James Crawford is an ink-to-screen producer and development executive working in southern California, with expertise working with international creative professionals. He is currently the Head of Development for Fireside Pictures, a full-service production company with offices in Ottawa, Canada and Los Angeles. 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 the three years, including The Rooftop Christmas Tree (UPTV), Sleigh Bells Ring and A December Bride (Hallmark). In addition to his feature production experience, James developed several 1-hour television series at Engage, pitching to EPiX, WGN America, Cinemax, and Universal Cable Productions. James worked as the 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 to Amazon, FX, Hulu, Netflix, Cinemax, UCP, and other major networks. James produced the animated short series A Brief History of Dick Moves, which won Best Web Series at the 2018 Glendale International Film Festival, and has worked as a producer on the independent documentaries Code Blue: Resuscitating Rural Surgery (2019) and You See Me (2015). In the fall of 2018, James was an adjunct faculty member at Loyola Marymount University, where he taught the undergraduate film history course 1960s and 1970s American Cinema. He has been a panelist at several pitch fests, including USC’s First Pitch and The Great American Pitchfest. For the past two years, James has taught screenwriting and project pitching at the Rocaberti Writers’ Retreat at Chateau Marouatte near Angoulême, France. James is a member of the Producer’s Guild of America and the Television Academy. Full Bio »
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.
“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”
Super helpful and very clear. Right to the point. Not full of anecdotes but actual teaching.
“It was very informative in a practical way. James was great!”
Q: What is the format of a webinar?
A: Stage 32 Next Level Webinars are typically 90-minute broadcasts that take place online using a designated software program from Stage 32.
Q: Do I have to be located in a specific location?
A: No, you can participate from the comfort of your own home using your personal computer! If you attend a live online webinar, you will be able to communicate directly with your instructor during the webinar.
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Q: What if I cannot attend the live webinar?
A: If you attend a live online webinar, you will be able to communicate directly with your instructor during the webinar. If you cannot attend a live webinar and purchase an On-Demand webinar, you will have access to the entire recorded broadcast, including the Q&A.
Q: Will I have access to the webinar afterward to rewatch?
A: Yes! After the purchase of a live or On-Demand webinar, you will have on-demand access to the audio recording, which you can view as many times as you'd like for a whole year!
Low budget filmmaking is all the rage these days. But unfortunately, many people equate low budget with low quality. And if we're being honest, that's because most producers and filmmakers don't understand how and where to spend their money to stretch their dollar and make sure the quality is up there on the screen. In short, you don't have to compromise on your vision if you have a smaller budget to work with. Even though you may not be playing with studio level money, you still have the ability to make a high quality film without skimping on spending for what matters. If you are clever in your planning, approach and execution of minimizing costs your will walk away with a movie you will be proud of and that will play much larger than the budget. And this will allow you to stand out in every way, from festival submissions to attracting sales agents, distributors and more. Thinking smart about your indie film must begin at the script stage. There are many tips and tricks successful producers and filmmakers use to ensure that a project will not run amok financially once you start developing and shooting it. You must think outside of the box to be able to find cost-effective ways to assure you get everything you need to make your production go smoothly and on schedule while keeping you in line on your budget. Once you master a few tips and tricks of the trade, you'll assuredly have money left over to spend on what really counts and make your film look and sound like you had money to burn. So, how can you evaluate your script, avoid the common pitfalls, and assure that you avoid the myriad issues that can stall a production or push it over budget? We have the answers. Sara Elizabeth Timmins was a field producer on the hit HBO series McMillions, which was produced by Mark Wahlberg and premiered at Sundance 2020. Her films have been seen in theaters, the Hallmark Channel, Starz, Showtime and internationally. She has worked with talented actors like Jane Seymour, Ellen Burstyn, Chris Cooper, Josh Lucas and Mackenzie Foy and writers like NY Times Best Selling Author David Baldacci. Throughout her career she has learned how to attach award-winning talent and turn a profit on every single one of her films. Sara Elizabeth will teach you the 3 key elements you must not skimp on in order to get your film to come out looking the best possible way. She'll share how she's been able to secure and manage professional talent and crew on a low budget. She'll take you step by step with great examples of where you can minimize costs in the script and development phase, as well as once you're in production. She'll even share things to think about when it comes to transportation, lodging, craft services, locations and more. She'll also give you 9 common production dangers that can sabotage your budget - you'll want to know each one of these before you even say "action!" This is information you'll want to come back to time and time again and can help you for every single production regardless of your working budget. "What clever information Sara Elizabeth. Thank you a million for your insights into your process producing. You gave me so many things to think about that I never would have considered. I'm excited to put this into practice on the film I'm doing next year!" - Robin M. "Brilliant. Just brilliant. I feel like I just got the secret sauce." - Timothy K.
