As lead producer at Third, Samm has eight feature credits to his name, these include coproductions with Sweden, Germany and Australia. These have premiered in Cannes, Venice, Sundance and SXSW and have featured at London, AFI, MoMA Docs as well as countless others. Recently, in 2018, his feature Island of the Hungry Ghosts won best Feature documentary at Tribeca. He is a member of BAFTA, EAVE and ACE. He sat on the Short Film Jury in Berlin 2010 to award the Golden Bear. He is a group leader for EAVE, Feature expanded and the Venice College Cinema. He also delivers training for Creative England, Film London, Arts Council England and FACT. Samm has been a patron or board member at several film festivals and is also a film academic. Full Bio »
The script is finally ready…now, how do you prepare for your first day on set? There are a lot of factors that go into preparing for your film shoot. We’ve brought in producer, Samm Haillay, to talk about the process from script to set.
Samm is an eight-time feature film producer, whose films have premiered at Cannes, Venice, Sundance, SXSW and who’s film Island of the Hungry Ghosts won best Feature documentary at 2018 Tribeca Film Festival. He’ll be going over everything from schedule, budget, casting, locations and more to get you prepared for day one. He’ll be sharing his decades of experience and helping you avoid common mistakes made, as you get ready to shoot your film.
Q&A with Samm!
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.
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!
How do I get financing? How can I win over a financier? How can I stand out from other projects looking for funding? How can I create a pitch that blows financiers away? These are the questions on everyone's mind. And we have the answer. One of our favorite educators, Tribeca-winning producer Samm Haillay, is back again exclusively at Stage 32 and this time, he's bringing the goods to help you design the best pitch possible for your film. As an example, Samm will be showing you the 15 minute pitch which helped raise ALL the funding for the feature length film, BYPASS, which went on to be nominated for Best Film at the prestigious Venice Film Festival (among others) and continued Samm's incredible stretch of raising funds and winning awards.. This film was written, directed and produced by Duane Hopkins, who's experience prior to this was primarily in short films. In this 2 part online class, Samm will break down what it takes for any filmmaker, producer, screenwriter or other creative looking to raise funds and get their projects into development!
In this exclusive Stage 32 webinar, we will be focusing on how to take your script and simplify it, while keeping the elements of the script complex, so it's easy for the reader (an executive, producer, manager) - and ultimately the viewer - to be able to follow your story. Your instructor, Samm Haillay, has produced films which have red carpet premiered at Cannes, Sundance, Venice, Toronto and more! Samm will share a simple/complex theory which he had developed called “The Story Rainbow”, which will examine the relationship and interconnectivity between Story, Narrative and Plot. We will be focusing on how to keep your script simple - yet complex - rather than confusing and complex. Of course, structure is vital, but we’ll be weaving a “Story Rainbow” through the elements of your script. You will be given the tools to approach the development of your film from a different angle. Clearly, it's worked for Samm, having had such success with his films screening at some of the world's top festivals!
