Writing Effective Action With Meaning for Your Film or Series - With a Case Study of THE BOURNE IDENTITY

Hosted by Joshua Todd James

$49

On Demand Webinar - For immediate download. Unlimited access for 1 year.

Start Learning

Please make sure you use the same email address as the one you use to sign in to Stage 32, otherwise you won't have access to your webinar.
apply Your coupon will be applied after you agree to terms below.

- or -

$49.00
TOTAL PRICE:
Overlay Icon

Stage 32 Next Level Education has a 97% user satisfaction rate.

Joshua Todd James

Webinar hosted by: Joshua Todd James

Action screenwriter (Jean-Claude Van Damme's POUND OF FLESH)

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 »

Webinar Summary

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.

 

What You'll Learn

  • Why Good Action Comes Down to What’s on the Page
    • Why does action not always work in films and TV?
  • Defining Your Characters’ Objectives
    • What are characters’ wants and desires?
      • And how this will aid your actors
    • Flaws and weaknesses
    • Goal vs. motivations and desires
  • Stakes and How to Get Them Right
    • What are stakes?
    • Cake or death
    • The different types of death and why does it matter?
    • When death turns to life
  • Using Ego to Hone Your Action Scene
    • What is ego?
    • How to express characters’ secret fears and weaknesses
    • A look at how DJANGO UNCHAINED achieved this
  • Action Needs to Establish Identity
    • Why THE BOURNE IDENTITY works so well.
    • Clear objective
    • Clear stakes
    • Clear flaws
  • The Elements All Action Must Reveal
    • The 3 prime revelations of story
    • Examples of all three from THE BOURNE IDENTITY
  • Final Thoughts
    • Achieving efficiency in action
    • Moving the story forward and when to cut what’s not needed
    • Casting in your head before you write
    • Why no one really cares about reader pet peeves
  • Q&A with Joshua

About Your Instructor

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.

FAQs

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.

Q: Do I have to be located in a specific location?
A: No, you can participate from the comfort of your own home using your personal computer! If you attend a live online webinar, you will be able to communicate directly with your instructor during the webinar.

Q: What are the system requirements?
A: You will need to meet the following system requirements in order to run the webinar software: Windows 7 or later Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) or later.
If you have Windows XP, Windows Vista and Mac OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion): The webinar software does not support these operating systems. If you are running one of those operating systems, please upgrade now in order to be able to view a live webinar. Upgrade your Windows computer / Upgrade your Mac computer

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!

Questions?

If you have a generic question about Stage 32 education you can take a look at our frequently asked questions section on our help page, or feel free to contact support with any other inquiries you might have.

Other education that may be of interest to you:

Your Definitive Legal Guide to Shopping, Option and Attachment Agreements - With an In Depth 32-Page Resource Sheet

