Terence Blanchard has established himself as one of the most influential jazz musicians and film score masters of his generation, a member of a jazz legacy that has shaped the contours of modern jazz today. With more than 30 albums to his credit, as a musician Blanchard is a multi-Grammy Award winner and nominee. As a film composer, Blanchard has more than 50 scores to his credit, most recently, Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman,” “Chi-Raq” and Kevin Costner’s “Black or White.” He received a Golden Globe nomination for Spike Lee’s "25th Hour." Other film music written by Blanchard includes Kasi Lemmons’ "Eve's Bayou," Oprah Winfrey’s "Their Eyes Were Watching God," Tim Story’s “Barbershop" and George Lucas’ "Red Tails." Blanchard also contributed on Disney’s "The Princess and the Frog" as the musical voice of “Louis the Alligator." As a guest lecturer and artist in residence at the Berklee College of Music, Blanchard works with students in the areas of artistic development, arranging, and composition. Blanchard is also the creative director for jazz concert programming at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. He participates in master classes around the world as well as local community outreach activities in his beloved hometown of New Orleans. Full Bio »
This Masters of Craft Webinar is exclusive to Stage 32 and is available to be viewed immediately.
In addition to his composing process, Terence also goes over:
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.
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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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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.
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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!
As the landscape of independent film continues to evolve, a clear funding path has developed for films budgeted between high-six figures and $10MM. Indeed, it’s become an effective “sweet spot” for investors. At this budget you can typically attract and secure some star power, one important step toward increasing the odds that your investors will see a return on their investment. But this is just one reason why this budget range is attractive to many investors. There are many more variables at play which will help you raise money for a film or project in this price range. But first, you must understand some tried and true principles that will help you find investors, present your project in the proper fashion and lock them down for an investment. Knowing how to raise money intelligently for films and projects within this budget range can be your calling card toward a powerful career in the independent producing space. Simply put, those who understand the strategies and methods that can help your investors see a return get to keep those investors time and time again. And those investors can, and usually do, bring along more investors if they're happy. While everyone says that raising financing is the hardest aspect of filmmaking, there are smart ways to find money that you may not have thought of, and there are also ways you can expand your dollars once you start raising funds for your project. In addition, there is a well-known group of professionals and creatives that have been working on films in this budget range for years and it's important that you know who they are, how to approach them and what the expectations are once you do. Founded by Elsa Ramo, one of the top entertainment attorneys in the industry today and recently named to Variety’s 2019 “Dealmakers List,”, Ramo Law PC provides comprehensive legal services to its clients in the entertainment industry with a specialized focus in representing financiers, producers, directors, distributors, studios and production entities in all transactional aspects of film, television and digital content. The firm provides experienced legal services to optimize its clients’ financial, legal and business position in the financing, production, and exploitation of their content. Ramo Law has represented over 100 films and 50 television scripted and unscripted series in 2019 alone, including Emmy award-winning shows and films which debuted at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Clients include Imagine Entertainment, FOX, Balboa Productions (Sylvester Stallone’s production company), Scout Productions (creators and EPs of QUEER EYE), Boardwalk Pictures (EPs for CHEF’S TABLE) and Skydance. Elsa and her associates are bona fide experts when it comes to the nuts and bolts of finding financing for your independent film. Elsa and her senior associates Zen Raben and Sean Pope will join forces to demystify the film financing process so that producers, writers, directors, and financiers can understand the basic yet crucial components of how independently financed films are funded. They will begin by discussing entity formation. They will explain why you need to form an entity for your production and what type of entity you should form, as well as what state you should form it in. They will go over the information you will need to form the entity, the forms that need to be filled out with the state, and how operating agreements work. They will also teach you what a waterfall is and why you should include one in your operating agreement. Next, Elsa, Zev, and Sean will delve into important things to keep in mind specifically for your LLC formation, including the state of formation, deciding if it will be member-managed or manager-managed, who should be in control of creative decisions and who should be in control of business decisions. They will then talk about equity investment and go over who exactly provides equity investment, what investors get out of it, where the investment gets placed and why investors are motivated. Next, Elsa and her associates will explain debt financing. They will teach you the four common types of collateral in debt financing, and four types of debt you will be dealing with. They will go over the key terms and considerations you should know, and just like equity investment, they will explain who provides debt investment, what the investor gets out of it, where the investment gets placed and why investors are motivated. Elsa, Sean, and Zev will even stage a mock closing call between a producer and senior lender to demonstrate what it looks like to lock in funding from an investor. Finally, Elsa, Sean, and Zev will give you an invaluable closing checklist, walking you through everything you need to keep in mind when going after funding. Expect a thorough, comprehensive and undeniably helpful guide to give you the tools you need to find the funding for your next project. This is designed for all levels but particularly effective for those that are currently producing and/or packaging a feature film. Praise for Elsa's Past Stage 32 Webinars: "This was one of the best webinars I have taken so far. Thank you again. I look forward to the next one!" -Romina S. "Awesome presentation - great speaker, made complicated issues much clearer, lots of great info! Great info for anyone in the industry in all positions. Thanks!!" -Ron H. "This webinar was absolutely brilliant! Elsa is clearly a pro, but her manner was so calm and approachable. She didn't talk down to us and explained all these intricacies so that I believe everyone was able to understand them. Bravo! More Elsa Please!" -Becca G. "Elsa is always amazing and legal is always a fantastic topic, now more than ever!" -Lisa G.
