Since filmmaking was invented, it has been used to capture real life and the stories within it. From the first documentary films like NANOOK OF THE NORTH through classics like GREY GARDENS and THE THIN BLUE LINE to recent hits like MY OCTOPUS TEACHER, THREE IDENTICAL STRANGERS, and CRIP CAMP, documentaries have held an important role in the film landscape. They've uncovered otherwise unheard stories and uncelebrated heroes, defined cultures and generations, and affected global change, all while entertaining audiences and giving careers to filmmakers and truth-tellers. Yet the craft behind putting projects like this together is rarely examined. For those hoping to create documentary films of their own, there are important steps, techniques and an overall understanding necessary in order to properly plan, execute and release your non-fiction project. While studying successful documentaries, you will find there is a lot more that goes into putting one together than simply finding an interesting subject and pointing a camera at it. Documentary filmmaking requires a strong sense of story, pacing, and voice. But beyond that it also requires you to understand how to gain access in the first place, how to put together the right team and equipment, how to legally protect yourself, how to actually get your film out there once it's complete and a lot more. So how do successful documentarians create their films from start to finish? What are traps along the way you can avoid? And how do you ultimately get your film watched? Lisa Vangellow is an independent producer and director currently in post-production on her untitled documentary feature on the multi-faceted actor James Franco. She has a slate of projects she is independently producing that focuses on TV series, doc-series, based on a true story series and features, and comedy series and features. Lisa recently left Arsenal film after 5 years as Vice President of Development and Production, where she worked on projects including Push, Che: Part 2, and Let Me In. Arsenal is a feature film production company that has worked on projects including Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blache, Reasonable Doubt, and The Way Back. Lisa was invited to be one of five filmmakers to participate in the Tribeca Film Institute Documentary StoryLab for the Franco Doc where she workshopped her project along with the Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner The Wolfpack and the Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner Weiner. Over the course of three sessions, Lisa will offer her experience from the trenches to help filmmakers master the nuts and bolts of documentary film production and share step by step instruction on how you can produce a commercially viable film from idea to post-production. First, she’ll focus on the selection of subject matter and how to gauge its commercial viability. Lisa will take you through pre-production for a documentary film hitting on areas such as how to create a budget, hire your crew, get financing and explaining why you may want a lawyer to handle the nitty gritty. From there you’ll get an overview of different documentary styles and insight on how to create your story through the use of specific examples. Finally, Lisa will explain how to survive the post-production of your film to bring the entire project together and discuss your options for distribution. You will leave with an overall understanding of the documentary filmmaking process, an idea of what makes a good documentary, and how to execute these lessons in the real world. Even if you have little to no experience or if you have narrative film experience and are looking to try documentaries, Lisa will guide you towards the goal of completing a documentary film. PLUS! YOU WILL RECEIVE THESE DOWNLOADS: Budget Template Notice of Filming Template Documentarian Ethical Truths Guide Film Funds Resource "Lisa is honest, raw with truth and very real with her knowledge. I appreciated how candid she was with the entire documentary filmmaking process. She was so incredibly detailed in each and every section. This was by far a master class on documentary filmmaking. Thank you Stage 32 and Lisa." - Tiffany F.
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
Learn directly from Jessica Sitomer, a Producer, Writer and Entertertainmant Industry Coach! Millions of people dream of moving to Los Angeles (or a new production city), and every year thousands do... and every year thousands go home. Why? Because, they had a dream but they didn't have a plan. Moving to Los Angeles (or a new production city) is challenging when you are in the entertainment industry, for many reasons. Learn why in this webinar, so you don't make the BIG mistakes that so many others do. There is definitely a right way and a wrong way to move to Los Angeles, and after coaching people who followed my system and coaching people who didn't, the results and timeframes are staggeringly different. In this webinar, I will discuss the challenges of getting work, growing your contacts, and making money and how to overcome them. Having helped many people make the move from small cities or other countries, I've developed a very specific pre-move strategy and arrival plan. Whether you’re planning a move or recently moved to LA (or another production city) this is the webinar for you.
Welcome to the final Writers' Room webcast of 2019! The last broadcast of the year was the Write Now Challenge: Plot Twists! This month you were challenged to write a scene in 3-5 pages that tells a story with a major plot twist. This is no easy feat and perhaps the most difficult challenge we have faced to date! There is also a special question and answer session during the broadcast, where members asked me anything about the industry, the craft, the business, your screenwriting career or any other burning questions you may have!
