Maren Olson works in the film finance department for CAA. Prior to joining CAA, Maren was the President of Traction Media, where she was responsible for the creative development, packaging, production, financing and sale of independent films. Olson has represented domestic and/or worldwide distribution rights to over 70 finished films, including Academy Award winner The Secret in Their Eyes, festival favorites such as An Oversimplification of Her Beauty, Natural Selection and Red Flag, and Sundance Audience Award winners This is Martin Bonner, Valley of Saints and Kinyarwanda. As a producer, she was responsible for critically lauded Short Term 12, which premiered at the 2013 SXSW Film Festival, where it won both the Grand Jury and Audience Awards. The film went on to win 19 other awards including the Gotham Award for Best Actress and Independent Spirit Award for Best Editing. Her production, Ava’s Possessions, premiered at the 2015 SXSW Film Festival. Ava’s Possessions, written and directed by Jordan Galland, follows a girl who is recovering from demonic possession. Olson has worked with Galland twice previously, having represented domestic distribution rights to his first two feature films, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Undead and Alter Egos. Additional projects include true-life gangster story The Wannabe, starring Vincent Piazza and Patricia Arquette, which premiered at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival, and post-apocalyptic drama Orion, starring David Arquette and Lily Cole, both of which she executive produced. Olson’s previous industry experience includes working in script development for producer Lawrence Bender (Kill Bill, Good Will Hunting, Pulp Fiction). She graduated from the University of Southern California School of Cinema-Television with a B.A. in Film Production and a minor in Business. Full Bio »
It seems like every day another film festival launches or expands. Specialty festivals are becoming all the rage and major, established festivals have been expanding to accept shorts, digital shorts, documentaries, television pilots, specialty genre content and content focused on diversity. With the market growing, so are the number of submissions to any given festival, especially those which are producing results for the connections of the accepted films. You want to make sure your screenplay is on point, that the story is a fit for the style of the festival you are entering and that the film grabs a judge's attention from the get go. Part of assuring you have a festival darling film is understanding the festival landscape, knowing the right players and making connections that assure your film is being viewed by the decision makers.
But this all starts, as it always does, with the script. A majority of screenwriters do not write big budget tentpole blockbusters. They tell more intimate, character driven stories. And these are the kind of stories that most festivals adore. But why do some of these scripts attract financing, producers, and, ultimately, the attention of festival directors while others fall through the cracks? As a writer and/or producer, how can you identify the aspects of your screenplay that might be killing your chances of festival success and fix them before filming begins? And how can filmmakers and producers assure, even if they have a winning film based on a fantastic script in place, that they are entering the right festivals and navigating the circuit correctly? There is a chemistry to all of it. A mixture of the creative and the business side of things. It's imperative that you have an understanding of both.
Maren Olson has represented domestic and/or worldwide distribution rights to over 70 finished films, including Academy Award winner The Secret in Their Eyes, festival favorites such as An Oversimplification of Her Beauty, Natural Selection and Red Flag, and Sundance Audience Award winners This is Martin Bonner, Valley of Saints and Kinyarwanda. As a producer, she was responsible for critically lauded Short Term 12, which premiered at the 2013 SXSW Film Festival, where it won both the Grand Jury and Audience Awards. The film went on to win 19 other awards including the Gotham Award for Best Actress and Independent Spirit Award for Best Editing. Maren currently works in the film finance division of CAA, and was formerly the President of Traction Media, where she was responsible for the creative development, packaging, production, financing and sale of independent films. To say she understands all the ins and outs of the festival circuit, what festivals look for and how they operate would be a massive understatement.
Maren will teach you what kind of independent film project goes on to become a “Festival Darling” and what you can do to better position your independent film for festival success, from script to screen. She will deconstruct both the writing stage- from the major components of a festival-friendly story idea, to what to consider regarding location and characters, all the way to how to incorporate thinking about the budget when writing your script- as well as the production stage – from how to make sure your film gets properly considered by the right people, to which festivals you should submit to and when, all the way to the common ways festival friendly scripts turn into a film that no festival wants to play. She will teach you the 3 components of a festival-friendly story idea and why you must answer yes to each. She will talk budget, shooting locations and when the proper time is to bring on a producer. She will explain the mistakes people make and demystify the myths people believe when navigating the festival circuit. She will go over common pitfalls screenwriters, filmmakers and producers make that can be fatal when submitting to festivals.
Maren will give you the tools to get traction on your project. She will lay out, in clear, precise terms, how to assure your project is given the best opportunity to become a "Festival Darling."
