Zack Ward an actor, director, screenwriter and producer with 37 years in the industry. Launching his career with the role of Scut Farkus in the classic A Christmas Story, Zack's career spans the gamut of genres, from blockbusters like Transformers and Resident Evil: Apocalypse to edgy art films such as Trade and Oscar Winner Almost Famous to the slapstick action of Postal and the dark comedy cult hit Titus. Zack continues using his years of experience behind the camera having written, produced and directed feature films. Don’t Blink released in September 2014, starring Brian Austin Green and Mena Suvari was Zack’s first production. In 2015 he wrote and produced two features, acting in both and directing one. Restoration was his feature directorial debut released May 2016. The second feature, Bethany, will be released September 2016. Full Bio »
So you want to shoot a low budget feature film. You've heard everyone tell you how difficult it will be to raise the funds, secure talent, get through production and post, and most of all, what a pain in the ass time you'll have securing distribution and finding a path to profitability. But what if we told you that that's all BS? What if we told you there was not only a path to profitability, but that you could already be making money before you started shooting? Let 'em all say it's impossible. We're here to tell you show you how to get it done.
Low budget filmmaking has changed drastically over the last few years. From finding investors to attaching talent to having your pick of distribution channels, the landscape looks markedly different than at any time before. And in many ways, these shifts have proven to be quite advantageous to filmmakers, screenwriters, producers and financiers - if you know where to look and how to navigate.
Zach Ward has done just about everything in the film industry. Zach is a veteran producer, director, screenwriter and actor. You may remember him as Scut Farkus in A Christmas Story, but that was just the beginning. Zach has acted in over 100 films and been involved in dozens of others. Over his 3 decades in the industry, Zach experiences have allowed him to become an expert on the world of indie film. Over the last few years, Zach has produced 3 independent films and directed one more. His films Restoration and Ubiquity which he wrote, directed, acted in and produced are currently available on Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, Hulu, and for rental through Redbox. Ubiquity was made for only $75,000, was shot in 14 days - and - here's the kicker - was making money before he ever yelled "ACTION!"
How did Zach get it done? Well that's exactly what he's going to teach you. Zach will start by setting up some indie film guidelines including the 4 "P's" every filmmaker needs to live by in order to make a successful independent film. He will then discuss the triangle and the trinity which includes 3 more "P's" designed to help you hold the production together. From there, Zach will get into that subject everyone wants to know about - the money - including what to do if you have money and what to do if you don't. Then, Zach will dive into the script and what legal steps you need to take to protect yourself and keep your money in house and ready to be put to its proper use. At that point, you're ready to rock and Zach will show you how to prep, from table reading, script rewrites, location scouting, hiring cast & crew and everything that goes along with this process. During the production portion, Zach will cover production partner expectations, hiring decisions and how to keep the whole production on time and on budget (or even under budget). Zach will also lead you through the all important (and often misunderstood) world of post-production where films often go over budget. Finally, Zach will help you navigate the world of distribution deals and how to make sure you pick the right path so your project gets the widest audience and the largest profitability channels possible.
"Zack was great and was enthusiastic about sharing his knowledge. Loved every second."
"Zach was phenomenal. This was such rich information. He is the real deal."
"Best, most practically informative webinar I have taken on Stage 32. So good to have someone walk through the process giving so much valuable insights. Good to hear Zack talk about the importance of looking at a project from the business side. Thought this was most informative webinar yet. Zack was fantastic in detailing through various stages of film little things that had to be done."
"This was easily one of the most approachable How To sessions I've seen here. Advice given was rooted, did not include things only obtainable from within the system or resources that are unreasonable or unmanageable for starting/indie filmmakers."
"Zack was fantastic. Honest, open, helpful, informative. Loved the content and Zack!"
- Dave P.
INDIE FILM GUIDELINES
THE TRIANGLE & THE TRINITY
READY TO ROCK!
HARD PREP TO PRODUCTION
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 audio recording, which you can view as many times as you'd like for a whole year!
"Zack was great and was enthusiastic about sharing his knowledge. Loved every second." -Jonah A.
"Zack was great and his info very helpful." -Maurice B.
"Zach was phenomenal. This was such rich information. He is the real deal." -Debra S.
"He has been very helpful to the point!" -Merve T.
"Best, most practically informative webinar I have taken on Stage 32. So good to have someone walk through the process giving so much valuable insights. Good to hear Zack talk about the importance of looking at a project from the business side. Thought this was most informative webinar yet. Zack was fantastic in detailing through various stages of film little things that had to be done." -Andy S.
