Theater closures brought on by the global pandemic are now leading exhibition and distribution communities to work together and think outside-the-box in order to preserve the arthouse theatrical landscape. Imagine a world without arthouse theaters. It’s a bleak concept for cinephiles and filmmakers alike. In a world where landing a traditional, theatrical commitment from a distributor is like winning the golden cup, what are our options when none of those theaters are open? More so, how do we keep independent theaters, already operating on thin margins, alive to fight another day and provide filmmakers, producers and financiers viable options to make profits on their films? Thankfully, there's a new an exciting option to explore. Navigating a successful theatrical release is an enormous challenge, in and of itself, when exhibition is operating normally. Add in a global pandemic and those challenges rise even higher. What are the options? Does your distributor simply claim force majeure and rush you into the home entertainment landscape? Will the home entertainment revenues be hurt by the lack of theatrical exposure? How do theaters survive and make money when they can’t have patrons at their physical locations? In times of crisis, it’s always impressive to see innovation born of necessity. Behold the birth of the "virtual theatrical" release, which has emerged and become a key player in these virtual times. But what is that exactly? How does it work? Can you make money and are other digital platforms willing to accept theaters playing in their sandbox? It’s the new Wild West. Kristin Harris is a seasoned entertainment executive who has spent the past 15 years in the independent distribution space. She has held key acquisition, development, and production roles at Starz Media, Overture Films, and Cinedigm Entertainment Group. Kristin currently serves as VP, Distribution and Acquisitions at Good Deed Entertainment, where she oversees all aspects of the company's distribution arm and manages the release slate, which includes EXTRA ORDINARY, JOURNEY’S END, Spirit Award Nominee, TO DUST, and the Academy Award nominated, LOVING VINCENT. Kristin has been at the forefront of this emerging distribution option "virtual theatrical" and will bring her experience to the Stage 32 community for you to understand what it is, how you can make money for your film from it and if it's right for you. Kristin will go over the current theatrical distribution landscape which has been affected by the COVID19 pandemic and discuss current available options for your film's distribution. She will introduce a brand new type of distribution, virtual theatrical, and break down the players, how it works from a macro and micro level and how it makes money. She'll go over how to navigate this new reality and how virtual theatrical folds into traditional and non-traditional release plans, reporting and logistics. She'll go over the pros and cons of a virtual theatrical release and help you decide if it's the right thing for your film. She'll also discuss what the future holds for distribution and buying habits in the current environment. These are challenging, yet exciting times for the industry and especially for those working in independent film. Kristin will give you all the current information and guide you through all scenarios including virtual theatrical to assure that your film has the best chance at profitability. Praise for Kristin's Stage 32 Webinar "Very informative and have learned a great deal. Will definitely put to use for our Feature Film Projects. Thank you!" -Haskell A. "The webinar was cutting edge and valuable information" -Angela G. "Very good practical information detailed enough to get the lay of the land on this topic." -James P. "Great info in a new age." -Mary M.
The landscape of distribution has shifted dramatically over recent years and continues to change in this post-pandemic world. If you have completed your feature film and are trying to secure distribution, it can be difficult to even know where to start, much less which option is the best fit for your specific project. Is theatrical, streaming, or VOD your best bet? Will the film festival circuit help you? What can and should a distributor do for you? Before making a decision, it’s important you understand what options are actually available and what the distribution marketplace really looks like today. While there are more places than ever to go to for distribution, there’s also more competition for your project to be noticed by distributors and, once distributed, for viewers to decide to watch your film over the other thousands at their fingertips. Moreover, with so many companies and services in this space, it can be difficult to determine which companies are actually on the up-and-up and which will treat your film with the respect it deserves. If you’re trying to get your film picked up right now or hope to have your feature project distributed in the future, the most important step is to understand what the landscape looks like today and what your options actually are. Let’s break it down for you. Kristin Harris is a seasoned entertainment executive who has spent the past 15 years in the independent distribution space. She has held key acquisition, development, and production roles at Starz Media, Overture Films, and Cinedigm Entertainment Group. Kristin currently serves as VP, Distribution and Acquisitions at Good Deed Entertainment, where she oversees all aspects of the company's distribution arm and manages the release slate, which includes EXTRA ORDINARY, JOURNEY’S END, Spirit Award Nominee, TO DUST, and the Academy Award nominated LOVING VINCENT. Kristin has been at the forefront of distribution as it continues to evolve and is bringing her experience to the Stage 32 community. Kristin will teach you how film distribution currently works today, what options are currently available to you and your feature film, and how to best navigate this world to ultimately get people to watch your project. Kristin will begin with an overview of how distribution works today before diving into the primary release models and options currently being used, including a discussion of which model is the best fit for your specific film. She’ll explain the rights and revenue streams you need to understand and will then lay out the primary players and platforms currently running, including all rights distributors, festivals and theatrical, digital home entertainment, non-theatrical, and streamers. Finally Kristin will go over how can you work on connecting with your audience from the very beginning to make the most of your own distribution. Making decisions regarding distribution for your film can be a daunting task, but Kristin is going to give you the most up-to-date and comprehensive breakdown of what distribution looks like today so you can be armed with facts and strategies when finding the best release strategy for your own film. Praise for Kristin's Previous Stage 32 Webinar "Very informative and have learned a great deal. Will definitely put to use for our Feature Film Projects. Thank you!" -Haskell A. "The webinar was cutting edge and valuable information" -Angela G. "Very good practical information detailed enough to get the lay of the land on this topic." -James P. "Great info in a new age." -Mary M.
