Independent feature film producer Franco Sama boasts over a decade of independent film development, production and financing.Sama has Executive Produced an impressive array of over 20 independent feature films including most recently, Guns, Girls and Gambling starring Gary Oldman, Christian Slater and Dane Cook which is quickly becoming a cult favorite; this film was released into theatres on December of 2012 and, in January 2013, acquired a worldwide distribution deal from Universal Pictures. Other films Sama has produced include; Black Limousine starring David Arquette, Vivica 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.Sama also serves as Executive Producer on the recent film festival darling Petunia, starring Thora Birch, Brittany Snow and Academy Award winner Christine Lahti. His shingle Samaco Films is currently producing a slate of several independent feature films, including Farewell Party, starring legendary actor John Amos and Fine Young Gentleman starring funnyman Anthony Anderson. Samaco Films released two films in 2015, the first, The Livingston Gardner stars James Kyson the beloved “Ando” from the NBC television hit series HEROS and the second, 3 Days in Havana starring Ally McBeal alum Gil Bellows; both films have been released through Samaco Films’ sister company, Synergetic Distribution and have been released via all digital and Video on Demand (VOD) platforms worldwide. Full Bio »
For many independent film producers and filmmakers, approaching financiers and securing financing for your project presents one of the biggest challenges in the entire filmmaking process. How do you build your team, bring in development funds, attach name talent and work with rebates, sales estimates & distribution to attract financing all while compiling a plan to mitigate your financial risk? It can be overwhelming for a producer, especially given the ever changing landscape and the increasingly competitive nature of independent film.
Your goal as a filmmaker or producer is to make your project more financially attractive to investors over everyone else presenting projects to them. What many filmmakers and producers don't know is that there's a "sweet spot" in a film budget range that will help you raise funds successfully and get the ROI your investors are looking for. Setting the budget for your feature film at between $250,000 and $2 million it opens up a variety of options for you to be able to attach the talent you're looking for, the distribution you need and make your investors money. But first, you have to understand the financial blueprint to get you there.
Franco Sama has produced 25+ successful independent feature films between $250,000 - $2MM. He has worked with Oscar winner Christine Lahti, Dane Cook, Christian Slater, Gary Oldman, David Arquette, Brittany Snow, Vivica Fox, Michael Madsen and many more. He's worked with first time directors and experienced directors and has seen all scenarios when it comes to putting together financing for films. Franco knows first hand every step of the financial model needed to make a movie profitable and he's bringing this knowledge exclusively to the Stage 32 community.
You will learn how to approach your film from the investor’s point of view so you can not only get the money you need for your project but, most importantly, how your investors can get that money back with profits. You will learn how to build a team around your project that will not only make investing more attractive, but also assure you don't make mistakes when you go after funding. You'll learn the type of funding that is available to you and how to approach the investors attracted to and interested in each type of financing. You'll dissect how to get agents on your side to attach talent to your project and how to work with attorneys. You'll also learn the most effective distribution options for this type of film budget. Drawing from his nearly two decades of experience, Franco will teach you how he gets his dozens of projects financed, distributed and turning a profit, and why he stays in the “sweet spot” range between $250K-$2M.
Give yourself the competitive advantage to understand the types of investors you need to approach, how to approach them, how to get talent attached, and, ultimately, how to get your film made, distributed, and profitable so your investors return again and again!
Q: How do I watch my webinar live?
A: If you received a confirmation that your webinar is on Go to Webinar, you will receive an email from Go to Webinar with further instructions for participating in the live webinar. You can also access your webinar link in your purchase history located under settings in the top right-hand corner of your Stage 32 profile.
If you received a confirmation that your webinar is on Zoom, you will receive a separate email from Zoom with further instructions for participating in the live webinar. Your login link will not be in your Stage 32 profile. If you did not receive your link via Zoom please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: How do I watch my webinar on demand?
A: You will be able to watch your webinar on demand as many times as you’d like inside your Stage 32 profile. The recording is processed and posted between 24-48 hours after the webinar concludes. You can follow the instructions below.
