Devon Byers is the Manager and Producer at First Friday Entertainment, the industry's top literary management and production company dedicated to finding unique voices focusing on diversity and inclusion. Devon's clients are on a roll. Recently Issa Rae's ColorCreative is set to produce a dramedy TOOTHBRUSH written by his client Brittani Nichols, which was announced in Variety. His client Tamika Miller was recently picked up for directing mentorship by Shonda Rhimes' company Shondaland in conjunction with SeriesFest. Client Richard Lowe is a writer on GOD FRIENDED ME on CBS and Mia Katherine Iverson got picked up as a writer on the CW's KATY KEENE TONIGHT. His client, Victoria Rose, just had Jaeden Martell of IT join Academy Award winner Susan Sarandon on his script TUNNELS, which is Directed by John Krokidas (KILL YOUR DARLINGS) and will be produced by Highland Film Group. Before starting First Friday, Devon was the Development Coordinator at Ideate Media, the film and TV production company behind the BBC America adaptation of Douglas Adams' "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency" starring Elijah Wood, the international TOMBIRUO, the series MANDATORI, and the upcoming ROGUE STAR. Full Bio »
The LGBTQ+ market is expanding and it's high time fresh voices are heard. The popularity of recent titles like Netflix’s THE BOYS IN THE BAND, Hulu’s LOVE, VICTOR, and FX’s POSE point to the truth that stories and perspectives from the LGBTQ+ community are finally welcomed and in demand. This in turn is encouraging more buyers to gravitate towards content from queer voices and with queer themes. It’s been a long time coming, and now that we’re here, it’s important to take a look at what exactly is selling and what makes LGBTQ+ content authentic, responsible, and popular.
As more voices and stories from the LGBTQ+ community are coming forward, audiences are clearly becoming more open and interested in exploring these themes and characters, but they’re also more discerning about the authenticity and respect queer characters are given. The romantic lead’s sassy and platonic gay best friend doesn’t fly the way it might have in the ‘90s. So what do authentic queer characters actually look like today? How can you avoid clichés and stereotypes and instead craft something complex and responsible? Whether you are queer, straight, or anything else, how can you positively contribute to the LGBTQ+ film and TV market?
Devon Byers is a manager, producer, and co-founder of First Friday Entertainment, the industry's top literary management and production company dedicated to finding unique voices focused on diversity and inclusion. His clients are currently working with companies like Issa Rae’s ColorCreative and Shonda Rhimes’ Shondaland, and are staffed on shows such as CBS’s GOD FRIENDED ME and CW’s KATY KEENE. Devon has based his career on championing diverse voices and bringing forward inclusive stories, and he’s bringing his perspective to the Stage 32 community.
Devon will lay out what the LGBTQ+ film and TV market looks like today and how best to create your own stories and characters with these themes. He will begin by exploring what LGBTQ+ stories have been done and what you can do to make your own story unique. He’ll then delve into writing LGBTQ+ characters, including how to write them authentically and avoid clichés. He’ll outline the common traps LGBTQ+ characters often fall into and show you how to make sure your unique voice is evident in the writing. He’ll talk about themes that should be explored in this market as well as themes to avoid. Devon will also talk about if it’s okay to rewrite your straight characters for the LGBTQ+ market and whether there are any topics considered too insensitive or taboo. He’ll also discuss whether the market accepts straight people telling LGBTQ+ stories. He will then walk you through what platforms and formats are looking for this material and the most popular genres that are selling. Finally, Devon will dive into specific examples of successful LGBTQ+ projects in film, TV, podcasts and web series, and what makes them stand out.
It’s an exciting time as Hollywood continues to become more diverse and inclusive. Let Devon give you the tools and confidence to responsibly contribute to this trend and even elevate it further.
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 audio recording, which you can view as many times as you'd like for a whole year!
