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.
With more and more content being created and more avenues for films to be seen, the overall distribution market is changing at a rapid pace. But, the classic in-theater experience is still alive and well – if you have the right type of film and you understand how tailor your approach to the market. Don't think for a second that your film is not a fit for theatrical distribution or that all theaters and screens are controlled by the studios. There still IS an opportunity for a film to be distributed to the US market in theaters. Independent film acquisitions with the intent to distribute in the US theatrical market still make up a profitable part of today’s film business. Unfortunately, many filmmakers aren’t aware of the elements a film must have to be considered for theatrical distribution. Understanding everything from where your content fits to how to put your film in the best position to be acquired is absolutely necessary in order for you to give your project the best chance to attract a buyer and give you the opportunity to have your masterpiece, the film you worked so hard to make, seen in a theater. Jason Resnick is the Executive Vice President of Acquisitions for Aviron Pictures and has had decades of experience in theatrical distribution on films of all budget levels. He Jason was formerly the GM of Worldwide Acquisitions for the Universal Pictures Group and in charge of all acquisitions for Universal, Focus Features, Rogue Pictures and Universal Home Entertainment. Now, exclusively for Stage 32, he'll go over what the current US theatrical market looks like for film acquisitions. And, it's more accessible than you think! To fully understand how the market has shifted and how the old thinking has become obsolete, Jason will break down the last 10 years of theatrical distribution to show you what's still working and what has dramatically changed. This information alone will give you a competitive advantage in the space and make you more attractive to buyers. He will also make you understand limited, wide, and day-and-date releases and identify the key players in each. He will show you the proper way to approach these reps and buyers so you stand out in a competitive market. Most importantly you will learn how a film is acquired for US theatrical release and what can hurt and help your chances of getting acquired. You will walk away knowing exactly makes your film look attractive for an acquisition for the US theatrical market. "I learned a lot. Really appreciate Jason's experience and expertise. Jason's presentation was considered, articulate, to the point and very informative. Was well worth the class fee." - Rebecca D.
Any producer can tell you just how much goes into creating a budget for a film. Layer after layer, projection after projection, contingency after contingency, it’s always an incredibly difficult, incredibly fragile, and incredibly intricate document that take an immense amount of work and care to put together. And with so many elements involved, it’s just too big and specialized for a program like Excel to handle. There is a reason why nearly every studio, producer, accountant and unit production manager utilizes Movie Magic Budgeting to write budgets. If you are in the position where you have been asked to create a budget, Movie Magic is absolutely essential. It is the easiest and cleanest budgeting program and can handle anything from shorts to multi-cam and single camera series to full features. It is both simple and deeply complex as you start getting into the minutiae of everything it can do. Yet a solid understanding of how to operate Movie Magic is a powerful tool in the arsenal of those looking to move up into management on either the show or studio level and might be a requirement for those looking to find success in their producing career. Rami Rank is a leading and sought-after producer with credits on shows including Amazon's GOLIATH, Showtime’s DEXTER, SWINGTOWN on CBS, HELP ME and HELP YOU on ABC, as well as features such as the remake of APRIL FOOL'S DAY. Beginning his career working on indie features as a Production Coordinator, Production Manager and Line Producer, Rami later joined Universal Studios where in addition to helping manage the Backlot and Stage Operations he also ran UVS-1, Universal’s Virtual Production business. Since then, he returned to production and continues to put together high profile films and series. Through his storied career, Rami has become intimately familiar with the inner workings of Movie Magic Budgeting and set to share what he knows exclusively with the Stage 32 community. Rami will give a full walkthrough of how to successfully use the Movie Magic Budgeting (MMB) software to put together a budget for your own film or series. He will begin by giving an overview of what the budget will look like on MMB, including the top sheet, the accounts, details, helpful shortcut keys, and understanding what amt, units, x, cur, and rate mean. Next he will talk you through how to set up a budget from scratch, including how to choose the right template, input budget info, and set up your header and footer. Rami will teach you how to set up and use different units and will then delve into globals, explaining what they are and how to create them. He’ll to through global groups, applying globals and changing globals. Then he will discuss fringes, explaining what they are in the context of MMB, and go over percentage fringes, flat rate fringes, applying and removing fringes, and setting the fringe account. He will also explain how groups work on MMB, why they are important, how to create them yourself, and how to turn them on and off. Next Rami will explain how to use the currency function and how to set up and build contractual fees. Finally Rami will break down additional basic functions of MMB including pagination, recalculation, and printing and PDF conversion. Movie Magic Budgeting can be an intimidating software, but Rami will give you an accessible and actionable walkthrough so you can have the tools and confidence to build your own budget with it. Rami will be operating from Movie Magic's Version 7.7, the Legacy version of its budgeting software, which is also the version that most professional producers currently use. Praise for Rami's Stage 32 Webinar "It was great, good presenter, very experienced, good communication" -Paul B. "Terrific host, valuable content." -Mark M. "Rami was great. He was entertaining, and showed he knew what he was teaching. Webinar flowed well and was engaging for the whole timeframe" -Nicholas B. "Very helpful, good overview of the software" -Angie L.
