Mike is a three-time Emmy winning producer, director and editor. For the last ten years, much of Mike’s professional experience has been in reality/ docu television. Mike has produced, directed and edited reality projects for Esquire Network, Lifetime, Travel Channel, nuvoTV, VH1, HBO, History Channel, ABC, ESPN and many others. In addition, Mike is an award winning filmmaker. His feature film, Rat Bastard, a film shot on 35mm for a budget of under $20,000, won several film festival awards and was picked up for distribution. More recently his self-produced television project, Hillers (starring Henry Winkler) was in the development pipeline at Showtime for a year. Currently Mike has partnered with Shepard Films to develop two feature projects and is also developing two television projects on his own including the animated series, Life at the Bottom. Full Bio »
In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, host Mike Stivala will reveal the strategies, techniques and workflows that reality/docu TV producers use every day that low/no budget / DIY filmmakers should be using to take their projects to higher levels of success. Filmmakers: stop complaining about reality TV and start learning from it!
You will leave the webinar knowing:
Your host Mike Stivala is a three-time Emmy winning producer, director and editor. For the last ten years, much of Mike’s professional experience has been in reality/ docu television. Mike has produced, directed and edited reality projects for Esquire Network, Lifetime, Travel Channel, nuvoTV, VH1, HBO, History Channel, ABC, ESPN and many others. In addition, Mike is an award winning filmmaker, and his feature film, Rat Bastard, a film shot on 35mm for a budget of under $20,000, won several film festival awards and was picked up for distribution. Mike knows how reality TV producers create drama, comedy and narratives that are entertaining, at times compelling, while working with small budgets and tight time constraints, and is here exclusively for Stage 32 to pass on that knowledge to you
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Ask any successful filmmaker how they got started and almost all will tell you that their success began with a short film. And today, more filmmakers and producers are making short films as a proof of concept for a feature length version of their story. This doesn't have to be a daunting task. And we're here to prove it by showing you how a 5-minute short made for $5,000 went on to become a feature, a Tribeca Film Festival darling, and get national distribution. Natalie Qasabian has produced movies for the Duplass Brothers and recently was a producer on one of the biggest indie box office successes of the last few years, Searching. The film, made for under $1MM, was acquired by Sony at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and has gone on to gross $75MM at the domestic box office. But much of Natalie's success and her journey began with a short film. Natalie is going to take you on an educational, inspiring, and motivational ride by teaching exactly how they pulled off the short film Join the Club, the feature All About Nina, and how the two were directly connected. She will explain the path this film took, from financing to casting to filming to film festival strategies to crushing it at Tribeca to getting global distribution. But this isn't all. Natalie will discuss the importance of making your short. How you should approach the process. How you should handle rejection along the way. How to navigate all the ups and downs of pre-production and production without having it cloud your overall strategy for the film and much, much more. Like what you heard from Natalie during this webcast? Send your script to Natalie and speak with her for a full hour by clicking here. Praise for Natalie's Stage 32 Webinar "Natalie knows how to take a film to the highest of places by committing to sound and proven strategies. Her perspective is amazing" - Doug L.
