What if most of what's being taught about screenwriting and TV writing is wrong?
What if the rules, paradigms and secrets widely touted in books, seminars and classes not only don't improve your chances of making it, but could actually sabotage you? And what if there were specific skill sets nobody talks about that could dramatically boost your chance for success?
In the past two years, Corey Mandell has had 47 students and clients sell or option scripts with dozens more landing writing assignments on such shows as Community, Treme, Justified, Bones and The Fosters. An extremely well executed spec script is required to break into the business, yet too many writers waste valuable time writing a script with little to no chance at success.
This teleconference will cover what agents and managers are looking for in today's marketplace, and will share the best ways to launch a career. It also provides the specific tools required to write screenplays and pilots at a professional level.
What you will learn
The strategies actual writers have successfully used to break into the business. What is required to write a script that truly grabs and holds a reader's attention.
Avoiding the five mistakes that can sink your chances, and why most scripts get rejected.
What kind of scripts stand out and get you the right kind of attention. How to know if your script is ready to be read by industry professionals.
And how to get your script read by the right people, while knowing what exactly agents and managers are seeking.
Should I go to film school? Like most vexing questions of our day, the answer is, “Well, it depends.” The “what” it depends on is up to the individual student, the parents, the location, the cost, and a myriad of other factors. There are people who claim that everything a student can learn in a film school can be learned through experience. There are well-known online courses that take a strong anti-brick-and-mortar-film school stance and generate their revenue by advocating this viewpoint. Some people would rather use their potential tuition money for cameras, lighting gear, microphones, and computers and just start filming. Others will read books about screenwriting rather than take a class. And some of these people will do very well for themselves in this chaotic media industry that is consuming and reinventing itself faster than we can watch a season of “Rectify” on Netflix. But for people who choose film school, there is a path for them that will definitely make sense in the context of the return on their investment in the form of future career opportunities. And beyond even the instruction and access to equipment, a school like Tribeca Flashpoint Academy provides structure and a main lodge for young people (and some older ones too) to socialize while offering them the opportunity to share their knowledge, experiences, and perspectives. There they can embrace the fact that they are all members of a tribe known as the digital creative class as they get to know each other and work together in a common physical space.
Peter Hawley, Dean of Tribeca Flashpoint Academy, was starting a new semester as a teacher at a different institution about a decade ago, and he found himself asking the same question about the relevancy of film school; albeit in a different context. He was taking over for another teacher’s class when he came to a troubling realization. After polling his students, he learned that their knowledge and capabilities with digital cameras and filmmaking techniques were beyond the information listed on the syllabus. Not long after that experience, Peter was offered the opportunity to join a team that was building a digital media school, then known as just Flashpoint Academy, in Chicago from the ground up. For Peter this was the opportunity of a lifetime. Not only was he going to be an integral contributor to the founding of a new school, but the school would focus on the digital tools and education that his students deserved. He joined the group and became the head of the film department and has been a part of the vibrant rebirth of film in Chicago ever since.
Before Peter became the head of the film department at Tribeca Flashpoint Academy and eventual dean, he was and still is a filmmaker. As you might expect from someone who intersperses teaching with an active career, Peter has developed himself over many disciplines. He has contributed to the media industry as a commercial director as well as a documentary filmmaker. In his film “What’s Two + Three?” Peter points the camera at his sister, his parents, and himself as he follows his family’s physical and emotional journey to the 2003 Special Olympics in Ireland where his sister was competing. It is a film that, despite its low-tech approach, works because of the raw honesty and truth that Peter sought out for himself and that he eventually delivered to his audience. You can watch the movie for free on YouTube.
The digital era of content is upon us. There is no way to rewind back to the days of analog except for those who have the luxury of having indulgent benefactors with unlimited budgets. Conversely, what sometimes gets lost in the sheer accessibility and ease of use of our generation’s digital tools and the wizardry they provide, is that they cannot turn a poorly executed story or piece of commercial work into a gem. We live in a time where almost every movie ever made is accessible, legally or otherwise, at the touch of a button on a device that fits into our pockets. This content is available to over a billion people with more coming online everyday. Our brave new digital world will provide countless opportunities to the great grandsons and great granddaughters of the architects of our physical world. It is however imperative that those who wish to succeed in the next great evolution of our society learn not only the tools of their trade, but the underlying principles that will never fade. Hard work, commitment to excellence, and community have provided a foundation for success in every age when and where they were applied. People like Peter Hawley and schools like Tribeca Flashpoint Academy understand this fact and they provide the resources and guidance that the students require to reach their full potential.
