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Past Classes & Webinars

Character Essentials: Ten Questions to create more compelling, castable characters
Presented by

Characters are the lifeblood of every story. And yet writers consistently don't spend enough time on their development and intrinsic connection to the plot. A great story means nothing if the wrong characters are leading us through it.

This seminar will present 10 Questions you should be asking -- and answering -- about your characters to make sure they are complex, well-developed, and interesting enough to be castable with major talent and make your story shine!

And it will give you a checklist of exercises to make sure your story and characters are connected in the right ways.

It Doesn't Take Much: The Screenwriting Hallmarks of a No- or Low-Budget Film
Presented by MozartTheDog

In this compelling webinar, award-winning screenwriter Charlotte Winters will describe the literary hallmarks of a no-budget/low-budget film. Having written more than 20 scripts for the stage and screen (including three produced no-budget shorts) and also having served as an Associate Producer for The History Channel's Ax-Men, she will dive deep into how and why writers should embrace writing for no- or low-budget films.

Specifically, she will:

  • Define "no-budget" vs. "low budget"
  • Explore the benefits of writing such films
  • Discuss the cost-effective elements commonly found in their scripts
  • Examine how budget limitations can spur creativity and innovation
  • Analyze successful case studies of no- and low-budget filmmaking

Getting the most out of your first draft...and beyond
Presented by Ben Cahan

In this half hour seminar, Thomas will discuss the following critical skills that apiriring writers need to master in order to end up with screenplays and concepts that have a chance in today's tough Entertianment market:

  • How to develop a "noisy idea" that you want to write into a screenplay that will sell.
  • Discuss his techniques, including story, dump, carding, and beat sheet.
  • How to set appropriate goals to get that first draft finished on time.
  • What characters how to build characters that stick with audiences.
  • How to create mood and tone with as few words as possible.
  • How to bring visuals to the script.
  • Jump scares - how to craft them, when to use them and when to not.

Turning Pro: A Few Words About Writing and Discipline and Breaking In
Presented by Mister Fishhead

Why I pass on Screenplays: A reader's perspective
Presented by Mister Crab

with Tennyson Stead

In twenty years providing script coverage, I have probably written coverage that recommended a script around twenty times.

How can this be? Are there truly no good writers in Hollywood, or is there something else going on? Why is threading the needle of film development so challenging?

In this interactive Q&A session, I will be discussing a few of the following reasons:

  • Most screenwriters come from literature or journalism these days, and there are some big differences between writing for a reader and writing for actors.
  • What we're talking about is the difference between active and passive writing, which in dramaturgical terms is the difference between action and reaction.
  • Most film executives and most managers come from the business world, or just from business school, and have no idea what these differences are.
  • Even if they don't know how to articulate it, they can feel that something's missing. Inevitably, they interpret that feeling as a "tonal" problem. It's not a tonal problem. It's structural.
  • If we work from the action, we support the actor's performance instead of asking them to sell our story.

Mastering Loglines: One Small Sentence on Your Story, One Giant Leap For Your Career! Bring Your Loglines!
Presented by

A logline is a single sentence that must accomplish a big job. Industry pros are looking for something that draws us in, tantalizes us, and makes us hungry to read your script. Learn to craft the logline that sells your story.

  • Create Strong Loglines
    Learn what every logline needs to succeed. Master the fundamentals - the logline laws - plus the extras that make a good logline great. Find out which logline rumors are misleading myths. Discover a simple litmus test to determine how to start your sentence. Get seven guidelines to creating great loglines. Avoid the pitfalls and elevate your logline so it stands out for the right reasons. Discover how to use your logline to do market research on your idea before you begin to write.
  • Take your turn at bat!
    Get real time constructive feedback by submitting your logline in advance! Pre-submitted loglines will be reworked with the writer on the spot with professional guidance. Get tips on strengthening your logline to make it a powerful tool. Even if you aren't a live participant, seeing a pro take apart a logline and work with a writer to put it back together to reflect the best in their story and become the most effective selling tool possible will empower you to apply those same techniques to mastering your loglines.
  • How To Participate
    Submit your logline - including the title and specific genre - by January 22, 2024 to have it incorporated into our live discussion. (email it to us at

Approaching the Rewrite: An illustrated, step-by-step seminar on the process and its importance
Presented by

with Paul Chitlik

I've used the word "approaching" because approaching a rewrite is something to be taken seriously, like approaching a wild animal. You never know what's going to happen. A serious confrontation might occur. Or, everything could be just fine. Or something in between.

