Wes Ambrecht is a bleeding-heart romantic and a self-proclaimed Renaissance Man. Recently, Wes has served as the Director of Development for Viewfinder Pictures where he helped set up projects at FX, HBO and Amazon. Wes has worked closely with James Franco's Rabbit Bandini Productions, producing both the upcoming feature film "Killing Animals" and the digital project "Departure.” He also worked in the Motion Picture Literary department at the Gersh Agency. The eldest of 3 children, Wes originally hails from the small Long Island suburb of Bellmore. His well-documented love of pop culture initially drove him towards entertainment journalism, and a BS in Communication from Cornell University. But, his desire to create content quickly got the better of him. Wes enrolled in UCLA's prestigious MFA Producer's Program. One year later, he produced the university's first sanctioned television pilot, "doubleblind," which went on to win the Caucus Award for Best Television/New Media Program. Not long after, his branded entertainment spot, “No Doubt About,” was named a finalist in the Sprite Young Filmmaker Series. Full Bio »
Your host, Wes Ambrecht, has helped sell projects to FX, HBO and Amazon and previously worked with Gersh!
So you’ve finished your pilot, congratulations! The first step is out of the way. Now, it’s time to get things into shape. Very rarely does a first draft come out like a golden egg. In fact, by the time you actually see something on TV, it’s probably been through upwards of twenty drafts. From initial notes and revisions to producer notes, studio notes, network notes and maybe even a note or two from an actor who thinks there’s a better way to word that one line.
In this webinar, Wes Ambrecht will walk you through the process of getting your pilot to a place where it’s ready to be looked at by representation and producers. A writer, producer and former development exec, Wes has been on both sides of the table. This class will offer an unabashed look at the development process and help students see their pilot not just for its story but also its component parts.
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.
Q: What are the system requirements?
A: You will need to meet the following system requirements in order to run the webinar software: Windows 7 or later Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) or later.
If you have Windows XP, Windows Vista and Mac OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion): The webinar software does not support these operating systems. If you are running one of those operating systems, please upgrade now in order to be able to view a live webinar. Upgrade your Windows computer / Upgrade your Mac computer
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.
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!
Anyone who has ever tried to produce and cast a feature film is aware of the quagmire that attaching “A” List level talent represents. On one hand, you need the star power of a “name” actor in order to acquire funding and on the other hand you need the money in order to acquire the name talent. It's enough to drive even the most seasoned filmmakers crazy. Don't worry, there are proven strategies to solving this puzzle and assuring that your project is top of mind for managers, agents, and their talent. The reason why so many first and second time producers, writers and directors find themselves in this situation is simple. In most cases, they are attempting to approach “A” List celebrity talent to their film much too soon with the hopes of using that “name” to attract investors; a strategy that rarely works. The reality of the situation is that "A" List talent and the representatives get dozens of offers a month. And with more and more name actors working in television, streaming series, limited series and now even digital series (hello, Quibi!), the competition is even higher. But you CAN compete and still attach "A" List talent to your project even if you don't have all your funds raised. Franco Sama has produced over 25 profitable independent films ranging from micro-budget to films up to $5MM. Franco is considered a pioneer in the world of film financing and casting. He speaks all over the world on the subject and has mentored thousands of filmmakers and producers on how to attach the best talent to their independent features. Just some of the actors Franco has cast in his films include: Gary Oldman (Oscar Winner, Darkest Hour, Oscar Nominee, Dark Knight) Christine Lahti (Oscar Winner) Christian Slater (Golden Globe Winner) Michael Madsen (Reservoir Dogs) Chris Klein (American Pie) David Arquette (Scream) Vivica A. Fox (Kill Bill) Dane Cook (Comedian) Franco has also been a consulting producer on many films with many more in active development. Many top producers in the game turn to Franco to get their films off the ground. And now he's bringing his over 2 decades of knowledge exclusively to the Stage 32 community. Franco will teach you everything you need to know about attaching top talent to your film including a bullet proof method for ensuring that managers and agents not only put your script in the hands of "A" List talent, but that they read the material! He will show you how to make sure your script is attractive to "A" List talent. He will teach you how to turn a Letter of Intent into a Letter of Commitment. He will instruct you as to the proper timing to make your offer, so you assure that everything is in order and that you're in a position to answer all questions. He will dissect a physical offer so you know exactly what you should be presenting. He will discuss pay and play offers, deferred payments, using credits as currency and back end point deals and how you can identify which of these offers and strategies to deploy. He will go over proper etiquette and how to make sure everyone is happy so that you win the trust of the gatekeepers assuring you can return to the same managers and agents again and again. Franco will take away the fear, anxiety, and, most of all, doubt, that comes with the desire to attach name talent to your project. You will learn all the proper strategies and methods to assure success. "I had the pleasure of seeing Franco speak live at one of Stage 32's live education events. He was so inspiring, so confident and so willing to help, this webinar became an instant signup. Even with my high expectations, I was floored by the wealth of information and the explanation of the strategies within. My fear, and let's face it, my insecurity of approaching talent was crippling. Not any more. I've put in 2 offers on 2 different features this morning and I'm already lining up my next move. Can't wait for the next one, Franco! And thank you, Stage 32!" - Pamela R. "One word - Invaluable." - Larry S. "This was a stunning presentation. One of the best yet." - Antonio H. "I have seen the light and I am ready to make offers. Try and stop me." - Lydia W. "Empowering. I'm going to watch it a 2nd and 3rd time just to make sure I got it all down. Then, I'm working the phones. Great job, Franco and Stage 32." - Reese K.