Sitting in the Eccles Theater at Sundance in 2014 waiting for the movie Whiplash to start was uneventful. I knew nothing about the movie that I was about to see, and to be honest I was probably playing Words with Friends right up until the moment the lights went down.
For those of you who have been to Sundance, you know that the struggle to get tickets is sometimes a bit overwhelming and the nightlife can wear you down, so it is theoretically possible that one might look forward to a movie to catch up on some needed sleep. You might also know that even the "big" movies, Eccles seats over 1000 people, can sometimes miss their mark. So as the screen flickered to life and I realized that the movie was about a young drummer trying to land the lead spot in a jazz band, I settled in for a well needed snooze. But after 5 minutes into the movie, I felt like I was on a roller coaster and I knew that I was going to be taken on a ride so unexpected and thrilling that I would never want to get off.
If you haven't seen the movie yet, go see it. No excuses. Just find a way to see the movie in a theater with a bunch of people and get ready to be enthralled. The fact that it was nominated for 5 Oscars should sweeten the pot just a bit.
Recently I got the chance to sit down with the writer-director of Whiplash, Damien Chazelle. He was warm, insightful, and as he'll tell you, a bit of a perfectionist. His early days as a jazz drummer in high school inspired this story, and Damien explains how the discipline he learned as a musician set him up for the hard work required to get a movie like Whiplash off the ground.
For those of you reading this and considering making the script you wrote into a movie, this podcast should be of great importance. Damien does talk about how the stars aligned for him to get this movie made, but that was only after he put in the hard work to have favor find him. Damien is an inspiring young filmmaker who has just set the bar a lot higher, not only for independent filmmakers looking for their first break, but for the veteran filmmakers who have lost their way.
Damien is a class act, and I am sure that his film will be escorting more than one small golden man home on Oscar night.
Greta McAnany is an award-winning producer, writer and storyteller. After graduating from USC, Greta formed her own production company and received a grant from the Thorton Foundation in Los Angeles to produce a feature documentary about childhood obesity, entitled “Bite Size”. The film won the Grand Jury prize at Cinequest Film Festival and was featured by Katie Couric’s “Obesity Awareness” special on ABC. It is set to release in March 2015. Greta has also produced award-winning live newscasts and reported as a theatre critic for ‘LA Stage Times’, where she interviewed Oscar and Tony-winning writers, directors, and actors. She is a co-founder of the next generation studio X-Factor Films and is a co-producer on the feature documentary in currently in production, “Flush Revolution”.
Lauren Tracy In ‘09 Lauren graduated RIT (Film MFA/Creative Writing Minor) and represented her class as the commencement speaker. From 2008-10 Lauren and her father Rick Tracy ran an organization that worked with Avid, NYU and Kathryn Bigelow to provide financial awards to female filmmakers. In 2010 Lauren interned for producers of the feature ‘The Hammer” and commercial production company Über Content in LA. By 2013 Lauren had written and directed 8 and edited 11 shorts. Lauren’s work has been shown at the LA Shorts, High Falls, LA Femme International and Slamdance Film Festivals. At the latter, she was presented the ‘Emerging Director’ award. Working in LA, Lauren was hired as lead editor on two independent features: “How To Grow Our Own” (2012) and “Your Friends Close” (2013). In 2013 she completed her feature script “Sweet Desert Palm”. Lauren then started X-Factor Films to build a sustainable business model around her and other’s films by and about badass women (www.xfactorfilm.com).
Rachel Goldberg is an award-winning writer/director and one of eight women selected to participate in AFI’s prestigious Directing Workshop for Women. There she created her short film, NEIGHBORS. NEIGHBORS has screened at close to twenty film festivals, including Oscar-qualifying fests such as the Palm Springs International ShortFest, the Nashville Film Festival and the Rhode Island International Film Festival where it won First Place for the Alternative Spirit Award. Stephen Nemeth, famed producer of FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS has said of NEIGHBORS, “With the skills of a seasoned film director, Rachel Goldberg served up a balanced/nuanced/serious film with just the right dose of levity to allow you to thoroughly enjoy NEIGHBORS!” The praise continues as Jacob Krueger of writeryourscreenplay.com personally recommended Rachel for an interview.
Rachel earned her interdisciplinary MFA in Directing for Theater, Film and Television from Cal Arts and her BA in Theater and Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. She has directed numerous productions for film, theater and television and her theater production of Vern Theissens’s APPLE was described as “poetry in motion” by LA Weekly and “stunning” by the LA Stage Scene. In 2012, she was named one of “30 Emerging Filmmakers to Watch” by Film Independent and was an HBO/DGA Directing Fellowship Finalist the same year.