"Excellent - informative. Maren brought facts and experience to a very nuanced subject about "Film Festival Darlings - offering an extremely in-depth analysis to the elements of what a writer or producer should consider when moving forward in the Indie film world. My fav Stage 32 webinar so far. Thanks."
- Robert G.
"Fantastic seminar. Like a good filmmaker, you kept us engaged from opening to close. Thanks again!"
- Bob B.
"Maren had a lot of practical information and road trap warning for indies. I appreciated the components of a festival face, comps, and specific advice that is useful."
- Betty S.
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.
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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 audio recording, which you can view as many times as you'd like for a whole year!
"Excellent - informative. Maren brought facts and experience to a very nuanced subject about "Film Festival Darlings - offering an extremely in-depth analysis to the elements of what a writer or producer should consider when moving forward in the Indie film world. My fav Stage 32 webinar so far. Thanks." - Robert G.
"Fantastic seminar. Like a good filmmaker, you kept us engaged from opening to close. Thanks again!" - Bob B.
"Maren had a lot of practical information and road trap warning for indies. I appreciated the components of a festival face, comps, and specific advice that is useful." - Betty S.
"I have taken a lot of screenwriting classes but Maren gave me some new insights and understanding. The information was very relevant and helpful. She covered an extensive amount of information for the amount of time she was given. Thank you." - Janet L.
"Great webinar! Great to hear Sales Agent perspective - very helpful in developing films." - Ron H.
In the world of independent film and TV, productions are increasingly crossing borders in search of funding, locations and ultimately a wider audience. But the difference between a successful international co-production and an international road-crash often lies in the details of choice of partners, structures and creative material. In this exclusive Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, Brendan Foley, an international producer (11 countries), writer and director with award winning feature films, TV series and best-selling books to his credit, will give an in-depth look at the pros and cons of international co-production. You will learn about different types of producing partners - creative, financial, public and private. You will also learn when co-producing makes sense for you or your project and when it should be avoided. You will leave this webinar with an understanding of not only what makes an international co-production work, but how to look for producing partners, co-funders and how to protect yourself and your project along the way. This seminar is useful to Producers considering a co-production as well as writers, actors and directors who feel their talent or material would work best on an international scale. PLUS - Brendan will have on two special guests: Ronni Coulter, SVP Business Affairs Sony Animation and top European co-producer Lars Hermann (CEO Copenhagen Film Festival and Danish state broadcaster DR, former Nordisk, Filmfyn Film Fund,) Special Guests: Ronni Coulter (SVP Business Affairs Sony Animation) Lars Hermann (Copenhagen Film Festival)
Stop wasting money! Make no mistake, entering film festivals should be part of the overall strategy for just about any independent filmmaker or producer. There is tremendous value in getting in the right film festival, perhaps more than ever before. So how do you not only identify the best festivals for your film, but assure you give yourself the best chance of being selected? Get the answers from a producer of over 35 independent films and a veteran of the festival circuit. With so many film festivals popping up year over year and many of the major festivals turning to higher profile projects, navigating which festivals to spend your dollars on can be daunting. Unfortunately, many filmmakers and producers today are overspending on festival submissions (or entering as many as possible) so they can say they've made it into something. This is an approach that can not only leave you light in the wallet, but can also put your film, the one you spent so much time and effort into, in a position to be branded incorrectly and actually hurting its chances of success. Aimee Schoof has produced over 35 films, many of which have played at some of the most prestigious film festivals in the world. But many others have played at festivals that may not have the marquee names, but proved correct for the content. By using this approach, Aimee and her producing partner have scored lucrative deals and distribution opportunities. If you've seen Aimee's other Stage 32 webinars, you know she brings energy and knowledge to spare. She will teach you everything you need to know about where to submit, but also approaches on how to give your film the best chance of standing out from the crowd. She will also demystify and destroy some of the "false truths" that have become part of submitting for festivals (YES, you can submit a rough cut!) She'll tackle how to get press, how to run your social media, how to get your team involved, and much more, all in the name of getting your film seen and, ultimately, the attention it deserves. This is a blueprint that will have you saving money, making it into more festivals, and smiling from ear to ear while walking the red carpet. Like what you heard from Aimee during this webinar? Send her your script and speak with her for an hour by clicking here. I've taken many Stage 32 webinars and they've all been wonderful, but Aimee's had me ready to run through a wall! So much thoughtful and intelligent information! - Debra S.
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.
