It’s the most wonderful time of the year, with mistletoe, tinsel, sleigh rides, and, of course, a boatload of new Christmas movies. Indeed, for millions of families across America and the world, appetite is high for new Christmas-themed content. Hallmark alone is premiering 40 (!!) new Christmas movies this holiday season. That’s on top of the 40 they produced in 2019. And Hallmark isn’t the only player in the Christmas movie game. Many other networks and streamers have entered this space like Netflix, Hulu, Lifetime, Freeform, Ion, OWN, and BET, to name a few. With so many networks and streaming platforms hungry for Christmas content, there has never been a better time for writers and producers to bring their own Christmas story to the screen. If you want to write or produce your own Christmas film, there are a lot of opportunities available to you, but you first need to understand what this space is currently looking like and how you can best fit in. Who’s buying and selling? What makes a Christmas themed script successful and how can you best produce and assemble your film to make it marketable, unique, and exciting? Better understanding the context and current landscape can give your own Yule tide project the success you’re looking for. James Crawford is a producer and development executive currently at Fireside Pictures with several holiday titles—and several dozen other pitched projects—under his belt. While at Engage Entertainment, James 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, 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 holiday film. James will teach you how to write and produce a successful Christmas movie in today’s industry. He’ll begin by going over the market and explaining who is buying and selling. He’ll also outline what stories are popular right now. He’ll then delve into tips for writing an effective Christmas movie, both TV movies and films. He’ll discuss aspects like screenplay format, plotting and structure, themes to lean into and avoid, diversity, characters, and what the holiday film essentials are. Next James will go over how to produce a Christmas movie. He’ll talk about what a successful budget range should be and when to start pitching. He’ll explain how to cast your movie for success and where to spend your money in production. Finally he will go over distribution options for your holiday film and whether it can sell outside of the US. If you’ve always wanted to make your own Christmas movie or have a story that you think could work within the holiday market, let James give you the lowdown you need to take the next steps toward holly jolly success. Praise for James's Past Stage 32 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.
With the runaway success of breakout international television shows like HBO Max’s GOMORRAH and Netflix’s MONEY HEIST and LUPIN, US-based networks and studios are looking more and more to the international markets for creative inspiration. Whether in the guise of formats (established foreign shows adapted to air domestically) or direct buys from writers and producers, companies have finally realized that importing talent is good creative business. This means there has never been a better opportunity for writers outside of America to find success and interested buyers stateside, especially if you can write something that fits American sensibilities. It’s clear that writers from abroad bring fresh ideas and unique perspectives that reinvigorate the film and television. Yet they still need to adapt their sensibilities to make them successful across the pond—NBC’s adaptation of BBC’s THE OFFICE, for instance, didn’t find its footing until it took the core of its uniquely British perspective and polished it to reflect the unique politics of the American workplace. This same adjustment can be made for your own project, provided you understand what exactly this adjustment should look like. So what are American sensibilities? What makes a show more relatable to American viewers and what can you do as a writer to make sure American decisionmakers will see value in your film or series? James Crawford is Canadian/Australian, US-based producer and development executive who has worked with writers from Mexico, Finland, Spain, England, Scotland, South Africa, Brazil, Australia, and the Philippines. James has developed several one-hour television series, 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. While working at Cartel Entertainment, he developed formats from the Brazilian network Globo for the American market. He has taught at screenwriting retreats in France and worked for the Australian Film Commission (now called Screen Australia.) A man of the world, James also holds Estonian citizenship. James has a storied background as a producer and executive and is intimately familiar with working with foreign writers to get their projects seen and sold. James will teach you how to make your series idea salable in the US market. This doesn’t mean selling out, but rather translating your unique voice so that it’s better heard by American producers and development executives. Which subjects will or won’t work for the American screen? How do we understand the different cultural sensitivities of different marketplaces? What story structures and arcs are common internationally but don’t land over here? How does the entertainment business structure US (agents, managers, execs) differ from what you experience at home? And how does that environment change how your story is received? As we answer these, you will better understand how to adapt the cultural issues that are important in your home country and make them resonate abroad. Praise for James's Previous Stage 32 Webinars 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.
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.
