Rebekah McKendry was the Editor-in-Chief for Blumhouse Productions as well as the Director of Marketing for Fangoria Entertainment. She is also currently a co-host of Blumhouse’s award-winning Shock Waves Podcast (along with Ryan Turek, Blumhouse's VP of Development) and host of Fangoria’s Nightmare University Podcast.She is an award-winning director, writer, and producer with a strong focus in the horror and science fiction genres and has a doctorate in Media Studies focused on the Horror Genre from Virginia Commonwealth University, an MA in Film Studies from City University of New York, and a second MA from Virginia Tech in Arts Education. Rebekah now serves as a professor in the renowned University of Southern California’s Cinematic Arts Department, specializing in directing and the horror genre. There are few people in the world who understand the world of horror filmmaking better than Rebekah, and she’s excited to share what she knows exclusively with the Stage 32 community. Full Bio »
The world of independent horror is like no other arena in the film industry. The appetite for new horror films is strong, consistent, and seemingly endless, as always-hungry audiences continue to seek out new titles. As a result, hundreds of horror films are made each year and the market itself is incredibly profitable. Yet in such a saturated market and with such a volume of horror films being released, it can be very hard to stand out. After all, out of hundreds of horror films, there are always only a couple BABADOOKs or GREEN ROOMs that have real staying power. A lot of people are able to work in the horror space, but staying in and thriving can be a lot more difficult. The challenge lies in figuring out what you can do to make your project and your work stand out.
The independent horror film industry can be a difficult world to navigate, fraught with unique challenges and hurdles. Rules and trends that apply to the film industry on a larger scale can often differ when zoomed into just horror. It’s important, then, for filmmakers interested in the independent horror space to understand this market specifically and better operate within it. How do you get meetings, get your work read, create a name for yourself, and get attention? How can you create projects and own your craft to continue to work within the constantly changing space of horror cinema? The horror world does have plenty of obstacles, but there are many steps you can take at any level of your career to get ahead of the curve.
Rebekah McKendry was the Editor-in-Chief for Blumhouse Productions as well as the Director of Marketing for Fangoria Entertainment. She is also currently a co-host of Blumhouse’s award-winning Shock Waves Podcast (along with Ryan Turek, Blumhouse's VP of Development) and host of Fangoria’s Nightmare University Podcast. Rebekah now serves as a professor in the renowned University of Southern California’s Cinematic Arts Department, specializing in directing and the horror genre. There are few people in the world who understand the world of horror filmmaking better than Rebekah, and she’s excited to share what she knows exclusively with the Stage 32 community.
Rebekah will explore how to understand trends and tastes in horror, changes in distribution models and budgets, and how you can prepare for a long career. She will begin with a brief history of independent horror cinema, focusing on how horror tastes have evolved, how the genre has developed, what sort of trends have been created, how distribution models have changed, and social issues and problems that have come along with it. She’ll then delve into the current horror film market. She’ll outline the key players who are producing notable horror films and discuss the successful budget ranges that we are seeing right now. Rebekah will go over the production models that are being used in the horror space, including the conventional “studio” model, as well as the Blumhouse model. Next she’ll get into the microbudget film, what that looks like and what you have to maintain for it to work. Rebekah will then talk about distribution and how to navigate this part of the industry. She’ll teach you about the contemporary trends in horror films, outlining what’s popular and why, and what might be coming in the future. She’ll discuss the specific need and push for diverse voices within this genre and speak to the opportunity for social awareness in these films. Next Rebekah will teach you how to thrive in the horror industry as a filmmaker. She’ll go over how to craft a project, how to generate hype and get exposure for it, how to navigate conventions and festivals and what you can do to help get your script read. You will leave this webinar with a firm handle on this unique and tricky subsection of the film industry.
Praise for Rebekah's Stage 32 Webinar
"This was awesome! Succinct but full of up-to-date information and very motivating. I love that she harped on "just make something!" So positive and supportive and I learned a lot!"
"This was amazing! I was hesitant about spending $50 on this but it was worth every penny!"
"I thought Rebekah had by FAR the best webinar I have seen yet. She has such passion and coveys it- and she obviously has been in the industry and around it in so many ways her whole career - fantastic!"
