Hello Creative Army! Over the last few months, the entire team here at Stage 32 has been working tirelessly to help you stay connected, creative, motivated, and informed. As always, we are committed to bringing you networking opportunities, education and mentoring from top-level industry executives and professionals, and access to decision-makers around the globe all from the safety of your own home. Since the beginning of the quarantine mandates brought about by the spread of COVID-19, I've promised you free education designed not only to keep you inspired and entertained, bit to provide up-to-date, no BS information regarding how the industry is handling business during the better at home orders and give you a glance into what lies ahead. We have brought in top executives in television and animation for state of the industry roundtables, partnered with film festivals to bring you top of the line virtual panels, and even hosted a virtual happy hour and table read, to name just some of our COVID-19 free education initiatives. Every day, the Stage 32 team is on the phone and communicating with industry professionals. Our goal is to have our finger on the pulse of what's happening in the moment. Additionally, since launching Stage 32 Screenings I have had the privilege of speaking with hundreds of entertainment industry creatives and professionals including festival directors, distributors, sales agents, financiers and other executives to get their take on how they're navigating these challenging times. I can think of no better time to host another free AMA (Ask Me Anything) so I can share what I've been hearing and experiencing in my personal creative pursuits and to take your questions on all things craft and business. In June I hosted a new AMA. You brought your questions and energy and I provided a couple of hours of no-holds-barred shop talk. All creatives were welcome to join no matter their profession(s), skill level, or geographical location. We came together for some inspiration, motivation, and community. I had fun spending quality time with you all. As always, registering for my AMA is completely FREE! And the more the merrier, so do invite any of your fellow creative friends and peers to watch. Should any of your contacts not be members of Stage 32 already, you can send them an invite here! If you missed my last few AMA's, you can view them here! Cheers! RB
Networking is the key to success in any industry, but in the entertainment business, it is a NECESSITY if you want to break in. And now in this increasingly online and virtual world, a large part of networking takes place in virtual settings, namely on apps and online platforms. This landscape is constantly changing, and while it can be hard to keep up with, it can also be incredibly lucrative. It is not uncommon now for writers to be discovered because of a viral post on Twitter, for friendships to be formed on Clubhouse, or for a script to be optioned right here on Stage 32. All of this just while sitting at home on your computer or phone. It’s clear that these tools are too powerful of a tool to ignore, but it’s important you know how to use these tools correctly. The world of virtual networking can seem overwhelming and foreign, especially when you’re more accustomed to traditional networking and in-person events. Yet success on these platforms is not just reserved for Gen-Z and “influencers”; creatives of all ages and background are finding success and getting discovered through these tools. Yet the key is knowing how to use these apps the right way. Just like for in-person events and old-school networking, you can use these opportunities to build your connections, or you can leave others with a bad impression. It often just comes down to understanding the rules and expectations on each platform, and understanding how to contribute and make yourself part of the community. So what are the apps where the real opportunities are forged? How can you stand out (in a good way)? With the right strategies and approach, you’ll be able to build your network and meet people who can be your cheerleaders along the way. Kristen Lucas and Tara Gore are powerhouse networkers in the entertainment industry. Kristen Lucas is a talent manager at Bohemia Group, specializing in actors and filmmakers in film and television. Her clients have appeared in films such as Netflix's I CARE A LOT and THE HONEST THIEF alongside Liam Neeson, and on television such as Netflix's THE GOOD COP and THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE, Hulu's CASTLE ROCK, AMC's BETTER CALL SAUL and many others. Tara Gore has produced over 300 live shows and original content for MLB including Avicii, Billy Joel, Demi Lovato, Zac Brown Band, One Republic, Elton John, John Legend, Jason Aldean, Ziggy Marley and many more. Kristen and Tara attribute their success to hustling to find opportunity where others find dead ends. Their long history of creative networking has built them a vast network of contacts across all areas of entertainment and business and allowed them to ensure the success of their clients and projects. Working together, Kristen and Tara will outline the six main apps and platforms they use to network and find connections and clients: Clubhouse, Instagram, Twitter, Stage 32, IMDB, and LinkedIn. For each they will lay out how the app works, how you can best operate within it, and the mistakes to avoid. Along the way they'll dive into success stories each platform has provided and why they worked, as well as horror stories and how you can avoid similar fates. Online networking doesn’t need to be scary and it's something you can master no matter what your background is. Expect to leave this with a bunch of ideas, real world examples, and inspiration to master these apps, continue meeting new people online, and finding your place in this industry.
