Keith Rivers is an award-winning commercial director who has worked with clients such as Microsoft, Amazon, Delta Airlines, Unlimited Tomorrow, Porsche, McDonald’s, and Soundcloud to name a few. He has written, produced, and directed several global ad campaigns including Internet Explorer 9, where a music synchronization deal for Alex Clare begot him triple-platinum record sales and a BRIT award. Rivers also created the instantly viral Microsoft Surface launch video, which received 9 million views within the first week on YouTube and won a Gold ADDY award. Keith continues to direct large scale advertising campaigns for large and notable companies and his years of experience in this field has allowed him to become a bona fide expert in how to find success telling stories for brands and agencies. Full Bio »
One of the biggest challenges you’ll face as a creative is making a living doing what you love and telling stories in a visual medium. You may have great ideas, a knack for working with others, and an eye for cinematic beauty, but it can still be very hard to break in. One path you might not have considered yet to find work as a commercial director. Commercial directing can give you opportunities to put your skills to use, to create a product that people will be able to see, and to actually tell stories. And more so, this job will allow you to do this WHILE GETTING PAID –often very well. This does not mean the world of commercial directing is easy, and you’ll find that it’s also highly competitive and tight-knit, but understanding the marketplace and landscape can very well give you the ability to break through and find work doing what you love.
The industry of advertising is turning upside down right now; socially, culturally, and politically. Everyone is trying to grasp this ever-changing industry, but it’s important to remember that the more things change the more they stay the same. No matter what else is going on in the world, finding success and opportunities as a commercial director comes down to being personable to clients, communicative with your crew, knowing when to be firm or flexible in your creative approach, and understanding how to push your creative spirit out of its comfort zone. So how does the commercial filming industry actually work? What will make brands and agencies want to hire you to direct their project? And how can you apply your skills and your background to break into this lucrative field and even use it to find further opportunities in narrative film?
Keith Rivers is an award-winning commercial director who has worked with clients such as Microsoft, Amazon, Delta Airlines, Unlimited Tomorrow, Porsche, McDonald’s, and Soundcloud to name a few. He has written, produced, and directed several global ad campaigns including Internet Explorer 9, where a music synchronization deal for Alex Clare begot him triple-platinum record sales and a BRIT award. Rivers also created the instantly viral Microsoft Surface launch video, which received 9 million views within the first week on YouTube and won a Gold ADDY award. Keith continues to direct large scale advertising campaigns for large and notable companies and his years of experience in this field has allowed him to become a bona fide expert in how to find success telling stories for brands and agencies.
Keith will break down what the landscape of commercial directing looks like and how you as a director can break in, stay in, and even use your success to transition to narrative film directing. He’ll break down what the life of a commercial director looks like, including how much you could expect to make and what the ecosystem is between production companies, agencies, and brands. Keith will also give you tips into how to find opportunities and break into commercial directing. He will teach you how to make yourself better and more hirable with tools like your reel and spec work, and will go through how to pitch well to get a commercial directing gig. Keith will next explain how to get the directing gig and do it right by doing your best work and aligning with creatives and will finally outline how to build your career and using your work as a stepping stone to long form narrative directing.
Keith will also provide a slew of examples and resources like storyboards, lists of production companies and agencies, example treatments and more that you'll be able to take with you afterwards.