Having a known or in-demand actor in your independent film can make all the difference in whether it succeeds or not. A name actor gives your film a sense of legitimacy, which attracts new investors and more interested distributors. It also gives your film more opportunities for press and buzz, and will convince more people to watch it once it is released. That famous actor is very likely what you need to clinch your film, actually get it made, and have it ultimately find an audience and a home. But there’s a big, glaring problem with this truth: You need a name actor to get funding, but you need that funding in order to get the name actor. It ends up being a vicious circle, a catch-22 that can come across as frustratingly insurmountable, a barrier for entry that no independent filmmaker can get beyond. Let’s not mince words. Landing high level talent for your film is HARD, especially if your funding hinges on that actor saying yes. But at the same time, this isn’t the unsolvable puzzle it may at first seem. It comes down to finding the right investors and giving them what they need to say yes. This means pulling out all of the stops, preparing correctly, and doing the hard work. You’ll never be the only filmmaker going after top level talent, but you might be one of the few who’s able to do it the right way. First, it’s vital to understand what the “right way” actually is and what you need to know to do this right. Acquiring a talent is always going to be a hustle, but knowing what it takes and how to navigate this world can give you a serious edge. Independent feature film producer Franco Sama has produced an impressive array of over twenty independent feature films including cult favorite GUNS, GIRLS AND GAMBLING starring Gary Oldman, Christian Slater and Dane Cook, which was released theatrically acquired by Universal Pictures. Other films Franco has produced include; BLACK LIMOUSINE starring David Arquette, Vivica A. Fox and Bijou Phillips, TOOTH AND NAIL starring Michael Madsen and Vinnie Jones, THE PENITENT MAN, starring Lance Henriksen and Andrew Keegan and PAID, starring Corbin Bernsen and Tom Conti. Franco’s company Samaco Films continues to fund and develop independent films from burgeoning filmmakers. After nearly two decades of experience in film finance, distribution and packaging, Franco has come to understand how to crack the code and attract top level talent to independent films. He’s ready to share what he’s learned exclusively with the Stage 32 community. Franco will go in-depth on how exactly an independent filmmaker can find both cast and funding for their project. He will begin by explaining what budget range you should be aiming for to allow you to acquire the talent you’re looking for. He’ll then teach you the steps you must take before reaching out to either talent or investors. He will explain how to tap into an investor’s mindset and use it to your advantage, including why it might be easier for you to raise $5 million than $500,000, and how you should frame your project as an opportunity for investors. He’ll explain what development funding is, how it works, and why it’s now necessary in today’s landscape. Next, he will delve into how you should be building a strong team for your project before you start approaching talent. He’ll lay out the seven critical people you will need to bring on from the beginning, why you need an executive producer, how to choose the “right” director and casting director, and whether you can attract major talent as a first time director. Franco will explain the importance of acquiring international sales estimates and will lay out what your presentation deck to investors should look like to find funding and gain the cast you’re looking for. He will also talk about how pre-sales work and how many you need to be seen as successful. He’ll then start talking about the actual casting process, including how to create a realistic actor’s wish list, deciding between “A-List” and “B-List” actors and whether or not they pass Franco’s “Parentheses Test”. He’ll explain casting with an eye towards sales and then explain the difference between letters of intent, letters of commitment, and phone verification when going after talent. He’ll also break down contingency investments and how to know when to employ deferment and back-end offers with actors. Franco will explain how to make legitimate offers to actors and agents and how to ensure they’re never empty offers. He’ll go into how “pay or play” works in this world and why going out too early to actors can destroy your casting choices. Finally Franco will explain how you can use tax incentives to help with casting. Expect to leave with a thorough and comprehensive understanding of the steps you need to take to bring on your dream actor. Praise for Franco's Stage 32 Webinar "One word - Invaluable." - Larry S. “Head & shoulders above the usual webinars on film distribution and finance. Franco actually knows his stuff and has a track record to back it up. Really good presentation.” – Scott B. This was incredibly illuminating and really entertaining at the same time. I'm so glad I watched this" -Glenda T. Wow. I cannot believe how much I learned from this webinar. Franco is the best. -Terrence R.
We are well into the digital revolution in filmmaking. The least known and least understood aspect, but arguably the most important, of the digital revolution is the digital master of your film via a Digital Cinema Package. More than cameras or editing or access to great equipment, the one factor that allows the indie filmmaker to truly be on a level playing field is the ability to screen your film at festivals and any theater in the world via DCP. In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, experienced filmmaker, Stephen van Vuuren, will teach you all secrets, tips, and best practices that everyone involved in film productions must know to end up with a quality digital master of your film. The information in this webinar is not available all together in one place anywhere on the internet until now! Many film festivals, large and small, now require DCP screeners and nearly all theaters in the world require your film on DCP. A DCP is the single most important master of your film that you will ever make. However, many indie filmmakers have limited experience and understanding of how they must plan from the very beginning stages of a film to insure their film – short, feature, documentary – is ready for DCP. You only have one chance with your audiences to make a great impression – and today that chance depends on your DCP.
