Learn directly from Ross Putman, an award-winning producer and founder of PSH Collective! Transformers. Godzilla. Captain America. Groot...? Who knew that this summer's biggest success story would be Marvel's band of unlikely heroes, known as The Guardians of the Galaxy? With their biggest star (Bradley Cooper) playing a talking raccoon, a director whose previous film grossed just $300,000 at the box office, and with a cast of characters so unknown that an entire teaser trailer was devoted just to introducing them, the odds seemed long for Guardians to make any impact at all. And yet it's the only film to gross over $300 million at the US box office--something not even Michael Bay's fourth Transformers movie could accomplish (and that had Marky Mark Wahlberg)! It's a little known fact that Guardians was based on source material that Marvel all but buried. So why did it work? Regardless of whether a good story is based on source material or original material, Guardians would not have been a success if the script, filmmaking, casting and marketing weren't all thought out and executed perfectly. In this webinar, we'll deconstruct how Marvel "flipped the script" on... well, its own scripts. A focus on quirkiness, the establishment of a unique tone, and bringing their first female writer in the fold added up to a great finished product. Whether it's the very specific character traits (like Drax's inability to understand metaphor) to the very clear stakes (even when things go deep into sci-fi), Guardians has all the right moves to please movie-goers tired of the same-old-same-old. Yet it becomes truly revolutionary by sticking to the basics; it's a script that puts one foot in front of the other and never stumbles.
As you know, independent film is enjoying a resurgence. Whereas a few years back, it seemed as if getting a low budget indie off the ground was a Herculean task, now, especially with the rise of Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Disney+ and other streaming platforms not only purchasing indie fare, but producing it on their own, lower budget independent films are back in high demand. However, to take advantage of the current gold rush, you must understand what makes an independent script attractive to managers, agents, producers, development execs, financiers and others in a position to greenlight your screenplay. For most writers focused strictly on the craft, the disconnect between a script that gets high marks for the writing, yet still has a problem drawing attention of managers and agents or finding a buyer, is a lack of knowledge as to the current marketplace. It is vital that you understand the creative and commercial realities of the business. Everything else streams from there including all the aspects that you will need in your screenplay to make it a no brainer for the aforementioned gatekeepers and decision makers to want to get involved with the project. With so many screenplays flooding the market, reps, producers, filmmakers, financiers want to choose those screenplays that already have the heavy lifting toward getting the script into production already figured out. James Kicklighter is a multi-award winning writer/director whose work has been recognized by the world’s press, including The Hollywood Reporter, The Times of India, Film Courage and FilmInk Australia. James began his career raising funds for numerous small budget short films, which allowed him to move into award-winning feature films. Most recently he directed The Sound of Identity about the first transgender woman ever to perform as Don Giovanni in a professional opera. The film is produced by Emmy Award-winning producers Russ Kirkpatrick & Andy Kinslow and executive producer Josh Bachove (Lizzie, Yoga Hosers, The Little Hours). James will teach you the ins and outs of writing a producible, low budget independent feature that will draw the right attention. He'll start by diving into the marketplace and how you can research, review, and understand the current landscape. He will then discuss how to choose material, create compelling, deep, and unique characters, and how to write using accessible locations. He will teach you how to optimize the screenplay for production, including some tips and tricks to help a filmmaker and/or producer understand how they can schedule efficiently just by reading the script. If you are looking to control your own material, James will even dive into how to attach talent and modify the script while in production. "James has style and class to spare. I've taken over 20 Stage 32 webinars and this was one of my favorites." - Theo K. "So much detail and so much information. Makes me look at my scripts in a whole new light." - Amanda D. "I've had so many screenplays that have received Consider or Recommend coverage from executives in this business, but I've never been able to get one of these screenplays launched and I could never understand why. Now I do. The writing is there, but the awareness to a producer's needs can be better. I'm on it. Thanks, James." - David V. "I learned something today. I want to produce my own work. Actually two things. I CAN produce my own work. This webinar was worth its weight in gold." - Martina S. "There’s nothing like listening to one who is passionate and educated on the craft of Filmmaking. James is a voice for aspiring filmmaker's ears. Thank you for the well outlined course.“ - Emeka M.
Join literary manager Spencer Robinson from Art/Work Entertainment as he talks about the state of the comedy writing industry for film & TV and answers questions exclusively for the Stage 32 community!