It's not an understatement to say that the decisions made during the casting of your film, short film, TV pilot, or short form digital content can make or break or break your project. Being able to cast a wide enough net to assure that you see enough actors so you can choose those who fit the vision and tone of the material is paramount. But not all filmmakers and producers have that kind of reach. Further, they don't have the connections and experience to not only cast that wide net, but also bring in familiar and experienced talent that can accelerate this aspect of the pre-production process while saving valuable time, resources, and, most importantly, money. But for many, identifying and engaging casting directors of value is a challenging process. And for that reason alone, many filmmakers and producers handle the casting calls, the auditions and the decisions to hire their actors on their own. Often, that's a fatal mistake. Finding the right actors for your film does not have to be difficult. Neither does interviewing and, eventually hiring a casting director. The fact is, casting directors are plugged in to the most experienced and the best up and coming talent. Further, they know what to look for in the room during the audition process. What questions to ask. What signs to look for. And what red flags may be readily visible to them that you might overlook. While many filmmakers and producers believe they can't afford a casting director, they don't have the information and knowledge to truly know. Experienced filmmakers and producers know they have to include a casting director in their budget. And they also know that they can secure one without breaking the bank while bringing enormous value to their project. Over the course of her stellar and prestigious career, Casting Director Erica S. Bream (CSA) has had the opportunity to work on a myriad of projects across all platforms. A few of these titles include TV series such as ALTERED CARBON, COLONY, WORKAHOLICS, HOUSE OF LIES, CRIMINAL MINDS, and the upcoming TELL ME YOUR SECRETS, PANDORA as well as numerous TV pilots and miniseries, including Hulu’s 11.22.63, and FULL CIRCLE from DirecTV. She has worked on several feature films including STAR TREK: INTO DARKNESS and many indie films, such as the John Legend-produced BREAKING THROUGH. Erica has also worked extensively in the internet and short film worlds, most recently casting award-winning AFI short, RITA MAHTOUBIAN IS NOT A TERRORIST as well as PINKY for Refinery29. She has also ventured back to her first love, theatre, working closely with THE BLANK THEATRE COMPANY and IAMA THEATRE COMPANY in Los Angeles on many main-stage plays, as well as numerous years casting The Blank's prestigious YOUNG PLAYWRIGHTS FESTIVAL. Finally, Erica is an Artios Award winner (Casting Society of America) and seven-time nominee for her work in theatre, television and short films. Erica will teach you exactly what a casting director does and lay out in specific detail why you need to hire one and where to find one that can make a difference for your project. She will cover all your questions on budgeting for a casting director and what the expectations should be. She will discuss how to approach casting directors for features, short films, web series, digital shorts and more. She will show you how to secure name talent that can lead to a greenlight. Erica will also take you through the audition process, including live and taped auditions, and call back sessions. She will take you through common mistakes filmmakers and producers make when communicating with casting directors and how to not only avoid them, but what to do instead. This is a full, immersive deep dive into demystifying all the untruths and misinformation regarding hiring casting directors and how, instead, you can have a CD on your team that can help elevate your material and allow for you to see your vision on screen with actors who can carry that vision forward. Praise for Erica "I've been listening to the wrong voices. For the longest time I thought it would be impossible to get a casting director to cast my film and also thought it would be ridiculously expensive. My world has completely opened up." - Christina T. "Now I know exactly why my casting director was the wrong casting director. I won't make the same mistake twice." - Aimee C. "Drop the mic advice." - Slater M. "This felt like I was accepted into a secret club. So much information that I have never heard before. Insider kind of information. Thank you, Erica!" - Dina R.
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.
