Rachel Crouch is the Director of Development at Cold Iron Pictures. Cold Iron Pictures is a production/financing company that most recently produced BEING FRANK starring comedian Jim Gaffigan and Anna Gunn. Previously Cold Iron produced SWISS ARMY MAN starring Daniel Radcliffe and Paul Dano, as well as Marielle Heller’s directorial debut THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL starring Bel Powley, Kristen Wiig and Alexander Skarsgård, both of which premiered at Sundance. Previously Cold Iron releases also include Joseph Cedar’s political drama Norman starring Richard Gere which was released by Sony Pictures Classic; DON'T THINK TWICE, and Lake Bell’s second film I DO...UNTIL I DON'T. They also produced the 2019 Sundance hit UNTITLED AMAZING JOHNATHAN DOCUMENTARY which premiered in the US Documentary Competition section and is available on Hulu. Full Bio »
Finding, securing, and building a relationship with a meaningful and experienced producer can be one of the biggest challenges writers and filmmakers face. Even with a great script and a stacked cast, many producers who can move the needle on a project are often in great demand. Securing a meaningful producer means you have someone on your team who can pull the strings, make the offers and put the puzzle pieces of the project together. But how do you find a producer in the first place? How do you build a relationship and show them that you’re someone they should take a chance on? And once you’ve reached that point, how do you get the most out of that relationship to assure that your vision reaches the screen in the most productive, and hopefully profitable manner possible?
One of the biggest misconceptions for talent is that producers stifle creativity. ‘The only word they know is “no!”’ or ‘The only thing they care about is money!’. The truth is, though, that building a relationship with the right producer can be a career-maker and can also make your life easier. Producers help you make connections, take all of the day-to-day questions about making a project off your plate, and can even creatively add to your series or film. But you need to know how best to use your producers if you’re going to succeed. Writers and filmmakers alike need to know how to find the right producer for them, understanding the skills different types of producers bring to the table, and finding the best way to create a good producer/talent relationship.
Rachel Crouch is the Director of Development at Cold Iron Pictures, a production/financing company that most recently produced BEING FRANK starring comedian Jim Gaffigan and Anna Gunn. Previously Cold Iron produced SWISS ARMY MAN starring Daniel Radcliffe and Paul Dano, as well as Marielle Heller’s directorial debut DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL starring Bel Powley, Kristen Wiig and Alexander Skarsgård, both of which premiered at Sundance Film Festival. They also produced the Sundance hit UNTITLED AMAZING JOHNATHAN DOCUMENTARY, which premiered in the US Documentary Competition section and is available on Hulu. Rachel has been involved in every step of producing these films and has helped launch careers of the talent involved with them.
Rachel will walk you through the nuts and bolts of finding the right producer and forming a great working relationship with him or her. She will discuss the different types of producers and how each contributes to different projects. She will then go into how to find that perfect producer, and the best ways to do research, take meetings, and woo them to get them on your side. She will also discuss the producer’s role in every phase of production—from giving notes during development, to building the team in pre-production, serving on the ground during production, and handling sound, color, and deliverables during post, among many, many other facets. Rachel will help you tackle the tricky issue of dealing with money with your producer and outline the common ways the producer-talent relationships fall apart, as well as flourish.
Rachel will even provide case studies from her own background to illustrate how the producer-talent relationship helped create Independent Spirit Award winning DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL, Sundance winning SWISS ARMY MAN, and SXSW nominated BEING FRANK.
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Praise for Rachel’s Stage 32 Webinars:
"Very informative, Rachel is wise beyond her years."
"Very helpful! I learned so much and I am looking forward to going back and rewatching"
"Rachel Crouch was awesome. She enriched my knowledge of the world of producers and how as a screenwriter we can make connections with the right ones and how best to work with them! Great job."
- Ricki L.
"Rachel was terrific! Her thoughts were clear and helpful."
Rachel Crouch (Judge)
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Now that the barrier to entry is lower than ever to start creating your own content, it's imperative to learn how to capitalize shooting on digital. Whether it's understanding the needs of digital services like Netflix, or platforms like YouTube, there is a spot in the market for you to make it a career. In this exclusive Stage 32 webinar your host Stephen Balsley will be going over the technology side of the Industry, with a specific focus on the shift from Film to Digital. We will also be learning to look at Media as a whole, from how each piece is interconnected, to how technology is affecting extraordinary change in every area of Media. We will go over specific examples of Filmmakers who have successfully capitalized on the shift to Digital, and will provide useful steps to ensure your projects are taking full advantage of the available Technology to give you the best possible chance at creative success. The Technical side can be one of the most difficult and daunting areas of any Industry (like opening up the hood of a car), but Stephen's goal for this webcast is to inspire an overall curiosity into all of the change that is currently happening, and to begin to gain a firm understanding of how the Industry works around, and is very often driven by, the Digital Age in which we live. Stephen Balsley began his career at a RED Digital Cinema nearly 9 years ago, and has watched it grow from a small startup company into one of the leading Cinema brands in the world. During that time, the RED One camera was largely credited with driving the shift from Film to Digital, with RED cameras now being used in a large number of films and other projects across the Industry. Although Stephen’s expertise is in RED, he is well experienced in all types of cameras, including Arri, Canon, Nikon, Blackmagic, and more.