No one would approach a wild animal without training and proper equipment, not to mention a little coaching and maybe some help. In this talk, I hope to provide you with the tools you will need when you finally get up the nerve to confront your script. I'll give you a procedure that's been good for me and the thousands of writers I've worked with. We'll even take a little time, just a little, to write a few things during the talk to jump start your process. By the end of the 45 minutes, I hope you will have a plan to tackle the beast.

This is a talk for experienced television and screenwriters as well as newbies. Though it helps to have completed a screenplay beforehand, you'll find that this way of organizing a rewrite will help you get started on a script as well. We will be reviewing structure, conflict, action writing, dialogue, cuts, presentation and more. Bring paper (remember paper?) and a pen.

Navigating Hollywood: An interactive Q&A with Pretty Woman producer Gary Goldstein
Presented by Gary Milin

In this 90 minute Q&A, Gary chats with Talentville CEO Ben Cahan about his journey to producing and shares some advice for today's aspiring screenwriters.

Representing Writers: An interview with Literary Manager Zach Cox
Presented by

In this 60 minute interview with Talentville CEO Ben Cahan, Literary Manager Zach Cox (Circle of Confusion) will discuss the role Literary Managers have in guiding the careers of up and coming screenwriters, as well as sharing his thoughts on where opportunities lie for new talent within the expanding landscape of entertainment.

Making Deals: An Interview with Literary Agent David Boxerbaum
Presented by

In this 60 minute interview, Verve partner David Boxerbaum will discuss the role Literary Agents play in helping shape and grow the careers of up and coming screenwriters, as well as his thoughts on a variety of strategies aspiring writers can use to improve the quality of their scripts and ultimately catch the attention of him and other in similar positions around Hollywood (and beyond).

Getting past the reader: An interview with veteran script analyst Michael Schulman
Presented by

In this conversation with Talentville CEO Ben Cahan, veteran script analyst & screenplay consultant Michael Schulman shares strategies for breaking into the industry as a screenwriter; how Netflix and other streamers have changed the playing field; and offers tips on honing your screenwriting craft to maximize your opportunities to get noticed.

From micro-budget to studio films: An interview with screenwriter & novelist Allison Burnett
Presented by

In this chat with Talentville CEO Ben Cahan, veteran screenwriter and author Allison Burnett shares stories of how he broke into the business and offers advice on what it takes to survive in the challenging world of Hollywood. With such an unrivaled breadth of experience -- from indie to studio films, specs to hired rewrites, film directing to fiction writing -- you will not want to miss this engaging and educational interview.

The Secret to Creating Riveting Drama in any Genre
Presented by

Whether your script is a wacko comedy or a bone-crunching thriller, it has to work dramatically. Trapping your protagonist between two equally painful choices - a Dilemma - amplifies your story's dramatic power. This uniquely effective tool has proven its value in raising a story's stakes, urgency, emotional resonance, tension, and conflict-all of which make any story more compelling. Jeff will demonstrate this in action by building a story from scratch on the spot.

Participants should know the movie Training Day with Denzel Washington.

A chat about The Biz with working screenwriter (and author and consultant) Mark Sanderson
Presented by

In this 60 minute chat with Talentville CEO Ben Cahan, working screenwriter/script consultant and author Mark Sanderson shares his personal experience getting in (and staying in) the Entertainment Industry as a screenwriter, and offers his advice on ways new writers can position themselves & their spec screenplays, and gives us all a few tips on how to navigate the ups and downs of life as a screenwriter.

Creating a Killer Comedy Premise
Presented by

What makes a great comic premise? Why do some work, and some not? More than just a selling tool, or a "high concept" logline, a great comic premise is a useable, practical tool that can help lay the essential foundation for a successful screenplay.

In this unique virtual online workshop, we'll explore principles of creating your own comic premise. The interactive workshop will include examples from classic and contemporary comedies, and tips on developing the initial idea, by focusing on character and theme, into a fully formed narrative.

What Really Drives A Story (It's Not What You Think)
Presented by

At the time of its release, E.T. The Extra Terrestrial was the highest grossing movie of all time. It solidified Steven Speilberg as one of the all time great and most successful directors. More importantly for screenwriters, it demonstrated a foundational lesson we must learn about creating truly great stories. That every great story is actually TWO stories.

In this webinar, Mitch will explain and how ET demonstrates not only the existence of these two stories but that the Main Character is not indispensable to the story. He will illustrate the difference between what "causes" a story and what "drives" a story, that they're not the same thing. Critical concepts that, once understood, can transform your storytelling and screenwriting potential.