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Animation offers screenwriters one of the most flexible mediums for the imagination. Animated stories have been capturing our minds ever since media hit the screen through characters like Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Bugs Bunny to what we see today in The Simpsons, American Dad, Bojack Horseman, Rick and Morty, Spider-man, Incredibles and (so many) more. Writing animation feature or television requires a special skill - not one that can be taught through traditional feature & TV writing resources. The tools you need to succeed in animation are quite unique and once honed can offer you a long career in the always hugely popular animation universe. But, where do you begin? There are all different types of animated writing - including pre-school, children's comedy and adult animation. Further, how do you find your niche? There are many different animation genres (and styles) in features and television today. Is the writing universal for all genres? It takes a seasoned professional to understand the nuances of all types of animated writing and being able to write efficiently for the story and the project. Educating yourself in all aspects of how animation writing works for features and television will assist you greatly in achieving your goal whether it's attracting representation, trying to sell an original concept, pushing an animated feature or TV pilot, or finding work in an television animation writer's room. Mike Disa, most recently the director of the highly praised Netflix show Paradise PD, has been working in animation for two decades. With no film training or knowledge of the byzantine workings of the entertainment business, he eventually found success at studios such as Dreamworks, Disney Feature, Warner Brothers, Paramount, and many others. Over a fascinating career, Mike has worked with some of the greatest and most infamous people in Hollywood including Steven Spielberg, Eric Goldberg, Ralph Bakshi, Glenn Close, Steve Oedekerk, David Tennant, Amy Poehler, Adam Sandler, Jeffery Katzenberg and Roy Disney. Mike will cover everything you need to know about writing animation for features & TV. He'll start with formatting and script length (two aspects surprisingly ignored or misunderstood by most writers). He'll discuss writing low budget vs. high budget and how to write within the scope of each. He will dive into how to write around special effects and other post production implementations. He will discuss reading and production drafts and how to collaborate with your writing and producing teams. He will talk premises, outlines, first draft strategies and how to go about pitching your idea. He will get into writer's room expectations, strategies in working the room, and the steps to take from being a show writer to a showrunner. Mike will use real world examples to show you the entire landscape of writing animated features and TV. And this is just some of what you'll learn! This is 3 HOURS of comprehensive education from a director of a top animated Netflix show on how to write, sell, and build a career in writing feature AND television animation! Praise for Mike: "Mike Disa was amazingly generous with his time and information. And he was real. It doesn't get better than that. I'll be able to apply his insights and the information he shared immediately. I'm so glad I decided to participate." - Elizabeth A. "Excellent webinar. I think that I learned more than I expected to about animation writing and how it relates to working in the industry. I had a good time watching this and appreciate how kind everyone was with their time." - Kari H.
Faith based and faith friendly films have been a steady, popular, and profitable industry and one of the hottest genres for success. It could be considered a niche audience, but it’s a powerful and dependable niche audience that has helped catapult films and filmmakers to success. Recent films like I CAN ONLY IMAGINE, GOD’S NOT DEAD, and THE SHACK have found popularity and impressive box office numbers by tapping into this audience and bringing out church-goers and other faith-friendly communities that might not be as eager to seek out films outside of this genre. And it makes sense that faith-based films are doing well. In challenging or negative times, people will more actively seek out positivity and inspiration, two ingredients almost guaranteed to be featured in a faith-based film. Considering how challenging and negative our current world can be, there might not be a better time to break into the world of faith-based films and write a script that can shine in this market. Writing a faith based or faith friendly script can be tricky, as you don't want to fall into cliches and lose your audience. You might have a great idea for a script with an uplifting message and inspirational ending, but when does it cross the line from a traditional genre script to faith-friendly? What does that audience actually look for and what do faith-based production companies seek out when considering a script? What elements in your story are off-limits and which will help you sell your script? There’s no crystal ball that can tell us 100% what works and what doesn’t in this genre, but there are patterns and constants that can be gleaned and applied to your own script. With a proper lay of the land, you’ll be able to better tackle this genre and write a script that can not only get on the screen, but inspire and uplift viewers at the same time. Brad Wilson is the Co-founder of Higher Purpose Entertainment (HPE), a production company dedicated to telling stories in film and TV that encompass truth of character and strive to embrace inspirationally redeeming qualities. While at HPE he's produced a number of films including THREE BLIND SAINTS, CHRISTMAS ON SALVATION STREET, MY MANY SONS, THE MEANEST MAN IN TEXAS, and THE RESURRECTION OF GAVIN STONE, which was released last year in 1,100 theaters across the country. Brad is well-versed in the business of faith based films and has a keen sense of how projects thrive in this genre. He’s ready to share what he knows exclusively with the Stage 32 community. Brad will walk you through how to create a faith based script that can both sell and have a positive impact within this specific community. Brad will begin with an overview of the faith based/faith friendly landscape and will give you a rundown of how this genre works both at a studio and in the independent space. He’ll then break down major screenwriting points of an effective faith based scripts, including average page count, characters, and plot structure. He’ll outline what makes a script faith based or faith friendly and at what point a drama script would be considered by a faith based production company. He will delve into what the faith based audience looks like and the best ways to reach them. Brad will teach you the elements that work best for a faith based script, including employing romance and a specific message. He will also go over elements to stay away from and how to balance a cross over script with “preaching to the choir”. He will also give tips on how to drive the story forward within this genre. He’ll discuss when to take feedback on your script and when to trust your gut and will give you tips on how to keep your writing real, even when it’s made up. Brad will also discuss the types of budget you should keep in mind for the best chance of success with your faith based script. Brad’s valuable rundown of the faith based genre will give you the tips and tools you need to create an amazing script that will excel within the faith friendly community. Like what you heard from Brad during this webinar? Brad will read your script and speak with you for a half-hour if you click here. Praise for Brad's Stage 32 Webinar "Brad was terrific! This was an excellent real world webinar. Very helpful in reinforcing some of the trends that I have been seeing in this category, and I learned a lot from today's discussion." -Lew S. "Brad was amazing. He laid out so clearly the genre and how to write for it in a practical way. He was an awesome instructor who combined practical info, inspiration, and was so "real." Loved it." -Ricki L. "This was the best webinar I've had so far at Stage 32. Brad's very seasoned and gave wonderful tips that will help me make my faith-friendly script" more marketable." -Gayle R. "A very honest, forth right presentation from a guy whose been there and done that, and knows the pitfalls and promises of the biz." -Dennis H.
