Mike Disa is currently the director of the Netflix series Paradise PD and has been in the animation industry for over twenty-five years. Mike came to California twenty-five years ago from Chicago to break into the animation industry. With no film training or knowledge of the byzantine workings of the entertainment business, he eventually found success at studios such as Dreamworks, Disney Feature, Warner Brothers, Paramount, and many others. Over a fascinating career, Mike has worked with some of the greatest and most infamous people in Hollywood including Steven Spielberg, Eric Goldberg, Ralph Bakshi, Glenn Close, Steve Oedekerk, David Tennant, Amy Poehler, Adam Sandler, Jeffery Katzenberg and Roy Disney. Some of Mike's credits include: Producer and writer on Wacky Races (Warner Bros. Animation) Writer on Space Dogs and Space Dogs 2 (Epic Pictures) Consulting producer for The Simpsons interactive hologram Director and co-writer of Postman Pat (Dreamworks) Director of Deadspace Aftermath (Starz) Director of Dante's Inferno (Starz) Director of Hoodwinked Too Director of The Haunted Adventure of El Super Beasto (Starz) Director/Writer of The Origin of Stitch (Disneytoons Studios) Director of Bewitched, The Movie (The Picture Mill) Mike has worked on over 16 feature films, developed/written two television series, and directed 5 animated feature films. Presently directing for Netflix, Mike has written, produced, or directed literally hundreds of hours of film and television. But because of his long struggle to break into film, Mike is also a passionate teacher dedicated to sharing his hard-earned knowledge about the workings of the entertainment industry with others driven to become filmmakers. Full Bio »
Exclusive to Stage 32! Netflix animation director Mike Disa teaches writing for animation!
Animation as one of the most flexible mediums for the imagination. Animated stories have been capturing our minds ever since media hit the screen through characters like Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Bugs Bunny to what we see today in The Simpsons, American Dad, Bojack Horseman, Rick and Morty, Spider-man, Incredibles and more. Writing animation features or television requires a special skill - not one that can be taught through traditional feature & TV writing resources. The tools you need to succeed in animation are quite unique and once honed can offer you a long career creatively animating the stories in your mind.
To help you on your journey writing for animation we've brought in Director Mike Disa of the Netflix Show Paradise PD to break down in detail what it takes. With no film training or knowledge of the byzantine workings of the entertainment business, he eventually found success at studios such as Dreamworks, Disney Feature, Warner Brothers, Paramount, and many others. Over a fascinating career, Mike has worked with some of the greatest and most infamous people in Hollywood including Steven Spielberg, Eric Goldberg, Ralph Bakshi, Glenn Close, Steve Oedekerk, David Tennant, Amy Poehler, Adam Sandler, Jeffery Katzenberg and Roy Disney. He'll be going over the overall landscape and the details of what it takes to write for both features and TV.
Part 1: Features
Part 2: TV
Q&A with Mike!
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!
To see a video sample of the class, see below! 3 part class taught by Lee Stobby, Manager and Founder of Lee Stobby Management! One of the most challenging parts as a writer is getting your story, ideas and dialogue into a script that is a respectable length. When you're looking at a completed draft that is facing a rewrite, how do you know what to cut? Many times you may think nothing can go without killing the story, but keeping the length is not always a good thing. A development executive's job role varies day to day and with a constant barrage of responsibility, longer scripts usually end up drowning to the bottom of the "to-read" pile. The truth is that executives sometimes even ask how long a script is before committing to read it. As a writer you will lose the battle if turning a page ends up being a struggle for any industry professional. Which brings up the very important question: what can be cut without sacrificing the heart of the script? Stage 32 Happy Writers is excited to bring you the previously-recorded 3 part class: The Rewrite Process – What Do I Cut? taught by Lee Stobby, literary manager and founder of Lee Stobby Entertainment. Purchasing gives you access to the previously-recorded live class.Although Lee is no longer reviewing the assignments, we still encourage all listeners to participate!
Join literary manager Spencer Robinson from Art/Work Entertainment as he talks about the state of the comedy writing industry for film & TV and answers questions exclusively for the Stage 32 community!