This webinar has a 100% satisfaction rating! Acquiring the rights to a literary property with an eye towards turning it into a movie or television series is one of your primary responsibilities as a filmmaker or producer. Or, if you’re a writer with a screenplay or someone who owns IP that can be made into a film or TV series, how do you know you’re signing the right contract with a producer? Whether you are looking to acquire a screenplay, article, book, graphic novel or comic book series you need an option/purchase agreement — or is it shopping agreement? Or is it an attachment agreement? Trying to understand which agreement is right for you can make your head spin. But, it’s important to make sure you come to the table with the right agreement to protect yourself upfront and secure all the necessary rights to the amazing property you’re after. At a glance, it seems that there is overlap between the holy trinity of rights agreements: shopping, option/purchase and attachment. Unfortunately, many people confuse the terms and as a result people often end up coming to the bargaining table with very different ideas on what kind of agreement they are — resulting in the creation of Frankensteined-together versions of these three types of contracts. The wrong drafting can leave the writer stripped of their copyrights or producers and filmmakers unable to secure financing because they don’t have the rights they thought they paid for. There are key distinctions between these three agreements and any producer or filmmaker(or on the flipside, writer)must know the difference between them. Experienced entertainment attorney Thomas A. Crowell, Esq. is here to help. Thomas A. Crowell, Esq. counsels clients on a wide range of entertainment law and intellectual property rights issues, including clients who have had deals with TLC, Elsevier Publishing, Starz, Discovery Communications, Focal Press, the Smithsonian Network, WE: The Women's Entertainment Network, The Science Technology Network, IDW Publishing, and Sony Entertainment. His clients' work is seen in the pages of Marvel and DC comics and on movie, TV, computer, and mobile screens across the world. A former television producer and director of development for STN, Thomas has spent the better part of the last two decades creating ways to make difficult legal concepts accessible to creatives. Thomas will give you a solid foundation of the legal issues involved in the acquisition of film rights, as well as a rubric for understanding, negotiating, and drafting key provisions in the option/purchase, shopping agreement, and attachment deals. He will walk you through the basics of copyright law and the legal steps necessary in transferring rights. Next he will discuss common pitfalls writers and producers make when it comes to breaks in the chain of title, joint authorship, and work for hire. Critically, Thomas will spell out the differences between shopping, option/purchase, and attachment agreements and will give invaluable tips on how to negotiate and draft these agreements to ensure you’re getting what you need and not being taken advantage of. You will have the tools you'll need to navigate the murky waters of copyright law and to land the rights to your dream literary property.   Plus! Thomas provides you with a 32 page detailed resource guide to help you navigate the nuances of various agreements   Praise for Thomas' Stage 32 Webinar   “I would wholeheartedly recommend this webinar not only to producers and writers, but to anyone in the business, even if you think you know what you're doing. It's mandatory viewing if you call yourself a professional." - Anna H.    "Very informative. Liked how he emphasized applying for copyright. I still thought registering with WGA was enough. Liked how organized his lecture was. I'll watch it again." - Joanne E.   "The best I've heard this explained." - Patricia C.   "The best webinar I have taken here so far. Great visuals, clear explanations, relevant topic." - Maritere Y.   "Thomas was excellent. Articulate, helpful diagrams, and I liked his delivery and vast experience as a producer and lawyer." - Virginia K

How to Capture the Attention of a Showrunner or Manager with your TV Writing Samples

Television today has changed. There’s more of it, thanks to streaming services that make binge worthy television available anytime, anywhere. According to stats recently released by Netflix, shows like BRIDGERTON and THE WITCHER pulled in over 75 million views in 20201. That’s a lot of television. A lot of television means more writer’s rooms. And more writer’s rooms means more opportunity to get staffed. But to find representation and take a seat at the table, you need more than a killer personality. You need a solid portfolio brimming with strong writing samples. Showrunners are looking for a portfolio that demonstrates your ability to tell a story. There’s no time like the present to prep a portfolio with hot samples, cool writing, and even cooler storylines. Showrunners need examples from you to make decisions on who to bring in the room. As an unrepresented writer, you have to demonstrate to them that you’re the one. And to do this, a series of writing samples, known as a portfolio, is a surefire way to show off your ability. You need to convince showrunners to bring you on board. If your writing samples lack luster or you don’t know where your story is headed in future seasons, conversations with managers or showrunners could be short lived. You could miss out on opportunities because your script wasn’t up to par, or your original idea wasn’t original at all. Let's make sure that never happens. Spencer Robinson is a literary and talent manager at Art/Work Entertainment who's been in the industry for over twenty years. His clients have been in films with directors Quentin Tarantino, Steven Soderbergh, Clint Eastwood, Gore Verbinski and more. In the TV world, his clients have been regular cast members on shows for Netflix, The CW, Cinemax, CBS, NBC, FX, Starz, Nickelodeon, EPIX, and TBS, to name a few. His writing clients work in both features and television on broadcast, cable, and streaming platforms. He currently has a client writing on two Netflix series, and another client who just sold a show to Amazon. He also reps a writer who currently has a project at Aggregate Films, which has a deal at Netflix. Spencer will dive deep into the kinds of TV samples writer’s should have ready, as well as exactly what managers and showrunners are looking for as they read through them. He will talk about the kinds of scripts your portfolio needs so that you shine like the crazy diamond you are. Certain elements of your script should stand out. Take useful notes as Spencer talks about these elements and helps attendees better understand the importance of solid and saleable characters. And then sit back and take in the golden nuggets he delivers on what managers and showrunners look for in a writer. If you dream of being in a writer’s room, this webinar was made for you.   Praise for Spencer's Previous Stage 32 Webinar   "Spencer was awesome! Super informative and detail driven - providing great insights. Packed so much into a short amount of time which I'm super grateful for!" -Eric C.   "Spencer Robinson has high energy and packs a ton of information in his lecture. Most importantly Spencer gives realistic advice while encouraging writers to move forward fully informed of the terrain." -Oweeda N.   "Spencer opened my eyes to how the TV world works with broadcast and streaming. What a great crash course!" -Ricki L.  

