Keith Powell was a series regular on NBC’s Emmy-winning sitcom 30 Rock for seven seasons, where he received the 2008 Screen Actors Guild Award for Comedy Ensemble. He has had recurring roles on About A Boy and The Newsroom as well as appearances on Law & Order, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, the ABC pilot Judy's Got A Gun, Reno 911!, and NCIS: Los Angeles. Feature films include The Way We Weren't, Syrup, and Night At The Museum: Battle Of The Smithsonian as well as extensive work in the theater as both an actor and director. In addition, he is the writer/producer/director of the animated pilot Nate & Abe (starring Rachel Dratch, David Wain, Alyssa Milano, and Robert Ben Garant), writer/director/star of the short film People We Meet (co-starring Frederick Weller and Scott Adsit), and recently produced/co-wrote/starred in the feature film My Name Is David (co-starring Judy Reyes and Adepero Oduye). About Keith's Webseries Keith Broke His Leg: Keith Broke His Leg is a semi-autobiographical comedy about 30 Rock star Keith Powell's self discovery when he is suddenly stripped of his ability to be mobile. After an accident, Keith is forced to see the world in a new way when his wife, his friends, and especially his agent don’t make life easy for the incapacitated. What results is a series of visits with the floura and fauna of the the Hollywood comedy world, with most of the actors playing parodies of themselves. The show features Keith’s off-kilter brand of wit, coupled with some genuinely thoughtful moments. Contemplating race, sex, friendship, marriage, and stereotypes, Keith Broke His Leg is "Louie" with a Los Angeles sensibility; "Curb Your Enthusiasm" with humanity, and “Inside Amy Schumer” with a black dude. Full Bio »
Creating your web or digital series as a calling card for your talent or idea has become a hot way to break in. There’s no better way to showcase the viability of your vision than a successful series. Hits like High Maintenance on HBO to shows like Drunk History or Broad City on Comedy Central all got their starts as web series that caught the eye of network executives. In this era of DIY content creation, now is your time to shine by creating a web or digital series, which will also serve as valuable IP (intellectual property) for you and your brand as a creative.
With so many factors to consider to create a season for your web or digital series, where do you even begin? How do you not break the bank creating and filming it? And how do you assure your story is fine tuned to keep your budget down and make certain your scheduling, casting and locations make sense financially? You don’t have to overthink or overestimate the budget of your series. In fact, most webseries (and many successful ones the came before have proven this out) can be done for as little as $500 an episode. Yes, you heard that right, $500 per episode!
Keith Powell has taken everything he’s learned as an actor on high-budget episodic productions (such as 30 Rock and The Newsroom), modified it, and applied it to creating a successful micro-budget web series. And he did all this without breaking the bank and while keeping his sanity intact (well, kind of). And being the kind of guy he is, now Keith wants to share this knowledge with you.
Keith will teach you the building blocks toward creating an artistically successful series without stretching your budget. You will walk away with all the tools necessary to help you during development, pre-production, production, post-production and even distribution. Most importantly, you will learn how - even with the glut of web series available online and within the market - you can make a product that stands out above the noise (and there definitely is noise!)
Creating a web or digital series is something YOU can control and that can open doors to help launch your creative career. Keith will provide you with the tools to get started and establish the brand of your content and the brand of you!