It's like 10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife...well, actually it's more like the Write Now Challenge Webcast: Isn't it Ironic coming at you this afternoon at 4pm (Pacific)! In this challenge, members were asked to write a short scene (no more than 5 pages) using one of the examples of irony from the Breakdown Webcast: Dramatic Irony. As a reminder the examples for irony are below: Dramatic Irony: A literary and theatrical device in which the reader or audience knows more about a situation, complication, or conflict than the characters they are following. Classical Irony: This term describes irony as it was used in ancient Greek comedy—to highlight situations in which one thing appears to be the case when, in fact, the opposite is true. Cosmic Irony: Cosmic irony highlights incongruities between the absolute, theoretical world and the mundane, grounded reality of everyday life. Socratic Irony: Socrates would feign ignorance of a subject and ask seemingly innocent—but actually leading—questions to draw out information he already knew. Socratic irony differs from verbal irony because it involves intentional deception. Verbal irony, on the other hand, does not connote insincerity or deception. Situational Irony: occurs when there is a difference between what is expected to happen and what actually happens. With situational irony, our discovery that our expectations haven’t been met are the same as the characters in the story. Verbal Irony: is when a character says something that is different from what he or she really means, or how he or she really feels. This is the only type of irony where a character creates the irony.
Dark comedies intend to make light of events that would otherwise be considered too painful to discuss. The hope is that viewers will gain a cathartic experience, or simply laugh at some absurd situation. During this webcast, Jason Mirch discusses the 6 principles of how to make Dark Comedies work, while showing clips of some of the best dark comedies as examples.
When your characters each have their own voice, you should be able to tell them apart by their dialogue alone. We challenged you to write a scene removing all character names and descriptions so that each character is distinguishable by their dialogue alone.
You have an idea for a screenplay. Something burning inside of you to get on the page. Or perhaps you have a screenplay (or 20) sitting in your desk draw in need of a home. Of course you know to make sure that material is primed, ready, and locked and loaded to give yourself the best chance of being read from FADE IN to FADE OUT. But you also need to make sure it's market ready. And further still, you'll want to identify where the best home is for this material and how to pitch them in a manner in which gives you the best shot to be optioned or sold. Most writers understand that taking your idea from a good concept to an excellent screenplay takes many rewrites and much polishing. In today's ultra-competitive landscape, it's more important than ever to fully flesh out your characters, locales, and plot. But thinking about the business side of things as it relates to your screenplay - understanding budget constraints, for example - is something that can give you power in a room. But first you need to get in that room. And to do that, you need to identify the proper (and realistic) homes for your material and understand what they are looking for. Further, you'll need to craft an effective pitch which may just change from one production company (or producer, financier or rep) to another. Rachel Crouch is the Director of Development for Cold Iron Pictures, Miranda Bailey's financing and production company. She's worked on films such as Sundance's Swiss Army Man starring Daniel Radcliffe and Paul Dano, the Independent Spirt Award-winning The Diary of a Teenage Girl, Don't Think Twice starring Keegan-Michael Key and Gillian Jacobs, Norma staring Richard Gere and Steve Buscemi and many more. Prior to Cold Iron Pictures she worked as a producer's assistant raising film financing and helping bring films into production. Rachel will take her experience on over a dozen films and give you a behind-the-scenes look at what production companies look for when considering material. Rachel will teach you how to develop your idea from a good concept to a strong story that will grab the attention of financiers and production companies. She'll help you break down your story to figure out your project's main audience and lead you through the tropes you'll want to exploit in order to leave that audience satisfied. You'll find out how to determine your story's budget range and see how letting go of those HBO dreams might help you find a better home for your project. She'll teach you how to hone your pitch including information you must include when pitching production companies. She'll even discuss rejection and finding the power within so that your next pitch is even better and more productive than the last. In short, Rachel will put you in a position to get the read, get in the room, and get the sale or job! "I appreciate Rachel's openness and willingness to share her knowledge and experience with us." - Susan S. "Very practical advice that I can apply right away." - Brian G. "I thought it was very professional and informative." - Chris R.
