Joshua Todd James is a well-established screenwriter, playwright, and WGA member, who wrote the action feature POUND OF FLESH, starring Jean-Claude Van Damme and currently has multiple projects in development with action stars like Jean-Claude Van Damme, Scott Adkins, Alain Moussi, Tony Jaa, Michael Jai White and former UFC champion Micheal Bisping, among others. He also adapted Peter Biskind’s best selling book Down & Dirty Pictures into a feature screenplay and Matthew Polly’s New York Times bestseller American Shaolin into a television pilot. Joshua has spent much of his life writing and learning the art of action writing and is excited to share his experience with the Stage 32 community. Full Bio »
Have you ever sat through a movie that was filled with fights, car chases, gun battles, and explosions and yet it was all you could do to keep from falling asleep in spite of the noise? This is because good action movies aren’t just about kicks, punches, and car crashes. Celebrated recent action films like EXTRACTION or Mile 22 or classics like BOURNE IDENTITY and ENTER THE DRAGON pop off the screen because of strong writing that lends itself to the story. Action writing is an art. And to write it, you’ve got to understand how to make your story matter to the audience.
Action movies need to sustain the attention of viewers not just with suspense but with emotional appeal. It needs to have meaning. Explosive scenes are great, but action without a substantive story can only take you so far. Characters still need to have wants and desires, even if they’re armed and dangerous. The stakes need to be high and the flaws of each character apparent. If you are able to master this important balance of storytelling, your script will be a hit to those in the industry who are on the hunt for exciting action stories.
Joshua Todd James is a well-established screenwriter, playwright, and WGA member, who wrote the action feature POUND OF FLESH, starring Jean-Claude Van Damme and currently has multiple projects in development with action stars like Jean-Claude Van Damme, Scott Adkins, Alain Moussi, Tony Jaa, Michael Jai White and former UFC champion Micheal Bisping, among others. He also adapted Peter Biskind’s best selling book Down & Dirty Pictures into a feature screenplay and Matthew Polly’s New York Times bestseller American Shaolin into a television pilot. Joshua has spent much of his life writing and learning the art of action writing and is excited to share his experience with the Stage 32 community.
Joshua will teach you how to write effective action with meaning for your film or series. After discussing why action doesn’t always work on screen, he’ll break down what can make action effective. Joshua will dive deep into defining character objectives, establishing stakes and crafting identity in each scene. Joshua will also spend time focusing on the elements that action must reveal and walk you through the three primary revelations of story. You’ll walk away with the resources to improve your current script, or fire off a new one.
Joshua will be using the action classic THE BOURNE IDENTITY as a case study to illustrate the elements of effective action writing that he will lay out. Everyone who signs up for this webinar, will receive the BOURNE IDENTITY script for free.
Joshua Todd James
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In this Executive Hour we speak with screenwriter Lorien McKenna! Lorien is a former Pixar Story Manager who worked on such features as Oscar-winning UP, Oscar-winning BRAVE, Oscar-winning INSIDE OUT, and THE GOOD DINOSAUR. She also served as a producer for Paramount Animation where she oversaw development for WONDER PARK. Lorien, along with Oscar-nominated writer Meg LeFauve, 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. She is the co-host of the podcast The Screenwriting Life with fellow screenwriter Meg LeFauve. During the webcast, Lorien discusses her unusual career trajectory, working in the "Brain Turst" on Oscar-Winning animated films at Pixar, battling "Imposter Syndrome", tackling adaptations, writing for television vs. features, how hard it is to take notes even as an established writer, and much more!
Do you ever feel like your great ideas go unnoticed by producers, directors, agents, and managers alike, and that you don’t get the shot you're looking for as a result? This isn’t because these decisionmakers don’t care; it’s because the you may not have pitched or sold your ideas the right way. The reality is, successful screenwriters are as much storysellers as they are storytellers. Whether you like it or not, your primary goal as a writer must be to stand out in a sea of competing projects. The bottom line: Whether you're a screenwriter, filmmaker, producer, or any creative or industry professional looking to gain representation, sell their material, attract talent, raise financing, or simply looking to find work, you will have to pitch. Further, you will be in competition with others pitching as well. You've put so much time and effort into your work and building your reputation, you don't want to have it all undermined with a terrible pitch. And the truth of the matter is that most people that pitch make the same fatal mistakes over and over. They don't know how to tell a concise, riveting story. They don't know what to put in, what to leave out, and what elements really and truly sell someone on their story. This webinar will give you insight and tools to pitch better and get ahead of the pack. Will McCance is the Vice President of Production for Ian Bryce, producer of blockbusters like SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, ALMOST FAMOUS, the TRANSFORMERS franchise, and most recently Michael Bay's SIX UNDERGROUND for Netflix. At Ian Bryce Productions, Will oversees the company's entire development slate. Before working with Ian Bryce, Will worked in development at Original Film's TV department, working on hit shows such as THE BOYS (Amazon) and PREACHER (AMC), as well as on SWAT (CBS) and HAPPY! (Syfy). Independently, Will has produced films such as the upcoming LOLA JAMES, starring Nicola Peltz and Oscar-Nominee Virginia Madsen, BERNARD AND HUEY, starring Jim Rash, David Koechner, and Mae Whitman, as well as Belarus's 2018 Oscar selection for Best Foreign Film, CRYSTAL SWAN, along with Vice. Through his years working as an executive, Will has deep experience with working with writers and choosing to work with them or not based on their pitch, and is prepared to share what he’s learned with the Stage 32 community. In this exclusive webinar, Will will equip you with all the tools you'll need to elevate your next script to the top of the reading stack. He will discuss the various techniques of pitching, from finding the right words and unique style, to understanding which type of pitch to use and when. He will also analyze sample TV and feature film pitches and break down the hidden power of the perfectly-worded logline. He will teach you tactics, strategies, and even books that will make you a stronger storyseller, and in turn, a stronger storyteller. Will will even deliver a pitch of his own to use as an example and will share other film and TV pitches to analyze what works and what doesn’t. Through Will’s presentation, you will not only learn how to better understand and explain your story, but to also instill a newfound sense of confidence that you can take with you to your next meeting or pitch session.