Q&A WITH KEITH
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Writing a film for television has a ‘unique set of skills’ which are different from writing a traditional screenplay. If you never learn how to write for the BOOM!, act break structure, number of locations, and characters, you’ll get stuck in re-writing hell or worse yet, never have your script read. Understanding script structure, outlining, and deliverables for television films prior to writing will give you a leg up on the competition. Additionally, each network has its own set of rules and you want to ask the right questions prior to typing ‘Fade In’. With more television networks producing their own content and films, the need for content is higher than ever. However, TV films have their own structure and layout, especially when dealing with networks that have commercial breaks. Additionally, working with producers and executives is a different animal than working with producers and executives in the independent world. Courtney Miller Jr. is a 5-time award winning director who has worked with the biggest names in entertainment including Michael Jackson, Beyonce, Usher, and Britney Spears. He's a staff writer for the hit show Saints & Sinners on Bounce TV and recently completed his first feature film A Stone Cold Christmas for Bounce TV, where he served as the co-writer and director. Courtney has development deals with TBS, Lionsgate, MGM, Legendary, Weed Road, Viola Davis' company Juvee, Bounce TV, and Will Packer. His award winning short film REPAIRations! - The Musical, received the Director's Choice Diversity in Cannes Best Musical. He has directed commercials for Nike, Apple & Hewlett Packard. He knows the television writing and directing landscape inside and out and he's ready to share his knowledge with you. Courtney will dive in by explaining all the differences between writing a TV and a traditional film screenplay. He will discuss how to format acts, how to be sensitive to the shooting schedule, what you can expect regarding deadlines and delivery dates and how to navigate dealing with the network. From there, Courtney will take you to the greenlit phase where you'll need to know what deliverables you are responsible for, how much time you'll be given to deliver your rewrite, and how to handle network notes (there will be plenty). Courtney will then jump into the writing process including how to write for the BOOM!, how many acts you need to have in your script (and if that varies) and the importance of writing a compelling and attention grabbing Act 1. Going even deeper, Courtney will discuss beat sheets, how many beats you need to add, and what your overall beat sheet should look like. And finally, Courtney will explain how to write an outline that keeps the execs happy and off your back so you can go do what you do best...write! "Another winner for Stage 32. I have many scripts I thought would be a better fit for television and now I know how to get it done!" - Fiona C. "I'm ready to write for the BOOM! Thanks, Courtney!" - Miguel P. "It's always been a dream of mine to have something on the Hallmark channel. Now I have the framework and I'm ready to start writing." Melissa H. "Couldn't have been any better. Great detail!" - Ida W.
Having a known or in-demand actor in your independent film can make all the difference in whether it succeeds or not. A name actor gives your film a sense of legitimacy, which attracts new investors and more interested distributors. It also gives your film more opportunities for press and buzz, and will convince more people to watch it once it is released. That famous actor is very likely what you need to clinch your film, actually get it made, and have it ultimately find an audience and a home. But there’s a big, glaring problem with this truth: You need a name actor to get funding, but you need that funding in order to get the name actor. It ends up being a vicious circle, a catch-22 that can come across as frustratingly insurmountable, a barrier for entry that no independent filmmaker can get beyond. Let’s not mince words. Landing high level talent for your film is HARD, especially if your funding hinges on that actor saying yes. But at the same time, this isn’t the unsolvable puzzle it may at first seem. It comes down to finding the right investors and giving them what they need to say yes. This means pulling out all of the stops, preparing correctly, and doing the hard work. You’ll never be the only filmmaker going after top level talent, but you might be one of the few who’s able to do it the right way. First, it’s vital to understand what the “right way” actually is and what you need to know to do this right. Acquiring a talent is always going to be a hustle, but knowing what it takes and how to navigate this world can give you a serious edge. Independent feature film producer Franco Sama has produced an impressive array of over twenty independent feature films including cult favorite GUNS, GIRLS AND GAMBLING starring Gary Oldman, Christian Slater and Dane Cook, which was released theatrically acquired by Universal Pictures. Other films Franco has produced include; BLACK LIMOUSINE starring David Arquette, Vivica A. Fox and Bijou Phillips, TOOTH AND NAIL starring Michael Madsen and Vinnie Jones, THE PENITENT MAN, starring Lance Henriksen and Andrew Keegan and PAID, starring Corbin Bernsen and Tom Conti. Franco’s company Samaco Films continues to fund and develop independent films from burgeoning filmmakers. After nearly two decades of experience in film