Producer Tiegen Kosiak 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.
Becoming a working film and TV composer is a very competitive industry and it takes talent, persistence and patience in order to break in and work consistently. Here's your opportunity to learn the craft AND how to navigate the business from an Oscar nominated, multiple Grammy winning composer, exclusively on Stage 32. For over 30 years, Spike Lee's go to composer to score and provide the perfect music for his films has been Terrence Blanchard. From Jungle Fever to 25th Hour to Inside Man to the Oscar Nominated score for BlacKkKlansman, Terrence has created numerous memorable and essential scores. Further, Terrence has been the lead composer and provided exquisite music for more than 50 films working with some of the industry's top producers and directors including George Lucas and many more. Starting with his remarkable 5-step process to composing music for film to his ground-breaking "If I Could Tell You I Would Technique to helping you overcome fear and to teaching you what he's learned about navigating the business and building a long lasting career, Terence will have you full of confidence and ready to compose and present your best work. Further, Terence will show you in depth how he composed his Oscar nominated BlacKkKlansman and Harriet scores and take you behind the scenes in his studio to show you his set up and equipment. In short, you'll be learning at the feet of a master technician. What better way to get a leg up?! This Masters of Craft Webinar is exclusive to Stage 32 and is available to be viewed immediately.
As an independent filmmaker or producer, you likely start working on a new endeavor for creative reasons—the chance to tell an amazing story, build worlds, create something of cultural value. Yet this is, of course, not the only element of filmmaking. Like it or not, your independent film is not just a creative endeavor; it’s also a business. You’re sourcing financing and bringing in investors, building a team, and creating a property that will (hopefully) ultimately make money not only in the present, but for years to come. In short, you’re not just a making a piece of art; you’re also running a business. To operate successfully in the world of independent film and continue to make films that you’re proud of, you need to be able to think like an entrepreneur and understand the dynamics and the relation between financing, distribution and recoupment of film investments. Further, you need to open up your creative mindset to the myriad opportunities available all over the world including hot markets found throughout Latin America. The business side of films is often especially difficult for filmmakers and creative producers, but the more you understand, the better your chances of finding a production partner or investor to take your vision forward. Latin American film production is booming right now, diverse with a variety of production hubs all over the region. Big budget international films shoot alongside local films with relatively low budgets, all created for both local and international audiences. Working in the Latin American market, especially with films in the sub-$1MM range can offer you opportunities you haven't thought of before and give you a path to profitability. But to take advantage of this surging market, you need to understand the variety of production and financing options available and how to tap into them. Whether it's hard money, soft money or other methods toward financing and securing the necessary pieces to greenlight your project, getting a handle on the in's and out's of how to proceed will put you in a powerful and advantageous position. Understanding and executing this business model will open new doors to other productions around the world and serve to create a portfolio of proof that will serve as a calling card moving forward. David Zannoni is an international business specialist for 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 specifically in the US, Latin America and $ope. As an international film business specialist 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 is intimately familiar with how independent films are financed and made profitable all over the world and will share what he knows exclusively about the Latin American market with the Stage 32 community. David will focus on the Latin American market and walk you through what you need to know to finance your independent film, $1MM or less, and leave profitable. He will begin by explaining what a $1MM or under budget looks like in the Latin American region and whether it’s considered a small film. He’ll delve into how film financing works specifically in Latin America, including a breakdown of soft money sources versus hard money sources, local vs international productions, forming a co-production as a financing tool, tax and location incentives, taking advantage of government support, and working with film commissions. He will highlight how Latin American film financing is different compared to other regions and how both Spanish speaking and English speaking content works within the region and will go over the notable platforms and TV channels available as well as how they differ. David will outline the production capacities in the region, including for in-house production, co-productions, production servicing, and work-for hire. He will then teach you what specifically Latin America can offer foreign productions, including incentives, co-productions, talent, and shooting locations. He will also discuss how Latin America has its eye on the US, Spain, and the rest of Europe. David will explain how to approach your film as an asset, how to see yourself as an entrepreneur, and how to see filmmaking as a business. David will then go over the continental circle of financing, distribution, and investment recoupment and will explain how revenue and right management works as well as managing your recoupment. He will spend time delving into Latin American film contracts, including distribution agreements, CAM agreements, and sales agency agreements. David will ultimately illustrate whether Latin American films can be profitable and how, and analyze with you when a Latin American film can be considered successful, whether it breaks even or finds profitability. Plus, David will show a case study of a real $1MM Latin American film to illustrate how a film of this leve l can be profitable and exactly how the money flows through from beginning to end. He’ll show financing documents and spreadsheets to illustrate the financing structure and demonstrate how money flows in and out. Through this detailed and practical demonstration, you will leave with strategies and a deep understanding of how to approach your own $1MM film as an entrepreneur and build a finance structure that will leave you and your investors profitable. This Stage 32 Webinar is Part 2 in David’s "Think Like an Entrepreneur" series. Click here to check out David’s webinar on being profitable in US marketplace with a sub-$1MM film and click here to check out his webinar on being profitable in the European marketplace 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.
