For over 25 years, Michael Mandaville has worked as a line producer on countless projects, ranging from shorts and independent features to large blockbusters like the TAKEN, TAKEN 2 and TAKEN 3 starring Liam Neeson. His other producing credits include HAVOC with Anne Hathaway, THE KISS with Terence Stamp and Billy Zane and AMERICAN HISTORY X with Edward Norton. In addition to producing, Michael has directed commercials, shorts, a documentary and industrial films. He has also worked on MANAHI, an Arabic language comedy which was the first film shown in Saudi Arabia in 35 years. Michael’s long history in the world of line production makes him the perfect person to speak to this industry, and he’s keen to share what he knows with the Stage 32 community. Full Bio »
It might not be as celebrated or widely known as the role of director or actor, but there is no way a film or project can get made without the work of a line producer. It’s the line producer who puts the pieces together to make sure a film can be made in the first place. The line producer creates the budget, assembles the crew, and builds out the schedule. This makes the work of the line producer vital because no matter the size of the project, it just can’t be complete without this day-to-day preparation. As a result, if you’re able to become an effective and shrewd line producer, it can be worth its weight in gold and offer you a lucrative and long-standing career in the film and TV industry.
The job of a line producer certainly involves its fair share of number crunching and pre-planning, but it doesn’t end there. A large part of the job is to understand the ‘path of compromise’, which is especially necessary in the independent film and indie streaming worlds. The director will often have may have a vision or demands that exceed the resources and funding available, and it’s up to the line producer to find the middle line and retain the artistic vision without going outside of the project’s financial means. This is no easy task, and excelling in this area is what separates the great line producers from the rest. But how do you develop this skill? And how can you break into the field of line producing in the first place?
For over 25 years, Michael Mandaville has worked as a line producer on countless projects, ranging from shorts and independent features to large blockbusters like the TAKEN, TAKEN 2 and TAKEN 3 starring Liam Neeson. His other producing credits include HAVOC with Anne Hathaway, THE KISS with Terence Stamp and Billy Zane and AMERICAN HISTORY X with Edward Norton. In addition to producing, Michael has directed commercials, shorts, a documentary and industrial films. He has also worked on MANAHI, an Arabic language comedy which was the first film shown in Saudi Arabia in 35 years. Michael’s long history in the world of line production makes him the perfect person to speak to this industry, and he’s keen to share what he knows with the Stage 32 community.
Michael will walk you through the role of line producer, how to find opportunities and how to best to succeed in this position. He will begin by explaining the reason for the line producer position and how it differs from the role of unit production manager. He’ll go through common challenges of the line producer and how best to overcome, including mastering the “Line Producer Mindset”. Next Michael will explain what the career pathway looks like for aspiring producers and how you can find opportunities in the microbudget, independent and studio worlds. Michael will dive deep into the line producing process, going into scheduling, budgeting, and dealing with rates. Finally he’ll provide tips on how to find work as a line producer.
Through Michael’s rundown, you’ll leave with a much clearer idea not only to how to find work as a line producer, but how to succeed and build a career for yourself once you do.
Q: What is the format of a webinar?
A: Stage 32 Next Level Webinars are typically 90-minute broadcasts that take place online using a designated software program from Stage 32.
Q: Do I have to be located in a specific location?
A: No, you can participate from the comfort of your own home using your personal computer! If you attend a live online webinar, you will be able to communicate directly with your instructor during the webinar.
Q: What are the system requirements?
A: You will need to meet the following system requirements in order to run the webinar software: Windows 7 or later Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) or later.
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Q: What if I cannot attend the live webinar?
A: If you attend a live online webinar, you will be able to communicate directly with your instructor during the webinar. If you cannot attend a live webinar and purchase an On-Demand webinar, you will have access to the entire recorded broadcast, including the Q&A.
Q: Will I have access to the webinar afterward to rewatch?
A: Yes! After the purchase of a live or On-Demand webinar, you will have on-demand access to the recording, which you can view as many times as you'd like for a whole year!
Creating a realistic budget can make or break a film before it ever makes it into production. Where should you spend? Where can you cut? How do you stretch your dollar? In short, how can you assure you're creating the highest quality film for the lowest price? Listen, not everyone can afford a line producer. And even if you can, you want to make sure he or she is protecting your vision and your money! Understanding this aspect of the business and how a film can be put together is everything! Let's make this complex aspect of filmmaking easier, shall we? Michael Madaville (Taken, Taken 2, Taken 3 to name a very few) is one of the most respected line producers in the business. Michael has created budgets from some of the most successful indie darlings, mid-majors and studio films in the business. And now, exclusively for Stage 32, he will take you by the hand, help you problem solve just about every issue that may arise, and help you toward financial success no matter what your budget may be. Using examples from his decades in the business, Michael will walk you through examples of micro to major budget films and discuss how to reduce costs for crew, locations, materials and more and how to apply that information to get your schedule tight and your budget to where it needs to be. No more chasing funds or getting caught short during filming! Michael will show you how to get on the path to a smooth shoot well before yelling "Action!"
