Piotr Szkopiak is an experienced director whose latest film THE LAST WITNESS starring Alex Pettyfer (I AM NUMBER FOUR) was released in cinemas nationwide in Poland on 156 screens and in theaters and on digital and DVD in the UK and US. The film also won 33 awards and was selected to screen at film festivals around the world, including in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Toronto & Sydney. His first feature film, SMALL TIME OBSESSION was released theatrically in the UK with both Variety and The Guardian describing him as “a director to watch”. Piotr has also directed countless episodes of television, including episodes of the BBC series CASUALTY, FATHER BROWN, DOCTORS, EASTENDERS, and SHAKESPEARE & HATHAWAY-PRIVATE INVESTIGATORS. Through his career, Piotr has found success in attaching in-demand actors like Alex Pettyfer and is prepared to share his strategies and techniques exclusively with the Stage 32 community. Full Bio »
Learn from an experienced director how to nail a talent meeting so you get the actors you want in your project!
There is A LOT that goes into making a film. Countless roles, countless facets, countless obstacles. And while all aspects are important and necessary to put together a successful film, there are few components more crucial than casting. The cast is not only the key component in delivering your screenplay to an audience but it also determines whether or not you actually get your film made. Funding is often contingent on casting and on recognizable talent being attached, as is distribution deals which will allow your film to ultimately be seen. Actors have a huge influence on how the finished film will be received so how do you approach them and secure their services?
Many independent filmmakers quickly write off the idea of including name talent in their project, believing it’s a fool’s errand or something you can’t actually accomplish without deep pockets and deeper connections. This isn’t necessarily true, though. What is essential is a complete understanding of how the casting system works and how to successfully navigate it as an independent filmmaker. Perhaps the most important aspect of this process is the actor meeting, where you pitch your film and convince the actor or their reps to join the project. So much hinges on this meeting, and nailing it can make all the difference. So how exactly can you pitch a bigger actor to star in your project? With so many film projects to choose from, why should they choose yours?
Piotr Szkopiak is an experienced director whose latest film THE LAST WITNESS starring Alex Pettyfer (I AM NUMBER FOUR) was released in cinemas nationwide in Poland on 156 screens and in theaters and on digital and DVD in the UK and US. The film also won 33 awards and was selected to screen at film festivals around the world, including in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Toronto & Sydney. His first feature film, SMALL TIME OBSESSION was released theatrically in the UK with both Variety and The Guardian describing him as “a director to watch”. Piotr has also directed countless episodes of television, including episodes of the BBC series CASUALTY, FATHER BROWN, DOCTORS, EASTENDERS, and SHAKESPEARE & HATHAWAY-PRIVATE INVESTIGATORS. Through his career, Piotr has found success in attaching in-demand actors like Alex Pettyfer and is prepared to share his strategies and techniques exclusively with the Stage 32 community.
Piotr will teach you how to successfully navigate and execute a key actor meeting in order to bring on a high level actor for your independent project. He will begin by going over how to build your wish list of the actors you’d like for your film, including how to choose who should go on the list, how to navigate creative vs. business choices, setting expectations early and being realistic, and dealing with budget. He will then explain how to approach your desired actor. He’ll explain how to navigate the catch 22 of attaching actors, which is the fact that you need money to go to actors, but you need actors to get money. He’ll talk about when in the process of your project to make contact, who to contact first and how, and how best to work with agents. Piotr will delve into how best to prep for the actor meeting. He’ll talk about the difference between a video conference meeting and a face-to-face one and go over what you should know going in. He’ll walk you through the research you should do ahead of time and where you should choose to meet and why. He’ll also give you a rundown of what your appearance should be for a good first impression and what the proper etiquette is. He’ll give you an idea of the key questions to ask your actor and how best to communicate your vision and prepare your look book to make a convincing case. Piotr will also give you tips of what to do if you’re facing a creative disconnect and how to overcome it. He’ll also go over how best to take criticism if it comes up during the meeting and how to ultimately know if you found the right fit for your actor. He will next teach you best practices for the meeting follow up, including the next steps to take care of right after the meeting, what the do’s and don’ts are, and how to deal with production delays that may come up in the process. Finally, Piotr will go through a case study of his own film THE LAST WITNESS and explain how he ultimately landed the actors Alex Pettyfer and Robert Wieckiewicz to play his lead roles. He’ll discuss the early development of the film, how he attached his producer, and when the key actors became part of the plan. Piotr will even share the look book he created to convince the actors to join. Key actor meetings are scary things, but Piotr will give you the tools you need to navigate them with more confidence and develop the skills to nab your dream actor.
Praise for Piotr's Stage 32 Webinar:
"The presentation was very personable and straight forward. Thank you for the great advice and guidance"
"I learned some great tips on how to approach talent and work with them. Nothing is impossible. You just really need to be prepared and know what you are doing. This is especially helpful for first time directors or writer-directors."
"It was great hearing about all of this from someone like Piotr. It made me feel like I could do it too. Such great advice. Thank you, Piotr!"
