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How NOT to Land a Part in a Major Production

On set last week with Ben Stiller   You've got big dreams to be an actor. You do bit parts here and there until one day, an opportunity arises that could take you from EXTRA to EXTRAORDINARY. Unless, of course, you let your ego get in the way and pull crap that blows up in your face. Last week, I spent a few days on the set of 'Escape from Dannemora', an 8-part Showtime miniseries directed by Ben Stiller. It stars Patricia Arquette, Paul Dano, and Benecio del Toro. First of …

Bust the Top Ten Creative Writing Myths to Become a Better Writer: Part 2

My last blog, part one, looked at five of the top ten creative writing myths responsible for much of the pain associated with failed writing and derailed storytelling . We examined, in reverse order of destructiveness, the myths ten through six: #10: Show don't tell. #9: The blank page is the enemy. #8: Write what you know. #7: Real writers write every day. #6: Storytelling and writing are the same. Now, we look at the top five myths, the worst of the worst and break down the lie a…

Busting the Top Ten Creative Writing Myths to Become a Better Writer - Part 1

We live in the age of click bait, sound bites and viral memes. On any given day, hour, minute, or second on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, you can find any number of cat videos or fortune-cookie platitudes meant to bolster one or another emotional cliché or bubble-gum metaphysical insipidity. They reflect our moods and emotional states, reinforce happy thoughts, or confirm our darkest vulnerabilities. We read them, consume them, have a laugh or a wistful shrug of self-reflection…

Want To Make Your First Feature? Read This First.

There are about 34,000 films made every year worldwide. And that number is growing. Why are so many films being made these days? Well, one reason is that since the dawn of the digital revolution (about 16 years ago) anyone with an idea and an HD camera or smartphone can now make a film for about $1.25. Did you know that 13,782 films were submitted to Sundance this year? Yep. That's not a typo.   Don't get me wrong. I think this digital revolution is a great turn of events. For s…

Nine Questions To Ask Yourself About Your Script

As a producer/director, I'm asked to read scripts all the time. What I mostly encounter are scripts that aren't ready for production. No even close. How do you know if your script is production ready? Here are nine questions to ask yourself about your script:     1: Does your screenplay use a Three-Act Structure? The Three-Act Structure is a classic hero's journey that divides your story into three parts (or Acts); Setup, Confrontation and the Resolution. I'm recommending…

Working With Actors: The Actor's Journey

Actors are amazing. They willingly thrust themselves into the persona and life experiences of another character. Directors are constantly challenging them, provoking them and inspiring them to fully embody the emotional states of their characters. Yet, many directors are not aware that actors change as they go through three distinct stages in the filmmaking process: Audition, Rehearsal and Production. Each stage puts different stresses on the actors, to which they respond in different w…

How to Break Into the Film Biz with Stage 32's Richard Botto

We are gearing up for an exciting week at the 2017 Hollyshorts Film Festival. One of our panels takes place tomorrow when Stage 32 and Indie Film Hustle get together to talk about indie film! At this year's Sundance Film Festival, RB and our friend Alex Ferrari from IFH and Sebastian Twardosz from Circus Road Films sat down to chat about how to break into the filmmaking business. This is one lively, fun and information packed webcast. But don't be fooled by the title - Whether you're ju…

Why I'm a Feature Director Making a Short Film

Two years ago, I became ranked in the Top 10 of Up-and-Coming Hollywood Directors Under 40 on IMDb (Internet Movie Database) and was featured on the front page of the Hollywood Reporter. I’ve been fortunate enough to direct many name actors including an Oscar-Nominated and Golden Globe winning actor and am attached to direct several multi-million dollar projects over the next few years. I also co-run LA Acting Studios, which is an intense on-camera, set-like scene study class …

Why Is a Waffle-Loving Donkey So Memorable?

For the last month I've had the pleasure of working with Roger S. H. Schulman, the Oscar-nominated and BAFTA award winning writer of SHREK. Roger's impressive roster also includes being a scribe for Steven Spielberg Executive Produced BALTO, as well as two Disney films MULAN II, THE JUNGLE BOOK II, and plenty of other features and TV shows. I'm thrilled to bring in Roger as a special guest for Stage 32 THIS SATURDAY to teach a Masterclass on Creating Compelling Characters. I mean, the w…

4 Rules To Financially Protect Your Film With Indie Distributors

First of all, let me introduce you to the existence of Independent Film Predators. They are less-than-legitimate indie film distributors that want to distribute your film and unfortunately, there's a bunch of 'em. In fact I can vouch for their existence personally. 3 OF A KIND, my recently completed psychological thriller, premiered at the WorldFest Houston International Film Festival. It's a film we literally scraped and clawed financially to get done. We ultimately had to take out per…

Descriptive Writing: Don't Be Afraid

This blog may be stating the obvious and I don't want to come across as condescending, but I just thought I would impart a piece of advice I have recently given to a client of mine. I have found while doing my job as an editor, that I have a great responsibility, not just to the authors I work with, but to the work itself. It's not just about spelling and grammar, it is also about what is best for the story and looking at something from the point of view of the reader. I do know of cour…

Dreams, Fears, Communism and My Trip to The Other Side of the World

Dreams are an interesting phenomenon. They are available to everyone to dream them, but there are only a few who go chasing them and fulfill them. Why is that? Why doesn't everyone grasp their dream and be what they want to be or do what they really want to do? Well, in my case, this question came a little later in my life, (let's say I'm not in the first flush of youth), but what's more important for me is that I took my time and efforts to answer it and the answer for me personally was…

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