Tinge trained as a doctor before turning her passion to filmmaking. Her short film Shadowscan won a BAFTA and her first feature, Junkhearts, starring Eddie Marsan won awards at the London Film Festival and Moscow International Film Festival. Tinge currently has three features in development: The psychological thriller, Into the Darkest Corner, with Revolution Films to be shot in NYC. Been So Long, based on the successful musical at the Young Vic, with GreenAcre Films and Funny Cow starring Maxine Peake, Tony Pitts, John Hannah and Martin Freeman. Recommended highly by the Jacob Krueger Studio, Tinge continues working with established production companies, but also runs her own called, Disruptive Element Films.
Laura Gómez is an actor, writer and director based in New York City. Recommended by Jacob Krueger and his writing studio (www.WriteYourScreenplay.com), Laura plays the role of Dominican inmate Blanca Flores in the Netflix original hit series, Orange is the New Black, and has starred in several short films, including To Kill a Roach - winner of the Technisphere Award for Outstanding Achievement at New York University - and Hallelujah, both of which she wrote, produced, directed and starred in. In 2011, she was a recipient of the IX Screenwriting Developing Grant from the Carolina Foundation in Spain and is currently in post-production of a third short film she recently directed and co-produced. In 2015 her work as an actor includes the HBO miniseries Show me a Hero, created by David Simon and directed by Paul Haggis, the movie Daughter of God, starring Keanu Reeves and the much anticipated Season 3 of Orange is the New Black.
Karin Partin Wells writes about the shit that everyone has to go through but no one talks about. Her comedy TV pilot Overdue, about how to be a mother when you fail to have a child of your own, was a 2014 finalist at Sundance, Scriptapalooza and Austin Film Festival. That pilot landed her a job writing the feature screenplay Still Perfect for 180 Degrees. The film will be produced in late 2015 and is about an ambitious young woman adjusting to the sacrifice of motherhood. Wells is a student of the Jacob Krueger Studio and writeyourscreenplay.com, was farm raised in Indiana, cityfied in Brooklyn, legitimized in the Bronx and is currently bourbon-fried in Kentucky.
Amy is an American living it in Oxford, England with her husband and two sons. This is her 26th address to date, having lived in Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Italy, and all over the US. Amy’s education & background are in theater, having received a degree from Northwestern University, and a more practical education from The Groundlings Theater in LA where she worked as their stage manager for 4 years. At that same time she worked as a PA at Regency Productions. She fled LA in 1994 and returned to her first love, live theater, where she acted, stage managed, built sets & costumes, and finally directed. Eventually she tried her hand at screenwriting with writing partner, Scott Gibson. They thought they could write a sequel to “Northern Exposure”, but instead wrote pilot about a small town filled with quirky people. No more than six months after finishing, it was optioned. Never again did they have it that easy. Several projects, many competitions, and two options later, Dazzleland – which was the TV Pilot category winner in the 2013 Table Read My Screenplay Contest - is in the capable hands of Mozark Productions.
Named to the Independent Film Channel’s list of emerging "Icons", Tracie Laymon is an independent screenwriter and director hailing from Austin, Texas. Her previous projects have won numerous jury awards at South by Southwest, Memphis International Film Festival, Las Vegas International Film Festival, and many others. In 2009, she received a nomination for the Milan International Film Festival Award (considered to be the Italian "Oscar" of independent film), followed by winning the Award for Short Film of the Year from the Women's Image Network. In 2011, Tracie wrote and directed a featured segment of the anthology film “Girls!Girls!Girls!”, completed a script adaption for acclaimed Polish director Jacek Bromski, and directed the sitcom Goodnight Burbank, featuring Dominic Monaghan (Lost, Lord of the Rings) and Laura Silverman (Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Sarah Silverman Program). Goodnight Burbank premiered on Hulu where it was personally acquired by Mark Cuban and aired on his TV Channel, HDNET, in the fall of 2011. Tracie's latest short film A Hidden Agender starring Elaine Hendrix (The Parent Trap, Superstar) premiered at the Dallas International Film Festival and won the Jury Prize for Best Dark Comedy at the Houston Independent Film Festival in 2012. Tracie then wrote One Small Step for Neil, which will serve as her directorial feature debut, and won Best Screenplay at the 2013 LA Comedy Festival. She is represented by The Gersh Agency in Beverly Hills and is a close friend of the Int’l Screenwriters’ Association.