One of the most critical and underappreciated roles necessary to make a film work is the script supervisor. This person is vital to helping a director achieve his or her vision and is one of the most important positions a director must choose for his or her team. A good script supervisor not only keeps track of script progress and continuity, but serves as the director’s trusted confidante. They save time, money, and are instrumental in helping a director achieve his or her creative goals. But for this to work, the relationship between these two roles needs to be solid. A director and script supervisor have an interesting and complex relationship. You can have a great script, a spectacular cast, the most talented cinematographer, production designer, and gorgeous costumes, but if your film doesn’t edit well, it will be a disappointment. A good, experienced script supervisor helps a director avoid missteps, gives them cinematic choices in the editing room, and becomes their narrative storytelling accomplice. A bad script supervisor can be a real nuisance, interrupt the creativity on a set, and fail to protect a director’s vision. It all comes down to understanding and communication. Forming the vital and promising relationship between a director and the right script supervisor will have a lasting, positive impact on the film. No matter the size of your film, mastering this complex relationship can make all the difference. Let’s explore how to make this work. Brenda Wachel is an accomplished and sought after script supervisor with over 30 years of experience and credits on some of the biggest films of all time, including JURASSIC PARK 3, OCTOBER SKY, BRIGHT, COLLATERAL, FURIOUS 7, and CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER. She has worked with countless directors like Paul Haggis, Joe Johnston, Michael Mann, David Ayer, Tim Robbins, and Terry Gilliam and continues to serve as script supervisor for upcoming projects like Netflix’s just released mockumentary feature DEATH TO 2020, written and directed by BLACK MIRROR’s Charlie Brooker and starring Hugh Grant, Samuel L. Jackson, and Lisa Kudrow. No one knows the role of script supervisor and how to find success through this position better than Brenda, and she’s prepared to share what she knows exclusively with the Stage 32 community. Brenda will break down the importance of a script supervisor throughout the process of making a film and demonstrate how to make the vital relationship between a director and script supervisor work. She will begin by delving into the job of a script supervisor and why they’re especially important to directors. She’ll also explain their duties during prep, filming, and post production. She’ll also explain why a script supervisor is necessary for films of all levels, from low budget features and shorts to big budget blockbusters. She’ll give tips on how to find the right script supervisor for your project as well. Next, Brenda will look at how to shape the relationship between a director and script supervisor including how to establish one and how to grow and maintain it. She will then teach you how best to communicate between these two roles and then go into how a script supervisor can help with the relationship between directors and actors. Finally Brenda will share the biggest lessons she’s learned in her storied career as a script supervisor. If you are a director preparing to start a new project in the new year, no matter the size, it’s imperative you have a good script supervisor on your side and a good relationship with them. Brenda will show you how to do this. “The role of a Script Supervisor is vital for any film production, but also often a misunderstood, under-utilized, and underappreciated one. Doing it well sometimes means being invisible. I’ve been on enough films and worked with enough different directors to know how much a good relationship between a director and script supervisor can elevate a film, and how much a film suffers when the relationship isn’t there. I am very excited to share my experiences with you and teach you what I know about being an invaluable script supervisor.” -Brenda Wachel
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.