Just going to film school doesn’t prepare you for the endless obstacles you’ll face trying to make it as a filmmaker. You learn that pieces that come together to make a movie in school but this is the film industry and it's totally different. From studios to independents, your host Aaron Wolf has learned some secrets of the trade....come on the journey! You can’t find this stuff in school or in a book. You have to live it. And Aaron has. From being a student at NYU to being a part of The Groundlings, to working with FOX, Warner Bros. and Disney and dealing with film festivals and independent distributors, Aaron has seen it all in a short time. He wants to share the secrets with you. Just going to film school doesn’t prepare you for the endless obstacles you’ll face trying to make it as a filmmaker. Just getting a job in LA doesn’t prepare you. Creativity comes in many forms. One form is creatively navigating the business so that YOU can live your dreams. With his recent film, Restoring Tomorrow, being acquired by Seventh Art and featured in Variety, Aaron has learned through trial and error on how to make a living as a filmmaker. Join him in this exclusive Stage 32 webinar as he discusses what he's learned, and what you need to know for your own journey! Twitter: @TheAaronWolf Instagram: @TheAaronWolf Facebook: Aaron Wolf
As a writer, receiving notes on your material may be a difficult part of the process but, ultimately, it's part of your job. And understanding how to deal with and apply those notes to your writing may be your most important job of all. Make no mistake, all writers are precious about their work, and taking notes is never easy, but the sooner you open yourself to receiving and understanding your notes, and the note behind the note, the more likely your work will become tighter and you'll signal that you're a writer that people want to hire and/or pay for your work. Film and television are the ultimate collaborative medium. You write alone (or in a team), but to make the final product, the work of dozens to hundreds of people is required, and they all have a contribution to make. The work is a product to be sold to buyers and an audience, and they get a say in what they want to purchase and consume. Screenwriting is also the ultimate iterative process. No script is ever perfect on the first draft, and scripts evolve and grow even during production itself. So you will be receiving notes – lots and lots and lots of them. Some you will ask for: notes from other writers, professional consultants, managers and agents. Some you will hope for: producers, executives, directors and stars. Some you will agree to: showrunners, studio and network executives. And some will remind you that necessity is the mother of invention: from line producers, casting directors, set dressers, and costume designers. The bottom line is you need to understand what these notes mean and how to execute them when you agree and what to do when you don't. Anna Henry is a Producer and Development Executive. Anna has set up projects at Sony, 20th Television, EOne, Starz, Amazon, Netflix, Corus, ITV America and more. Anna began her career as a development executive at Nickelodeon, then crossed over to prime-time television working at CBS and ABC in drama development and programming before working in management and establishing herself as a Producer. Anna has been on the giving and receiving end of script notes of literally hundreds of scripts throughout her career. She has developed a strong understanding on the "lingo" of script notes and what the note behind the note means when it comes to your script. Now, you will learn how to dissect the feedback you get on your script from an executive's perspective. Anna will take you through the entire process of receiving notes. She will take away the anxiety of the entire process and teach you how to accept notes with professionalism and grace. She will explain to you who you should be getting notes from and how listening to the wrong voices can set you back. She will teach you what notes you should think about and when you should take a note as gospel. She will explain what notes are worth challenging and which you should absolutely adapt. She will help guide you through what it means when you get notes that go over structure, plot, stakes, character and exposition. She will take you through logic and clarity, cuts, action lines, dialogue and scene notes. And, she'll even go over what you should do if you get vague notes, nit picky notes and when you get suggestions and alternatives. Anna will remove all the fear and apprehension one feels when asking for and receiving notes, giving you a comprehensive guide to reference every time you get notes on your work. You will learn how apply them to tighten your work and put yourself in a position to sell your material and/or get hired!
Like it or not, the film and television industry is and will always be a business. It may produce stunning works of art and lead to social and cultural impacts, but it still comes down to the bottom line. That means that as a writer, unless your name is Christopher Nolan, you’re going to have to deal with more constraints that just the words on a page in order to make your vision a reality. You’ll need to convince a producer that the script can be made and can be made with the money available. And, if you’re a filmmaker or producer, you’ll need to understand how much of the budget is going to each page in order to make your film profitable. In order to do this, it’s important to understand how to read scripts from a cost perspective and what stands out to them as red flags or unnecessary challenges. Considering this throughout the writing and development process rather than being caught off guard after a script is fully written can be invaluable. It can be frustrating to have limitations get in the way of your creative expression, to be told that the world and story in your head can’t be made because of financial constraints. It can feel like selling out to alter your script in order to fit a financier’s budget. This doesn’t have to be the case, though—you don’t have to sacrifice your narrative in service of the bottom line. Instead, there are ways to meld your creativity with some financial savvy and learn to think about how story, character, and structure translate into dollars on the page. So before you write that ambitious live action space opera, the one on the rain planet with children and exotic animals, join producer James Crawford and learn how a producer thinks and breaks down pages.This will give you a leg up on the competition when trying to get your script made. James Crawford is the Head of Development for Fireside Pictures. Prior to joining Fireside Pictures, James was the Executive Director of Development at Engage Entertainment, where he developed, sold, and produced seven movies to Hallmark Channel over three years, including THE ROOFTOP CHRISTMAS TREE, SLEIGH BELLS RING and A DECEMBER BRIDE. In addition to his feature production experience, James has developed several one-hour television series at Engage, pitching to EPiX, WGN America, Cinemax, and Universal Cable Productions, among others. James worked as Creative Executive at Cartel Entertainment, a television and film literary management and production company, and was responsible for identifying, developing, and pitching content for its first-look deal with Entertainment One, including the Stephen King novel The Regulators. At Cartel Entertainment,James developed pitches for Amazon, FX, Hulu, Netflix, Cinemax, UCP, and other major networks. James has a storied background as a producer and executive and is intimately familiar with what it takes to turn a script into a produced film or series. James will provide you with an understanding of the unforeseen costs that go into producing a script. He’ll begin by going over what it generally means to think like a producer in the first place. He’ll then delve into the specific financial challenges that come with genre and ‘genre-ish’ projects and how you can prepare yourself for these issues. James will break down the seven main types of producers on a project and what each one does. James will focus on the relationship between the producer and the line producer, a critical partnership for finding the resources to keeping your vision. James will then give you a full breakdown of what costs could go into every single page of your script, from above-the-line and below-the-line talent to locations, production design, and small things you might not have ever considered before that can seriously add up. To illustrate this, James will provide you with a case study of a real scene of a real shooting script, illustrating line-by-line where the costs lie in the script. Finally, James will teach you 10 strategies you can use if you’re starting to go over-budget. You will leave with a firmer understanding of how your script will translate to costs, and clear strategies to keep your vision while going easier on the budget. Praise for James’s Webinar: James was awesome. Clear, concise, and knowledgeable. -Stephen B. “James Crawford was very informative, and the way he brought the webinar across was entertaining and kept you engaged. I loved every bit of it! I hope he comes back for a round 2” -Imo C. Super helpful and very clear. Right to the point. Not full of anecdotes but actual teaching. -Helena W. “It was very informative in a practical way. James was great!” -Dave M.