"This was easily one of the most approachable How To sessions I've seen here. Advice given was rooted, did not include things only obtainable from within the system or resources that are unreasonable or unmanageable for starting/indie filmmakers." -Shane Wheeler
"Zack was fantastic. Honest, open, helpful, informative. Loved the content and Zack!" -Dave P.
Learn directly from Development & Production Executive Jake Detharidge, a feature film executive that has recently made a splash into the mini-series space with projects set up at History Channel, Spike, and MGM! "Jake's feedback is so valuable. I enjoy every webinar and class Jake does. He's always informative and always presents information in a very smart and succinct way. Great webinars/classes..." - R. Canty "Seldom have I met execs in LA who know what they're talking about but don't throw around their ego. Jake loves the process, nice perspective with a positive spin." N. Kellis "This was one of the more beneficial seminars with current relative information in the industry. Really enjoyed it." - M. McLinn In this Stage 32 Webinar, host Jake Detharidge will first take you through a brief history of the ‘Mini Series’ in the US, along with analyzing the current television marketplace (Event Series vs. Limited Series vs. Mini Series), and why this platform is experiencing resurgence. After, Jake will break down the creative and development process for several different, current projects, to help you understand and identify the right stories, IP and general concepts that are viable right now. This will make up the bulk of the webinar, breaking down the creative/development/packaging process, in hopes that any and all who attend will leave with a formidable understanding of how they might create their very own compelling Mini-Series project. Don’t get confined to one narrative structure, feature or TV series, look for bold new ways to tell stories – the possibilities are endless! You Will Leave The Webinar Knowing: What exactly is a Mini-Series, versus a Limited Series and Event Series and why each is unique? Why did the ‘Mini-Series’ disappear for the most part from US television and why is it now making a strong comeback? What is the current landscape for this platform – the nuts and bolts. The major companies and players around town currently looking for these types of projects and what moves the needle for them. Narrative Basics – what and why certain stories, ideas and concepts are better suited for a mini-series versus the traditional feature film or scripted television series. What types of IP you should be looking for and how you can obtain the rights to potentially develop it. Developing – what goes into this step and exactly how much…or how little…do you need before trying to sell, and where to sell. Packaging – what the process is for a mini-series, and what elements you can attach to add value that are obtainable. Outside the box ideas!' Your host Jake Detharidge will take you through the realities and pitfalls of navigating the exciting resurgence of a classic narrative platform. Jakes comes primarily from a feature film background, but he recognized – along with the rest of the industry – the creative domination currently taking place in television and forged a way to put his skill sets to work. He has developed, packaged and set up half a dozen mini-series projects with more on the way. Through his unique viewpoint on narrative structure and current audience viewing trends, Jake believes the Mini-Series resurgence is only just beginning.
Learn directly from Simon Graham-Clare (Producer) and Ricky Margolis (VP) at Future Films USA (Over 200 films & TV shows financed and produced)! In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, Simon Graham-Clare and Ricky Margolis will demystify global tax incentives and highlight some of the many other factors to take into consideration when looking at different locations. They will look at current example incentives from around the world and also enlighten you on ways these incentives can trigger additional investment into your project. Filmmakers will learn more about international independent film financing and how tax incentives are a key element to the business plan and can open doors to a slew of potential partners, helping to plot a ‘road map’ to production. Writers will learn why they need to be thinking about the locations in which they set their stories, and how it affects the attractiveness of their scripts to producers and financiers. Having a clear understanding of today’s global tax incentives will leave your project looking more professional and further advanced, hopefully increasing your chances to move the project into production. Your hosts Simon Graham-Clare and Ricky Margolis are Producers at Future Films USA, having financed and produced over 200 films and TV shows! The Future Film Group was established in London in 2000 as a film financier, utilizing the expertise of its principals in both the entertainment and business worlds. They quickly established themselves on the UK scene through their involvement in films such as Bend it like Beckham (starring Keira Knightley), The Queen (starring Dame Helen Mirren) and Mrs. Henderson Presents (starring Dame Judi Dench and Bob Hoskins). At Future Films USA, Simon works as a producer, assessing film and television projects that Future Films might board to finance or produce. Ricky works in the role of Development Executive, continuing his work on the financing side whilst also becoming a more integrated part of the Future Film Group’s production activities.
