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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You’re a writer who is struggling with crafting believable dialogue. You’re a director looking for the greater meaning in a scene. You’re an actor trying to connect with what a character is feeling. Subtext is the backbone of emotion in any story, regardless of what genre you’re working in. It also helps to separate great scripts from not so great scripts. In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, filmmaker Steve Desmond will help you to craft engaging subtext to layer your stories with nuance and emotion. Whether you’re going for laughs, drama, or impending fear, he’ll help you to make your screenplay feel more true to life. For directors or actors working with existing scripts, this webinar will help you to dig deeper below the surface to find the true lifeblood beneath a line. For producers, we’ll discuss tips on how to work with writers to make their subtext come alive. Whether you’re a writer, a director, an actor, or a producer, subtext is a major part of your game and this webinar will help you add an entirely new layer to your projects.
We've brought in veteran development executive Marla White to give you an ultimate guide on dissecting the first 10 pages of a TV script from her perspective as an executive. In addition, by looking at specific examples from great scripts like “Justified,” “Weeds,” “How I Met Your Mother,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Modern Family” and more, she's going to break it down for you why and how those pilots succeed where others failed and how to apply that to your script. Marla has worked with writers who have sold pitches to Fox, TNT, CBS, NBC and ABC and have been staffed on premium cable dramas.
Part 2 you're not going to want to miss! Ever wondered what daily life is like for a TV Writer? Looking for ways to manage and maximize your schedule to output great, useful material without losing your mind? Wondering how the hell you’re supposed to write when you’ve got a full-time job? Tune in for this exclusive 2-Part Stage 32 Next Level Webinar taught by TV Writer/Producer Charlie Charbonneau (CW shows: The Secret Circle, The Vampire Diaries, and its spin-off The Originals) to hear about life and work of TV writers, on AND off the clock. You'll gain insight that will help you succeed in finding your next assignment and how to excel in the position. In Part 2 the followup to So You Want To Be A TV Writer? An Inside Look - Part 1, Charlie will unpack all the ups, downs, problems, and pleasures that come in the daily life of a working TV writer. Hear insider advice and information about writers room etiquette, climbing the title ladder, taking notes, rolling with the punches when your material doesn’t impress the powers that be, and making sure you get paid. He’ll even discuss the best way to interact with those hot-shot actors in your show. As usual, get ready for some horror stories from the trenches!
Let's rock and roll, Creative Army. We've been well overdue to get together live. I've got just the solution. Let's hang AMA (Ask Me Anything) style. Since the last AMA in May, I've been running all over the globe fulfilling Stage 32 partnership responsibilities, conducting business, exploring creative writing/filming/producing opportunities, and mentoring in such places as Cannes, Budapest, Majorca, Paris, Dordogne, Trinidad and Tobago, London, Munich, Hamburg and, of course, right here in Los Angeles. To say there's been much going on would be the understatement of the century. I have much to share! And I know you all have questions! So let's chill together for a couple of inspiring, motivating, and brutally honest 2 hours of craft and industry talk. Remember, no matter what your discipline, skill level, geographical location, etc, this AMA is for ALL! Bring your questions and the energy and I'll handle the rest. As always, registering for my AMA is completely FREE! And the more the merrier, so do invite any of your fellow creative peers to join us as well. Cheers! RB
This month you were challenged to write a scene in 3-5 pages that tells a story with no dialogue. The idea is to use character intention, action, obstacles and the scene setting to tell a story.
Quick, name your 5 favorite movies of all time. Chances are they are all encompass different genres and various worlds and journeys. But likely, they all have one thing in common: A memorable and multi-dimensional protagonist. Writing lead characters can be tricky. They're usually the first character that comes to mind when we're crafting our story. As such, we tend to have definitive, even strict, ideas of how that character will dress, how he or she will behave, and even what happens to them along the way. As such, many writers end up crafting their leads as rigid and one-dimensional. As a result, their lead character becomes passive and the supporting characters end up being much more proactive and interesting. Writing a truly memorable lead character takes a full understanding of your character's wants, needs, obstacles, flaws and much more. It means digging into the psychology of your lead before you begin writing so that you can make wonderful, informed discoveries throughout the writing process. With a constant parade of franchise sequels, remakes, and reboots, it’s become harder than ever to create a unique and nuanced lead that audiences feel they haven’t seen before. And in a marketplace crowded with more of the same, it’s never been more essential (and potentially lucrative) for screenwriters to set their work apart. In addition, with the explosion of content being created for the streaming platforms, it's more important than ever, no matter whether you're writing features or TV, that you be able to create lead characters that development execs, producers, showrunners, and financiers can't deny and want to follow into fire. That uniqueness in voice and vision is getting writers signed, sold, staffed, and more and more work than ever before. So how can writers create characters that appeal to a wide audience without sacrificing the very qualities that make them singular? Tyler Ruggeri is a writer with over a decade of experience on both sides of the entertainment industry. His original screenplay The Making Of Rock Hudson sold to veteran producers Celine Rattray (The Kids Are Alright, Bernie) and Trudie Styler (Moon) of Maven Pictures. He is currently adapting a critically acclaimed non-fiction book and writing an original action drama. Prior to his writing career, Tyler was a talent manager at Exile Entertainment, where he represented screenwriters and directors while developing the company’s slate of projects. He signed emerging filmmakers including Lee Patterson (Nicholl Fellowship winner for Snatched) and Damien Chazelle, whose film Whiplash was nominated for five Academy Awards (including Best Adapted Screenplay) and won three, as well as the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival. In addition to Whiplash, scripts he developed with clients have sold to A-list producers/financiers and garnered industry attention and assignments from major studios. Tyler has read thousands of screenplays and knows first hand what makes a memorable and multi-dimensional protagonist. And now for the 2nd time, exclusively for Stage 32, Tyler is back to teach you how to write interesting and complicated characters that audiences can root for without sacrificing depth. Tyler will focus on studying (and deconstructing) the building blocks of movie protagonists in a straightforward, fun, and easy to digest format. He’ll discuss character in a macro-level approach while zeroing in on recent examples from popular films. He will teach you about making meaningful choices for your characters and how you can't be afraid to make the tough choice. He will delve into your characters wants, needs, and goals. He will discuss whether you lead character needs to be likable. He will teach you all the rules of writing characters and show you how you can break those rules to stand out from the crowd and make an exec turn pages. He will teach you all the tips and tricks of character building that he's learned over the last 10+ years of working with writers and reading scripts. He'll even discuss writer's block - if there is such a thing - and how to get beyond it all and keep writing. In short, he will teach you everything to have your lead characters jumping from the page and pulling the reader along for his or her journey. "Tyler is an extremely articulate presenter. It really helped to have such specific information about how a character can be multi-dimensional. I already see the issues with my protagonist and can't wait to get it all fixed!" - Becca B. "I took pages and pages of notes, thank you! Very well delivered, Tyler clearly had a vast knowledge of the subject. I really enjoyed it!" - Natalie E. "Thank you for bringing Tyler back. One of my favorite Stage 32 educators! This seemed like a week's worth of material delivered concisely and deliberately. I'm so grateful! - Bob K.