamers and networks continue to seek out and new content and add to their slate. More studios, networks, streamers and production companies than ever before are looking for this type of all ages content, meaning the opportunities are plentiful if you understand how to best put together, pitch, and sell your project. 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. Perhaps more than other genres, family content comes with strict mandates as well as very 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 to time to sell. Additionally, each studio and network looks for something a little different when putting together their own slate. 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 will walk you through how to approach developing, pitching and selling your own family friendly series or film. He’ll explain what the state of family content looks like today, laying 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, going through the documents you should have, how to pitch and what should go 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.