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 »
In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar you will learn 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. Host Maren Olson 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. Maren brings over a decade of experience attending and winning film festivals worldwide to change your perspective on what it really takes to create that festival-friendly script, and ultimately a successful independent film.
Maren Olson works in the film finance division of CAA, and was formerlythe 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 34 other awards including the Gotham Award for Best Actress and Independent Spirit Award for Best Editing. Her 2015 production, Ava’s Possessions, premiered at the 2015 SXSW Film Festival.
The Production Stage
PLUS: An in-depth, recorded Q&A with Maren, an industry leading indie producer!
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!
"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.
This special fellowship season workshop will focus on the architecture of the dreaded fellowship submission materials! "In this competition driven town, Tawnya Bhattacharya is a breath of fresh air. She's smart, funny and extremely generous with her knowledge. I walked out of the workshop knowing exactly how to approach my Fellowship essays and bios - and I look forward to doing them. She made what I've previously viewed as a horrendous chore seem fun. If you haven't checked out a class, you should." - Lisanne Sartor (more testimonials below!) Your host, Tawnya Bhattacharya, an alumna of both NBC Writers on the Verge and the FOX Writers Intensive, is currently a writer/producer on Freeform's "Famous in Love," and has also written on TNT's “Perception," NBC's "The Night Shift, Lifetime's "The Client List," and "Fairly Legal" for USA with her writing partner, Ali Laventhol. Tawnya has also taught for the Disney|ABC Writing Program for the past two years. She is repped by ICM Partners, Heroes and Villains Entertainment and Morris Yorn. Over the years Tawyna has taught hundreds of writers on how to put together successful, winning bios & essays. In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, Tawnya will deconstruct successful fellowship bios & essays, analyze why they work, and help you articulate the symbiotic relationship between your life story and your brand as a writer in 500 words or less. Here's just some of the things we’ll cover: How your bios and essays serve your career, not just fellowships. What the program heads have to say about bios and essays. How you can mine Your Unique Story and stand out. Dos and Don’ts. Examples from Winning Fellowship Candidates. Your Bio & Essay Checklist… and more! Q&A PLUS! You will get handouts: Mining your personal story Worksheet Bio Essay Statement of Purpose Checklist Actual examples of Fellowship winners essays & bios Bhattacharya’s company, Script Anatomy is a TV writing school taught solely by working TV writers and has launched the careers of many writers. Alum have been in every single Fellowship Program (including 5 in 2016/2017) and have sold pilots and staffed on shows such as American Crime, The Handmaid’s Tale, Chicago Justice, The Blacklist, Blindspot, The 100 and more… For more info about Script Anatomy, visit www.scriptanatomy.com
Learn directly from Heather Hale, Independent Film and TV Producer and Director who is vetted to pitch projects to NBC Universal and whose 50 hours of television have won Emmys, Tellys and Ace Awards as well as "Best New Series Pilot"! Our industry has changed dramatically - and it continues to evolve. This webinar will help you strategize how to find the best points of entry for your projects in the overlapping but distinct media marketplaces. Learn time-proven techniques and new resources to proactively brainstorm the right attachments and elements for your project. Learn how to identify, research and prioritize a finely honed hit list of marquis-value actors appropriate for not only the roles – but your budget and genre; bankable, "gettable" directors that will do justice to your project's sensibilities; legitimate financiers and distributors proficient in your niche and the brands that are eager to hit your target demographics. Figure out how to track them all down, strategize the best approaches to get on their radars and develop the kind of materials and pitches they will most likely respond to. Heather uses in-the-trenches humor, candor and real world examples to illuminate the many paths to getting a project up onto the big (or little) screen.
You’re a writer who is struggling with crafting believable dialogue. You’re a director looking for the greater meaning in a scene. You’re an actor trying to connect with what a character is feeling. Subtext is the backbone of emotion in any story, regardless of what genre you’re working in. It also helps to separate great scripts from not so great scripts. In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, filmmaker Steve Desmond will help you to craft engaging subtext to layer your stories with nuance and emotion. Whether you’re going for laughs, drama, or impending fear, he’ll help you to make your screenplay feel more true to life. For directors or actors working with existing scripts, this webinar will help you to dig deeper below the surface to find the true lifeblood beneath a line. For producers, we’ll discuss tips on how to work with writers to make their subtext come alive. Whether you’re a writer, a director, an actor, or a producer, subtext is a major part of your game and this webinar will help you add an entirely new layer to your projects.
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.
Learn directly from Franco Sama, 15-year expert of film financing and distribution, specifically in the $250K-$2M range, with 25+ successful independent feature films to his name, including Guns, Girls and Gambling (Gary Oldman, Christian Slater and Dane Cook) and Petunia (Thora Birch, Brittany Snow and Academy Award winner Christine Lahti)! For many independent producers, approaching financing for your project is one of the biggest challenges in the entire filmmaking process. How do you build your team, bring in development funds, attach name talent and work with rebates, sales estimates & distributors all while mitigating your financial risk? The goal is to make your project financially attractive to investors. There is a “sweet spot” film budget that is most likely going to help you raise funds and get the ROI your investors require. In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, producer and financing expert Franco Sama will teach you how to approach your film from the “investor’s point of view” so you can not only get the money you need for your project, but how your investors can get that money back. You will learn how to build a team around your project and who is crucial for that team, how to approach investors and above all how to protect your investor’s money. Drawing from his 15-years of experience, Franco will teach you how he gets his dozens of projects financed, distributed and turning a profit, and why he stays in the “sweet spot” range between $250K-$2M. You will leave this webinar with a clear understanding of how to produce and finance your project!
Learn the impact of film editing from international director/editor Max Leonida whose films have been screened and awarded at a range of festivals including the Sundance Film Festival, the Cannes Film Festival, the International Salerno Film Festival, the Columbia Gorge International Film Festival and the L.A. Short Films Festival, to name a few. “I love editing. I think I like it more than any other phase of filmmaking. If I wanted to be frivolous, I might say that everything that precedes editing is merely a way of producing film to edit.” (Stanley Kubrick) Some of the greatest, most iconic filmmakers of all times (like Scorsese, Hitchcock, Kubrick, Tarantino, Coppola, Lynch, Fellini, Gilliam and many others) used to spend hours, days and sometimes months into the dark secrecy of the editing room, sitting next to their faithful editor, enjoying the guilty pleasure of reshaping – over and over again – a world of their own. The post-production phase is the most critical one throughout the entire film production process… and editing, in particular, is a pivotal moment where as a filmmaker you should be able to understand that you are writing the final version and destiny of your movie. In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, international director/editor, Max Leonida will use his years of experience to give you a more profound knowledge of the artistic nature of the editing process, together with a clear, up-to-date and technical expertise about the most important digital editing systems on the market. Max's most recent films include Run (winner at 2013 MIFF and double winner at the 3D International Festival) and the feature film “What Separates Us”, Best Feature at the Machetanz Film Festival. Editing is not just a simple matter of pace, rhythm, and mere image composition: editing pertains to the core of storytelling itself. Every professional filmmaker knows that a closeup placed in the right place, at the right moment, can definitely chance the course of a narrative process. Editing includes re-defining the story, reconstructing the characters, reshaping the very structure to the point of even changing and re-dubbing the dialogue in a totally different way from the original script… all for the sake of beauty. And this webinar aims to give you these tools.