finance, distribution and packaging, Franco has come to understand how to crack the code and attract top level talent to independent films. He’s ready to share what he’s learned exclusively with the Stage 32 community. Franco will go in-depth on how exactly an independent filmmaker can find both cast and funding for their project. He will begin by explaining what budget range you should be aiming for to allow you to acquire the talent you’re looking for. He’ll then teach you the steps you must take before reaching out to either talent or investors. He will explain how to tap into an investor’s mindset and use it to your advantage, including why it might be easier for you to raise $5 million than $500,000, and how you should frame your project as an opportunity for investors. He’ll explain what development funding is, how it works, and why it’s now necessary in today’s landscape. Next, he will delve into how you should be building a strong team for your project before you start approaching talent. He’ll lay out the seven critical people you will need to bring on from the beginning, why you need an executive producer, how to choose the “right” director and casting director, and whether you can attract major talent as a first time director. Franco will explain the importance of acquiring international sales estimates and will lay out what your presentation deck to investors should look like to find funding and gain the cast you’re looking for. He will also talk about how pre-sales work and how many you need to be seen as successful. He’ll then start talking about the actual casting process, including how to create a realistic actor’s wish list, deciding between “A-List” and “B-List” actors and whether or not they pass Franco’s “Parentheses Test”. He’ll explain casting with an eye towards sales and then explain the difference between letters of intent, letters of commitment, and phone verification when going after talent. He’ll also break down contingency investments and how to know when to employ deferment and back-end offers with actors. Franco will explain how to make legitimate offers to actors and agents and how to ensure they’re never empty offers. He’ll go into how “pay or play” works in this world and why going out too early to actors can destroy your casting choices. Finally Franco will explain how you can use tax incentives to help with casting. Expect to leave with a thorough and comprehensive understanding of the steps you need to take to bring on your dream actor. Praise for Franco's Stage 32 Webinar "One word - Invaluable." - Larry S. “Head & shoulders above the usual webinars on film distribution and finance. Franco actually knows his stuff and has a track record to back it up. Really good presentation.” – Scott B. This was incredibly illuminating and really entertaining at the same time. I'm so glad I watched this" -Glenda T. Wow. I cannot believe how much I learned from this webinar. Franco is the best. -Terrence R.
"Very informative. Sean is very knowledgeable and charismatic. When questions were asked, he gave full and complete answer. I highly recommend taking Sean's webinar." Learn from one of the top entertainment attorneys in Hollywood who has worked on hundreds of film & TV projects! After pouring so much time, money, and passion into your feature film and putting together a finished product thatyou’re truly proud of, it’s an amazing feeling when a distributor wants to buy your film. What can be more vindicating? Not so fast, though. This is your film, and it’s absolutely critical you walk into any distribution agreement with both eyes open, an understanding of what you want, what you deserve, and how to make sure you’re protected and not being taken advantage of. Distribution can often be confusing, complicated, and murky territory, and there are many common pitfalls filmmakers of all levels fall into when navigating. It can feel like you need a law degree and a special glossary just to understand the rights you’re giving away, along with the territories, fees, expenses, residuals, and everything else that comes along with a distribution deal. But you don’t need to pass the Bar to find success in seeking distribution. Gaining a keener understanding of the process and how agreements work can empower you as a filmmaker to negotiate a distribution deal that’s right for you and your film. Sean Pope is a Senior Associate at Ramo Law PC, one of the largest and most respected entertainment law firms in Hollywood, where he works with producers and production companies focusing on all aspects of production legal services from development to distribution. Prior to joining Ramo Law, Sean worked at a boutique entertainment transactional and litigation firm providing legal services for producers, writers, actors and musicians. His past projects include the upcoming Liam Neeson thriller HONEST THIEF, Netflix documentary THE BLACK GODFATHER, and hit Netflix docu-series CHEER. Sean has helped countless filmmakers negotiate fair distribution deals and make the most out of their film, and is ready to share what he knows exclusively with the Stage 32 community. In this advanced level and intensive two-part class, Sean will walk you through the nuts and bolts of distribution deals and zero in on the provisions and clauses you need to understand when negotiating your own distribution and sales agreements. Sean’s exhaustive rundown will leave you with a much deeper understanding of what agreements look like, what you should be looking for, and how to avoid pitfalls along the way.