"This is exactly what I needed to see and hear, and Rebekah provided so much good information that I can apply to my projects."
Rebekah McKendry, PhD
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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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!
Many of us are familiar with the tropes made popular by screenplay gurus like Syd Field and Blake Snyder. Yes, it's true that many great films can be broken down into three clean acts or thirteen story beats. But the same can be said for many unwatchable films too. What are the elements that differentiate the great screenplays from the purely mediocre? In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, creative executive from Zucker Productions (director Jerry Zucker's production company), Farrell Ingle will define the importance of the ever imposing first act of a feature screenplay. He will show you how much of the groundwork for your story needs to be laid in the first act of your screenplay. If those early pages aren't up to snuff, the rest of your story will suffer, no matter how fantastic the ending is. Your host, Farrell will lay out the many pitfalls writers stumble into without necessarily realizing it while they craft the set-up of their story. Using examples of classic films, you will understand how top notch writing creates multitudes of subtext, character development, and plot advancement with each scene. We will also discuss what constitutes an "act" and why it's so very dangerous to hold yourself within the box of a rigid structure. By the end of this lecture, you should be able to go back through your own writing and break down each scene in your script to ensure that you're putting yourself in a position to succeed. After all, the first act is the most important act for readers and executives when evaluating your ability as a screenwriter. Plus, you will break down the first acts beats of well-known movie scripts as Farrell leads you through an in-depth analysis of films such as Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Professional, Die Hard and more!
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. Just ask almost anyone at any coffee shop. However the life of a writer, even the most successful, isn’t always easy. The career path is fraught, unpredictable, and inconsistent. Every writer breaks in (or doesn’t) in different ways, and as a result, there isn’t a singular roadmap for aspiring writers to find the success they’re looking for. That said, having a keen understanding of the industry you’re trying to break into and a wherewithal of potentially helpful steps on your journey is vital in finding your place and advancing in your career. The truth is there’s so much more that goes into being a writer than just writing. Creative chops alone won’t save you. You are creating art for a market and therefore need to understand how the market operates in order to work within it. And while every writer’s career is unique, there are still commonalities and patterns among them and mistakes many have made that you can avoid by learning from them. Lee Sternthal is a screenwriter, director and photographer who has written screenplays for every major studio, including TRON: LEGACY for Disney, as well as scripts for Johnny Depp, Mel Gibson and many others. His film, THE WORDS starring Bradley Cooper, Zoe Saldana and Jeremy Irons was an Official Sundance Film Festival selection and was later bought by CBS Films. Lee is a Sundance Institute Fellow, and his work has appeared on The Black List. Through his journey in this industry he has seen it all - the good, the bad and the ugly - and has come to Stage 32 exclusively to tell you about it. Lee will reflect on his own career as a writer, the mistakes he’s made and the successes he’s found, both in the indie space and the studio system, to give you the perspective, lessons learned, and strategies to better navigate your own writing career. He’ll begin by focusing on writers just starting out and will discuss whether new writers need a manager and whether they need an agent. He’ll then talk about the pros and cons of having a writing partner and what to expect if you join forces with someone else. He will discuss Sundance Film Festival and reveal what actually happens if your film gets accepted. Lee will also discuss the insider Hollywood script survey the Black List from and illustrate what happens when your script appears on this list. He’ll then delve into screenwriting services, how they can be helpful, and how they can be harmful. Next Lee will then share his own experiences, both writing for a studio for the Disney film TRON: LEGACY as well as writing for the independent project THE WORDS to give you a sense of what those experiences are like from the inside. He’ll discuss how to know how much you’re able to take on and how to grapple with the doubt and Imposters Syndrome that is incredibly common among writers starting to find success. He’ll then go over the best ways to continue to pay the bills as a new screenwriter. Finally, Lee will give you his insider knowledge of the industry, including how to understand who “The Players” are and how to navigate them, what “The Venues” are and how they operate and how to work different rooms. Praise for Lee’s Webinar: “It was great to hear about all of Lee’s different experiences. I feel like I have a better sense of what to expect and what to do moving forward to keep on writing!” -Dennis G. “Lee was great! This was such an interesting webinar!” -Betty H. “I’m so glad I saw this! Lee has so much knowledge to share.” -Terry C. “Lee definitely answered a lot of big questions I’ve been asking myself about getting into writing, and now I’m excited to take some next steps. Thanks!” -Gwen D.
