James Kicklighter is a multi-award winning writer/director whose work has been recognized by the world’s press, including The Hollywood Reporter, The Times of India, Film Courage and FilmInk Australia. His first feature film, Desires of the Heart, was released theatrically across India in November 2015. The film was an official selection of numerous festivals across the United States and around the world, including the Cannes Marché du Film and was the winner of Best Foreign Film at the Los Angeles Femme Film Festival. In May 2016, James completed Digital Edition, a documentary about the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s transition from print to digital as they operate in a new media environment. Additionally, he is revising his first book, the biography of famed entertainment publicist Bobby Zarem, and shopping the coming-of-age screenplay Escaping Bellview, featured on The Black List, SpecScout, Slated and most recently, named to the Top 50 in the 2016 International Screenwriters’ Association Fast Track Fellowship. James is developing several films with a southern voice for producers Richard Saperstein (The Mist, Se7en), M. Elizabeth Hughes (Short Term 12, Girlfriend’s Day) and Beau Turpin (Beneath the Leaves, Counterpunch), including The Perpetual State of Georgia from Casey Nelson and Kate Murdoch (The Last Treasure Hunt) and Erk, a biopic about legendary college football coach Erk Russell. He serves on the Advisory Board for the Department of Communication Arts at Georgia Southern University, his alma mater, where he was recently chosen out of over 30,000 living graduates to be listed on the inaugural “40 Under 40 Alumni” for “impact in business, leadership, community, educational and/or philanthropic endeavors.” Full Bio »
Over the past few decades as the media landscape has changed, so have methods for reporting and information gathering. Your Stage 32 Next Level educator, award-winning director, James Kicklighter, has personally learned this while directing his new documentary film, Digital Edition, profiling the digital tools changing media as we know it.
In “Deconstructing Oscar-Winning Films: Spotlight, Network & All The President’s Men,” we will evaluate and deconstruct common methods deployed in these three groundbreaking films to tell stories about journalism and media. Through this process, we will identify the successful techniques from these masterpieces for directing and writing movies about the media we consume.
While filmmaking isn’t typically thought about as “investigative,” to create a film about journalism and media, it requires extended research that goes beyond writing the fictional screenplay. We will evaluate the preparation process of interviewing industry professionals, utilizing research to inform the written narrative, and how to visually manifest the themes on screen.
You will walk away learning techniques to help your directing, writing, acting and producing to help you improve your projects!
As an added bonus - ***Get 3 FREE Oscar-Winning Scripts: Spotlight, All The President's Men & Network***
Live Q&A with James!
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?
Writers, producers and directors often complain that they can’t get their projects made, usually because the budget is too large. But what if the problem wasn’t the concept, but the way the script approaches the material? Have you had trouble selling your script? Do you constantly hit a wall when writing because you know it's 'too big' or 'too expensive' to make on a small budget? In this exclusive Stage 32 Next Level Webinar James Kicklighter will teach you how to develop a film that can be made without large budgets and resources. James will arm you with the knowledge to create a scene that shows the narrative arc without telling it. He will also go through simple elements that often drive up budgets, elements that have been forgotten or unconsidered by filmmakers of all experience levels. You will learn how to optimize your script to show and not tell the story with nominal resources, providing valuable guidance for the novice and a refresher for the experienced veteran. You will leave this webinar knowing exactly how to write a producible, low-budget script!
Exploring the latest best practices to optimize audience growth for personal/professional work on the world’s fastest growing social media platform, Instagram. Are you harnessing the power of Instagram to promote your latest series or movie? Whether you’re working on a story for TV, Film, or Digital, every storyteller must use the power of social media, to promote and share their work...and currently, the best place to start your outreach is on Instagram. Over the past two years, Instagram has quickly become the fastest growing and most relevant social media platform in the world. In this course, you’ll learn: How to create your personal brand, optimizing #hashtags to be discoverable in search, using 3rd party applications to optimize your reach, fundamentals of tagging and geolocation, best practices for reaching out to Instagram influencers, creating a social posting schedule, and harnessing the power of Instagram stories and Instagram LIVE.
Learn directly from Scott Stoops, a manager at Benderspink who recently sold a pilot to CBS. Benderspink sold more spec scripts last year than any other management company and are best known for producing The Hangover franchise, The Ring franchise, We’re The Millers, Horrible Bosses 2, among many others! With the recent success of films such as It Follows, Insidious Chapter 3, Poltergeist and The Visit, it is evident that horror is becoming one of the most profitable and exciting genres in the industry. This is because horror films can be made on the cheap and still yield spectacular returns at the box office. Horror doesn’t rely on big IP, superheroes, or movie stars – all horror needs to deliver is a compelling story, told well, packed with plenty of chills and thrills. However, delivering on this is far easier said than done, and many writers miss important story elements that keep their horror scripts dead in the water. In this exclusive Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, Scott Stoops, a manager at Benderspink who is passionate about genre films, will teach you what makes a horror film successful, from developing a marketable and commercial plot, to unique and scary set pieces, to properly structuring and formatting your script to tell the best story possible. You will learn high-level story concepts, tips and tricks to help make your horror script scary and effective, and get an insider perspective on what concepts and types of horror films are currently selling in the marketplace. You will leave this webinar with an understanding of not only how to make your existing scripts stronger, but how to develop and come up with the next big horror hit film!
So, you’re a writer with a great script. You want to get signed! You want to get it sold! Heck, you just want it to be read! This is where you learn what the studios/producers/agents look for in a script, so you can address those points before anyone even takes a look. You will be miles ahead of the screenwriting pack by knowing IN ADVANCE how they evaluate a script. Or you’re a writer/producer. The #1 job of any producer is knowing how to identify material, and how to make that material BETTER. This is where you will learn how to break that script down, and build it back up. Or you’re a director. It is your duty to look at a piece of material (yours or someone else’s) and know how to improve all aspects of it – from story to character to conflict. Or, you’re an actor reading a screenplay. You like the part, but something’s missing. The story needs work. You want to shine, and it’s up to YOU to give notes on that character and that story. But you don’t know how to express to the director/producer what you innately feel. This is where you will learn how to analyze the script, and communicate what you think to make your role pop. This workshop is for anyone looking to break into the industry, or anyone already deep into it who wants a better grasp of story. Story is king in entertainment – now and always – and knowing what makes a good story and how to improve upon one, is vital.