How to Write, Produce, Shoot & Distribute Your Micro-budget Film

Micro-budget/ DIY / Indie Filmmakers
Hosted by Tatiana Kelly

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Tatiana Kelly

Webinar hosted by: Tatiana Kelly

Producer at Serena Films

Tatiana Kelly's first film Wristcutters: A Love Story starred Patrick Fugit, Shannyn Sossamon, Will Arnett, John Hawkes, Shea Whigham, and Tom Waits. It premiered at Sundance in 2006, was released by Lionsgate, earned two Independent Spirit Award nominations, was screened in over thirty film festivals, and was an eight-time Best Feature festival winner. Subsequent productions were Happiness Runs starring Rutger Hauer, Andie MacDowell, Shiloh Fernandez, and Jesse Plemons, Smother starring Steven Bauer and Taryn Manning, and Dark Yellow, starring Melora Walters and John Hawkes. Recent theatrical releases include The Words, which was the Closing Night film in 2012 at Sundance starring Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Irons, Dennis Quaid, Zoe Saldana, and Olivia Wilde, and The Procession, written and directed by Academy Award-nominated writer Robert Festinger (In The Bedroom), starring Lily Tomlin, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and Lucy Punch. Upcoming films include "Sunset Stories," which premiered at SXSW which starred Monique Curnen, Sung Kang, Joshua Leonard, Zosia Mamet with cameos by Jim Parsons and Kevin Bacon, "Amos' Wake" starring Shiloh Fernandez and Keisha Castle-Hughes, and "Perfection," based on the short film "Slice," which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. The film was a participant in IFP's Independent Filmmaker Lab, and winner of the Adrienne Shelly Female Directing Grant. Upcoming theatrical releases include "Life of a King" which premiered at the LA Film Festival starring Cuba Gooding Jr. Kelly is also on pre-production on "Cut Throat City" which she is producing with Reggie Hudlin ("Django Unchained") and which is being directed by RZA from the Wu Tang Clan, "Catcher Was a Spy" based on the New York Times bestseller of the same name, directed by Ben Lewin ("The Sessions") and written by Academy Award-nominated writer Robert Rodat ("Saving Private Ryan", "The Patriot", "Thor 2"), and "House of Curl" based on the bestselling book by the same name starring Guy Pearce and Laura Linney. She is also in development on projects with Academy Award-nominated writer Tab Murphy ("Gorillas in the Mist"), Ernesto Foronda ("Better Luck Tomorrow"), and companies including Lynda Obst Productions, CBS Studios, and Tribeca Productions. Full Bio »

Webinar Summary

Learn directly from Tatiana Kelly who has produced 12 independent films including Wristcutters: A Love Story and The Words (Bradley Cooper and Zoe Saldana), and The Procession.

The barrier of entry for the micro-budget / DIY / indie filmmaker has never been lower, making the landscape of independent film more exciting than ever. With box office and VOD sales at an all time high and more distribution opportunities than ever, independent films are enjoying a resurgence. Throw into the mix that many studios and larger production companies are committed to producing numerous micro-budget films each year (see Paramount Insurge) and independent producers such as Jason Blum (Blumhouse) have made a living in the space, and the demand for films with micro-budgets has never been higher. Additionally, many creatives are taking matters into their own hands by making micro-budget films as a calling card for their talents.

Some examples of micro-budget films include Napoleon Dynamite, Halloween, Clerks, The Blair Witch Project, Mad Max, Eraserhead, Open Water, Catfish, Saw, Once, Pi.

Story and style win the day as a result of the passion and dedication put into micro-budget films. If you are a screenwriter, producer, filmmaker or any other creative that values control of your story and film and has decided to write, develop, shoot or distribute a film in the micro-budget space, this is the webinar for you.