"Jason was and is wonderfully inspiring!" Watch for FREE here: Want to join Jason's 2-part AD class April 8 & April 15? Register here!
Learn directly from Jessica Sitomer, International Entertainment Industry Speaker, Career Coach, and Author who has had her writing produced by an Emmy Award winner, produced TV herself and has coached thousands of professionals who work in the entertainment industry! In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, you will learn the cultural differences between the way Angelinos and New Yorkers go after work in comparison to the UK, Canada, Atlanta, New Orleans, etc. If you are uncomfortable asking for work, or have seen what you consider “aggressive” strategies, your host Jessica Sitomer is going to modify her typical networking strategies and techniques to appeal to you! Yes, you can be polite, and still get work! You will leave the webinar knowing: How to meet people who can hire you in a natural, authentic way. How to connect with people on social media without being annoying. How to get your “horn tooted” without you having to “toot your own horn”. Networking tips for genuine connections. How to stay in touch with a new connection without being a pest. How to feel more comfortable and confident in the work generating process. Your host Jessica Sitomer is a world traveled speaker and panel moderator who modifies her topics to fit the needs and the culture of the participants in each location. She has coached thousands of people worldwide, and is proud to see her clients’ names on almost every TV and film she sees. Simultaneously, Jessica works as a professional in the entertainment industry, on shows for ABC, Nickelodeon, Showtime, MTV, and had her writing produced by an Emmy Award winning producer. Brought back by popular demand, she is here exclusively for Stage 32 to pass on her knowledge and experience of working with thousands of people, just like you, to make your journey to find work a comfortable ride.
Streamers like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and HBO Max have quickly become the holy grail for many filmmakers hoping to get their film produced and find success. And it’s no mystery why. With a subscriber base in the tens of millions (Netflix has 74 million subscribers alone!), there might not be a better place for your film to be seen and enjoyed across the globe. And streamers ARE picking up a lot of content, a staggering amount even. Netflix recently announced it is releasing 40 more films this year—that’s twice what most major traditional studios make in a whole year, all in just a few months. That said, even with this huge volume of new content Netflix and the other streamers continue to pick up and produce, it is not easy to get your film noticed or considered at these platforms, especially if you’re not already an established filmmaker. This is not to say it’s impossible, but it does require finesse, strategy, luck, and an understanding of how exactly streamers find their original films. For as prominent as streaming platforms have become, the process behind how a film actually finds its way into their libraries is opaque and enigmatic. With so little information on the inner workings of the streamers, it can seem confusing, maybe even impossible to get your own proverbial foot into the portal and get your project noticed. After all, there isn’t exactly a submission platform to upload your script for Amazon to review. The truth is, unless you’re already established or have that ‘in’ with a streamer, it’s very unlikely to get straight through and have them consider your work blind. There IS another way though, a way to get your project to a streamer, not by going through but by going around. Michael Schulman is a Feature Story Analyst for Netflix as part of its Independent Original Film Division, and his job revolves around evaluating feature screenplay submissions and deciding which ones to pass up to the executives to consider. Prior to his role at Netflix, Michael spent nearly a decade in the story department at CAA where he found projects for CAA clients. Over his storied career, Michael also served as an agent at ICM’s Motion Picture Literary Department and held numerous studio creative executive positions at Orion, TriStar, and Disney where he worked to develop film and television projects with some of the top talent in the industry. Michael is very familiar with what it takes for a script to find its way to decisionmakers since this has been a key feature of his job for over a decade. As a companion piece to his previous webinar that details the script evaluation process at Netflix and other streamers, Michael will teach you a smarter and more viable way to get your own feature film considered by streaming platforms, not by targeting the streamers themselves, but instead focusing on their content suppliers. He’ll begin by laying out how the normal streamer system works and go over specific reasons why your script might NOT be as good of a fit for them as you think. Michael will then delve into how “outsiders” can get in the streaming game by taking advantage of resources along the way and better understanding the content pipeline. He’ll explain what streamer “originals” actually are and show how streamers rely on production companies to fill their slate. Michael will show you how you can use this to your advantage by finding your way in with specific production companies and what you can do to make them want to produce your film with you. Michael will even offer a live demonstration, showing how to find the right production companies for your own project and the best contacts within them. Getting your work on Netflix and other streamers will never be easy, but you will leave this webinar with a better understanding of the best way forward. Praise for Michael's Previous Stage 32 Webinar "I loved Michaels honestly. His advice is invaluable." -Linda R. "Very genuine, authentic, knowledgeable." -Lissa C. "Michael was highly competent, extremely knowledgeable about his subject, and not afraid to share hard truths about the industry that many just won't be upfront about." -Lee T. "Michael did not sugarcoat anything. He gave honest information that clarified a lot of questions I had." -Nikki J.