In this 5-session online master class, learn from leading producer Jason Mirch, and his special industry guests on how to take an idea for a short film from concept all the way to post-production. Every successful filmmaker has, at some point in their career, written, directed, and/or produced a short film. For filmmakers who are just starting out, a short film is the best calling card to showcase their unique talent and vision. It is important to remember that short filmmaking is different from feature filmmaking, with challenges unique to the process. Even so, producing a short film may seem daunting, but there are several key secrets to getting the most out of your project. This intensive 5-week course will give students the tools and techniques necessary to produce a world class short film. Each week will be dedicated to a different aspect of the short filmmaking process, including, concept development and writing of your short, budgeting and scheduling, understanding and drafting production agreements, pro-tips on directing actors, and how to get the most out of the post production process. You are strongly encouraged to come with ideas for a short film, which will be developed over the course of the 5 weeks, so by the conclusion of the class, you should have a screenplay ready for production! Every week your host, Jason Mirch, will be bringing in special guests to help teach you, including: Christina Snider - Casting Associate, Susan Edelman Casting (Melrose Place, Malcolm in the Middle, Drop Dead Diva, Wonder Years) Michael Carney - Director (Same Kind of Different As Me) Brian Swanson - editor and sound designer Abeer Abu Schmeiss - Marketing Director, Image Nation (He Named Me Malala, Flight,The Help, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel)
The magnitude to which the television landscape has changed over the past few years really can’t be overstated. Traditional models have been shattered and the dominance of network and cable television has given way to the streamers. Just look at this year’s Emmys—Netflix shows received 160 nominations, compared to NBC, which received only 47. With the way paved by Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Video, the past few years have seen an explosion of streaming platforms and with it, new content and new opportunities for creatives to jump on board. The TV landscape has changed and continues to change, but most would agree: streaming is the place to be. Yet it’s not that simple, is it? With the world of television changing so quickly, it can feel like whiplash to keep up with everything. The world of streaming this year alone has seen new players (hello, Peacock) and others that have already fallen by the wayside (R.I.P., Quibi). Platforms continue to innovate and reinvent themselves to stay current and compete with their fellow networks, and as they change, so does what they’re looking for and how they look for it. If you’re a writer, producer, or creator working to get your television show on a streaming network, it’s hard to know where to start. There are always isolated articles in the trades as well as whatever you can find out through word of mouth, but what you might really need is for someone to lay it all out—what are the players right now, what content is performing well on their platforms, what are they looking for, and where are they headed? As luck would have it, Stage 32 has put this all together for you. Arielle Cohen is a Senior Manager in Strategy at NBCUniversal's streaming service Peacock, which launched this past July. In this role, Arielle works to grow and improve Peacock by researching what’s working and where the industry is headed. Arielle is also a Development Executive for Broadway Producer Eric Falkenstein's Spark Productions, whose Broadway credits include MOULIN ROUGE and TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. She is on the board of the Hollywood Radio and Television Society Associates, a member of TEDx Young Professionals, Women in Cable Television and Ladies of Comedy Association (LOCA). Through her work, Arielle has become a veritable expert in the world of streaming television and has a clearer view than most of where it’s headed. Arielle will provide a comprehensive look at the world of streaming TV today, focusing on who the major players are and what kind of content they are focused on. She’ll begin with an overall look at the television industry and how it has changed. She’ll also explain what the current streaming landscape looks like today. She’ll lay out the major players and how the recent additions of streamers have altered the ecosystem. She’ll also explain the difference between premium and ad-supported streamers. She will then offer strategies for you to determine which streamers could be the right fit for your project. Arielle will offer a deep dive into the seven biggest streamers today, going over their top performing shows and where they’re headed. She’ll do this for Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Peacock, Apple TV+, HBO Max and Disney +. She will next delve into where we are going from here, including new trends and developments we should expect to see and whether we can sustain so many streaming networks moving forward. Finally Arielle will offer suggestions of what streaming execs are looking for and suggestions for making your own project more interesting to them. You’ll leave with a much clearer and fuller picture of this quickly shifting industry.
Learn directly from Amanda Johnson-Zetterstrom, Producer and Independent Filmmaker (Short Term 12, Friends With Kids, It Follows)! In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar you will learn the answer to one of the most asked questions there is in regards to film: how to get a paying job. Whether you’re new to the industry, trying a different line of work, or getting back into the industry after a hiatus, it can feel like walking on to a minefield – it’s tough to know where to begin, how to get your foot in the door and how to get away from unpaid positions. Your host Amanda Johnson-Zetterstrom is here to explain how she got her start in the business, how she worked her way up to a Development Executive position, and give you detailed advice about how to navigate getting a paying job in the industry. You will leave the webinar knowing: If it makes sense for you to get an internship or not. What different jobs exist in the industry - and if they'll still be around in 5 years. How to get a paying job in the film industry rather than unpaid positions. How to write a great resume and cover letter. How much money you can expect to realistically make in different jobs - so you know how much to ask for. What makes the most sense for you, your interests, and your lifestyle when pursuing paid work in the film industry. Your host Amanda Johnson-Zetterstrom has spent the past 7 years working in the independent film industry in New York. She’s headed up development and production at Animal Kingdom, where she co-produced the multi-award winning Short Term 12 – and worked closely on projects like It Follows. She understands how to get a job – and is working exclusively with Stage 32 to share her know-how with you.