"Very informative. Sean is very knowledgeable and charismatic. When questions were asked, he gave full and complete answer. I highly recommend taking Sean's webinar." Learn from one of the top entertainment attorneys in Hollywood who has worked on hundreds of film & TV projects! After pouring so much time, money, and passion into your feature film and putting together a finished product thatyou’re truly proud of, it’s an amazing feeling when a distributor wants to buy your film. What can be more vindicating? Not so fast, though. This is your film, and it’s absolutely critical you walk into any distribution agreement with both eyes open, an understanding of what you want, what you deserve, and how to make sure you’re protected and not being taken advantage of. Distribution can often be confusing, complicated, and murky territory, and there are many common pitfalls filmmakers of all levels fall into when navigating. It can feel like you need a law degree and a special glossary just to understand the rights you’re giving away, along with the territories, fees, expenses, residuals, and everything else that comes along with a distribution deal. But you don’t need to pass the Bar to find success in seeking distribution. Gaining a keener understanding of the process and how agreements work can empower you as a filmmaker to negotiate a distribution deal that’s right for you and your film. Sean Pope is a Senior Associate at Ramo Law PC, one of the largest and most respected entertainment law firms in Hollywood, where he works with producers and production companies focusing on all aspects of production legal services from development to distribution. Prior to joining Ramo Law, Sean worked at a boutique entertainment transactional and litigation firm providing legal services for producers, writers, actors and musicians. His past projects include the upcoming Liam Neeson thriller HONEST THIEF, Netflix documentary THE BLACK GODFATHER, and hit Netflix docu-series CHEER. Sean has helped countless filmmakers negotiate fair distribution deals and make the most out of their film, and is ready to share what he knows exclusively with the Stage 32 community. In this advanced level and intensive two-part class, Sean will walk you through the nuts and bolts of distribution deals and zero in on the provisions and clauses you need to understand when negotiating your own distribution and sales agreements. Sean’s exhaustive rundown will leave you with a much deeper understanding of what agreements look like, what you should be looking for, and how to avoid pitfalls along the way.
Ask any successful filmmaker how they got started and almost all will tell you that their success began with a short film. And today, more filmmakers and producers are making short films as a proof of concept for a feature length version of their story. This doesn't have to be a daunting task. And we're here to prove it by showing you how a 5-minute short made for $5,000 went on to become a feature, a Tribeca Film Festival darling, and get national distribution. Natalie Qasabian has produced movies for the Duplass Brothers and recently was a producer on one of the biggest indie box office successes of the last few years, Searching. The film, made for under $1MM, was acquired by Sony at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and has gone on to gross $75MM at the domestic box office. But much of Natalie's success and her journey began with a short film. Natalie is going to take you on an educational, inspiring, and motivational ride by teaching exactly how they pulled off the short film Join the Club, the feature All About Nina, and how the two were directly connected. She will explain the path this film took, from financing to casting to filming to film festival strategies to crushing it at Tribeca to getting global distribution. But this isn't all. Natalie will discuss the importance of making your short. How you should approach the process. How you should handle rejection along the way. How to navigate all the ups and downs of pre-production and production without having it cloud your overall strategy for the film and much, much more. Like what you heard from Natalie during this webcast? Send your script to Natalie and speak with her for a full hour by clicking here. Praise for Natalie's Stage 32 Webinar "Natalie knows how to take a film to the highest of places by committing to sound and proven strategies. Her perspective is amazing" - Doug L.
Remember that every line of dialogue matters, every image has a purpose, and there are no wasted bullets in the gun! We're kicking off another month of a packed Writers' Room schedule with the Breakdown Webcast: Exposition as Ammunition! Many writers struggle with how to get out critical information and backstory to the audience in an organic way. So during this webcast, we discuss how to get the audience the information they need without a lecture they don't want. During this webcast we'll discuss different ways of getting out information in a way that feels organic to the narrative and the characters. We examine some of the best - and worst - examples from film and television!