Posted by Richard "RB" Botto

Greetings from what has been a somewhat subdued and extremely snowy Sundance Film Festival.

This week I have a wealth of Sundance and Oscar news along with the usual array of tips, tricks, videos and everything happening around the platform and community.

So dig in and enjoy the content. As always, I ask you to pay it forward when and where you can by sharing this blog with your fellow creative peers via email, carrier pigeon or social media. I also welcome remarks or musings on any of the content below in the Comments section. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

In the meantime, have a terrific and creative weekend!




When Your Work Becomes Mastery: Understanding Yūgen

When I was a little boy about eight or nine, I happened to be playing in front of the TV in our Chicago apartment one day, when an old black and white English movie came on. I knew nothing about acting, though I had once played a tree in a skit. But there was one actor on the screen who I could see was doing something remarkable. He was just different, unlike any of the other actors, though I couldn’t say how, but I could see that 'something' right there on the screen.

What he was doing, how he was acting, the impression he was making made me feel a sensation, which I now know was awe. I realized I was watching some extraordinary accomplishment I had never seen in movies before, in my life before. I pointed to him and said, “Who is that, Mom?” She was a movie buff. She knew. Click here for the entire story!

The Stage 32 Short Film Script Contest Finalists Announced!

The warm sun, the sand between your toes, and a $20,000 production grant provided by St. Petersburg/Clearwater Film Commission. Stage 32 and the St. Petersburg/Clearwater Film Commission are incredibly excited to see who makes it to Florida to film their short film script. These 10 Finalists are that much closer to seeing their story come to life, and we are beyond excited on their achievement thus far! Click here and Join us as we congratulate the writers who made it to the Finalists round in the Stage 32 Short Film Script Contest!

The Oscar Nominations Are In....

Today is an exciting day here at Stage 32 - we want to congratulate our Stage 32 members, educators & executives who worked on 13 films (that we know of!) that are officially nominated for the 2017 Oscars! Click here to see STAGE 32 MEMBERS WHO HAVE FILM NOMINATIONS!  


Made For Under $1 Million: What I Learned & How Our Film Came Out Ahead (Jan 31)

Stage 32 is excited to bring in the development executive for Ryan Reynold's production company Dark Trick Films & TV, Blake Goza, who has spent the last 7 years working projects such as Deadpool, Buried, The Change Up and RIPD.

Even though Blake works on some of the most popular films & television of today, it's his personal project - a film entitled Escort - which he made independently for under $1MM that fuels his passion for being a creative.

With this webinar, Blake will give you a producer’s perspective on building an independently financed movie, from start to finish, for under one million dollars. Using The Escort as a case study, he will walk you through each stage of the independent process: finding a script, packaging talent, determining a budget, acquiring financing, shooting, post production, and ultimately, distribution.

Blake will discuss process specifics, like his decision to attach a sales agent in the early stages of development; what financing options he prefers - the benefits and risks of private equity versus foreign pre-sales; what talent he chose to attach first – the argument for finding your director before making offers to actors; and how to build a release strategy for your film that allows for success as you define it – whether your goal is critical acclaim, commercial exposure, or financial reward, begin with the end in mind, and build a platform that allows you to achieve that goal.

What you will learn:

  • Finding a Script
  • Beginning With the End in Mind
  • Determining a budget
  • Packaging Talent
  • Shooting
  • Post Production
  • Distribution
  • Q&A With Blake

If you’ve wanted to produce a film outside of the studio system on a responsible budget, then this class if for you!  Click here to register!

Dilemma: Learn To Craft The Dramatic Core of Your Story (On Demand)

This is a 4 session working writer intensive advanced course - over 12 hours of advanced instruction!

To succeed as a writer in Hollywood, whether in film, TV, or new media, you need top-notch skills as a storyteller and you need serious chops as a dramatist. The ability to find the dramatic core of your story in any genre and beef up its horsepower are crucial, and yet this is notoriously elusive. However, there is a time-tested technique of putting your protagonist in a good strong dilemma, building it to a crisis, forcing decision and action, and then ultimately resolving the dilemma, one way or the other. The full and proper use of this technique is not well known, however, but Jeff Kitchen has been teaching it for over twenty years.

The dictionary defines dilemma as a situation with a choice to be made in which neither alternative is acceptable. Two equally unacceptable alternatives—two equally painful choices. The story of a person trapped in a dilemma of magnitude can be riveting. Do you betray your wife or your best friend? Do you tell a dying friend the horrible truth about their son or do you spare them and let them die with their illusions? Are you trapped in a comic situation in which the girl you’ve met is simultaneously the best thing that ever happened to you, as well as the worst?

Jeff Kitchen is one of Hollywood’s top screenwriting teachers, and will train you to dramatize your stories by using Dilemma, Crisis, Decision & Action, and Resolution. It works in any genre, and always amplifies the inherent dramatic power of any story. This puts the protagonist in a more complex and compelling situation and attracts top actors who seek roles with substance, depth, complexity, and challenge.


  • Week One - Dilemma
  • Week Two - Crisis
  • Week Three - Decision and Action
  • Week Four - Resolution
To get all the details of the Schedule and to register online, click here!


Pitch Opportunities





Sundance Past & Present: Seven Hair-Raising Lessons from Returning Filmmakers 

Amazon's Film Chief on Sundance Buying Plans, Rival Netflix and Apple's Possible Movie Play 

Bring On the Bidding Wars: 14 Movies That Could Sell Big at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival 

Sundance at the Box Office: Here’s Why ‘Birth of A Nation’ Isn’t Enough To Scare Buyers In 2017 

Sundance 2017: Here Are the Cameras Used to Shoot This Year’s Acclaimed Films 

Why Screen Gems Is Using Smaller, Cheaper Cameras to Make Bigger Movies 

Oscar Nominations: ‘La La Land’ Ties Record With 14 Noms; ‘Arrival’ & ‘Moonlight’ Snag 8 Apiece 

Oscar Snubs: Martin Scorsese, ‘Sully’ & Taraji P. Henson Get No Academy Love 

Five surprising Oscar nominations and how they happened 

The 2017 Oscar Nominations Don’t Matter 

Mary Tyler Moore, Sweetheart of American Television, Dies at 80 

How Mary Tyler Moore became an unlikely icon for ‘90s kids 

DGA Members Ratify New Film & TV Contract 

Emma Stone's Battle With Shyness, Panic Attacks and Phobias on the Way to the Oscars


Kate Winslet Shares Her Acting Secrets 

Mastering Composition + Cinematography with Will Smith


5 Quick Hacks to Instantly Build Your Confidence 

7 Pieces of Filmmaking Advice from Legendary Director Oliver Stone 

Want Hollywood’s Attention? Write a Showcase Short 

9 Elements of a Great Monologue 

8 Essential Cuts Every Editor Should Know

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As always, we welcome thoughts and remarks on ANY of the content above in the Comments section below...


Just Finish The Book!
Brand New Stage 32 Screenwriting Contest - Fantasy & Sci-Fi!
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