Whether we’re talking about a comedy or drama, sci-fi or horror, a film or television series, animated or live action, short-form or long-form, having good characters is essential. There’s no escaping it. Even a script with everything else going for it, if it doesn’t have strong, compelling characters, it’s not going to work. Great characters connect the audience to your world and ground it in humanity. They provide stakes, bolster your plot and keep it moving. It’s therefore crucial to understand what make an effective character and how you can create that in your own project. Unfortunately there’s not a step-by-step guide to crafting the perfect character. There’s no secret formula and there’s no surefire algorithm. Good characters are complicated and hard to define because so are people. Good characters hold a mirror up to reality and let the audience see themselves or someone else they know in them. And all of that might be fine and good in theory, but what does that actually mean in practice? If you’re a writer how can you create a character who serves as a mirror, who will stick with audiences long after the movie or show ends? And if you’re a producer or director, how can you recognize a great character from a mediocre one through the written word? Lee Sternthal is a screenwriter, director and photographer who has written screenplays for every major studio, including TRON: LEGACY for Disney, as well as scripts for Johnny Depp, Mel Gibson and many others. His film, THE WORDS starring Bradley Cooper, Zoe Saldana and Jeremy Irons was an Official Sundance Film Festival selection and was later bought by CBS Films. Lee is a Sundance Institute Fellow, and his work has appeared on The Black List. Through his writing career, Lee has spent more time than most considering the art of character and using that to aid his own career, as well as writers he continues to mentor and champion. Lee will walk you through the power of character and how to create great characters for your own project. He’ll begin by discussing why exactly characters are so vital to story and will teach you the key differences between a TV character and a film character. Next he will give you a brief history of character in storytelling and reveal the one fictional character from history that all other characters draw from. Lee will then discuss the difference between heroes and anti-heroes, as well as help you determine which of your characters is the driver and which are the riders. He’ll then delve into the art of a great antagonist and why an interesting adversary is so crucial to a successful story. Lee will help you frame your story through the clarity of need, both in character and in story. Next Lee will go over the classic Hero’s Journey and slightly re-imagine it for modern times. He will give you strategies and exercises to better understand and develop your own characters, including his “What’s Their God?” and “Changing A Flat Tire” games. He’ll then teach you the concept of revealing character through behavior and hiding character with words. Next Lee will delve into the idea of how your characters fit into your world, including how the environment might change your character. He’ll teach you the Shakespearean approach to character and compare it to the Balzacian approach, and will also discuss the difference between neuroticism and human comedy. Finally Lee will go over the dance between plot and character, illustrating how the two should work with and against each other to create a feedback loop that’s necessary for any great script. Praise for Lee’s Webinar “Great insight. Really helped me in moving forward.” -Martin R. “I really enjoyed Lee's perspective on script writing. The examples he provided were very helpful. I'm very appreciative that he would share his knowledge, some of his techniques and be so generous with his encouragement.” -Simone L. “Lee had a great way of explaining how to get a feel for the character and why they have the traits they do. Lee did a great job of covering a lot of character related topics which I am glad I have been exposed to.” -Karl H.
Writing is rewriting. All writers know this, but unfortunately too many writers waste valuable time and energy rewriting their scripts over and over without really making them better. Or they make some parts of their script better while weakening other parts -it's almost like an endless whack-a-mole game. The reason this happens is that often writers don't know the most effective ways to evaluate and rewrite their material. They rewrite without a clear focus or understanding of the fundamentals. Knowing how to effectively rewrite your script will lead to a dramatic improvement in your final product for both feature and TV scripts, and will be a game changer in your writing career! There's an art to the rewriting process that many successful writers embrace. It begins with letting go, relaxing, embracing, and, eventually, enjoying the process. Great writers know how to save time by quickly identifying issues with their scripts and how to fix the problems quickly and efficiently. They know how to receive notes, how to discuss those notes, and which notes are worth pushing back against and which are worth taking. They know a great script doesn't evolve all at once. It takes time, patience, awareness and constant molding. Corey Mandell is an award-winning playwright and screenwriter who has written projects for Ridley Scott, Wolfgang Petersen, Harrison Ford, John Travolta, Julia Roberts, Warner Brothers, Universal, 20th Century Fox, Fox 2000, Fox Family, Working Title, Paramount, Live Planet, Beacon Films, Touchstone, Trilogy, Radiant, Kopelson Entertainment and Walt Disney Pictures. Corey is also a distinguished instructor at UCLA, where he earned his MFA. His students have gone on to sell or option scripts to Warner Brothers, Paramount, Sony Pictures, Disney, Fox, Fox 2000, MGM, Universal, Warner Brothers, Showtime, FX, USA Network, AMC and HBO. Others have been staffed on such shows as Community, Justifed, Bones, The Mentalist, The Fosters, Young and Hungry, Playing House, and Treme. Corey knows what it takes to write and rewrite a great script, and he has proven it time and time again. Corey will walk you through the entire rewrite process for feature and TV screenplays from first understanding how your story reads in other people's heads (and why that is important!) all the way to correcting structural weaknesses in your script. He will break down rewrite memos, notes, and narrative cohesion, leaving you with a comprehensive overview of how to do an effective rewrite and how to immediately apply it to your own work. He will teach you how to receive notes and how to find the note within the note, an overlooked and misunderstood practice that can save you major rewriting time and win you points with executives, producers and financiers. Corey will show you all the pitfalls and common mistakes writers make during the rewriting process so you can move forward with not only confidence in your writing, but confidence you can carry into any room. Praise for Corey's Stage 32 Webinar "Pure magic." - Alonzo G. "I always loved pumping out the first draft, but hated the rewrite. Now I know why. I had no idea what I was doing. I have 4 scripts that I can't wait to tear down and build back up bigger and stronger than ever." - Mark R. "This was so comprehensive and helpful. The entire webinar I was recognizing faults in my latest script. So happy I took this webinar!" - Mariana W. "I feel like I was just let into a secret club. The Rewrite Club. I know things other writers don't. Excited to put all this information into practice." - Jules P.