What You'll Learn

  • Why do a micro-budget film vs. the traditional studio/foreign sales driven route
  • Script development and creative plan to doing a micro-budget
  • Setting yourself up to succeed both from a production standpoint and in the marketplace
  • General approach to crewing up
  • How to make sure you’re buttoned up legally
  • Priorities during pre-production
  • Pitfalls to avoid throughout production
  • How to position your film prior to finishing it
  • Critical elements to have in place for distribution
  • Navigating the film festival circuit

About Your Instructor

Tatiana Kelly's first film Wristcutters: A Love Story starred Patrick Fugit, Shannyn Sossamon, Will Arnett, John Hawkes, Shea Whigham, and Tom Waits. It premiered at Sundance in 2006, was released by Lionsgate, earned two Independent Spirit Award nominations, was screened in over thirty film festivals, and was an eight-time Best Feature festival winner.

Subsequent productions were Happiness Runs starring Rutger Hauer, Andie MacDowell, Shiloh Fernandez, and Jesse Plemons, Smother starring Steven Bauer and Taryn Manning, and Dark Yellow, starring Melora Walters and John Hawkes.

Recent theatrical releases include The Words, which was the Closing Night film in 2012 at Sundance starring Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Irons, Dennis Quaid, Zoe Saldana, and Olivia Wilde, and The Procession, written and directed by Academy Award-nominated writer Robert Festinger (In The Bedroom), starring Lily Tomlin, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and Lucy Punch.

Upcoming films include "Sunset Stories," which premiered at SXSW which starred Monique Curnen, Sung Kang, Joshua Leonard, Zosia Mamet with cameos by Jim Parsons and Kevin Bacon, "Amos' Wake" starring Shiloh Fernandez and Keisha Castle-Hughes, and "Perfection," based on the short film "Slice," which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. The film was a participant in IFP's Independent Filmmaker Lab, and winner of the Adrienne Shelly Female Directing Grant. Upcoming theatrical releases include "Life of a King" which premiered at the LA Film Festival starring Cuba Gooding Jr.

Kelly is also on pre-production on "Cut Throat City" which she is producing with Reggie Hudlin ("Django Unchained") and which is being directed by RZA from the Wu Tang Clan, "Catcher Was a Spy" based on the New York Times bestseller of the same name, directed by Ben Lewin ("The Sessions") and written by Academy Award-nominated writer Robert Rodat ("Saving Private Ryan", "The Patriot", "Thor 2"), and "House of Curl" based on the bestselling book by the same name starring Guy Pearce and Laura Linney. She is also in development on projects with Academy Award-nominated writer Tab Murphy ("Gorillas in the Mist"), Ernesto Foronda ("Better Luck Tomorrow"), and companies including Lynda Obst Productions, CBS Studios, and Tribeca Productions.

FAQs

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.
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! 

Questions?

If you have a generic question about Stage 32 education you can take a look at our frequently asked questions section on our help page, or feel free to contact support with any other inquiries you might have.
 

Reviews Average Rating: 4.5 out of 5

  • The content might have been good. But the video quality was horrible preventing me from getting anything out of the video. When I complained I don't remember anyone caring or trying to get a watchable video to me. Thank you for asking.
  • Sounded very promising but did not deliver. Way too much overview and way too little detail. Maybe detail is impossible in this format but...If the info is not going to go in depth then the presentation should at least be professional. After the thousandth "ummm, you know" I was ready to shoot my computer screen. I know the presenter is a producer not an actor, but at least sound prepared. Rehearse your friggin power point slides so you actually sound like you know what you're talking about. Constant referrals to 'like I said yesterday...' were off putting. Did I miss the good stuff and this was just a quick and dirty 'reduced content' version designed to scrape off some more profit? I love Stage32 but I would never recommend this particular webinar. I will do a better job of vetting any other webinar or classes presented in this fashion before parting with even $39. You can all do better than this.