There is a myth in the television industry right now: more channels mean it’s easier to sell a show, right? WRONG! The diversification of television and the dominance of streaming services over linear cable have made it HARDER to sell unscripted programming. Why? Because there are too many places for the audience to go. In order to get a hit, networks have to become specialized and truly define their brand in order to stand out. You can no longer just pitch IDEAS to networks. IDEAS are not STORIES and they’re not SERIES. There is a lot more work (research, interviews, and writing) that has to go into a pitch before you can take it to a network. Bomb a pitch and a network might not let you in the door again. Angela Molloy is one of the original unscripted executives having been in the game since 2001, when it was just getting started. She’s also one of the only executives who has been a network buyer, a production company development executive (seller), and an Executive Producer in the field. In this webinar you’ll learn get an overall sense of the reality landscape and concrete essential tips for how to develop and pitch into it. Sign up today to make sure you don’t get caught with your pants down during a pitch!
One of the most useful things a writer can do is to team up with a mentor to help them on their journey. Too many writers try to navigate through the script writing process without guidance. Wouldn't you want a mentor that develops and sells material for a living to help you take the mystery work out of your journey? The most successful writers in the industry have their own mentors to make sure they are going in the right direction - do the same for yourself. Stage 32 Happy Writers is thrilled to bring back our 8 Week Working Writer's Lab. This is one of our most hands on, prestigious and talked about labs and we only offer it a few times a year. To find the perfect teacher we go through our rolodex of 400 executives and hand pick an executive that is one of the most raved about from our writers. Your teacher for this lab will be Patrick Raymond, creative executive at Mandalay Pictures! Patrick has assisted a number of our writers on strengthening their scripts and he is excited to help you bring your concept to life. With interactive lectures and weekly homework assignments directly geared towards bringing your concept to life, PLUS ongoing contact with Patrick in between classes, your experience writing has never been easier. Under The Guidance of Patrick Raymond you will: Pick a unique and commercially viable concept. Craft engaging, unique characters that pop off the page. A solid structural skeleton that successfully carries your concept. Cinematic set pieces that will give your story that much-wanted theatrical feel. A fully realized outline highlighting every major plot point in your script. The Objective of the Lab is: To take the mystery work out of picking a concept that can sell. To match you with an executive that will assist you with making sure all your script's elements is as strong as possible. Give you an experience on how development executives develop projects that are now on their company's slate. Class ScheduleWEEK #1 – The Story of Me; Your Questions; Your Stories General class overview. Patrick's history and experiences. What Patrick loves writing about and why. What he looks for in a good story/screenplay. Any initial queries raised in the pre-class questionnaire. NOTE: Given the online format, Patrick will use this week’s “office hours” to more personally respond to/discuss the ideas you are contemplating working on during the Lab. WEEK #2 – Character Creating strong, unique memorable characters. How to have them best serve your story, the genre, themes, etc. Dialogue and voice. Patrick will cover some examples, including personal experience. WEEK #3 – Act I; Premise into Story How to make the leap from basic premise/concept and characters into a full-blooded story. Where to start. What to include in Act 1. Where does Act 1 end and Act 2 begin? Creating a world and setting a tone. Patrick will discuss examples of strong (attention-grabbing and/or smartly-chosen) and weak (meandering, overstuffed, unfocused, etc.) beginnings. WEEK #4 – The Story So Far (Consultation) No on-line class this week. Instead, you will submit premise, Character Bio(s), and Act I outline for review; Patrick will discuss the materials individually in 30 minute phone calls and advise any changes/concerns. WEEK #5 – Act II; Structure and Plotting Plotting and development of your story across Act 2. Examples of structure (midpoints, end of Act 2, Internal/external conflict, etc. WEEK #6 – Theme; What’s it All About? How to ensure that your script isn’t just an escalation of events, but is a rich narrative experience that is hopefully actually about something. Topics to include Theme, Topicality, Relatability, Universality. WEEK #7 – Act III; Sticking the Landing Why 'when and how' to achieve a strong finish is arguably one of the most difficult parts of writing a screenplay. Examples of scripts/films that have accomplished this, as well as those that have not (and why). WEEK #8 – The Completed Outline (Consultation) No on-line class this week. Instead, you will turn in your completed outline for review; Patrick will then discuss with you over a 30-minute consultation. About Your Instructor, Patrick RaymondPatrick Raymond is a Creative Executive at Mandalay Pictures, Peter Gruber’s decades-old production company responsible for films such Sleepy Hollow, The Score, The Jacket, Into the Blue, When the Game Stands Tall and Horns. At Mandalay, Patrick gets to work on his passion every day: cultivating amazing stories and working with great writers.Prior to joining Mandalay, Patrick studied business and film production at the University of Southern California. He worked in the financial services industry for four years before transitioning to entertainment, where he worked as a production assistant in television for four years.After that he transitioned to working at Gersh in the production department but he also gained exposure to the literary world, working with writers and story. He then moved over to LD Entertainment for three years, where he was a Creative Executive, working with writers and helping build scripts and acquire ideas for new projects. Here he had the opportunity to work for Tate Taylor on a James Brown biopic entitled, Get On Up, and learned about assembling large studio films. He has since transitioned to the Creative Executive position at Mandalay Pictures. Patrick was born in Alaska and raised in Seattle prior to moving to LA.
