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.
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"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.
It's an undeniable fact, we are living in a gold rush of comedy content featuring lead female characters. Just think about the major box office and streaming successes we've seen over the last few years. On the feature film side, you have movies such as Late Night, Girls Trip, What Men Want, Rough Night, Bad Moms, and Trainwreck to name a few. On the networks, premium cable channels, and streamers Fleabag, 2 Broke Girls, Mom, Glow, Russian Doll, Insecure, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt have drawn huge audiences and many have won major awards. Is it any wonder why development executives, managers, agents, producers and financiers are looking for writers who have the ability to write screenplays and teleplays featuring memorable and iconic female characters? There are many inroads to breaking and staying in the industry as a writer, but one of the most important factors is understanding what's hot in the marketplace. And right now, thanks to the massive buying power of the streaming platforms along with other major feature film and television production companies looking for comedies, it's never been a better time to understand how to write female driven comedies that pop. David Shecter has has been working in the industry in production, development, and as a writer for over a decade. David has written on many shows, including season 5 of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. His experience and success on that show landed David on the pilot of the CBS show. 2 Broke Girls where he worked his way up as a staff writer on the 6th and final season of the show. David is currently developing a female driven action comedy cop show, Lady Copped, with New Form and STX Entertainment. Most recently David was named one of the WGA TV Writer access honorees for his script For Worse. David will teach you everything he's learned about writing female driven comedies throughout his career. He will show you how to avoid the all to common cliches that seemingly find their way into every female driven script. He will show you why sex sells, but how to properly write sex and sexuality into your screenplay to make it unique. He will teach you the practice of gender flipping and role reversals. He will show you how you can bring a personal connection to your female characters no matter whether you're a male or female. He will show you how to examine your plot and your characters before you begin writing to make the process flow more smoothly. He will show you the difference between one dimensional vs multi-dimensional characters and how easy it is to fall into the former, but how important it is that you learn the latter. Finally, David will present a case study of his latest screenplay Lady Copped which is now in development with New Form and STX. Whether you're a feature or TV writer, you will learn all the important factors in writing a female driven comedy that will get you reads and attention. "Another incredible and insightful webinar presented by Stage 32. I have received notes on my screenplays in the past that my female characters fell into cliche. As a female, that pissed me off! But now I understand why and I'm already on the path to changing things for the better. Thank you, David, and bravo, Stage 32! -Melissa J. "Can men write female driven comedies? I often asked myself that question. I'm not any longer. Loved this presentation. - Kyle P.
The new wave of indie publishing has taken the book industry by storm. Previously unknown and/or unpublished authors are making a living—sometimes a prosperous living--by writing. Traditionally published authors are also developing hybrid careers, where they write for their publishers as well as self-publish. Some successful indie authors are also catching the attention of traditional publishers, who are acquiring their books. Screenwriters may struggle to find recognition for their work and make a living with their writing. Often screenwriters must have a “day” job in order to survive, which can leave little time and energy to pursue their dreams of success. Adapting screenplays into a books may produce extra income and recognition, as well as provide other benefits to a screenwriting career. In this Stage 32 Webinar, Debra Holland will discuss her journey from an unpublished author to a NY Times Bestselling author. In her six years of indie publishing, Debra has sold more than a million books and has made a six-figure income for the last five. She’ll introduce you to self-publishing, provide some tips for adapting your screenplays into books, cover basics to get you started in indie publishing, and help you consider whether self-publishing your screenplays as books might be conducive to your career as a screenwriter.