YOU MUST HAVE A STAGE 32 PROFILE TO WATCH YOUR VIDEO – STAGE 32 IS FREE TO JOIN If You Already Have a Stage 32 Profile:
Q: What is the format of a webinar?
A: Stage 32 Next Level Webinars are typically 90-minute educational broadcasts that take place online using a designated software program from Stage 32. Your webinar will be taught by a working industry professional with in-depth teaching on a topic. If you are able to attend live you will be able to ask your Stage 32 Educator questions during Q&A.
Q: What are the system requirements to watch my webinar live?
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 10.9 (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 cannot attend a live webinar or 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 re-watch?
A: Yes! Like all Stage 32 education, after the purchase of a live or on demand webinar, you will have on-demand access to the recording.
Q: How do I get a copy of the handouts provided?
A: If the webinar you take included handouts you can find them as downloads underneath your on demand video. You must be logged into your Stage 32 profile to view the video and get the handouts by clicking settings in the top right hand corner, then clicking purchase history.
Q: What if I need accessibility and accommodations?
A: Email email@example.com to request accommodations.
Thanks for your loyalty to Stage 32 Education. We value having you in the Stage 32 community.
If you have any further questions, we are always happy to help. Please contact Stage 32 support at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“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 webinar gave me a TON of information and things to consider as we move forward with our first feature project. Thank you Stage32 for providing these excellent training opportunities.” – LeAnn M.
“Franco was very informative. I've already produced a ton of stuff but have been challenged by the distribution side (although my 1st feature HAS finally gotten distribution!). He gave me some great nuggets of information. I would definitely take another webinar with him.” – Stephanie B.
“I thought that this seminar presented a wealth of useful information in a short period of time.” – Glen P.
“The material provided is informative and appreciated!” – Andry P.
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.
Anyone who has ever tried to produce and cast a feature film is aware of the quagmire that attaching “A” List level talent represents. On one hand, you need the star power of a “name” actor in order to acquire funding and on the other hand you need the money in order to acquire the name talent. It's enough to drive even the most seasoned filmmakers crazy. Don't worry, there are proven strategies to solving this puzzle and assuring that your project is top of mind for managers, agents, and their talent. The reason why so many first and second time producers, writers and directors find themselves in this situation is simple. In most cases, they are attempting to approach “A” List celebrity talent to their film much too soon with the hopes of using that “name” to attract investors; a strategy that rarely works. The reality of the situation is that "A" List talent and the representatives get dozens of offers a month. And with more and more name actors working in television, streaming series, limited series and now even digital series, the competition is even higher. But you CAN compete and still attach "A" List talent to your project even if you don't have all your funds raised. Franco Sama has produced over 25 profitable independent films ranging from micro-budget to films up to $5MM. Franco is considered a pioneer in the world of film financing and casting. He speaks all over the world on the subject and has mentored thousands of filmmakers and producers on how to attach the best talent to their independent features. Just some of the actors Franco has cast in his films include: Gary Oldman (Oscar Winner, Darkest Hour, Oscar Nominee, Dark Knight) Christine Lahti (Oscar Winner) Christian Slater (Golden Globe Winner) Michael Madsen (Reservoir Dogs) Chris Klein (American Pie) David Arquette (Scream) Vivica A. Fox (Kill Bill) Dane Cook (Comedian) Franco has also been a consulting producer on many films with many more in active development. Many top producers in the game turn to Franco to get their films off the ground. And now he's bringing his over 2 decades of knowledge exclusively to the Stage 32 community. Franco will teach you everything you need to know about attaching top talent to your film including a bullet proof method for ensuring that managers and agents not only put your script in the hands of "A" List talent, but that they read the material! He will show you how to make sure your script is attractive to "A" List talent. He will teach you how to turn a Letter of Intent into a Letter of Commitment. He will instruct you as to the proper timing to make your offer, so you assure that everything is in order and that you're in a position to answer all questions. He will dissect a physical offer so you know exactly what you should be presenting. He will discuss pay and play offers, deferred payments, using credits as currency and back end point deals and how you can identify which of these offers and strategies to deploy. He will go over proper etiquette and how to make sure everyone is happy so that you win the trust of the gatekeepers assuring you can return to the same managers and agents again and again. Franco will take away the fear, anxiety, and, most of all, doubt, that comes with the desire to attach name talent to your project. You will learn all the proper strategies and methods to assure success. "I had the pleasure of seeing Franco speak live at one of Stage 32's live education events. He was so inspiring, so confident and so willing to help, this webinar became an instant signup. Even with my high expectations, I was floored by the wealth of information and the explanation of the strategies within. My fear, and let's face it, my insecurity of approaching talent was crippling. Not any more. I've put in 2 offers on 2 different features this morning and I'm already lining up my next move. Can't wait for the next one, Franco! And thank you, Stage 32!" - Pamela R. "One word - Invaluable." - Larry S. "This was a stunning presentation. One of the best yet." - Antonio H. "I have seen the light and I am ready to make offers. Try and stop me." - Lydia W. "Empowering. I'm going to watch it a 2nd and 3rd time just to make sure I got it all down. Then, I'm working the phones. Great job, Franco and Stage 32." - Reese K.