It's no secret that raising funds for a film is a difficult proposition. Most people who repeatedly invest in the film industry have no shortage of projects from which to choose to place their money. They also have a particular set of standards and requirements that need to be met before they write a check. Even more casual investors in film who go in with lowered expectations still will want to see that you have the knowledge, discipline and understanding on how to handle and protect their money and put them in the best position for a return. The fact of the matter is that you could have the most attractive project with a highly marketable and commercial screenplay and fantastic talent interested in attaching, but if you can't deliver on the important details, know how to answer the toughest questions, and show that you have the savvy to withstand the scrutiny associated with putting together a film financing deal, your potential investment target will be on to the next pitch without a blink. There is no straight answer on how to pitch an investor. Some will tell you that without a pitch deck, you have no shot. Others will tell you that 99% of the time a pitch deck is just a pretty, overblown document designed to dazzle and amazing, but with very little substantiative information. Regardless of the approach, there is one fact that is undeniable: you need to know every angle on how a film can come together and be able to show clearly and concisely a path to how your investor is going to recoup their money and potentially make a profit. To do that, you need to be able to put together an investor kit, first for yourself, and then as something you can tailor to your investor. There's no need to be intimidated by this. Once you understand the various facets of film investing, the rest will fall into place quite naturally. And we're here to help you do just that. Kevin Christoffersen has been producing multi-media content internationally for over two decades across four continents while living in five countries. Currently, Kevin is working as a development executive, producer, writer and consulting with the technology platform Movie Rights Exchange which is changing the way films are being distributed. Kevin's current projects include his co-written feature, Falling Up with Stephanie Drapeau, Dallas Brennan’s Deception Road, a new Hal Hartley feature in development and Rear View Windows being casted by Kerry Barden. Kevin has guest lectured at NYU, teaches workshop classes with the IFP, Art of Brooklyn Film Festival, Filmshop and moderated a producers panel at the Hunter Mountain Film Festival. He then works with students on creating their packages throughout the A to Z Development process. Kevin will be teaching about the step by step process required throughout the development financing stage of your feature film project to create your "Investor Kit". This includes all of the elements from business plans to budgets, proof of concept videos, retaining production counsel and a casting director. Kevin will show you the all important skill of bringing packaging elements to your project, something so very important in this day and age. He will tell you how to handle the common issue of securing "First-in money" and how to navigate talent retainer fees. He will talk co-production agreements, also a valuable thing when putting together a film. He will teach you about distribution agreements, tax credit loans and pre-sales estimates. Kevin will even teach you how to source your investors and how to build a powerful team so you can wear limited hats and divide and conquer. Praise for Kevin "Took the intimidation and fear of approaching investors by presenting clear facts and strategies that make perfect sense." - Michael M. "I've read complex and dense books on this subject that have taken me months to get through and I learned more in 2 hours with Kevin. Brilliant material." - Cheryl Lee K. "This one was off the charts." - Sammie P. "This removed so many questions. So many. I feel as if the clouds have parted. This IS possible. Thank you, Kevin." - Marty K.