Think about the classic images of a director—sitting in a canvas chair, making a frame with your fingers and thumbs, yelling ‘action’ or ‘cut’. None of those things could even come up when you’re directing for animation, though. Honesty, the job of an animation television director doesn’t even exist within the public lexicon. If you’re not already directly within the television animation industry, you might not even have a basic sense of what goes into this line of work. Yet the role of an animation director is very real and getting to this level on an animated television show can be rewarding and lucrative. Top animated shows like THE SIMPSONS, BOB’S BURGERS, BOJACK HORSEMAN, PEPPA PIG and RICK AND MORTY succeed because of the top directing talent at the helm. If you’re a writer, an artist, an illustrator, a storyboard artist, a director or just passionate about animated television, there is a path forward to get into this landscape and work towards directing episodes of your dream animated show. But it might help to have a blueprint to get there, understand how the world of animated TV works, how people become directors within this world, and what directors actually do. Veteran director Mike Disa is here to offer you this very opportunity. Mike Disa is the director of the hit Netflix series PARADISE PD and has been in the animation industry for over twenty-five years. Mike found success working with studios such as Dreamworks, Disney, Warner Bros., Paramount, and many others. Over a fascinating career, Mike has worked with some of the greatest and most infamous people in Hollywood including Steven Spielberg, Eric Goldberg, Ralph Bakshi, Glenn Close, Steve Oedekerk, David Tennant, Amy Poehler, Adam Sandler, Jeffery Katzenberg and Roy Disney. Mike Disa has extensive knowledge of countless facets of animated TV and film. Mike will give you the nuts and bolts on the overall landscape and the details of what it takes to direct for animated TV. Mike will begin by discussing what it actually is that a TV animation director does and how it differs from other types of directing. He’ll go over the relationship between storyboarding and directing and one can, but doesn’t necessarily, lead to the other. He’ll discuss the how to be successful, valuable, and noticed while working on animated TV and how that will differ at an indie company compared to a larger studio. Mike will then walk you through the different types of animated TV, including children’s scripted, prime time scripted, anime, and premise-driven unscripted, and how the role and expectations of the director differ from one category to another. Next, Mike will delve into the general TV animation pipeline, the 9 steps you should expect from script to finished product. Mike will discuss the dangers of getting typecast within the animation world and how to navigate this tricky area. He will then walk you through 13 necessary skills you will need to learn and display in order to become a director and what skills might not be as important as you think. Mike will prepare you for the biggest challenges of this line of work and go through 5 common mistakes directors make. He’ll then discuss what sort of pathway there is to creating your own animated show and the way to make a lot of money in this line of work. He’ll finally give some practical advice on how to better succeed within the world of animation, including the benefits of getting an agent and the possibility of switching to live action down the line. Praise for Mike's Webinar "Mike is clear, insightful and conveys ideas and concepts very well. It was an excellent webinar!" -Jon P. "Mike Disa was amazingly generous with his time and information. And he was real. It doesn't get better than that. I'll be able to apply his insights and the information he shared immediately. I'm so glad I decided to participate." - Elizabeth A. "The webinar was excellent and very well paced. I truly appreciated the honesty and straightforwardness of the presenter. I learned a lot and look forward to the next one." - Jerry M. "Great information, Mike did an awesome job and I will look forward to his next webinar." - Diane M.
As you know, for a screenwriter, the best education comes from reading great screenplays. We're going to take it one step further. Our Director of Script Services, Jason Mirch, who has spent over 10 years as an executive and producer, is going to break down the Oscar Winning Screenplay GREEN BOOK and show why it works so well. Everyone signing up for this FREE webinar will receive the screenplay for GREEN BOOK to read and review. Then, during the webinar Jason will take you step by step as he examines the setups, beats and character arcs that make the script sing.
We all know that America is bursting with talented filmmakers. Are you an independent filmmaker, cinema or digital media student, D-I-Y filmmaker or videographer? Do you have great ideas, a few skills and few filmmaking friends? Maybe you can shoot a short movie, but can you finance one, find an audience to watch it, or promote and sell it? Raindance Film Festival Founder and social media maverick Elliot Grove comes to New York to bring a fresh look at breaking into the film industry to get your movie made and seen by others. Elliot has produced over 700 short films, 6 features and trained thousands of new and emerging filmmakers around the world. Discover how to use the Raindance method and social media to build audiences, source financing and screen films. CHARGE YOUR SMARTPHONES! Join @stage32 and @RaindanceNYC and #IndieFilmNYC for this information-packed one-day seminar. DOORS OPEN at 9:15 am.