Latin America has become a growing hot spot for film and television productions, and notable projects continue to arise from the area, including Academy Award-winning ROMA, Cannes Film Festival Palm d’Or nominee AQUARIUS (produced by a Stage 32 member!) and successful Netflix drama series NARCOS. With desirable film and television infrastructures, talented cast and crew on hand, and generous local incentives for productions, Latin American countries will no doubt continue serving as a booming market for foreign productions into the future. As a producer or filmmaker, understanding and working within this region can serve as a boon for you and your projects. Latin America might be a production hot spot, but it’s also a hard place to nail down. That’s because we’re talking about multiple countries with their own governments, incentives, cultures, treaties, and opportunities. And of course, all of these continue to change as countries shift and evolve. So what does this region look like right now from the point of view of a filmmaker? And how can you harness the opportunities these countries have to offer? Where do you even get started? David Zannoni is an expert in the Latin America industry. For over a decade he has represented Fintage House (the world’s largest collection account management agency) in the region, negotiating agreements for films and television series. David is involved in business development and relationship management specifically in the US, Latin America and Spain. David also runs Zannoni Media Advisors, where he focuses on international service providers in the film and TV industries, as well as film and TV productions in Latin America, among other places. David’s experience in global business as it relates to Latin America is unparalleled. David will dissect the booming and ever-changing Latin American film market to give you the bird’s eye view of what’s going on over there and how you can get involved. He will begin by discussing the region’s history with film and television productions, as well as the notable titles that have come from there recently. He will then delve into the main production hubs in Latin America on an individual basis—Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Chile, Dominican Republic, Uruguay, and Puerto Rico. He will then teach you the main types of incentives offered in the region, including tax rebates, tax exemptions, and discounts, and how those differ country-to-country. Next, David will go over how co-productions work in Latin America and the benefits that come along with them. He will outline the different co-production treaties in place and how you can use these to your advantage. He will discuss how Latin American films are financed, how they’re distributed, and how standard revenue models work there. He will then give you the tools to successfully approach businesses in this region and warn you of the common pitfalls you may come up against. He’ll then lay out the services offered in these regions that you can use, as well as the Latin American markets and festivals worth investing your time in. This is the ultimate guide to everything you need to know to produce in Latin America. Praise for David's Webinar: "I learned so much! Thank you" -Janet M. "I was not expecting David to give us so much specific information about producing in Latin America. This was incredibly helpful" -Mario T. "One of the most thorough and informative webinars I've ever been on. Thanks David and Stage 32!" -Holly B. "David knows so much about this! It was great to learn from an actual expert" -Benjamin R.
How To Build Your Suspense From The Ground Up And Craft A Thriller With Earned Twists, Turns and Thrills If you're paying attention to the trades and seeing which screenplays and projects are being sold and produced, you know that psychological thrillers are highly in demand. With films like Joker, Ma, Escape Room, Glass, Ex Machina, The Invitation, Get Out, Happy Death Day, The First Purge and many more, companies like Blumhouse have propelled the production of thrillers for an audience hungry for suspense and thrills, making creepy, crawly movie-going experiences all the rage. With box office receipts in the billions it's clear that the appetite for psychological stories is raging. And, it's a more exciting time than ever to be able to a screenwriter or filmmaker who has a suspenseful thriller you want to tell. But the art of writing a psychological thriller is one of vulnerable characters, deep secondary characters, memorable set pieces, set ups, reversals, and earned twists and turns. There's a formula to it all, and those who master these skills win the day. Writing a psychological thriller and creating and maintaining suspense and high stakes throughout takes an immense understanding of the history of the genre. It's a genre based in Hitchcockian roots. One that needs to have certain elements in order to be effective to keep the audience involved, engaged and on the edge of their seat. While most psychological thrillers start off with a well thought out premise, that's all they have. The action starts quickly and then falls flat. In many other cases, the premise is in place, but the writer or filmmaker doesn't know how to get past the jumping off point. You must get your hook in place quickly - within your first five pages - and that takes skill. You need to truly create compelling characters, especially protagonist and your villain, and make them layered in order to support your theme and plot and to assure the audience always knows and is invested in the stakes. To be truly successful at getting your reader's attention, keep those pages turning and set yourself up for an offer of representation, an option, a sale, or financing, you need to understand all of the nuances that make a great suspenseful story before you type (or read) FADE IN. Steve Desmond is one of the best in the industry today writing suspense and psychological thrillers. His most recent feature