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Coffee & Content - Crafting the Perfect Villain & 5 Things a Director Does on Set

Happy first Sunday of December, everyone.  Today I have two videos for you that I think you'll enjoy quite a bit.  First up, what makes a great villain?  The video essay Crash of Ideologies - Crafting the Perfect Villain explores the relationship between some of film's most memorable heroes and villains. Second, a terrific video from Film Courage featuring one of our favorite Stage 32 educators, James Kicklighter.  James, a writer, director and mentor to many a film…

3rd Annual November Write Club: We Made It!

We made it, Write Club! We have arrived. The end of our 30-day endeavors is right around the corner. We’ve been through a lot this month, bum knees, sickness, sleep deprivation, focus issues, life’s constant distractions, and yet we have prevailed. No coffee pot left unfilled. No writer left behind. We pulled together, shared solutions, and encouraged each other to push forward to reach our collective and individual goals. Projects were finished, leaps in progress were made,…

How Science Fiction Can Make Your Career

If you're a writer, director, actor or producer, I have good news for you. Science fiction can put you on the map! First off, a definition. By science fiction, I'm also including fantasy and a certain kind of horror, that with a magical or mystical element. And here's my definition of science fiction vs. fantasy: science fiction is any fantasy story where the fantastic element is given a technological or pseudo-technological reason. Of course, there are many other possible definitions.…

Coffee & Content - Tips from Sundance Screenwriters & Depth Through Subtext

Happy Sunday, everyone.  To all those celebrating, I hope you had a fantastic holiday weekend. A little cloudy and cool where I am today.  Seems like a perfect time for an Italian dark roast and some film related content. First up, from our friends at Film Riot, I have a look on how to add depth your filmmaking (and storytelling) through visual subtext.  Next, tips, tricks and advice from some successful screenwriters who have had films play at Sundance.  And as a…

A Very Happy Thanksgiving to You All!

On behalf of the Stage 32 team, I'd like to wish all celebrating a very Happy Thanksgiving.  We are all extremely grateful for the members of this community and for the incredible relationships and friendships that have bloomed over the years.  Truly, we feel blessed. As I've mentioned in past Thanksgiving blogs, I like to use the end of each Turkey Day for some quiet reflecting on the year thus far.  What was I hoping to accomplish?  What can still be done with the …

3rd Annual November Write Club: You Know They’re Going to Ask

Turkey. Football. Awkward Family Conversations. Just another normal Thanksgiving. And that means extended family asking you about your screenplays. Some folks love talking about their script. Some people love it so much, you’ll find you don’t even have to ask them about it… or initiate a conversations… or even make eye contact… We get it! Your 7-part Lord-of-the-Rings-meets-Little-Miss-Sunshine epic is a masterpiece and all the producers “just don&…

Which Comes First - The Brand of You or the Brand of Your Content?

Hey guys. As you know, more and more filmmakers, screenwriters, actors and cinematographers are taking matters into their own hands by controlling their own content. This is a strategy that has proven incredibly advantageous for those who are educated on understanding how to build a brand for themselves and their projects. But which should come first: The brand of you or the brand of your content? Today I share my latest article for Medium on this subject. I hope you will enjoy. My onl…

Coffee & Content - Framing Relationships in Fargo & Storytelling Through Editing

Hey guys. Happy Sunday. Today, two more videos for you to enjoy with your morning java. First up, it's a look at how the Coen Brothers used very specific framing techniques to define character relationships in Fargo. I love this one...I think you will as well Next up, I have a brilliant look at editing in storytelling. This video is a piece of art unto itself that will no doubt invite repeat viewings. As always, all I ask in return is that you pay it forward and share this content thr…

How to Maximize Audience Engagement Consistently in Movies

Has science found the answer to maintaining audience engagement consistently during a movie, by eliminating filmmakers 'blind narrative spots?' Although a scientific approach to filmmaking can provide an evidence based framework to maintain audience engagement, many filmmakers perceive a scientific approach to filmmaking as ineffective, which limits creativity. However, scientific research studies can determine what engages audiences, by measuring viewers reactions to different story s…

How I Made "Under the Influence"

You know when you’re a filmmaker and you move to Los Angeles away from all of the resources you’ve worked tirelessly to secure? A fresh start? No? Oh... Me neither...   Just kidding.   Earlier this year, I moved to Los Angeles with my best friend and co-collaborator, Courtney Birk, from Baltimore, Maryland. A 2700 mile drive to further pursue my film career. Being in a brand new city, I was at a loss for cast, crew, and locations. After finally getting settled (…

3rd Annual November Write Club: The Key is to Just Write

The ides of November are here and it's time to count pages. I'm at 44, and have been for about week. I felt stuck and haven't quite progressed in my latest feature. This one is new for me, and it's scaring me a little. I typically write comedy, albeit horror comedy, sci-fi comedy, action comedy, and things that are full of humor and don't take themselves too seriously. I wanted to challenge myself this month by writing one of my favorite genres of all time, the sci-fi adventure film. Yes…

The 3 Step Process to Unlock Your Creativity

One of the biggest challenges filmmakers and screenwriters face is to keep their creative energy fresh and high, while working on projects that ask years of endurance and at times don't feel creative. What often drove us toward filmmaking - the excitement of creating stories - can quickly become the thing we connect with the less as we work toward building our careers: handling deadlines, finding an agent, raising money, applying to festivals, answering casting calls and the 100 other t…

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