Low budget filmmaking is all the rage these days. But unfortunately, many people equate low budget with low quality. And if we're being honest, that's because most producers and filmmakers don't understand how and where to spend their money to stretch their dollar and make sure the quality is up there on the screen. In short, you don't have to compromise on your vision if you have a smaller budget to work with. Even though you may not be playing with studio level money, you still have the ability to make a high quality film without skimping on spending for what matters. If you are clever in your planning, approach and execution of minimizing costs your will walk away with a movie you will be proud of and that will play much larger than the budget. And this will allow you to stand out in every way, from festival submissions to attracting sales agents, distributors and more. Thinking smart about your indie film must begin at the script stage. There are many tips and tricks successful producers and filmmakers use to ensure that a project will not run amok financially once you start developing and shooting it. You must think outside of the box to be able to find cost-effective ways to assure you get everything you need to make your production go smoothly and on schedule while keeping you in line on your budget. Once you master a few tips and tricks of the trade, you'll assuredly have money left over to spend on what really counts and make your film look and sound like you had money to burn. So, how can you evaluate your script, avoid the common pitfalls, and assure that you avoid the myriad issues that can stall a production or push it over budget? We have the answers. Sara Elizabeth Timmins was a field producer on the hit HBO series McMillions, which was produced by Mark Wahlberg and premiered at Sundance 2020. Her films have been seen in theaters, the Hallmark Channel, Starz, Showtime and internationally. She has worked with talented actors like Jane Seymour, Ellen Burstyn, Chris Cooper, Josh Lucas and Mackenzie Foy and writers like NY Times Best Selling Author David Baldacci. Throughout her career she has learned how to attach award-winning talent and turn a profit on every single one of her films. Sara Elizabeth will teach you the 3 key elements you must not skimp on in order to get your film to come out looking the best possible way. She'll share how she's been able to secure and manage professional talent and crew on a low budget. She'll take you step by step with great examples of where you can minimize costs in the script and development phase, as well as once you're in production. She'll even share things to think about when it comes to transportation, lodging, craft services, locations and more. She'll also give you 9 common production dangers that can sabotage your budget - you'll want to know each one of these before you even say "action!" This is information you'll want to come back to time and time again and can help you for every single production regardless of your working budget. "What clever information Sara Elizabeth. Thank you a million for your insights into your process producing. You gave me so many things to think about that I never would have considered. I'm excited to put this into practice on the film I'm doing next year!" - Robin M. "Brilliant. Just brilliant. I feel like I just got the secret sauce." - Timothy K.
In a short period of time, the world of podcasts has exploded and become an industry to be reckoned with. Over 100 million Americans listen to podcasts on at least a monthly basis, and individual shows can have millions of fans. We’re not just talking about nonfiction works like THE DAILY or SERIAL; fiction podcasts are also having a moment as more writers are turning to the audio medium to tell incredible stories. An art form in its own right, podcasts have also become a proving ground for stories to be adapted for television or movies. Shows like HOMECOMING, DIRTY JOHN, and LIMETOWN would never have been greenlit or aired if they didn’t first find success and a fan base in podcast form. Now with many more podcast adaptations like CRIMETOWN, THE BRIGHT SESSIONS and ALICE ISN’T DEAD currently in development, this route is becoming much more common and achievable. There might not be a better time than now to adapt your feature screenplay to the podcast medium. If you've had difficulty gaining attention for your screenplay, turning it into a podcast and attracting an audience may provide proof of concept for your story to move it to a show or feature. This type of intellectual property is golden. Adapting your screenplay, of course, easier said than done. Writing for audio is a very different process than writing for a film or TV. Podcasts are written to be experienced as real time events, which is entirely different from a feature or TV script. A good podcast must paint a picture with only words and sounds and be paced to pull a listener in despite any distractions around them. It must also be structured into short episodes that defy traditional film or TV act structure. So, how do you turn 100 pages of a script into a multi-episode podcast? How does writing character or story arcs change when adapting your feature script to multiple episodes? Having a better understanding of what goes into a great comedy, drama, or genre podcast and the rules and expectations that come with this unique format can position you for success in telling your story and finding an audience. Mike Disa is currently the director of the highly praised Netflix show Paradise PD and has been working in the industry, both in television and features, for two decades. With no film training or knowledge of the byzantine workings of the entertainment business, he eventually found success and has worked with studios such as Dreamworks, Disney, Warner Bros., Paramount, and many others. Over a fascinating career, Mike has worked with some of the greatest and most infamous people in Hollywood including Steven Spielberg, Eric Goldberg, Ralph Bakshi, Glenn Close, Steve Oedekerk, David Tennant, Amy Poehler, Adam Sandler, Jeffery Katzenberg and Roy Disney. Always an innovator, Mike recognized the interesting time right now for developing material based off of IP and took it