So you want to shoot a micro-budget film. You've got your idea. You're excited as hell. You can't wait to get going. There's just one problem. You have little to no money, need to shoot this film on the cheap, and you can't do it without an experienced crew. So how can you get quality, talented people to work for you for little to no money? It happens every day. If you know how to navigate. The old saying goes, a filmmaker is only as good as his or her crew. Making sure that everything is buttoned up on set, from your script supervisor to your sound engineer to your DP and gaffer, the more quality you throw at your film in pre-production and during production, the less headaches and "let's try to fix it in post" problems (which are also painfully expensive) you'll face in post-production. The thing is, regardless of your budget, and in this case we're talking ultra low to $250,000, you can find passionate, creative, and qualified people to work for you well below their normal rate. Barry Andersson is an award-winning director and cinematographer. He has directed 5 feature films (time and time again with some of the best crews imaginable) and has had his features theatrically released in theaters with his latest film distributed by Lionsgate. Barry's has also shot several television pilots, acclaimed short films, numerous commercials, and countless commercials and corporate videos. As if that wasn't enough, Barry is also the author of the hugely successful and revered DSLR Filmmakers Handbook. Barry will teach you how to secure top level, Hollywood quality, crew members for cheap no matter where you live in the world. He will instill in you the confidence to identify and then go in for the proper "ask". He will show you why sometimes a positive and visionary attitude is everything. He will even teach you how to be flexible with your story and locations in an effort to give yourself the best chance of finding and securing a crew that can take your film from OK to masterpiece. Barry is an excellent teacher. He never fails to inspire and make you understand that what you always believed to be impossible, or at least ridiculously daunting, is not only possible, but absolutely attainable if you follow his methods. I wouldn't be where I'm at without him. - Julia V.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought film production to a standstill last year. The risk of holding close gatherings required everyone to profoundly change how a film is produced in order to keep everyone safe. Yet we’ve luckily found a way to create new projects, on both a major studio and independent level. This doesn’t mean it’s easy, though. The preparation and process for producing a film have changed drastically, as have the rules and guidelines a crew needs to follow. There are ways to safely put your own film together even under these extreme circumstances, but doing so will require a new understanding of how to move forward. As a producer or filmmaker of any level, it’s your job not just to make sure a film comes together, but that the team you assembled stays safe in the process. This is extra difficult due to the pandemic, but it’s not impossible. In fact, independent productions have been finding a ways to do this successfully for a while now and you can as well. But this won’t be accomplished through business-as-usual approaches. Every aspect of the filmmaking process needs to be examined, altered, or even turned on its head in order to comply with new regulations, make the team feel comfortable, and most importantly to keep everyone virus-free. This is a big undertaking, but other independent outfits have figured this out, and learning how they did it can be instrumental in you finding success for your own project. Multi Emmy Award-winning filmmaker and author Shane Stanley has worked in almost every capacity on and off the set with hit shows like ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT and SEINFELD and producing films like Sony Pictures’ GRIDIRON GANG a #1 box office hit starring Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. For three years, Shane was Vice President of Sheen/Michaels Entertainment where he produced several motion pictures starring Marlon Brando, Mira Sorvino, Thomas Hayden Church, Donald Sutherland, Marisa Tomei, Sean Penn, John Travolta, and Charlie and Martin Sheen.. Shane recently released his book What You Don’t Learn In Film School, which covers filmmaking from concept to delivery and has already landed on required reading lists at several universities across the country. Shane continues to produce and direct independent films of all levels, and just wrapped production on his latest action thriller BREAK EVEN, which was safely shot over December and January during the peak of COVID-19. Shane learned how to find success in the midst of a pandemic and is ready to share the lessons he picked up. Shane will teach you what you need to do to successfully and