Development Exec from Rosey TV 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.
What an awesome Executive Hour to kick off 2020 with Development & Production Executive Sarah J. Cornelius of Whitewater Films. Despite fighting a cold, Sarah powered through and gave us some awesome insights about the business, the inside story of how their film, Standing Up, Falling Down came together with Billy Crystal, what she looks for in a screenwriter, and the best (and worst) advice she ever received in show business!
While the scene will be heavy with exposition, disguise the exposition in dialogue and conflict as much as possible. How does the character make the complex simple? What props does the person use? How does the character who receives the info react?
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, with mistletoe, tinsel, sleigh rides, and, of course, a boatload of new Christmas movies. Indeed, for millions of families across America and the world, appetite is high for new Christmas-themed content. Hallmark alone is premiering 40 (!!) new Christmas movies this holiday season. That’s on top of the 40 they produced in 2019. And Hallmark isn’t the only player in the Christmas movie game. Many other networks and streamers have entered this space like Netflix, Hulu, Lifetime, Freeform, Ion, OWN, and BET, to name a few. With so many networks and streaming platforms hungry for Christmas content, there has never been a better time for writers and producers to bring their own Christmas story to the screen. If you want to write or produce your own Christmas film, there are a lot of opportunities available to you, but you first need to understand what this space is currently looking like and how you can best fit in. Who’s buying and selling? What makes a Christmas themed script successful and how can you best produce and assemble your film to make it marketable, unique, and exciting? Better understanding the context and current landscape can give your own Yule tide project the success you’re looking for. James Crawford is a producer and development executive currently at Fireside Pictures with several holiday titles—and several dozen other pitched projects—under his belt. While at Engage Entertainment, James developed, sold, and produced seven movies to Hallmark Channel over three years, including THE ROOFTOP CHRISTMAS TREE, SLEIGH BELLS RING and A DECEMBER BRIDE. In addition to his feature production experience, James has developed several one-hour television series, pitching to EPiX, WGN America, Cinemax, and Universal Cable Productions, among others. James worked as Creative Executive at Cartel Entertainment, a television and film literary management and production company, and was responsible for identifying, developing, and pitching content for its first-look deal with Entertainment One, including the Stephen King novel The Regulators. At Cartel Entertainment, James developed pitches for Amazon, FX, Hulu, Netflix, Cinemax, UCP, and other major networks. James has a storied background as a producer and executive and is intimately familiar with what it takes to turn a script into a produced holiday film. James will teach you how to write and produce a successful Christmas movie in today’s industry. He’ll begin by going over the market and explaining who is buying and selling. He’ll also outline what stories are popular right now. He’ll then delve into tips for writing an effective Christmas movie, both TV movies and films. He’ll discuss aspects like screenplay format, plotting and structure, themes to lean into and avoid, diversity, characters, and what the holiday film essentials are. Next James will go over how to produce a Christmas movie. He’ll talk about what a successful budget range should be and when to start pitching. He’ll explain how to cast your movie for success and where to spend your money in production. Finally he will go over distribution options for your holiday film and whether it can sell outside of the US. If you’ve always wanted to make your own Christmas movie or have a story that you think could work within the holiday market, let James give you the lowdown you need to take the next steps toward holly jolly success. Praise for James's Past Stage 32 Webinar James was awesome. Clear, concise, and knowledgeable. -Stephen B. “James Crawford was very informative, and the way he brought the webinar across was entertaining and kept you engaged. I loved every bit of it! I hope he comes back for a round 2” -Imo C. Super helpful and very clear. Right to the point. Not full of anecdotes but actual teaching. -Helena W. “It was very informative in a practical way. James was great!” -Dave M.