upon himself to adapt his feature script SENTINELS: POINT OF NO RETURN into a 12-part podcast series, which is now produced. Having recently gone through the experience Mike is excited to share his approach and his lessons learned writing the adaptation exclusively with the Stage 32 community. Mike will walk you through the nuts and bolts of writing a fiction podcast and give you the tools you’ll need to adapt your long form script into this new medium. He’ll begin by discussing what the state of podcasts looks like today, including what kinds of podcasts are possible and the different formats of fiction podcasts that people are writing and which ones are currently popular. He’ll then delve into how to approach your podcast adaptation and which things you should decide on from the outset. This includes deciding on the format that will work best for your story, how to adapt your writing style to short form when you’re used to writing features or television, and whether you will use a narrator or go full “radio play”. He’ll also give you tips on how to plan for sound while starting to write. Mike will next go into detail on breaking your long form story into multiple short form episodes. He’ll give you tips on extending your story and show you where to put episode breaks within it. He’ll go over building tension between episodes between episodes and what goes into good cliffhangers on podcasts. He’ll also talk about how to avoid needing recaps between episodes. Next Mike will spend time talking about other writing challenges that come with this format, including how to paint a picture in audio form without creating awkward dialogue, the process of holding on to your subplots without your storytelling getting choppy, and how to use your first episode to grab your audience. He’ll also offer tips of how to give your characters separate voices. Finally, Mike will use his own podcast SENTINELS: POINT OF NO RETURN, which was originally written as a feature, to illustrate the process of adapting for podcasts. He’ll even share samples of both the feature and podcast versions of the SENTINELS script. If you’re excited about podcasts, curious about writing your own or adapting your feature script into one and don’t even know where to begin, start here. Praise for Mike's Stage 32 Webinar FIVE STARS FOR MIKE!!! He is super-awesome! Can't wait for the next session. -Robert S. "Mike Disa is definitely one of the best. He provided advice that is actionable." -Martin R. "I loved how engaging Mike was. It felt like he was genuine and addressing each of us almost individually. I have honestly never had a better Stage32 experience!" -Elle C. "It was great to hear from Mike. What a professional and what great advice from someone who knows the business and the craft of writing for podcasts." -Mary S.
Do you suffer from writer’s block? Do you ever get stuck on a scene — at odds with how to proceed, what your character should do or say — for hours, days, sometimes weeks? Do you ever read a scene and think, something’s just not working? Join the illustrious club of every writer ever. Luckily, this very common problem has a simple solution. In this webinar, you will dig down to the building blocks of excellent scene work, those elements which are fundamental to establishing character, advancing plot, capturing tone, and planting memorable moments. By using iconic scenes from landmark film and TV and by citing examples from his 5+ years of TV writing and producing experience, Charlie will offer an array of tools and skills that will harden any writer against the obstacles and pitfalls that come with attacking any scene. Perhaps more importantly, participants will come away with some vital ways to overcome the feared writer’s block that plagues us all.
Hello, Creative Army. It's been a busy few months around the Stage 32 offices and for yours truly as it relates to my personal projects. I'm excited to share with you what I'm hearing, what I've learned, and what I've experienced since we last got together. As always, my AMA's are always free! Watch as many times as you'd like. Cheers! RB
How To Build Your Suspense From The Ground Up And Craft A Thriller With Earned Twists, Turns and Thrills If you're paying attention to the trades and seeing which screenplays and projects are being sold and produced, you know that psychological thrillers are highly in demand. With films like Joker, Ma, Escape Room, Glass, Ex Machina, The Invitation, Get Out, Happy Death Day, The First Purge and many more, companies like Blumhouse have propelled the production of thrillers for an audience hungry for suspense and thrills, making creepy, crawly movie-going experiences all the rage. With box office receipts in the billions it's clear that the appetite for psychological stories is raging. And, it's a more exciting time than ever to be able to a screenwriter or filmmaker who has a suspenseful thriller you want to tell. But the art of writing a psychological thriller is one of vulnerable characters, deep secondary characters, memorable set pieces, set ups, reversals, and earned twists and turns. There's a formula to it all, and those who master these skills win the day. Writing a psychological thriller and creating and maintaining suspense and high stakes throughout takes an immense understanding of the history of the genre. It's a genre based in Hitchcockian roots. One that needs to have certain elements in order to be effective to keep the audience involved, engaged and on the edge of their seat. While most psychological thrillers start off with a well thought out premise, that's all they have. The action starts quickly and then falls flat. In many other cases, the premise is in place, but the writer or filmmaker doesn't know how to get past the jumping off point. You must get your hook in place quickly - within your first five pages - and that takes skill. You need to truly create compelling characters, especially protagonist and your villain, and make them layered in order to support your theme and plot and to assure the audience always knows and is invested in the stakes. To be truly successful at getting your reader's attention, keep those pages turning and set yourself up for an offer of representation, an