safely plan and produce a film during the COVID-19 pandemic. He’ll delve into the new rules you need to follow, issued by guilds, government agencies and film/permit offices. He’ll also discuss how location scouting works now and what sort of locations can be safely shot in. He’ll go through the changes in production insurance and how to hire and work with a COVID Compliance Officer during production. Shane will also discuss how to conduct COVID tests with your crew and how to work with guilds along the way. He will then go over how to work with actors during this time and will share with you the biggest tips and must-dos he learned to keep your crew safe. Finally, Shane will share the details of how he produced his own recent film DOUBLE THREAT and wrapped his 6 week production without a single COVID positive test. Even in times as tough as this, there’s a way forward and a way to create your art, and Shane will show you how to do so smartly, effectively, and while keeping yourself and everyone on your team safe. Praise for Shane's Previous Stage 32 Webinar "Shane was thorough, gave me a realistic view into the market as it is now, yet encouraging. Easy to listen to and follow. I'll be signing up for other classes he teaches in the future." -Karena K. Just straight-forward, real, the kind of producer most of us would kill to work alongside. -Clark R. "Shane was relevant, knew what was happening, and could walk the walk." -Chuck R. "I loved the inside look from someone in the industry that is dealing with Covid restrictions on a daily basis." -Marven L.
There are many ways to forge a path toward a directing career in the film industry. But as almost any successful director will tell you, surviving and thriving takes much more than just talent. Packaging, the streaming platforms, and new and intriguing distribution channels have all but upended the independent film world. More and more filmmakers are embracing a DIY (Do It Yourself) mindset and educating themselves on the business - who's making what, what festivals matter, how a producer sees a project, what investors are looking for (and where to find those investors), who's the audience for my film, where can the film live and, most importantly, how can I use this information to build a long, lucrative, and successful career in the film industry. Director Qasim Basir exploded onto the Sundance scene with his film A Boy. A Girl. A Dream.: Love on Election Night. The film received a massive standing ovation at its Sundance premiere which led to a bidding way, a major theatrical release, and enormous critical acclaim. The film not only takes place in once location, but is filmed in single shot. It's a masterclass, and Qasim proved that he is a talent to be reckoned with. The accolades and offers haven't stopped flowing in. Up next for Qasim is to direct the NFL Biopic ‘Hawk’ based on life of Andrew Hawkins. Prior to his Sundance debut, he was nominated for the NAACP Image Award for his film Mooz-Lum, starring Nia Long, Evan Ross & Danny Glover, and premiered at the LA Film Festival with his film Destined starring Jesse Metcalf, Cory Hardrict and Margot Bingham. Qasim has had choices for all of his films as to how they got out into the world and where they were going to live after their release. He's chosen everything from theatrical to VOD releases, and he's learned much along the way. Now, exclusively for Stage 32, Qasim is bringing all his knowledge including the wealth of information he learned from the dream Sundance experience to the Stage 32 community. Qasim will dive right into the deep end of the pool to discuss how to navigate this difficult industry and how to keep yourself intact. He will teach you what you'll learn along the way as you become more successful and how to use that knowledge as fuel. He will discuss short filmmaking as a calling card or as proof of concept of something bigger. He will show you how to identify and engage financiers and production companies. Then, Qasim will delve into the filmmaking process including how casting comes down to understanding the 3 P's. He will discuss pre-production, voice, tone, story, performance & camera. He will teach you how to make decisive and confident creative choices. And he will teach you how to deal with failure and disappointment, but also how to deal with success. "People will tell you many different things in this business, but none is better than when you find what's actually right for you. Let me help get you there." - Qasim Basir Praise for Qasim "I saw A Boy. A Girl. A Dream. at Sundance. The movie is brilliant and watching Qasim during the Q&A it became clear that he is as well. To be able to learn from him here on Stage 32 is such a gift. Inspiration on a whole other level." - Monique T. "Genius in every way." - Tyler K. "Qasim is my hero." - Mikael F. "Another home run for Stage 32. A teacher above and beyond worthy of the subject matter. More please!" - Imani L.