A hot topic of conversation in our current COVID-19 world is how film, television and new media productions will resume production safely and effectively. The entire entertainment legal landscape has changed as a result of the world’s pandemic. Producers, filmmakers, directors and crew need to think about protection before you can ever step on set to say “action.” It’s important to take a deeper look at the legal agreements that tie parties together on a project as we contemplate the future. Contract provisions that parties wrote off as “boring” or “boiler plate” will significantly change moving forward. It’s important you understand how this affects your project. You don’t want to get stuck with a production or financial nightmare if you’re not protected legally to move forward on your film, TV or new media project. There are five basic provisions in a legal contract that many dismissed as “boring boiler plate” that now will have significance moving forward. It’s important that you know the basic purpose of these provisions, why they are drafted and what purpose they serve for all parties. With each provision, you will need to know the impact and implications as it relates to COVID-19 and how these provisions will continue to change to comply with government and guilds, insurance coverage and mitigation of risk for both parties. You need to make sure to contemplate unlikely scenarios so that contracts are comprehensive to whatever may occur. Elsa Ramo is one of the top entertainment attorneys in the industry today and the managing partner of Ramo Law. Recently named to Variety’s 2019 “Dealmakers List,” Elsa Ramo has represented over 100 films and 50 television scripted and unscripted series in 2019 alone, including Emmy award-winning shows and films which debuted at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival.Her clients include Imagine Entertainment, FOX, Balboa Productions (Sylvester Stallone’s production company), Scout Productions (creators and EPs of QUEER EYE), Boardwalk Pictures (EPs for CHEF’S TABLE) and Skydance. Elsa has her finger on the pulse of the legal side of the entertainment law and works non-stop to protect her clients in all deals. Elsa will go through the nuts and bolts of contractual provisions in the entertainment industry and a walk through of how these should and will change due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Elsa will start by offering a basic understanding of five contractual provisions that are now much more important in the wake of the pandemic: Force majeure, suspension/termination provisions, assumption of risk and related indemnification provisions, medical releases and disclosures, and scheduling and payment provisions. She’ll discuss why they are drafted and what purpose they serve among the parties. Then, with each provision, she will discuss the impact and implications as it relates to Covid-19 and how these provisions are and will continue to change to comply with government compliance, guild compliance insurance coverage and mitigation of risk for both parties as they contract during a pandemic. Elsa will distill what we can learn from changing these ‘boring provisions’ that we can apply to better prepare ourselves for future unlikely scenarios and ensure contracts are comprehensive to whatever may occur. Finally, Elsa will teach you how to flag and ensure that the modifications placed on these contracts comply with government legislation, union compliance, and other worst-case scenarios.You will be fully prepared to understand how “boring boiler plate” provisions can affect your project and how to best protect yourself. Praise for Elsa’s Stage 32 Webinar: "This was one of the best webinars I have taken so far. Thank you again. I look forward to the next one!" -Romina S. "Awesome presentation - great speaker, made complicated issues much clearer, lots of great info! Great info for anyone in the industry in all positions. Thanks!!" -Ron H. "This webinar was absolutely brilliant! Elsa is clearly a pro, but her manner was so calm and approachable. She didn't talk down to us and explained all these intricacies so that I believe everyone was able to understand them. Bravo! More Elsa Please!" -Becca G. "Elsa is always amazing and legal is always a fantastic topic, now more than ever!" -Lisa G.
As you know, independent film is enjoying a resurgence. Whereas a few years back, it seemed as if getting a low budget indie off the ground was a Herculean task, now, especially with the rise of Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Disney+ and other streaming platforms not only purchasing indie fare, but producing it on their own, lower budget independent films are back in high demand. However, to take advantage of the current gold rush, you must understand what makes an independent script attractive to managers, agents, producers, development execs, financiers and others in a position to greenlight your screenplay. For most writers focused strictly on the craft, the disconnect between a script that gets high marks for the writing, yet still has a problem drawing attention of managers and agents or finding a buyer, is a lack of knowledge as to the current marketplace. It is vital that you understand the creative and commercial realities of the business. Everything else streams from there including all the aspects that you will need in your screenplay to make it a no brainer for the aforementioned gatekeepers and decision makers to want to get involved with the project. With so many screenplays flooding the market, reps, producers, filmmakers, financiers want to choose those screenplays that already have the heavy lifting toward getting the script into production already figured out. James Kicklighter is a multi-award winning writer/director whose work has been recognized by the world’s press, including The Hollywood Reporter, The Times of India, Film Courage and FilmInk Australia. James began his career raising funds for numerous small budget short films, which allowed him to move into award-winning feature films. Most recently he directed The Sound of Identity about the first transgender woman ever to perform as Don Giovanni in a professional opera. The film is produced by Emmy Award-winning producers Russ Kirkpatrick & Andy Kinslow and executive producer Josh Bachove (Lizzie, Yoga Hosers, The Little Hours). James will teach you the ins and outs of writing a producible, low budget independent feature that will draw the right attention. He'll start by diving into the marketplace and how you can research, review, and understand the current landscape. He will then discuss how to choose material, create compelling, deep, and unique characters, and how to write using accessible locations. He will teach you how to optimize the screenplay for production, including some tips and tricks to help a filmmaker and/or producer understand how they can schedule efficiently just by reading the script. If you are looking to control your own material, James will even dive into how to attach talent and modify the script while in production. "James has style and class to spare. I've taken over 20 Stage 32 webinars and this was one of my favorites." - Theo K. "So much detail and so much information. Makes me look at my scripts in a whole new light." - Amanda D. "I've had so many screenplays that have received Consider or Recommend coverage from executives in this business, but I've never been able to get one of these screenplays launched and I could never understand why. Now I do. The writing is there, but the awareness to a producer's needs can be better. I'm on it. Thanks, James." - David V. "I learned something today. I want to produce my own work. Actually two things. I CAN produce my own work. This webinar was worth its weight in gold." - Martina S. "There’s nothing like listening to one who is passionate and educated on the craft of Filmmaking. James is a voice for aspiring filmmaker's ears. Thank you for the well outlined course.“ - Emeka M.