The most significant aspect of any actor’s career is securing work, but with overwhelming competition, roles are scare and difficult to come by, which can make this task incredibly tough. Yet in the end, acting careers are built on the work and honing your skills as a performer. Every actor knows that work begets work. This is because as we expand our experiences and circle of connections, more doors open with opportunities for more work. It’s great to have an agent, to make those connections, to develop strategies to become more marketable, but more important than all of that is becoming the best actor you can possibly be. Ultimately, producers want to hire the right performer for the role, and putting yourself in a position to get that role is less complicated than others might have you believe. Whether you are preparing for an audition or a performance for a role you are already cast in, your main tool and blueprint before you even get on set or in that audition room is likely going to be the script, and any practiced actor will tell you there’s a lot more to a script than just your character’s dialogue. If you’re simply going through the script to highlight your lines, you’re missing out on a treasure trove of information that will lend itself to you finding the character and giving your best possible performance. An experienced actor is able to fully break down any written scene to internalize not just the dialogue, but the beats, the context, the elements that are unwritten but still very present. Knowing how to analyze a script and glean from it all of its information and clues will allow you to more fully inhabit your role and make you a better and more cast-able actor. Taylor Nichols is an award winning filmmaker, theater director and actor with over one hundred credits to his name. He is currently on the Emmy-nominated Hulu show PEN15 and the HBO smash-hit PERRY MASON. Taylor has also appeared on shows such as Emmy and Golden Globe nominated THE WALKING DEAD and PRISON BREAK, the cultural hit DIRTY JOHN, Emmy-winning MODERN FAMILY, 24, Golden Globe nominated THE MENTALIST and many more. In addition to acting, Taylor is an award winning short filmmaker and an experienced producer with feature credits including THE NEXT STEP and CASE 219. Taylor brings to Stage 32 more than 30 years of experience in the entertainment industry and is ready to share with the community the skills and lessons he’s developed throughout his career. Taylor will lay out how to break down a script as an actor and develop the techniques needed for characterization and emotional depth to “live truthfully under imaginary circumstances”. Taylor will begin by teaching you what an actor should do as soon as they get the script, including what to focus on during your first read through and how you should be marking it up. He will give you the tools to zero in on a specific scene’s theme and will then delve into determining your character’s objective, both in the scene and in the story as a whole. He’ll talk about how and where you should place dramatic beats by finding the scene’s shape and creating and feeding into the flow. He’ll go into what makes beats and pauses feel natural and honest and when they feel put on and will also outline how you can use your beats as a tool for line memorization. Taylor will then go over how to define your character’s obstacles while reading the script and how you should create your own honest actions in the scene. He will also explain how these actions can successfully interact with both beats and objectives. Next he will explain what “givens” are in a script and how you can find the givens of your character. He will also teach you the difference between naturalism and honesty when giving a performance and explain why honesty is always what an actor should be working towards. Taylor will also lead a live, interactive acting workshop to illustrate the strategies he has taught and show how to use the written scene to define the characters. Taylor will break down down a scene of a script in real time and will bring up students to perform these role based on this breakdown. Through his lesson and workshop, Taylor will give you invaluable tools to help hone your craft and better prepare you for any future auditions or performances. Praise for Taylor's Stage 32 Webinar "Wonderful job on all counts. Taylor was very informative and ever so likable." -Jody F. "I really loved the webinar - Taylor gave a really useful and inspiring presentation, which felt genuinely rooted in the love of acting and the respect for the craft of it. I found both the teaching and the workshopping aspect of it very informative and really gave us as actors clear examples of how to up-level our work." -Rowen B. "Taylor was great and very helpful." -Martin B. "Taylor was great! I thoroughly enjoyed Taylor's class & will be re-visiting it through the on-demand option." -Laurka L.