Development Exec from Rosey TV joins our Panel as we listen and read your pitches live to help educate the Writers' Room screenwriters on what is and isn't working in their pitch.
PRE-CLASS PREP - Read your syllabus and plan out your writing ideas. Begin to think about 1-2 ideas that might be a good idea for your drama pilot. Start to prepare for your pilot pitch. WEEK #1 – Introduction, Pitch Docs, Character This week we will cover the syllabus, your instructor's background and experience, your goals for this eight-week lab and launch into a discussion on creating strong characters for your pilot. We will discuss the types of drama pilots and how they differ from network to network. We will go over how to create effective loglines and pitch documents. Then we will delve into character – what makes for strong characters and weak ones. The assignment for this week will be to create a pitch document and write a detailed description (around half a page) on each of your series regular characters. WEEK #2 – Pilot Outline and Series Bible This week we will break down pilot structure, plot and subplots. Pilot structure varies depending on the type of drama pilot (procedural or serial) and the network (broadcast, cable, streaming, digital, etc.) We will identify what kind of network to target for your story idea and structure the pilot accordingly. We will also discuss the function of your series bible and what it needs to include to support your pilot. The assignment for the week is to complete a pilot outline and start work on your bible. WEEK #3 – Pilot Outline (One on One Consultations – No Online Class) This week will consist of one-on-one consultations regarding pilot structure. Each writer will send in their pilot outline in advance and will have a 10-minute call to discuss what works and what doesn’t. The assignment for the week is to address any notes given on the outline before proceeding with next week’s class and to continue working on your series bible. WEEK #4– Scenes, Beats, Dialogue, This week we will address the qualities of effective (and ineffective) scenes, story beats, and dialogue. The assignment for the week will be to write three complete scenes from your outline: the teaser/opening scene, a scene with heavy dialogue, and a strong character scene. WEEK #5– Acts 1 and 2 We will discuss both the four-act and five-act structure. You will decide which works best for the pilot that you are developing. This week we will go over all the necessary story beats that exist in acts 1 and 2 of a drama pilot, including exposition, number of scenes per act, traditional page count, inciting incidents, acts 1 and 2 breaks, etc. The assignment this week will be to complete Acts 1 and 2 of your pilot. WEEK #6– Acts 3, 4 and 5 Similarly to last week, we will cover the necessary story beats that traditionally exist in acts 3 and 4 of a drama pilot. If your pilot structure has five or more, as some broadcast network shows do, there will be time allotted for further instruction on how to proceed. The assignment this week is to complete the first draft of the entire pilot and to turn in your series bible. WEEK #7–Consultation for Revision (No Online Class) This week will consist of one-on-one consultations. Please turn in your pilot at least 24 hours before your scheduled call, and each writer will have a 10-minute call to go over notes. Your assignment this week is to address any notes. WEEK #8– One-on-one Feedback and Polish (No Online Class) This week will consist of 10-minute one-on-one phone calls as well. Please submit your revised pilot at least 24 hours before your scheduled call. Final notes and next steps for your pilot will be given. Payment plans are available - please contact email@example.com for more information.