Learn directly from Franco Sama, 15-year expert of film financing and distribution with 25+ successful independent feature films to his name, including Guns, Girls and Gambling (Gary Oldman, Christian Slater and Dane Cook) and Petunia (Thora Birch, Brittany Snow and Academy Award winner Christine Lahti)! As a filmmaker you may find yourself at the mercy of distributors and the existing archaic, chaotic convoluted distribution system(s) that ultimately ends up costing the you profits and, more importantly, creative and financial control of your project. With many new options becoming available for your project to be seen, self-distribution is becoming an increasingly beneficial option. In this webinar we go over the self-distribution model of limited theatrical and limited platform release. We've brought in 15-year financing and producing expert Franco Sama to draw on his experience with over 25 successful indie films in which he has secured distribution. Franco will teach you step-by-step how to release your film in multiple theaters across multiple cities throughout the Unites States. Plus, he will take it a step further and show you exactly how to incorporate the release into your business plan as part of your development process so you can benefit your investors and increase your film’s international value. You will leave this webinar armed with knowledge and ready to self-distribute your film via limited theatrical or platform release.
In today's global climate filmmakers need to consider their options for distribution, which ultimately begins at the development phase. While your project is in development, packaging the right talent (actor, director, casting director, etc.) play a huge part in the pre-sales process, and ultimately have a hand in the successful distribution of your project. Distribution changes constantly and there are not many people who have their finger on the pulse like Executive Producer Franco Sama from Samaco Films. Franco has EP'd an impressive array of over twenty (20) independent feature films ranging in the "sweet spot" $5MM and under range, generally releasing 2-3 films each year. We've brought Franco in to teach this exclusive Stage 32 Next Level Webinar on Packaging & Pre-Sales For Film Distribution. In this information packed webinar Franco will go over the entire development process from how to attract A-list talent and the offers they require, how to acquire "must have" international sales estimates, working with vertically integrated distribution companies, breaking down distribution options and much more. This is a go to guide to package with an eye towards distribution!
