Mike Sammaciccia is the founder and producer at Afterglow Pictures, which specializes in family friendly content and has over 15 projects in development, including a documentary and tv series with Will Smith's Westbrook Studios. Mike also produced the action thriller SURVIVE for Jeffrey Katzenberg, which starred GAME OF THRONE’s Sophie Turner and STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON’S Corey Hawkins. Before creating Afterglow Pictures, Mike served as Walden Media’s first creative executive, bringing in the book HOLES and serving as the executive in charge of production for the hit family film starring Shia Labeouf and Sigourney Weaver. He also served as Senior Vice President of live-action movies and series for Nickelodeon for many years, producing 4-5 live action and animated movies per year. This content consistently broke audience benchmarks and propelled the careers of many young stars. Mike has been at the forefront of family content—both film and television—for almost 20 years and knows better than most what it takes right now to get a family project off the ground. Full Bio »
Long-time family film and TV executives will teach you how to make your family project market-ready and get it sold.
Comes with a case study of a real pitch deck for a produced family film
If you’re interested in creating family friendly content for film or TV, you have come across a fantastic time to make something happen. Recent family films like THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN, A DOG’S JOURNEY and OVER THE MOON have been hugely popular, and often produced at a lower budget than their more adult competitors, whetting the appetite of studios to create more like these. And on the TV side, family series continue to be wildly successful as streamers and networks continue to seek out and new content and add to their slate. More studios, networks, streamers and production companies than ever before are looking for this type of all ages content, meaning the opportunities are plentiful if you understand how to best put together, pitch, and sell your project.
The opportunity is certainly prevalent for new family films and series to be sold and produced, but it will still be difficult to get your own project off the ground if you don’t understand how exactly your project can fit in. Perhaps more than other genres, family content comes with strict mandates as well as very specific audience demos, each with their own unique profiles and specifications. Projects that can’t easily align or fit into these already defined sections have a much harder to time to sell. Additionally, each studio and network looks for something a little different when putting together their own slate. In order to put your best foot forward and get executives to notice your family-friendly film or series, you first need to understand how the industry works and how best to adjust your project and your pitch.
Mike Sammaciccia is the founder and producer at Afterglow Pictures, which specializes in family friendly content and has over 15 projects in development, including a documentary and tv series with Will Smith's Westbrook Studios. Mike also produced the action thriller SURVIVE for Jeffrey Katzenberg, which starred GAME OF THRONE’s Sophie Turner and STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON’S Corey Hawkins. Before creating Afterglow Pictures, Mike served as Walden Media’s first creative executive, bringing in the book HOLES and serving as the executive in charge of production for the hit family film starring Shia Labeouf and Sigourney Weaver. He also served as Senior Vice President of live-action movies and series for Nickelodeon for many years, producing 4-5 live action and animated movies per year. This content consistently broke audience benchmarks and propelled the careers of many young stars. Mike has been at the forefront of family content—both film and television—for almost 20 years and knows better than most what it takes right now to get a family project off the ground.
Exclusively for Stage 32, Mike will walk you through how to approach developing, pitching and selling your own family friendly series or film. He’ll explain what the state of family content looks like today, laying out the different demos and what kind of content studios, networks and streamers are embracing. He’ll also point to where family content may be headed in the future. Mike will then teach you how to get your own family film or series market ready by defining your own demo, deciding if it’s better as a film or series, making your characters family-friendly, and developing necessary partnerships along the way. Next he will discuss how to get your project in front of the right studio, network or production company and how to determine which one is the right fit for your project. He’ll also speak to whether you need a manager or agent. Mike will then go through how to best pitch your family project, going through the documents you should have, how to pitch and what should go into your pitch deck.
Mike will even share a real pitch deck for a family film he went out to pitch and explain why he made the choices he did in assembling it.
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 recording, which you can view as many times as you'd like for a whole year!
Victor Bui, Kristi Shuton & Adienne C. Thomas are on the Disney | ABC Creative Talent Development & Inclusion Team where they oversee the Writing and Directing Programs. We discuss what writing programs and fellowships, writer development, and how to create a personal brand/story, plus a live Q&A!
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!
TV movies are very much alive and well, and if you’re a screenwriter or producer looking to break into this huge market niche, you’ve come to the right webinar. Despite the change in viewer habits with on-demand movies, the TV Movie and the Movie of the Week on Hallmark, Lifetime, and Disney, as well as many other channels are still extremely popular. To breakdown this landscape and share the truths behind the TV Movie model, Stage 32 has brought in MarVista’s former Acquisition and Co-Production executive, Justine Wentzell. Justine has worked on almost 100 different TV movies in MarVista’s core business. After she digs into the specifics of what these networks are looking for, Julie will offer tips on writing a successful script for this niche. Stick around for a Q&A after the webinar to take an even deeper dive into other key elements of this form of storytelling. You will not get more in-depth overview of TV movies, what goes into developing, writing and producing them anywhere else!
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.
If you’re an independent filmmaker or producer working to put together a film or TV project, you are likely going to have multiple producers, investors, financiers, sales agents, and talent that are will be looking to recoup profits on the completed project. This can get tricky. Not only do you have to keep your numbers and figures straight to properly reallocate your revenues, you also likely have to handle guild residuals, navigate liability issues and ensure every party is happy and trusting in the process. This can ultimately be a very messy process, and one that you should not handle on your own as the film’s producer. Instead, it’s probably time you have a collection account. A collection account is an account in the name of a neutral third party who receives revenues generated by an independent film or TV project on behalf of the multiple beneficiaries from local distributors. This process is called collection account management and is an effective tool to guarantee that the beneficiaries receive their share of the revenues. Collection account management is a massive time saver and a way to lower the chances of errors or improper payments. But it’s also the industry standard and something most parties and investors are going to expect you to have if they are considering moving forward. So how exactly does collection account management work and how can you best use this process to your advantage as an independent filmmaker? David Zannoni is an international business specialist for Fintage House in the US, Europe, Canada and Latin America territories. Fintage House, the world's most respected company for revenue and rights protection for industry professionals and companies. David negotiates agreements for films and television series and is involved in business development and relationship management globally on hundreds of productions. David is continuously present to make deals and speak at international film markets, festivals and conferences, including: the Cannes Film Festival, the European Film Market (EFM) in Berlin, the American Film Market (AFM), Ventana Sur, the Bogota Audiovisual Market (BAM), and the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), and travels regularly to the United States, the Netherlands, Europe, and all over Latin America. David will teach you how to navigate collection account management. He’ll begin by going into what exactly collection account management is and the different elements that go into it. He will also explain when to know if your production will need collection account management and delve into how this process affects your job as a producer, including liabilities, your relationship with your sales agent, and the rights and obligations with financiers, guilds, and talent. Next, David will demonstrate how collection account management works from a legal framework and the paperwork and contracts that go along with it, including the CAM Agreement. Finally, David will outline the benefits you will see as a producer when working with a collection account. He’ll even give specific tips for producers related to the CAM agreements, financiers, residuals, sales agents, and more. Collection account management can be a tricky process, but it’s also one that’s crucial to get right. David will show you how. Praise for David's Previous Stage 32 Webinars "David is incredible and lovely and clearly knows his stuff." - Cynthia P. "Eye-opening information. A no-brainer approach that wouldn't be so obvious to the uninitiated." - Gary O. "By far, the best class I've seen on the subject." Kirk K. "David is a fantastic teacher. And what a voice! I could listen to him all day. More importantly, I learned so very much!" - Isabella T.
Producer Development Exec Anna Henry joins our Panel as we listen and read your pitches live to help educate the Writers' Room screenwriters on what is and isn't working in their pitch.