It might often be the first name listed on a movie’s end credits, but a Unit Production Manager isn’t exactly the most known or celebrated role on a film’s crew. However the UPM is one of the most critical and valued jobs throughout a movie’s journey. It’s the UPM that holds everything down, that keeps all of the parts moving and makes sure the business elements are taken care of so the director and other creatives have the support and the space they need to carry out their vision. The skills needed to carry out the responsibilities of a UPM are not only crucial, but can also be lucrative for someone looking to succeed within the film industry. Once you start listing it out, the jobs and expectations of a unit production manager are expansive and seemingly never ending: Building a production bible, creating a budget, drafting a schedule, hiring the team, working with unions, insurance, paperwork, payments, even feeding the cast and crew. To be a good UPM you kind of have to be good at everything. So where to start? What exactly does a UPM do and what separates a good UPM from a bad one? Rosi Acosta is a Unit Production Manager, DGA, who has worked on over 75 TV and Film projects and over 100 commercials. She is a valued name in Hollywood as a top UPM who's worked on films such as DRIVEN, SPEED KILLS, IMPRISONED and many more. With over three decades of experience, Rosi has worked internationally with production companies from the US, Europe, Russia and Latin America. Rosi began as a casting director 32 years ago in Puerto Rico working for director Marcos Zurinaga at Zaga Films where she became one of the top casting directors in the Island. After working as such for a few years, she wanted to expand her horizons in production moving on to work with the most important TV producer in the Island, Gabriel Suau, in Telemundo-Puerto Rico, where she worked for several years in various TV shows and telenovelas. Throughout her expansive career and extensive experience Rosi has become one of the most sought-after UPMs in the world. Rosi will delve into the nuts and bolts of the role of the unit production manager and all of the tasks and responsibilities that go along with it. She’ll begin by going over the production management process from a bird’s eye view, from development through production. Rosi will discuss the business elements behind filmmaking and the ways the UPM is responsible for finding the balance between the creative and the financial. She will go over the four major skills needed to be a great UPM as well as the tenuous relationship between the project’s script, budget, and shooting schedule. Rosi will then teach what goes into a production bible and how to create a script breakdown to prepare for production. She will then delve into creating production budgets as well as preliminary shooting schedules. A huge responsibility of the UPM is to plan for contingencies and the unexpected, and Rosi will offer tips and advice on how to make sure you’re covered for everything that might come your way and will illustrate this with examples from her own experiences. She will then teach you about working with the four major unions—SAG-AFTRA, DGA, IATSE, and WGA, and how to obtain insurance packages to cover your team and your production. Rosi will then discuss how hiring works on set, strategies to bring on the right team, and common pitfalls to avoid while doing so. Finally, Rosi will go over the common aspects that will make a movie expensive, and what warning signs to look for to prevent your project from going over budget. Consider this a definitive breakdown of what the underappreciated but critical unit production manager actually does. Plus! This is a bonus extended webinar with over 2 hours of information! Praise for Rosi's Webinar “Super informative; Rosi was very helpful.” -Adam G. “Rosi Acosta was awesome. She is a treasure of knowledge. I definitely got my money's worth.” -Lawrence W. “This was so helpful. I loved hearing from Rosi” -Dana B. “This felt like a Masterclass on the ins and outs of a UPM. I’m leaving this webinar knowing way more than I thought I would. Thanks!” -Jerry C.
Learn directly from an editor from HBO Max! Putting together a great trailer for your own film or series can make all the difference when it comes to building an audience, getting eyes on your film, or even convincing distributors, executives and more to be interested. And editing trailers seems easy enough. It’s just the coolest bits of the movie with some awesome music behind it, right? Then why is it that when you try this yourself, the trailer just feels flat, no matter how good the track is? Why is it so difficult to make your project look engaging in a trailer when you’ve done the elevator pitch for this story more times than you care to count? Why is it that you were able to edit a whole long-form movie together, but this 2-minute trailer is giving you so much trouble? The truth is: a successful trailer is so much more than your best shots with your best music behind them. There’s a reason that there are entire agencies dedicated to just trailers and promos along with a whole roster of “trailer editors” who specialize in this medium. Trailer editing is really its own unique art form with its own rules and its own skillsets required to make it work. This doesn’t mean you can’t make an effective trailer of your own film, but you’re first going to need to learn how to navigate this medium and approach your film with new eyes to make the trailer sing and get your project the attention you’re looking for. Stephen Boyer is a film and video editor with nearly 10 years of experience in post-production and currently serves as a trailer editor for HBO Max, where he recuts modern trailers for existing films in the platform’s catalogue. Through his career, Stephen has edited feature films, documentaries, commercials, music videos and nearly everything in between and has cut for a litany of influential brands such as Netflix, Microsoft, SiriusXM, Nintendo, Blizzard Entertainment, and Warner Bros. A Los Angeles native with a lifelong passion for filmmaking and music composition, Stephen is well-versed and passionate in the art of trailer cutting and is bringing his years of experience exclusively to the Stage 32 community. Stephen is going to break down what makes an effective trailer today and the steps you should take to create a great trailer for your own film or television project. He’ll first discuss what good trailers look like in general and will then delve into how to re-approach your film with new eyes to begin building your trailer and find the right clips to include. He’ll also go over how you can identify the right pieces of music for your trailer and will teach you how to build out the trailer’s story. Stephen will go over polishing the trailer with sound design and will explain the fine tuning and rewrite process necessary for any trailer. Stephen will identify some of the most common pitfalls trailer editors should avoid and will even share a case study of a real trailer he edited for HBO Max of a notable film and explain how it came together. Through Stephen’s lessons and case study, you’ll gain a series of new strategies and techniques to tackle your own project’s trailer with confidence and create something that will stand out from the crowd.