The entertainment industry is constantly shifting and adapting, but perhaps no aspect of Hollywood is more volatile than that of film distribution. Over the past twenty years, the methods and processes of releasing films have changed drastically and continue to be difficult to pin down or predict. From theatrical to video and DVD, television to VOD, the industry continues to not only adjust but wholly reinvent itself. Now, of course, one of the bigger, if not the biggest, avenues of distribution has become online streaming platforms. Massive players like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu and newcomers like HBO Max, Disney+, and Apple TV+ have been making and picking up a very large number of films, and the viewership numbers for these titles can be staggering. There might not be a better place for your film to find a home than a streamer, but that’s easier said than done. There is perhaps no company with more reach globally than Amazon, and their streaming platform, already a juggernaut, is only growing in size and subscription base. Now with a global audience of around 150 million people, it’s one of the biggest platforms in the world to host films. Getting your film into Amazon’s content library can be a boon like no other. Yet Amazon is a tough one to understand. As a model, it differs greatly from its competitors like Netflix and Hulu since it’s just one piece of Amazon’s overall corporate puzzle. For many reasons, Amazon is playing a different game than other streaming platforms, which means you’ll need to play a different game as well if you want your film to be part of their library. This is why it’s critical you gain a deeper understanding of how Amazon works, what they’re looking for, and how you can break through the noise. Steff Monsalve Reed is the Director of Content and Distribution at Quiver Distribution, where she discovers and releases titles from emerging voices and helps independent filmmakers get their projects on platforms like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Redbox, DirecTV, and more. Recently, Steff has distributed films such as THE LOST HUSBAND, starring Josh Duhamel and Leslie Bibb, BECKY, starring Kevin James and Joel McHale, and THE SUNLIT NIGHT with Zach Galifianiakis, Jenny Slate, and Gillian Anderson. She will be distributing CHICK FIGHT, starring Malin Akermin and Alec Baldwin, a feature film which was incubated through Stage 32. Before Quiver, Steff worked as a distribution consultant for AMBI Distribution and Raven Capital Management, and served as the Manager of Acquisitions and Exhibitor relations for Entertainment One, a major independent distribution company releasing films in North America as well as several major territories around the world. Through her extensive distribution background, Steff has become very familiar with what it takes to get a film on various platforms. Steff will walk you through how Amazon finds and picks up films and what content creators can do to better get their own projects on Amazon’s radar. Steff will begin by going through a primer of what film distribution for streamers looks like, including the basic life cycle of a film and important terms to know. Then she will give a rundown of Amazon as a whole. She’ll explain how it works and how you should categorize it. She’ll also go over who Amazon’s competitors are and what Amazon’s subscription base looks like. Then she’ll outline the three distinct services Amazon provides—Transactional, SVOD, and IMDB.tv—and explain how you should think about each. Next Steff will go over what kind of content Amazon goes for. She’ll go over genres, styles and more aspects that are most successful on the platform and will delve into the film titles that have performed best in the past, as well as presently. Steff will talk about how to pitch your film to Amazon. She’ll teach you who is able to pitch to Amazon in the first place, what makes a pitch there successful, and how to make your content stand out to peak their executives’ interests. She’ll even offer a case study of a real pitch deck that she used to get them to pick up a film. After this, Steff will talk about how to best prepare and maximize deliverables to fit Amazon’s requirements. She’ll give you a rundown of what exactly Amazon requires and talk about the steps you should be taking well in advance to ensure you have what you need for Amazon if they pick up your film. She’ll also provide strategies to make your marketing materials stand out and for your film to perform better. Then Steff will talk about revenue expectations with Amazon. She’ll explain how Amazon’s payment structure works and will give a general sense of how much you can expect to make from an Amazon distribution deal. She’ll also talk about how to create a budget with this in mind for a realistic return on investment. Next she’ll explain what she believes might be next for Amazon, what the current trends are pointing to and how the “streaming war” might affect things moving forward. Finally, she’ll leave with closing thoughts for filmmakers to consider, including additional challenges to prepare for and unique opportunities at Amazon you can take advantage of. Expect to leave with a much clearer understanding of how Amazon works and how you can better position your film for success at this streaming platform. Praise for Steff's Previous Stage 32 Webinar "One of the best presentations I have seen." -John S. "Great info. Great presentation. Really explained the topic well. " -Martin R. "Steff was excellent in explaining the distribution process and especially how it pertains to Netflix." -Michael W.
Remember that every line of dialogue matters, every image has a purpose, and there are no wasted bullets in the gun! We're kicking off another month of a packed Writers' Room schedule with the Breakdown Webcast: Exposition as Ammunition! Many writers struggle with how to get out critical information and backstory to the audience in an organic way. So during this webcast, we discuss how to get the audience the information they need without a lecture they don't want. During this webcast we'll discuss different ways of getting out information in a way that feels organic to the narrative and the characters. We examine some of the best - and worst - examples from film and television!