Other education that may be of interest to you:

How To Prepare A Film Budget

Learn directly from Host Tatiana Kelly, who has produced 12 independent films including The Words (Bradley Cooper and Zoe Saldana), Wristcutters: A Love Story and The Procession!  One of the most critical stages in filmmaking, once you have a script, is budgeting your film. The budget can cover everything from the inception of the project, such as writing fees and other development costs, all the way to the finished film and even film festival marketing. Whether the film is under $10,000 or over $10,000,000 the film budget must present a spending plan for every dollar to be expended on the production. You will need to have a budget that is detailed and accurate because it will serve as the road map and your bible for the project. It is also one of the key documents of your presentation that should be in place when seeking out investments. It is really the scope of the budget that will directly affect the amount of money needed to be raised. Creating a budget is not an easy task given that it can consist of hundreds of line items that have to be balanced across many different competing priorities. Both over and under estimating the budget can be disastrous in that you can either end up not having enough money to finish the film or you can have enough but it will be impossible for investors to recoup their financial investment. In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, host Tatiana Kelly will present a straightforward method of developing a working budget. She will discuss what some of the key questions are as well as the decisions that need to be made prior to embarking on a budget. There are certain primary elements of the film and the screenplay that may be necessary such as stunts or locations or cast in order to secure financing for example, and which will help start to build out the budget. She will also cover budgeting basics and review what all of the line items represent. Tatiana Kelly is an independent producer who has produced 12 independent films including Wristcutters: A Love Story, The Words (Bradley Cooper and Zoe Saldana), and The Procession. Tatiana is also on pre-production on "Cut Throat City" which she is producing with Reggie Hudlin ("Django Unchained") and which is being directed by RZA from the Wu Tang Clan, "Catcher Was a Spy" based on the New York Times bestseller of the same name, directed by Ben Lewin ("The Sessions") and written by Academy Award-nominated writer Robert Rodat ("Saving Private Ryan", "The Patriot", "Thor 2"), and "House of Curl" based on the bestselling book by the same name starring Guy Pearce and Laura Linney. She is also in development on projects with Academy Award-nominated writer Tab Murphy ("Gorillas in the Mist"), Ernesto Foronda ("Better Luck Tomorrow"), and companies including Lynda Obst Productions, CBS Studios, and Tribeca Productions.

The Pitch Tank with guest Jonathan Taub

Jonathan Taub - Talent & Literary Manager, Creative Executive with Cohn/Torgan Management

How To Sell Your Network, Cable or Streaming TV Series

It’s a dream of many to turn their idea for a television show into reality and actually sell their series to a network or company. And with so many shows constantly being created by more and more companies, this dream is coming true for more people all the time. As networks continue looking for new ideas, new voices, and diverse perspectives to fill up their slate, opportunities have never been greater to get your television show sold. And yet, it’s going to take more than a great idea and a great voice to get your TV series picked up. After the research, the writing, and development, there’s a lot you need to do if you want your series to get noticed and see the light of day. The truth is having a completed pilot is only half the battle. You also need to understand the current TV market and how to get that pilot seen. This can feel like a large or insurmountable task. Where do you even start? Do you call production companies? Hit up a studio? Perhaps reach out to a network? Do you need to attach a showrunner or an actor? How do you approach the next steps of trying to sell your show? These next steps aren’t easy, but there is a lot you can learn to better prepare you for the battle ahead. Conrad Sun is a Film & TV Literary Manager and Development Executive at Meridian Artists where he represents TV writers in all genres for shows such as BLINDSPOT, TWO BROKE GIRLS and BOJACK HORSEMAN. Conrad has also worked with foremost production companies like Epix, Hasbro Studios, Gran Via Productions (BREAKING BAD), New Wave Entertainment and Motion Theory Films. He knows what it takes to get a television show off the ground. Conrad will teach you exactly how you can sell your TV series. He will begin by describing the general TV landscape, including broadcast networks, basic cable, and premium cable. Then he’ll outline the players in the landscape and how they operate, including showrunners, production companies, studios and networks. He will walk through the three main seasons of broadcast network television—staffing, development, and pilot season. Conrad will share 4 approaches to setting up a TV show, which include format, pitches, original pilot, and intellectual property. Next he will delve into the concept of a TV package and how best to incorporate producers, showrunners, talent, and directors. Then he will outline how individuals get paid once a TV show is set up. He’ll explain the agent packaging fee, the producer fee, royalties, and residuals. Finally Conrad will pull the curtain back on the current marketplace and explain how many shows get bought vs. produced vs. aired vs. ordered to series. The TV landscape is murky, but Conrad will walk you through how it actually works and how you can navigate it to better your chances of getting your own television series sold.     Praise for Conrad's Stage 32 Webinar   “Terrific seminar worth 3 times the cost. You answered all my questions and some of them were stopping us from going to market within the next couple of weeks. We will do exactly what you recommended.” – Robert   "Amazing amount of practical information conveyed in a clear and concise way. Thanks for sharing this with us." – Dan R.   "Conrad you were so very informative, had absolutely great advice, information a person would need to understand, when going to a meeting for negotiations with studio executives. You covered most everything I wanted to ask. Thank you stage 32, this was the best webinar, I have taken. Thank You again, Conrad Sun." - Diane K.