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In this 5-session online master class, learn from leading producer Jason Mirch, and his special industry guests on how to take an idea for a short film from concept all the way to post-production. 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. You are strongly encouraged to come with ideas for a short film, which will be developed over the course of the 5 weeks, so by the conclusion of the class, you should have a screenplay ready for production! Every week your host, Jason Mirch, will be bringing in special guests to help teach you, including: Christina Snider - Casting Associate, Susan Edelman Casting (Melrose Place, Malcolm in the Middle, Drop Dead Diva, Wonder Years) Michael Carney - Director (Same Kind of Different As Me) Brian Swanson - editor and sound designer Abeer Abu Schmeiss - Marketing Director, Image Nation (He Named Me Malala, Flight,The Help, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel)
How Artificial Intelligence is Revolutionizing the Casting Process and Impacting Actors Learn about the implications of artificial intelligence on the acting and casting industries from Sami Arpa, Ph.D., a leader in the intersection of technology and filmmaking Get ahead of the curve and learn how the future of AI will play a huge role in casting! With the recent advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, every industry is about to get a major overhaul in terms of operations and productivity. The film industry - specifically casting - is no exception. Have you ever wondered how AI can be used to optimize casting choices? Or create a level playing field for all actors? How about the ethical and moral implications of using AI to recreate actors from the past? All of these questions will be fundamental in the decision making process in casting in the near future, and making yourself an expert on the issues will put you in a stronger position to best position yourself and your career. In this webinar, we will explore the ways in which artificial intelligence is transforming the casting process and impacting the acting industry. We will discuss how AI can be used to enhance the casting process, including analyzing screenplays to gain a better understanding of characters and building the cinematographic DNAs of actors. By using AI, actors and talent agents can find the best actor choices for each character, resulting in more successful projects and better career planning. Additionally, we will provide examples of how AI can be used to address the diversity problems in casting by designing unbiased algorithms that remove the problem of bias in terms of race and gender. Additionally, we will also discuss the potential drawbacks and ethical considerations of AI, including concerns over deepfakes and fake actor voices with AI audio synthesis. We will explore how these issues are posing threats to the careers of many working actors. You will be taught by Sami Arpa, Ph.D., the founder and CEO of Largo – a Switzerland-based company that provides data-assisted intelligence to the audio-visual industry. Sami will share his expertise in the fields of AI, machine learning, and film will provide you with invaluable insight in navigating the future of AI in casting and the film industry at large. During the webinar, Sami will provide you with practical tips for actors, casting directors, and talent agents on how to update their workflow and incorporate AI into their practices. PLUS! Sami will provide you with a copy of his presentation in a document you can utilize going forward! Praise for Sami's Teaching & Knowledge: “WOW, Sami's insight into AI and how it is and will be used in film is mind blowing. The future is here.” – Thomas M. "I had the pleasure of learning about the future of AI in Hollywood...and beyond...from Sami and it was worth every penny." - Chris R.
As a filmmaker, you know that every opportunity to shoot your story is precious. The days when your team is working, your cameras are rolling and your actors are in hair and make-up are days of golden opportunity. But they can also be days of stress and frustration if you haven't prepared properly during pre-production. We want you to have the best shoot days possible and that's why this webinar is invaluable for filmmakers. In this webinar, accomplished director Heath Cullens shares his process of preparing for a shoot exclusively with the Stage 32 community. As a filmmaker, the importance of preparation during pre-production cannot be overstated. Here is your chance to learn how best to prepare from a world-class director. Heath Cullens is a director best known for directing IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA, AP BIO, GREAT MINDS WITH DAN HARMON, and FX’s YOU’RE THE WORST. Currently, he is directing MYTHIC QUEST for Apple TV. A good filmmaker is a prepared filmmaker. Filmmakers must focus on getting the story they envision onto the screen, but that vision will unravel if you don’t prepare before. However, if you do prepare properly, you give your film the best chance for success. You’ll receive a step-by-step approach to utilize on your projects to ensure a smooth, productive, and creatively rewarding on-set experience for you and your production team. You’ll cover how to: Hire the best team Communicate your vision Prioritize what you need to shoot Structure your shoot day Create a strategy with your DP Properly use rehearsal time and table reads And much more By the end of this webinar you’ll have a process you can use - and the ability to revisit the lesson on Stage 32 - to ensure the confidence to lead your team as a filmmaker. PRAISE FOR HEATH'S TEACHINGS: "I thought it was on point and very informative. Heath was great." -Frank L.