Learn directly from David Landau, 30 year Lighting director and Director of Photography. The story could be the greatest in the world, but if the lighting is poor viewers will assume it’s amateurish and not take it seriously. Good lighting makes things look real, while real lighting often makes things look fake. Good lighting supports the emotional moment of the scene, contributes to the atmosphere of the story and can augment an artistic style. So, no matter how good a script, how good a director, how good the actors – the lighting needs to be as good if not better. The fact is, we can’t usually make good pictures without good lighting, no matter how good the newest cameras are. Yes, we can sometimes get lucky. But while shooting under available light gives exposure, it often lacks depth, contrast, contour, atmosphere and often separation. Well-crafted lighting helps establish the illusion of reality that is necessary for the viewer to forget they are watching a screen and get lost in the story. In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, host David Landau will go over the ten things all filmmakers need to know about lighting, sharing some of the techniques to artistic and effective lighting that he has learned both from working with a wide range of cinematographers and through his own career as a Lighting Director and Director of Photography. David will demonstrate live from the Fairleigh Dickinson University sound stage lighting techniques that will make your images shine like a Hollywood feature without a big Hollywood budget. David Landau has over thirty years of professional lighting experience working on feature films, TV shows, sit-coms, game shows, commercials, documentaries, industrial films, music videos and direct-to-consumer DVDs. David worked as one of the gaffers on the TV series Project Runway and is a five-time Telly Award winner for lighting and cinematography. He is a member of IATSE Local 52 (gaffer) and the University Film & Video Association and Media Communications Association International. He also is the author of the new book Lighting for Cinematography: A Practical Guide To The Art And Craft Of Lighting For The Moving Image from Bloomsbury Press.
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.
All actors want representation. It’s often the first step actors take in their careers. After all, agents and managers are the ones that are connected to the industry. They know who is casting and where the auditions are, and they’re positioned to help you succeed—at least in theory. Many reps are incredible allies and partners for actors and transform careers for the better, but not all are created equal. Some reps unfortunately don’t carry their weight and fail to champion a client—sometimes they’re not as connected and in-the-know as they suggest, sometimes they might not be as invested in you as they should be. It can be common for actors in this position to blame themselves for lack of opportunities, even if the fault lies out of their control. But having a bad rep doesn’t mean you’re untalented and it doesn’t mean you can’t make it in the industry; it just means it’s time to recognize where the problem lies and to take back your own power. And, if you've decided to go without a rep, it's important to know that you have the power to move the needle on your career. Many actors will sign with an agent or manager immediately because they feel it is better to be represented than have no rep at all. However, it’s important to make sure you and your rep have the same goals for your career and that you both will do what needs to be done to get those goals accomplished. If that’s not in the cards, it’s time to make a change. Every actor should first and foremost consider themselves their own representative—managers and agents will inevitably come and go throughout your career, but you will always need to be your best advocate. It’s therefore critical to understand, as your own representative, when the people in your corner are really in your corner, and when perhaps there is more you can do as an actor to find more success. When making these difficult decisions, remember that an actor’s world doesn’t start and stop with their rep; there is so much you can do before signing, after, and in between. It’s time to understand how to take control of your own career and hold both yourself and your representative accountable (if you have one). Elizabeth Guest is an actor, writer, director and producer based in Los Angeles and has appeared on Netflix's REAL ROB, the Emmy-winning CALIFORNICATION, NBC'S A.P. BIO, CBS's THE MENTALIST and more. She attended USC's School of Cinematic Arts and has spent the past few years writing and performing her own material. She has put up numerous plays at the Upright Citizens Brigade theater, one of which, called NICE GIRLS, was eventually turned into a digital series by Funny or Die. She also wrote/directed/produced and starred in the digital series GUEST APPEARANCES which won the Best Scripted Digital Series Jury Award at Austin Film Festival and the Best Short Form Jury Award at the Nashville Film Festival. She was named by Moviemaker Magazine as one of the "25 Screenwriters to Watch." Season one and season two of GUEST APPEARANCES will soon be streaming on FICTO. She has two feature films that are currently in post production. Elizabeth is a big believer in creating her own opportunities and is ready to inspire actors in the Stage 32 community to do the same. Elizabeth will draw from her own experience to teach you how to find your own power as an actor and how to know when to leave a rep that isn’t doing their job. She’ll begin by going over the roles and expectations of both managers and agents, what the differences are between the two, what an ideal agent