Whether we’re talking about a comedy or drama, sci-fi or horror, a film or television series, animated or live action, short-form or long-form, having good characters is essential. There’s no escaping it. Even a script with everything else going for it, if it doesn’t have strong, compelling characters, it’s not going to work. Great characters connect the audience to your world and ground it in humanity. They provide stakes, bolster your plot and keep it moving. It’s therefore crucial to understand what make an effective character and how you can create that in your own project. Unfortunately there’s not a step-by-step guide to crafting the perfect character. There’s no secret formula and there’s no surefire algorithm. Good characters are complicated and hard to define because so are people. Good characters hold a mirror up to reality and let the audience see themselves or someone else they know in them. And all of that might be fine and good in theory, but what does that actually mean in practice? If you’re a writer how can you create a character who serves as a mirror, who will stick with audiences long after the movie or show ends? And if you’re a producer or director, how can you recognize a great character from a mediocre one through the written word? Lee Sternthal is a screenwriter, director and photographer who has written screenplays for every major studio, including TRON: LEGACY for Disney, as well as scripts for Johnny Depp, Mel Gibson and many others. His film, THE WORDS starring Bradley Cooper, Zoe Saldana and Jeremy Irons was an Official Sundance Film Festival selection and was later bought by CBS Films. Lee is a Sundance Institute Fellow, and his work has appeared on The Black List. Through his writing career, Lee has spent more time than most considering the art of character and using that to aid his own career, as well as writers he continues to mentor and champion. Lee will walk you through the power of character and how to create great characters for your own project. He’ll begin by discussing why exactly characters are so vital to story and will teach you the key differences between a TV character and a film character. Next he will give you a brief history of character in storytelling and reveal the one fictional character from history that all other characters draw from. Lee will then discuss the difference between heroes and anti-heroes, as well as help you determine which of your characters is the driver and which are the riders. He’ll then delve into the art of a great antagonist and why an interesting adversary is so crucial to a successful story. Lee will help you frame your story through the clarity of need, both in character and in story. Next Lee will go over the classic Hero’s Journey and slightly re-imagine it for modern times. He will give you strategies and exercises to better understand and develop your own characters, including his “What’s Their God?” and “Changing A Flat Tire” games. He’ll then teach you the concept of revealing character through behavior and hiding character with words. Next Lee will delve into the idea of how your characters fit into your world, including how the environment might change your character. He’ll teach you the Shakespearean approach to character and compare it to the Balzacian approach, and will also discuss the difference between neuroticism and human comedy. Finally Lee will go over the dance between plot and character, illustrating how the two should work with and against each other to create a feedback loop that’s necessary for any great script. Praise for Lee’s Webinar “Great insight. Really helped me in moving forward.” -Martin R. “I really enjoyed Lee's perspective on script writing. The examples he provided were very helpful. I'm very appreciative that he would share his knowledge, some of his techniques and be so generous with his encouragement.” -Simone L. “Lee had a great way of explaining how to get a feel for the character and why they have the traits they do. Lee did a great job of covering a lot of character related topics which I am glad I have been exposed to.” -Karl H.
Ask any executive where most screenplays go wrong and they'll tell you it's in the 2nd act. That's because many screenwriters type FADE IN knowing their opening (Act I) and closing (Act III) inside out, but haven't thought through how to bridge the gap (Act II). How many times have you watched a film and thought that it dragged in the middle? It happens more often than you think. Introducing a great concept and fantastic, deeply drawn characters is, of course, a staple of Act I, but the Second Act is where the heart of the narrative happens and where momentum must be found. Your Second Act must propel you through to the climatic Third Act. If your Second Act stalls, anyone reading your material will likely quit right there and then. As a 10+ year executive and producer, Jason Mirch has read (or partially read, when things go bad) thousands of screenplays. He's also been involved in some of the most successful films of the last 10 years including THE HELP, THE BEST MARIGOLD HOTEL, FLIGHT and more. Jason has taught for Stage 32 for 6 years and now serves as our Director of Script Services. There are few that know story and story structure better. In this webinar, Jason will explain the common pitfalls and why so many Second Acts fail. You will learn techniques for crafting dialogue that moves the narrative forward, while exposing their characters’ flaws. You will learn how to carefully order their scenes in such a way that it creates a series of authentic and escalating obstacles for their characters to overcome. He will identify and explain key plot points that typically exist in a well-written Second Act, and explain how you can use these as guidelines for their own projects. Jason will be citing specific examples from films in several different genres as well as providing you tools to apply to your own writing.