screenplay, Harry's All Night Hamburgers, was adapted from a Hugo award winning short story and was one of the highest priced spec sales of the last 5 years, selling to Warner Bros. in a bidding war worth 7 figures. The film now has Oscar Nominated Producer Andrew Lazar (American Sniper) producing via his Mad Chance production banner and Ted Melfi directing. He has recently been tapped by Film Nation to adapt The Cabin at the End of the World, a Harper Collins title from author Paul Tremblay. The psychological horror and suspense novel centers on a vacationing family terrorized by four strangers who claim to be either attempting to bring about or trying to avert the apocalypse. His short film, Monsters, has played in over 100 film festivals worldwide, winning 43 awards including Best Short Film at the Comic-Con International Film Festival in San Diego and was a finalist at Stage 32's 3rd Annual Short Film Program. Steve filmed Monsters to serve as a proof of concept for his feature script, Twisted Avenue which is now in development. Needless to say, thrillers and suspense are in Steve's blood and the focus of all his writing. And now he's bringing all he's learned along the way to you. Steve will help you build your suspense from the ground up. He'll teach you the ultimate tool you need - the Hitchcock Ticking Clock Method which will help you on your way to setting the vital groundwork for your story. You'll learn how to create a compelling protagonist and an enticing villain. Steve will give you exercises you can use to craft your own characters and give you 5 must have tips on backstory and character confessions to give depth. You'll learn how to hook your reader in the first 5 pages and what the 3 different teasers you can write for your opening. You'll explore the power of murder in your script and the art of a twist ending. He will show you how to craft your script with producers in mind to give yourself the best chance to have your material attractive to the widest audience possible. Steve will go over how you can incorporate visuals into your story and break down case studies of Psycho, The Silence of the Lambs and Se7en. And, finally, Steve will share some advice on how to get your script on the screen by writing it in a producible budget. You will have a fully immersive experience from a suspense expert that will leave you excited, inspired and confident to tackle your next psychological project. This webinar was AWESOME!!! I just finished a thriller and now as a result of listening to Steve Desmond, I am ready to do a re-write which I believe will be one of the best screenplays I have ever written. Let's see what happens! - Michelle C. What a thrilling and insightful webinar, excellent!! - Kathleen W. Super helpful information that you don't find in books! - Pamela C. Very useful information - well structured and clearly presented! - Sara C.
At the end of this exclusive lab you will receive a Stage 32 Producing Lab Certificate Get one-on-one mentoring and guidance from an accomplished producer on getting your own project made! Payment plans available - contact email@example.com for details In today’s film market independently producing a film is a great way to get your project made. There are thousands of independent films that are developed, made and distributed every year that started from a script. But how? Now, more than ever, the need for a major studio to get your project into production becomes less and less, while more control is put into your own hands. Whether you're a filmmaker, producer, writer or actor, you have the ability to produce and shepherd a film project if you know the right steps to take to get it done. In order to do this, though, you will need to get your project market-ready and make it attractive to co-producers, financiers, actors, directors, distributors and more. We're going to give you a mentor to help you get there. ABOUT YOUR STAGE 32 EDUCATOR Aimee Schoof is the co-founder of Intrinsic Value Films and has produced more than 35 feature films. Of those, 9 have premiered at theSundance Film Festival, four at the Tribeca Film Festival, three at SXSW, and one each at LA Film Festival, Toronto, Venice, New York FF, New Directors/New Films, and Berlinale, to name a few. Aimee’s company develops, produces and sells independent films that have been distributed worldwide, have won many awards and been honored with numerous nominations. Accolades include winning a Sloan Sundance Award and a Sundance Special Grand Jury Prize. Aimee’s work has led her to be nominated five times by Film Independent as a producer. She is currently both a Sundance and Film Independent Fellow and has worked in international sales attending all major markets, and regularly lecturing on film finance and production. Aimee’s extensive experience has made her intimately familiar with how to successfully get a project off the ground and build a team to get a script made. In this advanced level and exclusive four-session lab (no more than 15 students will be admitted), Aimee will work directly with you in an intimate class setting to help you make your script marketable and put the pieces together to get the film ready to go. Plus! Aimee will also provide you exclusive, confidential and helpful documents for you to download and use for your own projects including: Up-to-date list of in-demand writers and directors to reach out to Pitch Deck examples Outreach email templates "I really loved Aimee’s lab. She’s such a delight and so full of useful information that pertains to everyone’s individual projects, and she's so encouraging! I highly recommend this class and/or working with Aimee in general. I came out with loads of actionable steps to take my project further." -Patricia S. Expect to leave this lab with a better handle on the potential for your script, a working pitch deck, and a plan of attack to find your own team and get your film moving towards the finish line. And, you will receive a Stage 32 Producing Lab Certificate.