We’ve found ourselves in a true “content gold rush” for television. Over 600 shows were greenlit last year and some industry experts are predicting we may see as many as 1,000 television shows greenlit per year by 2025. Much of the attention in recent years has been on streaming platforms, but it would be foolish to overlook network dramas that continue to not only draw huge crowds, but can stay on the air for many more seasons than their streaming counterparts (can you believe GREY’S ANATOMY has had 17 seasons??). Current ratings for shows like CBS’s EQUALIZER, FOX’s 9-1-1 and NBC’s CHICAGO P.D., CHICAGO FIRE and CHICAGO MED demonstrate just how wildly successful network dramas continue to be. If you’re looking for a long-running and lucrative TV writing career, network dramas could be a powerful opportunity. Now it’s just a matter of breaking in. The opportunities are plentiful and the prospects have never been more exciting, but if you want to write for network television you need to prove that you have the chops, and this means more than just writing a pilot script by yourself; it means that you can excel in a writers’ room, breaking story with the showrunner and fellow staff writers. TV story breaking is a wholly different process than solo writing and requires a separate skillset. It’s more collaborative, it’s more flexible, and it requires the ability to pitch and defend your ideas. The ability to thrive in a television writers’ room can allow you to find real longevity in your writing career and give you the opportunity to contribute to a lot of exciting new shows coming out of this gold rush. Kate Sargeant is an accomplished television writer with especially deep experience in network procedural dramas, writing over 100 episodes of network TV on shows like CASTLE, CSI: CYBER, NCIS: NEW ORLEANS and BLINDSPOT. Kate started her career as an actress at the age of eleven, starring as “Emily” in the cult classic film 3 NINJAS, directed by Jon Turteltaub. She has also written, directed, and produced a few of her passion projects including three short films: CHANGING LANES, FACING LIFE, and ANOTHER FOREIGN CONCEPT. In addition, Kate launched an original comedic series that she wrote, directed, and produced called YOU CAN’T DO THAT ON THE INTERNET about our obsession with social media. Most recently Kate served as a Supervising Producer on an upcoming one-hour drama for TBS entitled OBLITERATED. Over the course of this intimate six-week workshop, Kate will delve into the craft of the network procedural hour drama and then lead the class through a mock BLINDSPOT writers' room, where students will gain experience pitching A, B and C story ideas for BLINDSPOT, breaking the episode script, and then practice pitching acts to the showrunner. Through both Kate’s lessons and her leading of the writers’ room, you will gain direct, practical and real-world experience that you can take with you as you pursue your own television career. WHAT TO EXPECT **Kate will be available on email during the 6 class sessions to answer any questions you have.** This workshop is designed for working and aspiring TV writers of all levels looking to learn about network drama TV writing and how to pitch and work in a writers' room. This is an in-depth, practical, and detailed lab with significantly more content than a standard 90-minute webinar. This lab will consist of four sessions, each roughly two hours in duration. Sessions will vary between presentation style lessons and interactive mock writers' room sessions where all students will have the opportunity to participate. Plus, to stay motivated and inspired, you will have access to a private, dedicated Stage 32 Lounge where you can communicate with your fellow classmates throughout the process. To see the lab schedule, see below under "What You Will Learn". PLEASE NOTE: This exclusive Stage 32 lab is limited and will be booked on a first come, first served basis. The opportunity to work this closely and for this long with an experienced writer/producer and an expert in the field is an incredibly unique and valuable opportunity. If you are interested, please book quickly. Once the spots are gone, they’re gone for good.
So you’ve finally fleshed out your ideas for your next TV project and you’re off to the races developing your next screenplay. While working on your pilot, you’re constantly reminded of the one thing that every executive looks for: CHARACTER CHARACTER CHARACTER. Every executive says they want to read compelling characters. But what exactly does that mean? And how do you accomplish this? Literary Manager Conrad Sun represents TV writers in all genres for shows such as Blindspot, Two Broke Girls and Bojack Horseman and is a master at building character in scripts. In this top rated Stage 32 Next Level Webinar Conrad will teach you how to bring your characters to life and go from good to GREAT. You will learn empathy vs. sympathy and how the best characters invoke both feelings from your audience. Conrad will breakdown real-life examples from characters on shows such as Fargo, Orange is the New Black, Breaking Bad, The Sopranos and more. And, most importantly, you'll walk away learning how to apply character development to your own writing. This webinar is vital to help you strengthen your TV pilot!
