Over the past few decades as the media landscape has changed, so have methods for reporting and information gathering. Your Stage 32 Next Level educator, award-winning director, James Kicklighter, has personally learned this while directing his new documentary film, Digital Edition, profiling the digital tools changing media as we know it. In “Deconstructing Oscar-Winning Films: Spotlight, Network & All The President’s Men,” we will evaluate and deconstruct common methods deployed in these three groundbreaking films to tell stories about journalism and media. Through this process, we will identify the successful techniques from these masterpieces for directing and writing movies about the media we consume. While filmmaking isn’t typically thought about as “investigative,” to create a film about journalism and media, it requires extended research that goes beyond writing the fictional screenplay. We will evaluate the preparation process of interviewing industry professionals, utilizing research to inform the written narrative, and how to visually manifest the themes on screen. You will walk away learning techniques to help your directing, writing, acting and producing to help you improve your projects! As an added bonus - ***Get 3 FREE Oscar-Winning Scripts: Spotlight, All The President's Men & Network***
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.
Pitch your scirpts to FilmRise's Rachel Swearingen. In this Pitch Tank, Rachel offers her critique of pitches that include a murder mystery drama, fantasy television project, a romantic comedy, and home invasion thriller.
As an independent filmmaker, screening your project at a film festival may be the best opportunity to put your film (and yourself) on display. It remains a powerful platform for filmmakers of all levels to have their work seen. In fact you’d be hard-pressed to find a successful filmmaker working today who didn’t get their start at a festival. It’s where films get sold, where talent gets discovered, where reputations are crafted, where communities are built, and where the best networking can happen. And with the current movement away from the theatrical model and towards streaming, festivals can also often be the only possible way to physically show your film on the big screen to an audience during its life cycle. Yet despite festivals serving as a lifeblood of the film industry and a launching pad for so many, it’s still a relatively enigmatic and opaque landscape and a difficult one for even the savviest of filmmakers to navigate. Perhaps because festivals can feel so enigmatic, it’s common for filmmakers not to consider the workings of a festival or the rules and goals they operate under before submitting. After all, you already spent a huge chunk of time learning the rules and goals of filmmaking. You put in time, money and resources to make something good and that you’re proud of. Shouldn’t that be enough for a festival? Can’t they just say ‘yes’? Unfortunately, like with any aspect of this industry, there’s more to it. Programmers do a lot more than “find the best films” and they have to balance a lot more than simply choosing things because they’re “good”. To set yourself up for success, it’s time to better understand how festivals tick and what you can do while submitting, or even while making your film, to be better positioned for success and to hopefully get that long awaited acceptance letter. For nearly a decade Harrison Glaser has been immersed in the professional film industry working for Austin Film Festival and Stage 32. As Austin Film Festival’s Film Competition Director, he programmed the festival’s films for five years and discovered his passion for identifying deserving projects and championing exciting and unrecognized talent. During Harrison’s tenure as AFF’s Film Competition Director, over 100 films he programmed went on to secure distribution, six short films were later nominated for Oscars, and one that he qualified ultimately won the Academy Award. His work with Austin Film Festival and Stage 32 allows him to champion undiscovered storytellers and help them amplify their work. He also serves as a professional moderator for many different film related industry panels both online and offline. Through his many years leading AFF’s film selection and working closely with other film fests, he has become intimately familiar with the inner workings of larger festivals, as well as the common missteps many filmmakers make when working with them. He’s excited to share what he knows exclusively with the Stage 32 community. Harrison will pull back the curtains on how film festivals are organized and how they select films, and will give you tips and strategies to better position your film for success once it’s time to submit. He’ll begin by going over at the most basic level who festival programmers are and what drives them. He’ll then offer a bird’s eye view of how a festival’s selection process normally works, including who watches your film, how many times it’s usually watched, and whether it’s watched in its entirety. He’ll also give you a sense of how films are declined, shortlisted, or accepted. Next he will spend time discussing what programmers look for when evaluating films. He’ll go over what appropriate runtimes for both shorts and features are how programmers may react to specific themes and topics. He’ll also talk about festivals’ identities and audiences, premiere status requirements, and other content issues they consider. He’ll bring up copyright issues that sometimes come up as well as how to navigate submitting your film as a work-in-progress. Then Harrison will teach you tips for submitting your film, including how to navigate deadlines, how to work with FilmFreeway and other services, and what you need to have ready beyond just the film when submitting. He’ll also touch on press kits and cover letters. Harrison will delve into how to best communicate with festival programmers. He’ll talk about best practices, appropriate circumstances to reach out and situations when you should refrain from contacting them. He’ll also discuss what to do when you need to change your submission's Vimeo password and how to navigate updating your submitted cut. Finally, Harrison will explore the complicated, notorious world of fee waivers. Expect to leave with a comprehensive lay of the land of how festivals operate and a toolkit to better position your own projects for success on the festival circuit. Praise for Harrison's Stage 32 Webinar "Very informative and honest. Good coverage and great to hear form someone who knows." -Paula M. "Absolutely Great! It was really helpful to hear Harrison's insights & wisdom after having gone through the 2019 International Festival Season. I will definitely take all this with me into my next journey into the festival circuit!" -Becca G. "Excellent and insightful." -Elease P. "Super helpful in a LOT of ways! I will be sharing these insights with the production team of the short film I recently directed. We'll take many of these suggestions into account when we start hitting the submission circuit." -Peter M.