How to Work with Animals and Hire an Animal Trainer for Your Independent Project

Any filmmaker who has worked with animals on set even once knows things can get complicated fast. Even actions as simple as walking a dog or petting a cat get tough when the animal is uncooperative or overwhelmed by crew, equipment, and multiple takes. No matter how small or independent your production is, it’s often worth it to bring on an animal trainer or handler when dealing with your furry (or scaly or feathery) castmates. And whether you have a trainer or not, it’s critical that you understand some key protocols and strategies to get the performance you’re looking for and keep the animal, cast and crew safe, comfortable and happy. Getting a great animal performance for your project can be a huge boon, but there’s a lot that goes into this and a number of considerations you need to make ahead of time. Yet this side of filmmaking can feel fairly niche—it’s not something a lot of people in the industry are adept at, and it’s certainly not usually taught in film school. So where do you even start? Do you hire an existing animal actor or can you bring on your own pet? How do you find a good animal trainer or handler that doesn’t use adverse training methods? And what do you need to do to keep everyone safe and comfortable but still get the animal performance you’re hoping for? There’s a lot to consider, but knowing general safety preparation, protocols and strategies can make all the difference. Theresa Carroll is an accomplished animal trainer and coordinator with over 15 years of experience and credits on projects like THE GREATEST SHOWMAN, ANNIE and SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE. Starting her career by providing pet therapy at children’s hospitals, Theresa has since provided animal acquisition, training and set coordination for countless films, TV shows, theater productions and commercials. Her other recent credits include MR. ROBOT, HIGH MAINTENANCE, THE LEFTOVERS, BILLIONS, POWER, LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MYERS, and commercials for AMERICAN EXPRESS, BLUE BUFFALO and NICKELODEON, among many others. Theresa’s deep experience working with animals on many different projects of varying budgets and requirements has made her an expert in this field and given her a passion in ensuring animals and the cast and crew around them are safe and have positive experiences. Theresa will teach you how to safely and effectively work with animal actors for your independent production and bring in animal trainers or handlers to get the performance you’re looking for and keep everyone safe and happy. She will first explain how you should find and bring on an animal trainer, including when you need one, where you should look, what aspects you should focus on, and how much you should expect to pay. She’ll also outline what you need to do ahead of production to prepare for shooting with animals, including setting safely guidelines, insurance, and proper documentation and paperwork. Theresa will then dive into how to actually navigate the shoot day with animal actors and will show you how cast and crew should interact with animals, where to hold them, how to acclimate animals, and much more.

Cutaways - Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Family Guy, The Princess Bride, Narcos, The Big Short

We take a look at how writers use cutaways to drive home punchlines in Family Guy and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, explain big ideas in The Big Short, give historical context in Narcos, and frame stories in The Princess Bride.  

So You Want To Be A TV Writer? An Inside Look - Part 2

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!

Write Now Challenge Webcast - Your Writer Biography

During this webcast, writers from around the world including Australia, Scotland, Canada, and more, shared their "writer biographies" and talking points.  It was an excellent way to get to know one another and find out how to present their backgrounds and career aspirations during a general meeting.    In addition to developing the craft, we endeavor to prepare Writers' Room members for the business of film and television. And that means, knowing how to present yourself, as well as your ideas, in a meeting with producers, executives, and filmmakers. Using the "Breakdown Webcast: Breaking down a General Meetings" as a guide, your challenge was to write a short biography on yourself which focuses on the major "talking points" that you would benefit you in a general meeting with a producer, executive, manager or other industry pro.  Include a bit on your personal and professional background, the genres you write, your screenwriting accomplishments (such as awards, accommodations, accolades), your goals for your writing career (features? TV? Both?), and what makes your point of view so unique in an crowded market!  

register for stage 32 Register / Log In