Learn how to write video games and get your foot in the video game industry from one of the writers on an upcoming AAA Game! Video games are a massive global business. You may have played them and you've definitely heard about them. They are the source material of hit movies and TV shows like THE LAST OF US and THE SUPER MARIO BROS. MOVIE. Millions of people play them and the cultural impact of this multi-billion dollar global business is here to stay. But did you know, just like Film and TV, video games have writers. And those writers aren’t just the game designers themselves. Video game writers require the same world-building and narrative skillsets that screenwriters require…with a few additional twists. At this point you may be thinking, “I’d like to be a video game writer…but I haven’t the first clue about how to get my foot in the door and what to do when I'm writing for a game.” Don't worry, Stage 32 is here to help. This comprehensive and exclusive webinar will teach you all you need to know about how to write video games, the difference between writing for games vs. film/television, navigating the video game industry, and most importantly, how to get your foot in the door in the video game industry. This webinar will take you behind the scenes with a AAA video game writer who will guide you through the process of finding a way into the complex video game industry as a writer, and once in, what you can expect once you’re actually writing on a game. Teaching you everything you need to know about writing for video games is writer Andrew Henderson, who is one of the writers on the new AAA-game studio game THAT'S NO MOON based on popular existing intellectual property. Andrew also works as a writer and producer for film and television. He has sold film and TV projects to various companies, including Runaway Planet Content, Go Media, Paradox Productions, Cinelou Productions, Bee Holder Productions, Storyboard Entertainment, and Rebellion Studios, among others. His 2014 Sci-Fi/Thriller film, FLASHES, featuring Tom Sizemore and Christopher Judge, is currently streaming on Amazon Prime and Tubi. Today, gaming is the largest category in the entertainment industry, with revenues that far exceed those of both the film and music industries. This year, the gaming industry is expected to be worth more than $170 billion in global revenues, five times greater than global movie box office revenues. As writers, it’s advantageous for us to have our hands in as many creative mediums as we can, ensuring that we’re always working and getting paid, but also keeping our creative muscles honed. PLUS! Andrew will give you the exclusive script for scenes from CALL OF DUTY: INFINITE WARFARE that can help you when writing a video game! You'll walk away from this webinar with the requisite knowledge to achieve a successful career as a writer for video games. Praise For Andrew's Work: "Andrew is a great teacher with so much to offer his students!" -- Amber L. "Learned a ton from Andrew and from his experiences. I highly recommend learning what he's got to share!" -- Rishi L.
You may be surprised by JUST how many successful filmmakers today began their career by writing short films. Everyone from Christopher Nolan to Ryan Coogler to Chloe Zhao to Justin Lin have short film writing credits to their name and used those projects to springboard their career. This is how new and untested creatives can prove their mettle, get their name out there and actually get their foot in the door. And you can do this as well. Whether you’re building up your filmmaking career, itching to write the next festival darling or award-worthy short film, or just love the short form format, you too, can master the art of short film writing. There are many reasons and inspirations for writing a short, but shorter doesn’t mean easier to write. One of the great challenges is that many people go into writing a short with the mindset of creating a proof of concept for a feature. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with this, this mindset tends to encourage a few logical fallacies, and in a strange way actually devalues the work. Short films require a fine balance of elegance and story economy. They require an innovative storytelling technique that usually takes years of practice and feedback to master. With the right guidance though, you’ll be able to master this in no time. Clay Liford is an award-winning independent filmmaker and director of photography whose many shorts include the Sundance hit MY MOM SMOKES WEED. His projects have premiered at Sundance Film Festival, SXSW, Munich, AFI Film fest and more. As a director of photography, Clay has shot over twenty-five features, including the SXSW award-winning films ST. NICK and GAYBY. His film credits also include WUSS, EARTHLING, SLASH, and MY MOM SMOKES WEED, a Sundance Film Festival favorite. As an indie filmmaker, editor, and writer, Clay has mastered the art of writing and making both feature length and short films. He is also a film production instructor at the University of Texas, who has become proficient at teaching his methods for efficiency and artistic self-sufficiency. Now he’s sharing what he knows with the Stage 32 community. Clay will take you through his proven and effective approach to writing and effective short films that get you noticed and advance your career. He’ll go over the REAL differences between shorts and features, what every short film needs to succeed, how to think like a director (even if you’re not one), and how to maximize your festival strategy. Most importantly, he’s going to introduce you to the concept of Iconography. You’ll have the opportunity to ask him questions, and by the end of this webinar, you’ll fall in love with this format and walk away with a new perspective and appreciation for the short film format. Clay's guidance will give you confidence to develop your short film and help you succeed in the short film market. PLUS! Clay provides you with the following handouts: Overview of How to Write a Short Film - Things to Consider & What to Watch Out For Story Structure Diagram Breakdown of Film Roles on a Set Elements of a Lookbook Duties of a Director Suggested Reading List Testimonials for Clay's Webinar: "Clay had great energy and pace. He was able to explain things in different ways and with excellent examples." -Magi A. "Clay didn't sugar coat anything - keeping the short within a tight budget and length is smart strategy & practical. I appreciated his honesty." - Shaan D.
Learn directly from Jon Reiss, a distribution and marketing specialist who's worked with Paramount Pictures, Screen Australia, Film Independent, and is the year-round distribution and marketing lab leader at the IFP Filmmaker Labs. There are thousands of film festivals around the world – and tens of thousands of filmmakers trying to get into them. So what to do with your film? Jon Reiss wrote Think Outside the Box Office and has advised hundreds of filmmakers on their festival and distribution strategy. In this webinar you will learn how to create a film festival strategy for your specific film, how to use festivals to benefit the release of your film, how to be smart once you have been accepted into a festival and make each festival work for your film and career. This webinar will cover the essentials that all filmmakers need to consider in order to create a festival strategy for your film.