Anyone who has ever tried to produce and cast a feature film is aware of the quagmire that attaching “A” List level talent represents. On one hand, you need the star power of a “name” actor in order to acquire funding and on the other hand you need the money in order to acquire the name talent. It's enough to drive even the most seasoned filmmakers crazy. Don't worry, there are proven strategies to solving this puzzle and assuring that your project is top of mind for managers, agents, and their talent. The reason why so many first and second time producers, writers and directors find themselves in this situation is simple. In most cases, they are attempting to approach “A” List celebrity talent to their film much too soon with the hopes of using that “name” to attract investors; a strategy that rarely works. The reality of the situation is that "A" List talent and the representatives get dozens of offers a month. And with more and more name actors working in television, streaming series, limited series and now even digital series (hello, Quibi!), the competition is even higher. But you CAN compete and still attach "A" List talent to your project even if you don't have all your funds raised. Franco Sama has produced over 25 profitable independent films ranging from micro-budget to films up to $5MM. Franco is considered a pioneer in the world of film financing and casting. He speaks all over the world on the subject and has mentored thousands of filmmakers and producers on how to attach the best talent to their independent features. Just some of the actors Franco has cast in his films include: Gary Oldman (Oscar Winner, Darkest Hour, Oscar Nominee, Dark Knight) Christine Lahti (Oscar Winner) Christian Slater (Golden Globe Winner) Michael Madsen (Reservoir Dogs) Chris Klein (American Pie) David Arquette (Scream) Vivica A. Fox (Kill Bill) Dane Cook (Comedian) Franco has also been a consulting producer on many films with many more in active development. Many top producers in the game turn to Franco to get their films off the ground. And now he's bringing his over 2 decades of knowledge exclusively to the Stage 32 community. Franco will teach you everything you need to know about attaching top talent to your film including a bullet proof method for ensuring that managers and agents not only put your script in the hands of "A" List talent, but that they read the material! He will show you how to make sure your script is attractive to "A" List talent. He will teach you how to turn a Letter of Intent into a Letter of Commitment. He will instruct you as to the proper timing to make your offer, so you assure that everything is in order and that you're in a position to answer all questions. He will dissect a physical offer so you know exactly what you should be presenting. He will discuss pay and play offers, deferred payments, using credits as currency and back end point deals and how you can identify which of these offers and strategies to deploy. He will go over proper etiquette and how to make sure everyone is happy so that you win the trust of the gatekeepers assuring you can return to the same managers and agents again and again. Franco will take away the fear, anxiety, and, most of all, doubt, that comes with the desire to attach name talent to your project. You will learn all the proper strategies and methods to assure success. "I had the pleasure of seeing Franco speak live at one of Stage 32's live education events. He was so inspiring, so confident and so willing to help, this webinar became an instant signup. Even with my high expectations, I was floored by the wealth of information and the explanation of the strategies within. My fear, and let's face it, my insecurity of approaching talent was crippling. Not any more. I've put in 2 offers on 2 different features this morning and I'm already lining up my next move. Can't wait for the next one, Franco! And thank you, Stage 32!" - Pamela R. "One word - Invaluable." - Larry S. "This was a stunning presentation. One of the best yet." - Antonio H. "I have seen the light and I am ready to make offers. Try and stop me." - Lydia W. "Empowering. I'm going to watch it a 2nd and 3rd time just to make sure I got it all down. Then, I'm working the phones. Great job, Franco and Stage 32." - Reese K.
Stage 32 is proud to continue our partnership with Raindance Film Festival for the 5th year in a row, and while we may not be able to all come together in London to celebrate so many amazing and talented filmmakers, we're thrilled to partner with Raindance to highlight global talent virtually and from the comfort and safety of our own homes. Even in its virtual format, Raindance continues to showcase and champion the best new films from all over the world, and included in this year's incredible program is a collection of remarkable short films. Stage 32 is bringing together some of the world's top up and coming short filmmakers whose most recent films are playing Raindance. Included in this conversation will be Arjan Brentjes, whose animated short film SAD BEAUTY is playing at Raindance, along with almost 30 other film festivals this year alone. Also featured will be London-based director and cinematographer Molly Manning Walker whose debut short film GOOD THANKS, YOU? will be playing this year's Raindance in addition BFI London, Bilbao, and Palm Springs Film Festivals. Rounding out the panel, is Will Niava, an Ivorian-Ghanaian film director based in Montréal, Canada, whose film ZOO won Stage 32's 5th Annual Short Film Contest and is currently selected at over 40 international film festivals. In this FREE Stage 32 webinar, Arjan, Molly, and Will will take part in an exclusive Q&A moderated by our very own Stage 32 Managing Director Amanda Toney to discuss the state of short filmmaking today and how they put together their most recent projects.