As the world becomes flatter and technology brings us closer together, opportunities for international cooperation continue to abound. For producers or creatives looking to find or bolster their next indie project, there’s a huge amount of potential in joining forces with companies or teams from other countries and pooling your resources together, creating something larger than the sum of its parts. Forming an international co-production can give you access to more funding and financing opportunities, more access to locations, actors and crew, and more sales and distribution opportunities after the film is finished. But while international co-productions can reap great rewards, they also present unique challenges. After all, each country has its own set of rules and regulations, its own red tape, and its own processes for getting things done. Navigating this transnational world requires a set of skills and wherewithal that can be hard earned but is hugely valuable. International co-productions are becoming more common in both mainstream cinema and the indie space. But while it yields results, it’s not a science. Collaboration never is. If you have your sights set outwards and are interested in working across country lines to create your next film, be prepared for some unique hurdles. For one, how do you even get started? How do you find international talent or partners in the first place? And once you find them, how do you woo them into working with you? How do you manage financing and how do you make compromises that make all parties happy? After all, collaboration is challenging no matter what, but working with people in another country, people who might not even share the same first language as you, amps that challenge up to another level. Birgit Kemner is a French-German producer who has headed up successful co-productions for nearly a decade. All her productions have been selected and awarded in renowned festivals such as the Cannes or Venice Film Festival. Birgit was previously Head of Marketing and Festivals at the MK2 group and has worked on international releases of over 50 films directed by filmmakers such as Gus van Sant (ELEPHANT, LAST DAYS, PARANOID PARK), Olivier Assayas (SUMMER HOURS) and Gela Babluani (13 TZAMETI - Lion of the Future at Venice, Jury Prize at Sundance and European Discovery at the European Film Awards) as well as numerous international film retrospectives of directors such as Charlie Chaplin, François Truffaut and Claude Chabrol. Birgit is bringing her years of successful co-production experience exclusively to the Stage 32 community. Birgit will use her extensive background to walk you through every step of creating a successful international co-production. She will begin by discussing tips on how to choose good projects in the first place and how to identify the right partners for you and your vision. She’ll teach you how to network and attract partners, especially in international markets when you often have ten minutes or less to make an impression. Birgit will then go over the challenges of funding and the resources available, especially in European markets. She will then talk about strategies and tips for your transnational partnership to survive and thrive, including tools to communicate, effective contracts, cash flow schedule, and how to determine who does what when. Finally, Birgit will delve into steps to take after the film is complete to bring it to the international market, get it into festivals, and optimize both marketing and sales. Simply put, you will be learning from one of the best. Birgit will illustrate all of these points by using two of her own films as case studies, HUMAN CAPITAL, which played in competition at Tribeca Film Festival, and EL ARDOR, which was an official selection at Cannes Film Festival. Praise for Birgit's webinar: "Birgit gave me more information about international co-productions than I even knew existed. I now feel totally prepared and energized to tackle my next project" -James R. "Great slides and great information!" - Marisé S. "Awesome! Birgit covered the bases and inspired me to look outside the box." -Clint A. "Very informative, helpful information and guidance to take our next step into making our film. Thank you!" -Anastasia C.
Every successful filmmaker has, at some point in their career, written, directed, and/or produced a short film. For filmmakers who are just starting out, a short film is the best calling card to showcase their unique talent and vision. It is important to remember that short filmmaking is different from feature filmmaking, with challenges unique to the process. Even so, producing a short film may seem daunting, but there are several key secrets to getting the most out of your project. This intensive 5-week course will give students the tools and techniques necessary to produce a world class short film. Each week will be dedicated to a different aspect of the short filmmaking process, including, concept development and writing of your short, budgeting and scheduling, understanding and drafting production agreements, pro-tips on directing actors, and how to get the most out of the post production process. Students are strongly encouraged to come with ideas for a short film, which will be developed over the course of the 4 weeks, so by the conclusion of the class, the should have a screenplay ready for production.