***Lab spots filled - Join our TV writing lab next week with TV literary manager Spencer Robinson - learn more here*** You’ve heard the phrase “the content gold rush” get bandied about much these days, but as it relates to TV, it’s never been more true. Drama television is at it's peak with such iconic shows like OZARK, KILLING EVE, BETTER CALL SAUL, THIS IS US, THE HANDMAID'S TALE, MR. ROBOT, STRANGER THINGS, BLACK MIRROR, BIG LITTLE LIES and so much more. With the influx of networks and streaming platforms either moving into or expanding their original content libraries, the demand for dramatic TV ideas and pilots has never been greater. Thanks to streamers such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max and others, over 600 shows were greenlit last year and some industry experts are predicting we may see as many as 1,000 television shows greenlit per year by 2025. But not only is the quantity increasing, so is the quality, as companies are funneling an unprecedented amount of money, resources, marketing and talent into their shows. And the impact of COVID-19 is even having an impact that could benefit writers all over the world as many shows are planning to implement virtual writer’s rooms. In short, there has never been a better time to write for TV. Now it’s just a matter of breaking in. The opportunities are plentiful and the prospects have never been more exciting, but if you want to write dramatic television you need to prove that you have the chops, and to do that, you better come armed with a great pilot script sample. Something that shows that you have what it takes; something that shows that you understand the structure and craft that goes into a good teleplay; and something that shows off your own unique voice and sensibility. This is your calling card, your way in, the piece of material that will fire you off the launch pad. The intention of this lab is to help you create that piece of material that stands out, gets you the right meetings, and, ultimately, gets you representation, meetings with decision-makers, and/or a coveted seat in a writer’s room. Over the course of a 15+ year career, Anna Henry has read thousands of television scripts and worked with hundreds of writers. Anna began her career as a development executive at Nickelodeon, then crossed over to prime-time television working at CBS and ABC in drama development and programming before working in management and establishing herself as an independent producer. Anna was Head of Development at Andrea Simon Entertainment, a boutique literary management and production company representing writers and directors. Anna has set up projects at Sony, 20th Century Television, EOne, Starz, Amazon, Netflix, Corus, ITV America to name just some. Anna’s client credits include Netflix's SEVEN SECONDS; Starz' VIDA; BET’s IN CONTEMPT; HBO's THE DEUCE, BIG LOVE, and VINYL; Showtime's THE CHI; NBC's THIS IS US; The CW's JANE THE VIRGIN; DirecTV's KINGDOM, AMC’s FEAR THE WALKING DEAD; PBS' MERCY STREET; and more. Anna has taught numerous webinars, classes and writing labs for Stage 32. She remains one of our most popular and in demand educators. In this lab, she will be working directly with you in a class setting and also during one-on-one sessions with the goal of helping you write a fantastic, market-ready pilot. To do so, Anna will guide you through picking a concept, creating engaging characters, perfecting your structure, constructing an outline and, finally, writing your pilot. If you already have a concept or even a completed pilot, Anna will use the same tools to help you hone and sharpen your material. WHAT TO EXPECT By the end of this 8-week writing lab, you will have a completed drama television pilot script ready to be shown to reps, development execs and other executives and professionals. Sessions will vary between 2-hour group settings and personal one-on-one Skype meetings with Anna. You will be held accountable to take the lessons from each week and move your work forward. Plus, to keep you motivated and inspired, you will have access to a private, dedicated Stage 32 Lounge where you can communicate with your fellow classmates throughout the writing process. To see the full writing lab schedule, see below under "What You Will Learn". PLEASE NOTE: This exclusive Stage 32 lab is limited to 10 writers and will be booked on a first come, first served basis. The opportunity to work this closely and for this long with an executive and an expert in the field is an incredibly unique and valuable opportunity. If you are interested, please do book quickly. Once the spots are gone, they’re gone for good. Payment plans are available - please contact Amanda at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information This lab is limited to 10 people ***Lab spots filled - Join our next TV writing lab with literary manager Spencer Robinson - learn more here*** This lab is designed for beginner and intermediate screenwriters looking to build a pilot from scratch or expand on an existing idea or polish an existing pilot. "My passion is helping writers make their work better. I’m not a screenwriter, so I don’t try to insert my voice into your work. With 20 years of experience as a development executive and literary manager, I consider myself to be your advocate and guide. I know the marketplace and know what will make your project successful. But my goal is to tell YOUR story in your voice. I don’t give vague “reviewer” notes, and I am brutally honest. If you want a cheerleader, I recommend you get notes from your friends. If you want to put in the work to elevate your writing, you’ve come to the right place." - Anna Henry Praise from Anna's previous Stage 32 writing labs: "Anna exceeded my expectations, both in terms of quality (and quantity) of information and overall value. Anna was personable, knowledgeable, and organized. Anna and Stage 32 delivered the goods." - John R. "What a thoughtful, thorough and inspiring class. Not only was the content there, but the structure was also superb. Thank you Anna for your genius and your generosity." - Crispin L. "Anna was so generous with her time, so knowledgeable, so encouraging...very grateful. It feels like there's a stronger wind at my back after that. Thank you!" - Michael L.
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.