"No" "Pass" "It's not for me" - What do you do when your script gets passed on by every company you send it to? Screenwriting is extremely hard, especially when it comes to handling rejection. But the reality is, the "no's" are a normal and part of the game. Even professional screenwriters get rejected numerous times a year. This webinar will offer tips and best practices for how to accept rejection, learn from it, and move on. Rejection can actually be empowering, and going through its trenches will ultimately make your scripts stronger and your victories feel that much better. Many aspiring writers let rejection, or the fear of rejection, stop their career before it even starts. Far too many writers quit after one or two scripts that didn’t sell. Even worse, many would-be writers don't even finish a script because they are afraid that it will never find success. Don't let that happen to you. Unless you’re a prodigy, rejection is something you will encounter over and over and over again, even if you become a working writer. But there are ways to prepare yourself for it, and use it as a teaching device to help you become better at what you love. The reality is, you can’t control if someone doesn’t like your work. But you can control how you react to rejection, and how you choose to move forward. ABOUT YOUR STAGE 32 EDUCATOR It took Steve Desmond 17 screenplays to become a full time working screenwriter. He didn't give up and neither should you. Steve has landed on the industry Black List four times and worked with major production companies and studios including Fuller Media (A QUIET PLACE), Warner Bros, Legendary Pictures, Blumhouse, and Mandalay Pictures, and more. FilmNation (PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN, ARRIVAL) hired him to adapt the Stoker-award-winning horror novel THE CABIN AT THE END OF THE WORLD, and he's co-writing a project at Paramount with Wes Ball (THE TIME RUNNER) attached to direct. His short film, MONSTERS, which he wrote and directed, has amassed over two million views online and screened in over 100 film festivals worldwide, winning 45 awards. Steve believes that going through these trenches ultimately makes your script stronger and your victories even better. In this empowering webinar he'll prepare you for it so that you become better at what you love by showing you: The different kinds of rejection, including "no," no response, and the toxic response How to use rejection to make your script better The feedback process and finding trusted readers Defeating self-rejection How to get your script out there Understanding gatekeepers and how to get past them Tracking your submission progress while celebrating the wins Juggling multiple projects so you're always moving forward And so much more! You can't control if someone doesn't like your work. But you can control how you react to rejection and use it to your advantage. "Before hearing from Steve, I would take months off between scripts if I got a really mean rejection because I couldn't handle it. Now, I'm always working on something new. If they don't want my script. No problem, someone else will or I'll make it myself!" - Emilio S.
There was once a time when screenwriters solely used typewriters to tell their stories. Obviously that time has since passed, and the tools writers use to create their scripts have drastically evolved. Software like Final Draft, Writers Duet and Fade In has been created to optimize a writers’ experience, help with formatting, and ideally aid writers through their various obstacles and make the process easier. Yet this doesn’t always work out as intended. Too often, technophobia - the tendency to be intimidated by technology - limits writers’ ability to work with efficiency and speed and makes these programs more overwhelming and burdensome than helpful. And with so many different types of writing software out there, how can you know which one is the best fit for you? We all know that writing is hard enough on its own without the extra burden of navigating difficult technology. The tools you use to write shouldn’t get in the way of creativity. Instead, gaining confidence and proficiency with technology can allow it to fade into the background, allowing you to focus on the task of great screenwriting. Knowing how best to use the tools available to you—and which ones to use in the first place—can serve as a powerful boon to your writing process and overall career. Whether it’s software, hardware, or workflow, moving past the technophobia and embracing the tools that are right for you can allow you to write with more ease, speed and efficiency than might be otherwise possible. First, it’s important to know what’s out there and how to actually use it. Jon Stahl is a writer, producer and script coordinator, who has served on HBO’s DGA, SAG, WGA and Emmy Award-winning comedy series VEEP. Jon began his career in production, working on projects like Jason Reitman’s YOUNG ADULT starring Charlize Theron, Showtime’s THE BIG C, and IFC’s MARON. He also produced Season 1 of the Emmy-nominated series EASTSIDERS, before getting his first high-profile writers’ room position on the NBC network sitcom MR. ROBINSON with Universal Television. Jon went on to work in