Part 1 - Writing, Budgeting & Pre-Production How to write an effective short script The brainstorming process Utilizing real life experiences, what are memorable moments in your life that stick out to you? Moments in a friend’s life? Creating characters: What topics do you uniquely understand? What jobs have you held? What did your parents do for a living? Where did you grow up? Writing in proper format What is the difference between writing “is working” and “works” in a screenplay and why does verbiage matter when writing action? Should I put my WGA and copyright notices on the title page? The business of making a short film What do I need to do to protect myself? Creating an LLC and lawyering up for the right reasons. How much is this really going to cost? Evaluating SAG Short Film Agreements, cost of renting equipment, everything from lighting to locations, and looking forward to release and distributions, what are the costs beyond the actual production of a film? Logistically, how will I be able to execute all the elements? How do I handle room and board for out of town talent? Is there a local film commission I can work with, and if so, what exactly is their role in helping me execute my vision? Part 2 - Directing, Marketing & Distributing Your Film Preparing to direct and the production process What do I need to do before I get to set? What is the purpose of having location walkthroughs? When and how to I make the shot list and how many shots do I really need? How do I make my vision clear to crewmembers while still being collaborative in the process? How do I work with an actor for the first time? How much say should they have in the script and changing the character? Should I allow an actor to change my lines? How do I follow their emotional journey over the course of shooting a film that is totally out of order so it makes sense in the final product? When problems arise on set, how do I respond? What are best practices to maintaining authority without creating conflict? How do I ensure that everyone is getting the proper attention they need so I can avoid problems? What happens if I find out we didn’t shoot something we needed? How do I work with footage or sound that didn’t come out the way I expected? How long should my final product be so I can be successful at film festivals? Marketing your film What can I do to promote my film before we ever start filming? When is the appropriate time to start promoting? What kind of promotion looks and feels professional versus amateur? Is there such a thing as oversharing information on social networks? During production, how can I use my cast and crew to promote the project? What parameters should I set to not give away plot points? What is the role of a still photographer on set and how can I leverage the still photographer for publicity? How do I reach out to press outlets to promote my film? How do I find out what press outlets are the right ones for my film, and how do I even get a journalist interested in covering it? What makes an effective versus ineffective pitch letter? Releasing your film What makes an effective trailer? How can I best prepare and present the trailer and still photos for promotional purposes? Should I create a Facebook page for my film and a website and a Twitter and an Instagram, etc.? How do I get into Sundance? If I don’t get into Sundance, is my career finished? There are entirely too many film festivals, how do I begin to figure out which ones are good and which ones are bad? What are effective ways of meeting, then following up, with producers and gatekeepers that I meet at these events? What kind of communication does an executive find annoying? Should I sell my film or give it away for free? If I give it away for free, how will I be able to pay myself back? How do I quantify if my film was a success? How do I use the short film to get myself ready for my next project? What if the film didn’t come out the way I wanted, am I completely done as a filmmaker? How do I use the lessons I learned to make my next project better? Now that I’ve made my first short film and loved it, how do I make this my full time job and become a professional filmmaker?
Exclusive to Stage 32! Workshop a monologue from an Emmy-winning show (BARRY) with an award-winning actor from the Emmy-winning ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK! It takes a lot to find success as an actor. It is, after all, one of the emotionally hardest jobs out there and involves facing constant rejection, putting yourself out there, being vulnerable for strangers. And with overwhelming competition, roles can be scarce, which makes it even harder to sustain a career. Yet being an actor can also be one of the most exciting and rewarding experiences, especially for those with the passion. Experienced actors know that finding success involves looking past the obstacles and built-in challenges and instead looking inward. Even with difficulties standing in your way, there are always ways to improve yourself and your craft to not only find more work, but to enjoy it more as well. It’s easy for actors to get so wrapped up in the industry and the system, in who they know and the projects they’re being turned down for that they forget to instead work on themselves and their craft. Yet it’s never too late to start. Investing this type of energy in self-improvement over more negative or cynical practices will unquestionably help you and your career. There are a number of techniques and strategies you can apply to your own life and your own craft to improve as an actor and lead to opportunities you wouldn’t have otherwise found. Practices like line memorization, calming your nerves, and moving forward with the right mindset can truly make all the difference. There’s no time like the present to explore these techniques. Alysia Reiner is an award-winning actress best known as the villainous warden Natalie "Fig" Figueroa on Netflix’s ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK for all 7 seasons, and won a SAG Award as part of the cast. She also stars as Sunny on the critically acclaimed, Peabody Award-winning BETTER THINGS on FX and Hulu and Kiki Rains on HBO’s THE DEUCE. She both starred in and produced the Sundance Film Festival hit EQUITY and Tribeca Film Festival favorite EGG. A few other recent adventures include getting naked in an Emmy Award winning episode of Comedy Central’s BROAD CITY and going head to head against Viola Davis’ Annalise on the ABC/Shonda Rhimes series HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER. Alysia has been invited to speak at The White House, The United Nations, Google, Cannes Lion, Women's Media Summit, Collision, and countless film festivals and other events about breaking barriers for women in all fields, specifically the entertainment industry. Alysia has led a long, successful career as an in-demand actress largely by working on her craft, her mindset, and other strategies for success, and she's excited to share her lessons learned with the Stage 32 community. Alysia will share her secrets tips and tools that she has learned from booking her first commercial to being on 7 seasons of award-winning must watch television. She will cover everything from acting techniques (learning lines, calming nerves, follow up) to mindset tips to business tools. Plus, Alysia will run an exclusive monologue workshop, something she usually only offers in private coaching environments. She will choose volunteers to workshop a monologue from the Emmy-winning show BARRY! Once you sign up you will be sent the monologue we'll be workshopping in class so you can practice. Let Alysia help you reset as an actor and leave eager and ready to get to the next level in your career!