Music Clearances 101: How to Secure Amazing Music for Your Film, TV or Digital Project

If you're a filmmaker, producer or any creative/professional looking to incorporate music into your film & television, advertising or digital project, you'll need to understand the basics steps of how to secure the rights for the music you desire to use. From well known hit songs from major recording artists, to indie bands, to public domain, to original compositions and cover songs of historical and iconic music hits, you need to be armed with all the knowledge of clearing the rights to that music for your project to protect yourself legally and in order for it to play at festivals, screen theatrically, stream on the internet or be released on DVD/VOD.  The memorable song you heard on the internet. You can't get it out of your head. You would so love to use it in your opening credits. Is it available to be used and licensed if you want to screen your film theatrically? What type of rights will you need to obtain if you plan on distributing your project globally? What about that jukebox song your editor temped into the background during one of your bar scenes - is that okay to use? And for how much will the licensing fee be for the rights you need? (You may just be surprised to the upside!) These are just some of the need to know details and nuances you need to know to be sure you can secure the music that can make or break your film, but also protect yourself legally. Anna Grannucci, a Los Angeles-based film producer and Yale School of Drama graduate who has more than a decade of experience working as the Music Supervisor on films such as WHIPLASH (nominated for 5 Academy Awards, winning 3), written and directed by Damian Chazelle, STICKY NOTES starring Ray Liotta, GHOST HOUSE, DIRTY, UZLA, KISS ME and many more. She currently owns song copyrights, and has become a beckoning music publisher which includes controlling the music rights to WHIPLASH. She has also recently collaborated with the Academy Award Winning Italian Maestro Ennio Morricone and his son Andrea Morricone on musical material for film in Rome, Italy. With her vast experience in producing and music, she is the go-to source when it comes to music clearances.    Anna will teach you a variety of valuable information starting with the types of other source music available for film, television, advertising, video games and every other digital media source, which also includes public domain music, royalty free, original composition, and score. You will learn how to gauge what songs are licensable or not for use in your film or project. Once you've chosen your music, you will learn music rights, the clearance process, the difference between festival, theatrical, DVD/VOD and advertising clearances and more!      You will have a clear understanding of how to obtain and clear music to assure the key moments in your project have the feel and sound you desire and make your film's soundtrack a memorable success!      