the writers' room at Nickelodeon on their show GAME SHAKERS. He’s currently on the upcoming FOX animated series HOUSEBROKEN starring Lisa Kudrow and Will Forte. Jon’s career has hinged on writing quickly and efficiently by using various software and technologies and knows better than most how to use the tools available to enhance your own writing career. Jon will give you the tools to embrace good technology and use all the technological tools at your disposal to tell an amazing story. He’ll begin with a rundown of the different tools you should have to write, including keyboards, monitors, ergonomics and software. He’ll then delve explain why you need screenwriting software in the first place. Jon will delve into the lay of the land of screenwriting software, including a run through of the main players, free and affordable options, and what the standards and expectations are in the industry. Next he will show you how you know what screenwriting software is the best fit for your specific needs. He’ll go through the strengths and weaknesses of the leading programs and show you what paid software can offer that free versions do not. Jon will then go through a live demonstration of Final Draft. He’ll walk you through Final Draft’s interface and main features, how to start a script on the software, how to set up your workflow through Final Draft, and keyboard shortcuts you need to know to save you time. He’ll also go through other tricks Hollywood writers use to optimize Final Draft, how to write safely and back up your work, and how to use templates. Jon will then do the same live demonstration for both WriterDuet and Fade In. Next he will discuss other types of software to consider, including general purpose writing software, miscellaneous writing tools, and system software. Finally, he will provide you with additional resources you should consider. Expect to leave feeling a lot more confident and a lot less overwhelmed in bringing in good technology to help your writing. "Screenwriting software is a necessary tool for anyone who wants to write for film and TV. I'm so excited to lead this webinar and help anyone who wants to gain proficiency with these widely-used tools, so you can focus on the craft of storytelling." -Jon Stahl
Learn how to make Instagram work for you - get in front of casting directors and make income as an influencer! Exclusive 3 HOUR ONLINE CLASS with Rachel Paulson It's no secret that one of social media's most visual mediums, Instagram, is where actors and casting directors hang out. Yet, with thousands of profiles in a casting director's scroll, how do you stand out? Instagram is a powerful tool for you as an actor, one, that if harnessed correctly, can land you in front of the right casting directors plus give you opportunities to earn extra income from brand deals. So, where do you even start to build your brand on social media and how do you leverage it to start getting seen by the right people and start making money while doing it? We can help you get there. Rachel Paulson has grown up in a family of Hollywood royalty. She and her sisters, Emmy-winner Sarah Paulson (AMERICAN CRIME STORY, OCEAN'S 8) and Liz Paulson (SVP of Casting for FOX) have worked together for decades to learn every aspect of acting and casting and how to put yourself in the best position to stand out and book the job. Over her career, Rachel has worked on both sides of acting - both as a casting director as well as talent. In addition, she has been certified in social media and how you can use it to put yourself in a position to win. She is currently making a living through her social media endorsement deals and is the star of the Go Magazine series DATING ZOE, the host of the video series Drink Responsibly with Rachel Paulson, and the co-host of the podcast Gay vs. Straight Bitches with One Tree Hill alum, Lindsey McKeon. She also stars as the lead in the LGBTQ drama film GOOD KISSER on Hulu. Rachel is working exclusively with the Stage 32 acting community to mentor you and help you learn how to use Instagram to help your career. You will have the opportunity to work in an intimate setting with Rachel in an extended 3 HOUR ONLINE CLASS. You will walk away from this class with all the tools you need to work the Instagram algorithms and get seen on Casting Director's feeds, PLUS you will learn how to work with brands to supplement your income as an actor. Volunteers will be given sides and information on a product and Rachel will help coach you on how to secure a deal with the brand. Whether you’re new to acting and looking for your foot in the door, or an experienced actor who has had trouble navigating social media and building an online presence, Rachel will give you the tools and strategies you’ve been looking for and an avenue for finding acting opportunities you might have not even considered before. "I have been in the industry for over ten years, I’ve worked as an actor in commercials, as a casting director and run sessions. I have also worked IN social media, running the pages of several brands. I have started to realize why brands and companies are heading towards social media for all the new advertising tools, and what that means for you as actors." -Rachel Paulson