Short films are all the rage. Not only are more and more film festivals accepting short films, but festivals dedicated to nothing but short films have become more popular than ever. Additionally, more managers, agents, and producers are looking to short films to find untapped talent and new ideas. So many successful filmmakers today, from Christopher Nolan to Damien Chazelle, have used short films as a calling card to showcase their skills and show the world that they were ready for the big time. But shooting a quality short film means raising some financing. And for many, this can be challenging. Allow us to help you out by showing you everything you need to know so that you can attract investors looking to get behind you, your unique vision and your work. One thing that many creatives avoid when putting together a short film is everything that goes into the business end. From determining and compiling a true and realistic budget to being able to tell their creative and financial story within a pitch deck to thinking about a distribution strategy and recoupment plan well before shooting, there is so much to think about toward getting investors in your corner beyond the creative. JT Molner knows a thing or two about raising funds for shorts and feature films. Although JT is a writer and director, he's been deep in the trenches in raising funds for his projects leaving no stoned unturned and nothing to chance. After raising financing for many successful shorts which caught the eyes of producers and talent, JT rolled up his sleeves and helped his producers raise financing for his first feature film, Outlaws and Angels, which was originally shot as a short film as proof of concept. The feature became an Official Selection at Sundance and was sold to Orion Films. JT will teach you everything he's learned from his decade of raising financing for his short films and other projects. He will dive into how you can determine your budget and how you can include that information and other pertinent material in a pitch deck that stands out from the norm and attracts investors. He'll talk about the benefits of private funding vs. crowdfunding (he's done both) and how you can gain support from individuals and the crowd. And he'll dive into distribution strategies and recoupment planning so that you can clearly and concisely explain to your investors your grand vision of how they are not only going to make their money back, but turn a profit! Added Bonus! You'll receive a pitch deck from JT's film OUTLAWS AND ANGELS which started as a short film proof of concept, and went on to be made as a feature, being selected as an Official Selection at Sundance and selling to Orion films! Holy clarity! I've made so many mistakes along the way. Every short film has seemed like a struggle not worth reliving and now I understand why. These wounds were self inflicted. Thank you, JT, for not only (kindly) setting things straight, but for opening my eyes. I can't wait to get started on my next project. - Manford C.
Getting ahead is hard in Hollywood, and taking the next step in your career can be difficult when it feels like the expectation is for you to stay in your own lane. Being a cinematographer is such an exciting, rewarding, and important role on any project, but that doesn’t mean it’s where your journey has to stop. If you have aspirations to move into directing and make your own film, that path is more possible than you might think. In fact, your background as a cinematographer might even catapult you to this position, since, in an effort to save film funds, it’s becoming more common for producers to hire cinematographers who can also direct. Many people believe that the roles of the director and cinematographer are separate, but actually they are partners in the storytelling process. This means that making the leap from cinematographer to director is not as hard as you might think. However, whether you want to exclusively direct or be a DP / director combo, you have to adhere to a certain mode of operation, master the art of collaboration, and hone your ability to speak clearly to your cast and crew in order to maximize your time on set. So how do you get that first directing job? Can you effectively direct and shoot at the same time, and if so, how do you divide your precious time between your cast and crew? With careful planning and a solid understanding of how to manage your responsibilities on set you can become the perfect “double threat” that producers love, while putting extra cash in your pocket and achieving more of your creative goals. Ryan Little is a director, producer, and cinematographer with over 20 years of experience in the industry. His first feature SAINTS AND SOLDIERS, for which he took on the dual roles of DP and director, won 16 “Best Picture” awards and two nominations at the Independent Spirit Awards including Best First Feature and Best Cinematography. Since then, Ryan has served as cinematographer and director on a slew of projects and has directed actors like Danny Glover, Vinnie Jones, Sean Astin, Neal McDonagh, Gary Cole, Dolph Lundgren, and Mickey Rourke. Most recently Ryan has worked with Producer Dean Devlin on the TNT pilot BLANK SLATE and has directed TV episodes of shows like GRANITE FLATS and EXTINCT. Ryan has built a storied background and deep well of knowledge in both cinematography and directing, and is ready to