Whether it’s epic battles between giant robots, a street fight, or someone chasing after the love of their life at the airport, the vast majority of movies and television use at least a bit of action writing. So we are challenged you to write an original or polish a scene with action, and really focus on making those moments of movement pop!
Over the course of an extended two-and-a-half hour webinar, learn drama pilot story structure from one of Stage 32's most popular and requested instructors Includes case studies, story maps and free script downloads of the pilot episodes of: SUCCESSION LUPIN* THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL THE EXPANSE It almost sounds cliché at this point, but we’re living in the Golden Age of Television, an era where TV dramas as diverse, ambitious, and creative as BETTER CALL SAUL, BRIDGERTON, THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT, I WILL DESTROY YOU, and MRS. AMERICA are not only put on air, but find an audience and gain serious popularity. This is in turn an era where networks and streamers are actually looking for new voices and new stories. More than ever before, there is a path for your own television drama to be discovered. Yet no matter how great your concept is, how strong your characters are, how diverse, clever or unique your world is, your drama series will not be effective and will not be successful unless you can nail your script’s structure. Nailing your TV drama’s story structure—specifically your pilot—is no easy task. In the span of just 40-60 pages, you have to introduce your world, your characters, your central plot and conflict, and your inciting incident, all while keeping your pacing consistent, finding some resolution for that episode, and allowing your audience to want to watch more. This is a complicated, and delicate game and ultimately comes down to how you structure and map out your script before you start writing. No matter what genre you’re writing in, understanding how to structure your pilot is vital. Gaining a clear grasp on how successful drama pilots are arranged and the rules they all follow is a necessary step if you want to have a show that will get picked up and ultimately connect with an audience. Anna Henry is a Producer and Development Executive who has worked at CBS, ABC, Nickelodeon, and multiple production companies, as well as a manager at Andrea Simon Entertainment. Her clients have worked on shows such as THE DEUCE, POWER, IN CONTEMPT, TOMMY, VIDA, SEVEN SECONDS, HUNG, CHICAGO FIRE, FEAR THE WALKING DEAD, THIS IS US, and THE FLASH, and have set up projects at AMC, Amazon, Starz, HBO, Sony, Fox, EOne, ITV America, OddLot Entertainment, Corus, and others. One of Stage 32’s most popular instructors of all time, Anna has projects currently in development around the world and is incredibly familiar with what goes into a great television pilot. Anna will go in-depth on how to properly structure your drama TV series pilot and will use real past pilot scripts as examples as she breaks down, act by act, the elements necessary to turn your series pilot into stand-out script. Anna will go over the main types of one-hour pilots and will outline the elements for pilot development, including story engine, world, characters, themes and tone. She’ll discuss how to select and map your own template show as well as incorporating multiple plotlines. Anna will then delve into the function and elements of your pilot’s teaser and Acts 1 through 5, as well as your pilot launch, pilot climax, and series launch. She will finally lay out the most common structure problems that you should avoid. Don’t even think about starting to write your own drama pilot until you gain the tools Anna will provide. Examples will be used from notable past one-hour drama pilots on network, cable, and streaming platforms. PLUS! you will receive pilot scripts and Anna's own story maps for each after the webinar: LUPIN* (Netflix) THE EXPANSE (Syfy) THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL (Amazon) SUCCESSION (HBO) *Pilot script not available for LUPIN Praise for Anna's Previous Stage 32 Webinar: This was my first Stage 32 webinar, and it exceeded my expectations, both in terms of quality (and quantity) of information and overall value. Anna was personable, knowledgeable, and organized. The slide deck was helpful, and her overall presentation hit all the key topics. Anna and Stage32 delivered the goods. - John R. What a thoughtful, thorough and inspiring webinar. It's clear that Anna Henry put an enormous amount of work into this presentation. Not only was the content there, but the structure was also superb. I feel educated and inspired to go back to my own work and do better than what I thought was my best. What could possibly be better than that! Thank you Anna for your genius and your generosity. - Crispin L. "Comprehensive, insightful. Combined a lot of material I had heard snippets of on character, world dev, etc. but artfully stitched together in one presentation." -James F. "It was amazing, enlightening - completely. I learned soooo much - especially as a feature writer who's been asked to turn a feature script into a pilot!! Thank you soooooo much." -Kristin G.