Whether it’s epic battles between giant robots, a street fight, or someone chasing after the love of their life at the airport, the vast majority of movies and television use at least a bit of action writing. So we are challenged you to write an original or polish a scene with action, and really focus on making those moments of movement pop!
Learn directly from Heather Hale, an Independent Film and Television Producer, Director and Screenwriter! The entertainment industry is changing dramatically all over the globe. Now, more than ever, there are major opportunities for people who work behind the scenes on set on all types of crew positions. Below-the-line positions are crucial to the success of any film or television. This includes everything from camera operators to gaffers, craft services to costume designers, composers to editors, production assistants to script supervisors – and everything in between! No matter where you live or where you are at in your career, this webinar will help you strategize how to find the best opportunities and points of entry for you to break into the crew business; shift horizontally into new locales or formats; or move up laterally into the higher echelons of professional caliber, marquis value and budgets. Discover an empowered approach to networking to help you get on the right people’s radars, get noticed, gain momentum - and get hired. Learn time-proven techniques and new resources to proactively brainstorm where the opportunities of the moment – and future - might be, who’s doing the hiring – and trace any connections you might have to the decision makers or key players. Learn how to identify, research and prioritize a finely honed hit list of Producers Line Producers, Department Heads, Directors and Below-the-Line Agents who might be accessible to you. Figure out how to track them down, strategize the best approaches to communicate with them and how to develop the kind of track record, resume and interview skills they would most likely respond to. Learn the key words you should be using in your profiles in the online communities that might be worth your time. Below-the-line team members are the lifeblood of any production and an exciting way to work in film and television. Heather uses in-the-trenches humor, candor and real world examples to illuminate the many paths to getting hired - again and again!
Robert McKee returns to Stage 32 with The Secret to Writing Compelling Characters - a rare online teaching appearance exclusive to Stage 32! Since 1984, more than 100,000 students have taken McKee’s courses in various cities around the world and now, exclusively for the 3rd time on Stage 32, Robert McKee is back and better than ever with a Masters of Craft webinar teaching you The Secret to Writing Compelling Characters. McKee’s former students include over 60 Academy Award Winners, 200 Emmy Award Winners, 1,000 Emmy Award Nominees, 100 WGA (Writers Guild of America) Award Winners, 250 WGA Award Nominees, 50 DGA (Directors Guild of America) Award Winners, and 100 DGA Award Nominees. In this exclusive Stage 32 Masters of Craft webinar, Robert McKee teaches the principles of character creation and dimension, characterization and the secret to writing complex protagonists, providing you the tools needed to construct compelling characters that will fascinate your audience. Robert McKee, a Fulbright Scholar and member of the Hollywood Hall of Fame, is the most sought after writing lecturer around the globe. He has dedicated the last 35 years to educating and mentoring screenwriters, novelists, playwrights, poets, documentary makers, producers, and directors internationally. Those who have learned from McKee have called him “the Aristotle of our time” (Quincy Jones, Ed Saxon, Steve Pressfield to name a few) because of his insight into the substance, structure, style, and principles of the grand art of story. Peter Jackson (writer/director THE LORD OF THE RINGS, THEY SHALL NOT GROW OLD) lauds him as “The Guru of Gurus.” For the creatives at Pixar (TOY STORY, FINDING NEMO, UP, INSIDE OUT), McKee’s Story Seminar is a rite of passage.
One of the most respected agents in the business, Adam Van Dusen of Gersh will discuss the agent/screenwriter relationship, how to break in, industry trends and more! Live Q&A to follow!
During this Pitch Tank, Jason Mirch is joined by Jonny Perl the Associate Producer at Cinemation, a company built by the creative minds behind features and television including Disney's The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, DreamWorks' & Netflix's "The Mr. Peabody & Sherman Show", Stuart Little. They are currently in production on Open Road Films' animated feature Blazing Samurai starring Samuel L Jackson and Mel Brooks, which releases in 2021!