share what he knows with the Stage 32 community. Using his own experience as well as his deep understanding of the industry today, Ryan will teach you how you can make the transition from cinematographer to director and use your photography background to your advantage. He will begin by broadly discussing the prospect of switching from cinematographer to director and explaining why it’s possible. He will go over how he made the transition himself as well how other notable directors made a similar shift. He will demonstrate why your background as a DP will actually make you a better director yourself. Ryan will then delve more deeply into how best to land your first job as a director, including “planting seeds” for future opportunities, playing to your strengths as a practiced cinematographer, using the connections you’ve already built, and how to create sample work to help show your value. He will also discuss the possibility of serving as a Director/DP combo on set as a way to break in, what that looks like, and how to do both roles effectively at the same time. Next, Ryan will give you the rundown of how to best tackle your first directing gig. He’ll go over the aspects of directing you can expect to come naturally and the aspects that might be more of a challenge because of your background, as well as how to let the DP role go when directing. Ryan will teach you how to best prep for your first directing gig before going on set. He’ll talk about how to create your “style guide” for the project, finding your story moments ahead of time, making a useful shot list, and how best to use storyboards. He will then talk about how to spend your time on set as a director, including how to manage your time and break up your day and how to tell the story in your coverage. He will reveal three mistakes commonly made by directors during rehearsal and will discuss when the right and wrong times to operate the camera yourself are. He will also go over finding the balance between assertive and collaborative on set and how to set the right tone. Finally Ryan will focus on working with actors from the mindset of a cinematographer, including how to speak the actor’s language, how to hold the essential one-on-one actor preproduction meeting, and what you can do to become an “Actor’s Director”. Through all of this, Ryan will give you the tools and confidence to make the switch you might have been contemplating for a while and take the next important steps on your journey to become a bona fide film director. "I attribute a lot of my success to my background as a cinematographer. It's given me so many great opportunities and the skills to advance in my career in exciting ways. I want other cinematographers to better understand their value and potential as filmmakers, and am so excited to share what I know to empower the current DPs and future directors that are part of the Stage 32 community." -Ryan Little
More and more, storytellers are being asked to present more than just a script when going out to investors or production companies. Whether you’re pitching a limited series, a feature, or even a doc, executives and investors want to have a sense of what your project will be, beyond just words on a page. What will it look like? What will it feel like? Execs want a visual representation of what the project is—even if you aren’t the director. For this reason, understanding how to put together an attractive pitch deck will give you a distinct advantage as a director, as a writer, as a producer, or as any creative in TV and film. There are people out there who are incredibly skilled with programs like Photoshop or Lightroom and, for those people, creating a pitch deck that will help sell their show can be a snap. But for the average person, these apps are daunting at best and, at worst, completely confusing and overwhelming. However you don’t need to spend hours learning how to use high-end software, and you certainly don’t have to put down a bunch of money for a designer. Anyone can create an amazing pitch deck with basic software and one or two simple apps on your phone. As long as you know the rules and best practices there really aren’t barriers to keep you from making a great looking pitch deck and getting that project sold. Shaun O'Banion is the founder of production company Ravenwood and works as a post production project coordinator on some of the industry's leading films in recent years including JOJO RABBIT, TERMINATOR: DARK FATE, THE AFTERMATH and OPHELIA. O’Banion produced DAKOTA SKYE which became a cult hit and remained in the Top 100 Most Viewed on Netflix. He produced GIRLFRIEND, the first film in North America to star an actor with Down Syndrome in the lead role. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, sold to Strand Releasing and won O’Banion an IFP Gotham Award. He joined the Producers Guild of America and co-produced THE AUTOMATIC HATE which made its World Premiere at the SXSW Film Festival. The film was released theatrically by Film Movement. Through his career, Shaun has become well versed in positioning his projects for success and understanding the best ways to pitch and sell them, including creating knock-out pitch decks. He’s ready to share what he’s learned and empower even the most tech-illiterate members of the Stage 32 community. Shaun will teach you how to use basic software and apps to craft an attractive pitch deck on your own without having to hire a graphic designer. He’ll begin by going through the basics of what a pitch deck is, how they help get projects sold and what they normally look like. He will offer provide examples of effective pitch decks. Next, Shaun will delve into how you can create an effective pitch deck on your own without fancy tools. He’ll discuss getting set up and outline what you need, including the tools and software you should consider using. Next he will go over forming a plan for the pitch deck’s layout ahead of time and the ways to best organize and prepare before diving in. Then he will teach you how best to visually convey the tone of your project in your pitch deck and how to create a flow within it. Shaun will talk about choosing images for the pitch deck, where to find them and how to choose one over another. He will then go over choosing when to use words versus pictures and how to employ visual elements like fonts to break up your document for maximum impact. After teaching you what you need to know about designing a great pitch deck, Shaun will demonstrate it all by working with the registrants in creating a brand new pitch deck in real time, live and on-screen. He will specifically focus on creating with you a general image for the overall background, graphics for the title page, setting page, main character page, supporting character page, and episode page. Shaun will also provide registrants with a resource sheet outlining the tools and software he uses for his own pitch decks. After going through this exercise with Shaun, you’ll never need to hire a graphic designer again. Like what you heard from Shaun during this webcast? Send your script and speak to Shaun for an hour by clicking here. Praise for Shaun's Stage 32 Webinar: "Shaun O’Banion made creating a pitch deck seem downright easy and fun. Before today, I was absolutely dreading it as my skills with graphic design and editing are next to zero. Shaun was so generous with his time and stayed on for an entire extra hour to go over more and have the Q&A which was incredibly kind." -Margaret M. "Just fantastic. Could have spent the whole day in this!" -Dan G. "The best I've taken" -Timothy B. "Amazing detail about specific ways to use the technology and also very creatively inspiring. Loved the as you go, how to way of doing this! I was able to follow along and create my own document and experiment as he spoke!" -Katie B. Please note that this webinar will focus on the graphic visual elements of an effective pitch deck. To learn more about the content and storytelling that goes into a pitch deck, we recommend checking out Ewan Dunbar’s TV Series Pitch Deck Webinar.
The Stage 32 Writers’ Room has just surpassed a milestone achievement - 100 webcasts! For the last year and a half it has been the honor of Director of Script Services Jason Mirch to act as the humble host, guiding webcasts that include script and screenwriting breakdowns, virtual pitch sessions to industry professionals, one-on-one conversations with some of the biggest names in the business, and writing exercises that challenge our imaginations and sharpen our skills. The goal of the Writers’ Room has always been to give writers all over the world the support, access, and education to thrive in their craft and career. Our recent Writers' Room guests have included Oscar-nominated Pixar writer Meg LeFauve, Billion Dollar Producer Amy Baer, AKEELAH AND THE BEE Filmmaker Doug Atchison, Universal Pictures Executive Ken Korba, A QUIET PLACE development executive Linsday Schwartz, GREEN HORNET producer Bradley Gallo, and many more - all of whom spoke and interacted directly with our members. Several of our members have connected with each other and have swapped scripts, collaborated on projects, produced projects they have written, and writers have even been optioned by producers largely because of the Writers’ Room! The Writers' Room is strong because of the incredible members who are serious about their craft and advancing their careers. So we are turning the spotlight over to some of our talented Writers' Room members who will tell us how they broke out in a highly competitive industry and achieved success during this Stage 32 Writers' Room Member Success Spotlight webcast! During this webcast, Writer, Producer, Actor & Stage 32 CEO Rich "RB" Botto and Writer, Producer, and Director of Script Services Jason Mirch shine some light on members who have utilized the power of Stage 32 and the Writers' Room to achieve tremendous success in the industry and learn the secrets they have discovered for breaking out! During this webcast the panel includes: Screenwriter, Martin Reese, who received a $5,000 option agreement from Glass House Distribution and Trick Candle Productions for a script he developed with the help of the Writers' Room! Screenwriter, Chris Torres, who landed representation with Manager Brooklyn Weaver of Energy Entertainment after being a part of the Writers' Room and being connected for a meeting by Stage 32! Author and Screenwriter, Christi Corbett, who developed one of her novels into a screenplay which was then optioned by producer Brad Wilson of Higher Purpose Entertainment!Screenwriter and Filmmaker, Chaun Lee, who used the power of Stage 32 and the Writers' Room to develop a short film which she then produced using local crew and cast in Atlanta just prior to lockdown!