option, a sale, or financing, you need to understand all of the nuances that make a great suspenseful story before you type (or read) FADE IN. Steve Desmond is one of the best in the industry today writing suspense and psychological thrillers. His most recent feature screenplay, Harry's All Night Hamburgers, was adapted from a Hugo award winning short story and was one of the highest priced spec sales of the last 5 years, selling to Warner Bros. in a bidding war worth 7 figures. The film now has Oscar Nominated Producer Andrew Lazar (American Sniper) producing via his Mad Chance production banner and Ted Melfi directing. He has recently been tapped by Film Nation to adapt The Cabin at the End of the World, a Harper Collins title from author Paul Tremblay. The psychological horror and suspense novel centers on a vacationing family terrorized by four strangers who claim to be either attempting to bring about or trying to avert the apocalypse. His short film, Monsters, has played in over 100 film festivals worldwide, winning 43 awards including Best Short Film at the Comic-Con International Film Festival in San Diego and was a finalist at Stage 32's 3rd Annual Short Film Program. Steve filmed Monsters to serve as a proof of concept for his feature script, Twisted Avenue which is now in development. Needless to say, thrillers and suspense are in Steve's blood and the focus of all his writing. And now he's bringing all he's learned along the way to you. Steve will help you build your suspense from the ground up. He'll teach you the ultimate tool you need - the Hitchcock Ticking Clock Method which will help you on your way to setting the vital groundwork for your story. You'll learn how to create a compelling protagonist and an enticing villain. Steve will give you exercises you can use to craft your own characters and give you 5 must have tips on backstory and character confessions to give depth. You'll learn how to hook your reader in the first 5 pages and what the 3 different teasers you can write for your opening. You'll explore the power of murder in your script and the art of a twist ending. He will show you how to craft your script with producers in mind to give yourself the best chance to have your material attractive to the widest audience possible. Steve will go over how you can incorporate visuals into your story and break down case studies of Psycho, The Silence of the Lambs and Se7en. And, finally, Steve will share some advice on how to get your script on the screen by writing it in a producible budget. You will have a fully immersive experience from a suspense expert that will leave you excited, inspired and confident to tackle your next psychological project. This webinar was AWESOME!!! I just finished a thriller and now as a result of listening to Steve Desmond, I am ready to do a re-write which I believe will be one of the best screenplays I have ever written. Let's see what happens! - Michelle C. What a thrilling and insightful webinar, excellent!! - Kathleen W. Super helpful information that you don't find in books! - Pamela C. Very useful information - well structured and clearly presented! - Sara C.
A New Exclusive Webinar How you can land the coveted role of Development Executive at a streamer, studio or network from an executive who's worked with HBO, Paramount, Hallmark, and more. Plus, receive exclusive handouts to help you get ahead in your job search. Who picks what scripts get produced and become your favorite films and television shows? This role belongs to the Development Executive. The best development executives know how to spot a great script or book that can become a successful film or TV show. They nurture relationships with top talent. They shepherd projects from inception through development and into production managing the creative process while keeping the business side on track. It's all about finding and connecting the right people and helping mold a great script and package that companies want to make and audiences want to see. In this exclusive Stage 32 webinar, you’ll see exactly what being a development executive is all about and how you can land this creative and often lucrative position through both traditional and non-traditional routes. This webinar will flatten your learning curve and get you closer to stepping onto the development executive ladder. You’ll cover everything from how to find scripts to giving notes to landing the development jobs themselves. Your host, Kelly Edwards, is a former HBO executive who teaches a top-tier leadership program for creative executives, and now she’s sharing her fantastic insight on how to be a development executive with you. Kelly has worked with every major studio and her new book, THE EXECUTIVE CHAIR: A WRITER’S GUIDE TO TV SERIES DEVELOPMENT is a bestseller available in stores and online. She’s also responsible for the success of LIVING SINGLE, GIRLFRIENDS, CLUELESS, MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE, and a host of other television series. In addition to Kelly’s incredible knowledge, she’s providing you with sample coverage, a list of ways to get your foot in the door, a sample resume, and more. When you’ve finished your webinar with Kelly, you’ll know what it takes to be a successful development executive and how people in the industry land these coveted positions. Put yourself ahead of the competition in your job hunt by snagging a spot with Kelly today. PRAISE FOR KELLY'S WORK AND EDUCATION: "Candid, witty, and extremely knowledgeable, she gets straight to the point which is so helpful for everyone - it’s a masters class on the business and TV in particular." -- Rona Edwards, writer/producer and author of l Liked It, Didn’t Love It (Screenplay Development from the Inside Out) "One word -- AMAZING! Kelly left our entire group feeling newly inspired not only about their writing but also about living their best selves. We will definitely be having her back!" -- Lynelle W. (TV writer, BLACK LIGHTNING, Z NATION, ARMY WIVES) "Kelly delivers an essential guide to necessary skills that every writer needs to successfully navigate the entertainment industry. She is a fantastic, knowledgeable presenter who will help you step up your career game." -- Katherine Craft, writer