Making movies is filled with stressful moments and on-the-spot choices and decisions, all with a ticking clock. The last thing you want as a filmmaker in post production is to have to compromise your visual story because you didn’t get that one shot you needed. Yet this is incredibly common and one of the main reasons for reshoots, delays in a film’s release, and ultimately going over-budget. This is why having a full understanding of shot coverage and what constitutes the bare visual minimum for any type of scene is essential to making a compelling movie. Everything begins with a visual plan. But as a director, DP, AD, or script supervisor, how can you design shots before you have blocked a scene? How many shots do you actually need? And how do you know when it is time to move on when you are running out of filming time? It’s a difficult balance, but skillfully navigating when and when not to spend a few more precious moments on an unplanned shot separates wise filmmakers from the pack. It requires a vision, visual literacy in storytelling, and a willingness to communicate and collaborate with your coverage team while maintaining your role as visionary on the set. 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 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. Brenda has overseen shot coverage on countless films and television shows and knows how this process can save or destroy a project. Now she’ll share her experience with the Stage 32 community. Brenda will give essential and helpful tools to allow you to best prepare for your film or project’s production and ensure you get the footage you need the first time around. She’ll outline the different tools the directors have and the choices they have to make, including shot sizes, angles, lens choices and focus choices. She’ll next delve into the tools to use for successful shot coverage. She’ll explain how to build a strategic shot list and how to use storyboards and look books. She’ll explain how to collaborate with your core coverage team (the director, DP, script supervisor and AD) to ensure you’re getting the footage you need in the moment. Next, Brenda will give a deep dive into what to do to cover basic scenes, including dialogue scenes between two people, dialogue scenes with three or more people, walk and talk scenes, and interior car scenes. Finally, Brenda will offer a live case study by showing a scene from a notable film and reverse engineering the shot list to demonstrate how the filmmakers got the coverage they needed to make the scene work. With the tools and knowledge Brenda is providing, you’ll be able to attack your next production more strategically and ensure you wrap production with exactly what you need. "Loved the level of expertise. I often take webinars and find that I'm as knowledgeable as the instructor, but this one was exceptional." -Scott F.
Payment plans available - contact email@example.com for details Limited to 10 People - 2 Spots Remain With so many platforms and distributors looking for new projects to fill their libraries, now is the perfect time to make your low-budget feature. But before you can take a single shot, you need to know what it costs. A bad budget can break a production before it even starts, but an expertly made budget can lead to investors and opportunities. Before you go out to investors to finance your low-budget feature, you must know how much money you need and, more importantly, how you’re spending that money. This ensures you don’t undervalue your project, which sets up production to run out of money before you finish. To get the right sum for your project, you either have to spend money you don’t have yet to hire a line producer and schedule or build one yourself without any experience. But, what if you could not only have a budget and schedule ready for everything investors expect to see but also have an expert look it through to make sure you’ve got everything you need? What if a professional line producer who’s worked on hundreds of budgets could show you the ins and outs of budgets so that you know how to do it yourself for all of your projects? In this Stage 32 exclusive lab, you’ll go directly through your low-budget feature script with Chris Smith, a line producer, producer, and production manager with over a decade of experience. He’s also built over a hundred budgets for projects of every level and format. Over eight weeks, you’ll learn how to comb through your script to determine every line item you’ll need from pre-production through post. Chris has made over ten indie features, been an Executive in Charge of Production, created content for MTV, Cartoon Network, NatGeo, and NatGeo, and has overseen countless commercials, music videos, shorts, and more. Having worked his way up through production, Chris knows every crew role, rental and item in budget, as well as how important they each are. Over the course of his career, Chris has built over a hundred budgets for projects of every level and format. Chris will show you how to budget for: The schedule Above-the-line talent Every crewmember needed Rentals Locations Contingencies Production and accounting fees And so much more Using a limited class size, you’ll have the ability to work on your own budget and receive Chris’s invaluable experience, plus, see how these lessons adapt to each of your classmates’ projects. After every session, you’ll have an assignment to build on the information you’ve just learned and to practice while setting you up for the next session. You’ll also have access to handouts from Chris, featuring the budgets and schedules from professional productions to see exactly how the pros get it done. You’ll walk away with a budget, schedule, and the knowledge behind the choices you’ve made so that investors see you as a credible filmmaker and producer that they want to work with.