Writers are often stuck at the first step, trying to decide what to write about. It’s an elusive and daunting question, maybe the most important question of the entire writing process. When we jump to a quick response, we often choose topics we think are commercial or relevant without looking more deeply at what we really love and feel strongly about. In this workshop, we’ll use a series of exercises to uncover the hidden themes, genres, and characters we most want to write about. This class will be relevant to both feature and television writers.
Jessica Sharzer has developed feature films for Universal, HBO, MTV, 20th Century
Fox, Fox 2000, Sony, Lionsgate, Netflix and Paramount. Produced features include
NERVE (2015) and A SIMPLE FAVOR (2018). Her sequel A SIMPLE FAVOR 2 is slated for production in October 2023 for Amazon Studios. She is currently adapting a memoir for actor-producer Lili Reinhardt at Amazon. She recently adapted the novel THE GIRLS I’VE BEEN for Millie Bobby Brown at Netflix and cult classic THE HUNGER for Warner Brothers. In television, Ms. Sharzer has developed drama pilots for CBS, FOX, MTV, APPLE and ABC networks. She is currently adapting James Patterson’s bestselling series WOMEN’S MURDER CLUB along with Carol Mendelsohn for Amazon. Ms. Sharzer was a Co-Executive Producer on AMERICAN HORROR STORY (FX), STAR (Fox), AMAZING STORIES (Apple) and NINE PERFECT STRANGERS (Hulu). As a director, Ms. Sharzer made her feature debut with SPEAK (2004) which premiered at Sundance and was nominated for Writers Guild and Directors Guild awards. Ms. Sharzer holds Masters Degrees from NYU and UC Berkeley. She is an adjunct professor of graduate screenwriting and script analysis at USC.
So, you think you have a great idea for a show. Now what? How do you convince the buyer that your idea is indeed great, and that they need to buy it. We’ll walk you through our process of building a pitch, and some pitfalls to avoid. This is a workshop for anyone trying to navigate the maddening process of selling your show in a contracting industry with a confusing business model led by scared executives.
Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster just released their limited-series PAINKILLER on Netflix, which was the number one show in 54 countries. The series tells the story of the Sackler family and their role in the Opioid epidemic, starring Uzo Aduba and Matthew Broderick, with Pete Berg directing.Micah and Noah are also working on another limited series, based on RAZZLEKHAN: THE INFAMOUS CROCODILE OF WALL STREET for Searchlight Studios and Hulu. This upcoming series will star Lily Collins with Charlie McDowell directing. They’re also writing and producing the limited series FERNANDOMANIA about Fernando Valenzuela and the 1981 Dodgers, with Alfonso Gomez-Rejon directing.On the film side, they recently wrote the remake of BAMBI with Sarah Polley directing and Kacey Musgraves writing original music. Also for Disney, they’re currently adapting FLIGHT OF THE NAVIGATOR with Bryce Dallas Howard directing. Micah and Noah also wrote MALEFICENT 2 and A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD, which garnered an Oscar nomination for Tom Hanks, WGA nomination and Humanitas and PEN awards for Noah.
Their writing and producing of TRANSPARENT earned them a Peabody Award and the show went on to win Golden Globes and BAFTA awards, WGA nominations and Emmy Nominations, among many others.As an actor, Noah plays Bill Strausser in the Apple series FOR ALL MANKIND. Before that, he played Tig Notaro’s brother in ONE MISSISSIPPI.
In TV: “You get one shot to make a good first impression.” When someone is reading your script, you want them to read past the first act. Often, the first few pages are either full of exposition in an attempt to set up the world, or it feels familiar, without a new take or a surprising character that jumps off the page. In this workshop, we’ll look at a few examples of pilots that have strong openings that grab you immediately, go over shared work and talk through different options in hooking the reader on a deeper level, giving them a sense of the characters, the emotional stakes and the themes that are going to be explored in the writing.
MANDO ALVARADO is an award-winning playwright/screenwriter from Pharr, Texas. He was a Co-EP on IRON MIKE for HULU and was a Consulting Producer on WASHINGTON BLACK for HULU. He’s written on BRAND NEW CHERRY FLAVOR, VIDA, GREENLEAF, and was a Co-Producer for SEVEN SECONDS. He co-wrote and co-directed his first feature film, Cruzando, with Michael Ray Escamilla. He is an alum of INTAR’s Hispanic-Playwright-in-Residence Laboratory and a graduate of The University of North Carolina School of the Arts.
This workshop will explore the many facets of the writers’ room: We’ll cover how one gets into a writers’ room– discussing the substance and form of the pilot script, then move on to how writers’ rooms work, from interviewing to etiquette to pitching stories and working your way up the staff.
This workshop is for those hoping to be in a writers’ room someday as well as for those with some experience who are looking to sharpen their skills. It will be interactive so be prepared to write and give feedback- valuable skills you’ll need in the room.
JESSICA GOLDBERG started her career as a playwright. Her plays have been produced at Rattlestick, Playwrights Horizons, The Echo Theater Company, and The Mark Taper Forum among others. Her play REFUGE won the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, and she went on to adapt and direct it as a feature film starring Krysten Ritter. Recently her play Babe, premiered at the Echo Theater Company and won the Los Angeles Theater Critics Award for Best Playwrighting. Jessica started writing in film and television in the early aughts.
She wrote on NBC’s Parenthood for two years before creating and executive producing her own show, critically acclaimed THE PATH (starring Aaron Paul, Michelle Monahan and Hugh Dancy), that ran for three seasons on Hulu. She recently served as Executive Producer and Showrunner of AWAY (starring Hilary Swank) for Netflix. Jessica’s work on Away earned her a Gracie Award for Showrunner, and a Media Access Award. Jessica currently has a deal at Universal Television where she is adapting the cult 90’s film FEAR into a series for Peacock.Jessica’s film work includes ALEX OF VENICE directed by Chris Messina, and the Apple original movie CHERRY directed by the Russo Brothers starring Tom Holland. She is currently writing a movie about Carl Sagan and The Golden Record with director Sebastian Lelio. Jessica is a graduate of NYU’s Dramatic Writing Program, and alumni of The Juilliard School’s Playwrighting Program.