What a great time it is to be a filmmaker, producer or financier. Distribution channels have never been more plentiful or more wide open. That means more options for you to maintain a fuller degree of control for your content. And that's never a bad thing. But it also means that there are more ways to get your film or project out into the world and, most importantly, more revenue opportunities toward securing profitability. And one of the most popular and lucrative choices in today's market is Video on Demand (VOD). To take advantage of all of these opportunities, you need to not only know where to look, what platforms are best suited for your material, and how to engage with the proper people to get a deal done, but you also must know how to deliver your film. Zahida Kazar is the Director of Operations for popular independent film distributor, Gravitas Ventures. She works directly with top executives Karia Brown and Mark Lyons to help deliver Gravitas films to a variety of internet and cable platforms. Zahida’s passion for all things film-related also led her to various roles at Warner Bros. and Twentieth Century Fox before joining the Gravitas team in the fall of 2014. Zahida helps guide indie filmmakers through the delivery process and helps to ensure the release of these movies on the ever-growing VOD space. She loves meeting new filmmakers and helping them through the final step in the movie making process. Zahida will teach you how to understand and navigate the VOD space. She will discuss various rental and VOD platforms including Amazon, iTunes, Netflix and Hulu and teach you what these platforms and distribution companies are looking for. She will also dive into deliverables expectations inclding encoding, your key art, metadata, the importance of your synopsis, and your legal deliverables (so very important). From there, Zahida will help you understand how to prep your film for release including your social media and PR campaigns. And she will prepare you for what to expect after your film is released including key things to keep in mind to help assure that your project has legs in the marketplace. All this and much, much more, including an in depth Q&A session with Zahida. "Distribution is a subject that gives me so much anxiety. Zahida took all of it away with her clear explanation of the process." - Martina L. "Grabbing a beer...Watching again." - Henderson D. "Comprehensive and first rate." - Samuel F. "Excellent. More like this please." Thora P.
Learn directly from the Director of Development for Ryan Reynolds' Dark Trick Films! Creating an independent film from scratch is daunting, but immensely rewarding, and can be done with any level of resources. Films under $1MM are especially a sweet spot for many independent filmmakers but certainly come with their sets of challenges. Stage 32 is excited to bring in the development executive for Ryan Reynold's production company Dark Trick Films & TV, Blake Goza, who has spent the last 7 years working projects such as Deadpool, Buried, The Change Up and RIPD. Even though Blake works on some of the most popular films & television of today, it's his personal project - a film entitled Escort - which he made independently for under $1MM that fuels his passion for being a creative. With this webinar, Blake will give you a producer’s perspective on building an independently financed movie, from start to finish, for under one million dollars. Using The Escort as a case study, he will walk you through each stage of the independent process: finding a script, packaging talent, determining a budget, acquiring financing, shooting, post production, and ultimately, distribution. Blake will discuss process specifics, like his decision to attach a sales agent in the early stages of development; what financing options he prefers - the benefits and risks of private equity versus foreign pre-sales; what talent he chose to attach first – the argument for finding your director before making offers to actors; and how to build a release strategy for your film that allows for success as you define it – whether your goal is critical acclaim, commercial exposure, or financial reward, begin with the end in mind, and build a platform that allows you to achieve that goal. If you’ve wanted to produce a film outside of the studio system on a responsible budget, then this class if for you!