Part 1 - Writing, Budgeting & Pre-Production How to write an effective short script The brainstorming process Utilizing real life experiences, what are memorable moments in your life that stick out to you? Moments in a friend’s life? Creating characters: What topics do you uniquely understand? What jobs have you held? What did your parents do for a living? Where did you grow up? Writing in proper format What is the difference between writing “is working” and “works” in a screenplay and why does verbiage matter when writing action? Should I put my WGA and copyright notices on the title page? The business of making a short film What do I need to do to protect myself? Creating an LLC and lawyering up for the right reasons. How much is this really going to cost? Evaluating SAG Short Film Agreements, cost of renting equipment, everything from lighting to locations, and looking forward to release and distributions, what are the costs beyond the actual production of a film? Logistically, how will I be able to execute all the elements? How do I handle room and board for out of town talent? Is there a local film commission I can work with, and if so, what exactly is their role in helping me execute my vision? Part 2 - Directing, Marketing & Distributing Your Film Preparing to direct and the production process What do I need to do before I get to set? What is the purpose of having location walkthroughs? When and how to I make the shot list and how many shots do I really need? How do I make my vision clear to crewmembers while still being collaborative in the process? How do I work with an actor for the first time? How much say should they have in the script and changing the character? Should I allow an actor to change my lines? How do I follow their emotional journey over the course of shooting a film that is totally out of order so it makes sense in the final product? When problems arise on set, how do I respond? What are best practices to maintaining authority without creating conflict? How do I ensure that everyone is getting the proper attention they need so I can avoid problems? What happens if I find out we didn’t shoot something we needed? How do I work with footage or sound that didn’t come out the way I expected? How long should my final product be so I can be successful at film festivals? Marketing your film What can I do to promote my film before we ever start filming? When is the appropriate time to start promoting? What kind of promotion looks and feels professional versus amateur? Is there such a thing as oversharing information on social networks? During production, how can I use my cast and crew to promote the project? What parameters should I set to not give away plot points? What is the role of a still photographer on set and how can I leverage the still photographer for publicity? How do I reach out to press outlets to promote my film? How do I find out what press outlets are the right ones for my film, and how do I even get a journalist interested in covering it? What makes an effective versus ineffective pitch letter? Releasing your film What makes an effective trailer? How can I best prepare and present the trailer and still photos for promotional purposes? Should I create a Facebook page for my film and a website and a Twitter and an Instagram, etc.? How do I get into Sundance? If I don’t get into Sundance, is my career finished? There are entirely too many film festivals, how do I begin to figure out which ones are good and which ones are bad? What are effective ways of meeting, then following up, with producers and gatekeepers that I meet at these events? What kind of communication does an executive find annoying? Should I sell my film or give it away for free? If I give it away for free, how will I be able to pay myself back? How do I quantify if my film was a success? How do I use the short film to get myself ready for my next project? What if the film didn’t come out the way I wanted, am I completely done as a filmmaker? How do I use the lessons I learned to make my next project better? Now that I’ve made my first short film and loved it, how do I make this my full time job and become a professional filmmaker?
In this exclusive Stage 32 webinar, we will be focusing on how to take your script and simplify it, while keeping the elements of the script complex, so it's easy for the reader (an executive, producer, manager) - and ultimately the viewer - to be able to follow your story. Your instructor, Samm Haillay, has produced films which have red carpet premiered at Cannes, Sundance, Venice, Toronto and more! Samm will share a simple/complex theory which he had developed called “The Story Rainbow”, which will examine the relationship and interconnectivity between Story, Narrative and Plot. We will be focusing on how to keep your script simple - yet complex - rather than confusing and complex. Of course, structure is vital, but we’ll be weaving a “Story Rainbow” through the elements of your script. You will be given the tools to approach the development of your film from a different angle. Clearly, it's worked for Samm, having had such success with his films screening at some of the world's top festivals!