We will examine ways in which screenwriters tackle one of the most complex and difficult concepts in narrative storytelling, looking at projects like Edge of Tomorrow to discuss rules that are created, bent, and broken by writers.
Every successful filmmaker has, at some point in their career, written, directed, and/or produced a short film. For filmmakers who are just starting out, a short film is the best calling card to showcase their unique talent and vision. It is important to remember that short filmmaking is different from feature filmmaking, with challenges unique to the process. Even so, producing a short film may seem daunting, but there are several key secrets to getting the most out of your project. This intensive 5-week course will give students the tools and techniques necessary to produce a world class short film. Each week will be dedicated to a different aspect of the short filmmaking process, including, concept development and writing of your short, budgeting and scheduling, understanding and drafting production agreements, pro-tips on directing actors, and how to get the most out of the post production process. Students are strongly encouraged to come with ideas for a short film, which will be developed over the course of the 4 weeks, so by the conclusion of the class, the should have a screenplay ready for production.
The key to succeeding in Hollywood, or really any industry, is to put yourself out there. We all know this is a business of relationships and that building relationships takes time and effort. But even if you've built a solid base of meaningful relationships, you still have to take action. Make inquiries, take meetings, get on people’s radars, show up. For introverts, however, putting yourself out there has always been easier said than done. And that’s in a normal world. Now, in this new quarantined era, and with seemingly everything - networking, pitch meetings, general meetings and more going virtual - putting yourself out there online can feel positively impossible. With extended isolation, reduced in-person connections, restricted travel, and working from home, how can you stay connected and relevant? And how can you do those things while being naturally shy? How can you overcome your self-imposed barriers. Believe it or not, it's easier than you think. The world might feel like it’s in standstill right now, but it’s more important than ever that you keep moving, not only for your career, but also for your passion and your well-being. It may be easy to curl up on your couch, order that delivery deep dish pizza, start a 7 season series on Netflix and fade away from the outside world, but it’s not going to move you or your desired career forward. Staying connected remains key, and to do that, it’s necessary to be versatile and continue to adjust as the world changes. But what does that look like? How do people successfully network from home? How do you use powerful tools such as Stage 32, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and Zoom to help get yourself out there? And where do you even start the conversation as a naturally introverted person? The good news is you already have all of the tools to do it—you just have to power up and commit. Jennifer Winberg has over 10 years of branding and entertainment experience in digital strategy and social media working with Lionsgate, Disney, Fox, Sony, Lionsgate, and Gravitas Ventures. Along the way she has mastered the art of digital and has helped thousands of creatives overcome their fear of networking online. Jennifer has developed a passion and expertise in the art of networking and will share her experience exclusively with the Stage 32 community. Jennifer will discuss the importance and benefits of staying connected and the larger positive implications of being involved. She’ll then delve into the tools we all have to stay connected in our own homes and the best ways to go about using them. Next, Jennifer will go over how to find your tribe in the current landscape and how to use your community not only to advance in your own goals but also to give back. She will give you the rundown of how best to approach new people virtually, including where to start, and right and wrong approaches she’s seen. She’ll then give you tips on how to make a good impression from your own home and how to define your brand despite being quarantined. Jennifer will discuss ways to be agile as the world continues to change, and how to stay on track while still being able to adjust. Finally, Jennifer will go over the best ways to set goals and then actually stick to them so that you can overcome your fears and reservations about getting yourself out there and get the results you desire! Praise for Jennifer’s Stage 32 Webinars " Fantastic, optimistic and informative, I feel I have a lot to work with and was a pleasure to be a part of" - Christie S. "Great webinar - lots of interesting and useful information. Great speaker! Thanks!" - Ron H. "Lots of good advice. Took 9 pgs of notes!" - Martha C.