The Tools You Need to Transition to a Creative Career at Any Age

For as much information and exposure that is out there about the entertainment industry and how it works, it can still feel like a jungle. The politics are difficult to track, the gatekeepers are difficult to access, and there’s no clear blueprint for how to “make it”. Hollywood is overwhelming for everyone trying to break in. It’s hard to know where to start, how to make inroads, or how to build a reputation or career—these are universal. Yet for those trying to transition to a creative career from a different industry or later in life, these challenges can feel even steeper. It’s not uncommon to view Hollywood as a young person’s game. After all, many people who find a foothold in the industry only do so after putting in a lot of work as an underpaid assistant or PA, a trajectory that might be possible for people in their 20s but is a lot less feasible when you’re older. It can feel like there’s an expiration date for when you’re “allowed” to break into the entertainment industry, and at some point, the doors simply close. This doesn’t need to be the case, though, and there are many examples of people finding success later in life or after transitioning from a different industry altogether. In fact, there are big advantages to taking this step at this point in your life and upper hands that Hollywood lifers will never experience. Nonetheless, transitioning to a creative career later in life is not easy and presents unique challenges. But with a strong lay of the land and the proper tools under your belt, it’s a journey that is absolutely achievable. Frank Stiefel began making films at age 63 and then won an Academy Award at age 70. Formerly a TV commercial executive in New York, Frank decided later in life to pursue filmmaking. His directorial debut, the documentary short INGELORE about mother, a deaf Holocaust survivor, played in festivals around the country and was later broadcast on HBO. In 2012, Frank began shooting the artist Mindy Alper as she completed an epic sculpture of her psychiatrist. This turned into his film HEAVEN IS A TRAFFIC JAM ON THE 405, which went on to win the Jury and Audience prizes at the Austin Film Festival and Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. It was a nominee for Best Documentary Short Subject film at the International Documentary Association and earned Frank the Oscar at the 90th Academy Awards. Frank has found incredible success transitioning to a creative career later in life and is excited to reveal what he’s learned on his journey exclusively with the Stage 32 community. Using his own story and path to success, Frank will discuss how he made the jump to filmmaking later in life, what he learned along the journey, and what lessons you can take along with you as you make your own transition. After giving a short history of his own career, Frank will use his first short film INGELORE as a case study to explain how to do research and take notes in the trenches. He’ll give you ideas of how to make something of your own on the cheap and resources you can draw from. He’ll explain how to form your own “band”, and find the tribe you need to break in, and will offer tips on how to run your project. Frank will then focus on preparing to make the transition to a new creative career. He’ll go over questions you should ask yourself before making the switch and how to form your plan. He will talk about how to better afford the transition and other pieces of advice you should consider before making the leap. He’ll also explain the most important thing he learned while making the transition. Next, Frank will focus on his Oscar-winning film HEAVEN IS A TRAFFIC JAM ON THE 405 and how it came to be. He’ll explain how it began without a plan and how it later transitioned to a plan. He’ll also use HEAVEN as an example to demonstrate how you can use your unique personal background to inform your project, as well as how to take criticism along the way. Frank will also discuss what he’s learned from his multiple festival runs and how he’s used it to win an Oscar, and what comes next after winning. Finally, Frank will break down how to make your own age and experience work in your favor while breaking in. Finding success in Hollywood is difficult, but Frank has done so by carving his own path. He will give you perspective, inspiration, and strategies so that you can do the same.   "I think I'm proof that it's possible for someone to find success in the entertainment industry at any point in their life and from any background, though it does take a little savvy and a whole lot of work. My hope is that you'll be able to use my story to help you out on your own transition." -Frank Stiefel

How to Write a Film Based Off an Original Idea or Comic Book Adaptation

To see a video sample of the class, see below! 3 part class taught by Jordan Barel, who works TV Coordinator for Verve Talent and Literary Agency! In the past four years, we have seen The Avengers, Batman Vs Superman, Deadpool, Captain America, Man of Steel, The Amazing Spider-Man, Guardians of the Galaxy, Iron Man, The X-Men, The Dark Knight and many other comics turned into major studio films that smash the box office. There is no doubt that there is a demand for super hero and comic-based stories. Have you found a comic that you think would make a great film? Have you ever read a Marvel or DC comic and thought “how did they screw up the movie so bad?” Do you have your own comic series that you think would make a hit movie? Do you dream of being a writer but don’t yet have your angle? Or do you want to write a Major Summer Tentpole based off an original idea? Stage 32 is excited to bring you the previously-recorded 3 part class: How to Write a Film Based Off an Original Idea or Comic Book Adaptation taught by Jordan Barel, who works in Development at Paul Scheer's company, Abominable Studios. Jordan gives you a how-to on translating comic books into film writing, and how to write a summer Tentpole based off an original idea. He covers everything from story structure and dialogue, from legal issues to pitch packets. Here's a sample of what to expect in this exciting Stage 32 Next Level Class: Purchasing gives you access to the previously-recorded live class. Although Jordan is no longer reviewing the assignments, we still encourage all listeners to participate.

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