and manager look like, and what a beneficial relationship between a rep and an actor should feel like. She’ll also discuss the separation of responsibilities that are standard between reps and actors. She’ll then talk about what to how to know when your rep isn’t doing their job. She’ll give you 6 red flags to keep a lookout for with your rep to determine if they might not be holding their end of the bargain. She’ll also share five things you should be asking yourself as a self check-in to make sure you’re doing all you can before blaming your rep. Elizabeth will teach you strategies you should try with your rep to repair the relationship and will give you tips on when to know it’s finally time to leave. Next, she will discuss the proper way to end your relationship with a manager and how to understand the legal aspects to avoid complications. Elizabeth will give you the tools and wherewithal to move forward with your career after leaving your manager or agent, including creating your own opportunities and finding ways to get yourself discovered without outside help. Finally, Elizabeth will explain what it means to take back your own power, how to craft the career you want and focus on the work to achieve your goals independently. It’s so important for actors in this industry to feel empowered and know their worth, and Elizabeth will give you the tools to do just that. "The life of the actor can constantly feel like one in which you need to look outward for opportunities but I know how important it is to create your own. I'm so excited to help actors at Stage 32 access their own power and creativity and in turn attract the right team to support them." -Elizabeth Guest
Whether we’re talking about a comedy or drama, sci-fi or horror, a film or television series, animated or live action, short-form or long-form, having good characters is essential. There’s no escaping it. Even a script with everything else going for it, if it doesn’t have strong, compelling characters, it’s not going to work. Great characters connect the audience to your world and ground it in humanity. They provide stakes, bolster your plot and keep it moving. It’s therefore crucial to understand what make an effective character and how you can create that in your own project. Unfortunately there’s not a step-by-step guide to crafting the perfect character. There’s no secret formula and there’s no surefire algorithm. Good characters are complicated and hard to define because so are people. Good characters hold a mirror up to reality and let the audience see themselves or someone else they know in them. And all of that might be fine and good in theory, but what does that actually mean in practice? If you’re a writer how can you create a character who serves as a mirror, who will stick with audiences long after the movie or show ends? And if you’re a producer or director, how can you recognize a great character from a mediocre one through the written word? Lee Sternthal is a screenwriter, director and photographer who has written screenplays for every major studio, including TRON: LEGACY for Disney, as well as scripts for Johnny Depp, Mel Gibson and many others. His film, THE WORDS starring Bradley Cooper, Zoe Saldana and Jeremy Irons was an Official Sundance Film Festival selection and was later bought by CBS Films. Lee is a Sundance Institute Fellow, and his work has appeared on The Black List. Through his writing career, Lee has spent more time than most considering the art of character and using that to aid his own career, as well as writers he continues to mentor and champion. Lee will walk you through the power of character and how to create great characters for your own project. He’ll begin by discussing why exactly characters are so vital to story and will teach you the key differences between a TV character and a film character. Next he will give you a brief history of character in storytelling and reveal the one fictional character from history that all other characters draw from. Lee will then discuss the difference between heroes and anti-heroes, as well as help you determine which of your characters is the driver and which are the riders. He’ll then delve into the art of a great antagonist and why an interesting adversary is so crucial to a successful story. Lee will help you frame your story through the clarity of need, both in character and in story. Next Lee will go over the classic Hero’s Journey and slightly re-imagine it for modern times. He will give you strategies and exercises to better understand and develop your own characters, including his “What’s Their God?” and “Changing A Flat Tire” games. He’ll then teach you the concept of revealing character through behavior and hiding character with words. Next Lee will delve into the idea of how your characters fit into your world, including how the environment might change your character. He’ll teach you the Shakespearean approach to character and compare it to the Balzacian approach, and will also discuss the difference between neuroticism and human comedy. Finally Lee will go over the dance between plot and character, illustrating how the two should work with and against each other to create a feedback loop that’s necessary for any great script. Praise for Lee’s Webinar “Great insight. Really helped me in moving forward.” -Martin R. “I really enjoyed Lee's perspective on script writing. The examples he provided were very helpful. I'm very appreciative that he would share his knowledge, some of his techniques and be so generous with his encouragement.” -Simone L. “Lee had a great way of explaining how to get a feel for the character and why they have the traits they do. Lee did a great job of covering a lot of character related topics which I am glad I have been exposed to.” -Karl H.