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.
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.
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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 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.
Whether you’re leading the creative charge as a screenwriter, in the trenches a director or cinematographer, behind the scenes as a crew member, or in front of the camera as an actor being great at what you do is only part of your job. We at Stage 32 preach that 50% of your job is excelling at your craft, the other 50% is networking and understanding how the industry works. It's simply undeniable, those who commit to treating their networking and relationship building as their job and keep on top of what's happening in the industry land more meetings with decision makers who can make an impact on their career. But the goal is not just to get into the room, it's to stay in the room. And that means you need to know how to be good in the room. And with more and more meetings going virtual and online, you must know how to prepare and have the skills ready for those situations as well. General meetings are the first line of offense and defense for decision makers. As you know, most people in this industry - whether working in film, television or digital - want to find creatives and professionals they can go to war with time and time again. Their tribe. To become part of someone's tribe (and eventually form one of your own), you have to know how to nail the general meeting. It is crucial that you understand how to prepare. You must know who you're meeting with, what to wear, proper etiquette, the story of your project, the story of your personal brand (such an overlooked art), and know your pitch inside and out. Ultimately, you want to turn this general meeting into something much greater or assure that you're receiving a callback meeting. Their are many tried and true tricks for getting this done and we're going to bring them to you. Jeff Portnoy of Bellevue Management is one of the most revered managers working in the industry today. Jeff was recently named been named by Variety as one of Hollywood’s New Leaders in Management. Prior to joining Bellevue, Jeff worked at Creative Artists Agency, The Gotham Group, Resolution Talent Agency and Heretic Literary Management. Along the way he has sold and set up projects to New Line Cinema, Lionsgate, FOX, Screen Gems, Warner Bros. and more. Jeff has been on both sides of the table for hundreds of general meetings and has learned exactly what makes a meeting successful and where many go south – and he’s here to share the do's and don'ts with you, the Stage 32 community Jeff will teach you how to assure that you perform in your general meeting in a manner that makes you memorable. He will discuss everything from attire to how to carry yourself to how to make eye contact. He'll teach you how to prepare your pitch and convey it with the right amount of passion, charisma and energy. He’ll give you important guidelines on how and when you should talk in the conversation and help you understand if you’re talking too much or sending the wrong message. You’ll learn how to get notes from the other side of the table and how you should receive and respond to them. You will know the best way to pitch “you” and your brand so you stand out from other people taking general meetings with the same party. Jeff will teach you how to do research on the people and the company you are meeting with and how to use that information to your advantage (and not be creepy about it!) He will make you understand why the assistant and support staff can ultimately be your best ally. Finally, Jeff will go over the various types of meetings you’ll encounter in your career – from studios, production companies, managers, agents and networks and explain the differences so you’ll be fully prepared. "A wealth of information. Gave me a lot of things to think about - especially with the tips on reading the room. Your description of how to pitch myself and my story were game-changers. Off to practice now." - Sonia H. "What fabulous advice, Jeff, thank you!" - Greg M. "Yep, now I know why I haven't been securing a second meeting. I have seen the light and the err of my ways." - Veronica G "The dress code discussion was very helpful, I never knew what I should wear and now I do!" - John S.
ONE DAY ONLY! Live Online Webinar - September 12, 2017 In a rare online appearance and for the 2nd time Stage 32 is proud to bring back the award winning author and teacher Quincy Jones calls "Aristotle of our time" Robert McKee. Now, for the first time online with Stage 32 he'll be going over concepts from his latest book, STORYNOMICS! "You just don't get Robert McKee like this for this kind of price. Kudos to Stage 32 and thank you Mr. McKee" - Burton B.
As filmmakers, having your film stand out amidst the throng of weekly releases is no easy task. Oftentimes, you find yourself competing against studio releases and the multitude of small-to-mid-level distributors dropping a plethora of titles. This creates an influx of news that can make it feel impossible for an indie film to be noticed. Since a film’s success hinges so vitally upon a good marketing campaign, there has to be a plan from day one. In order to stand out, there are three things that you need to think about from the very beginning of your project: the assets you can create, the timeline of how you unroll those assets, and how to keep the publicity train chugging along up to and well after your film’s release. Writers and editors of genre and horror websites receive anywhere between 100-400 emails a day. A lot of messages that hit their inbox are automatically deleted because they look like every other press release that they simply don’t care about, don’t have the time for, or they know that their audiences aren’t going to be interested in. Yet with proper planning, you can figure out how to offer websites content on your film that they will be eager to write about, as well as create a lasting relationship for future projects from then on forward. Jonathan Barkan served as the Editor-in-Chief of Dread Central, one of the internet’s leading horror websites, where he spotlighted and championed countless independent horror films. He also served as acquisitions ambassador for DREAD Presents, a genre-centric distribution label under the banner of Epic Pictures Group. Before Dread Central, Jonathan served as the Managing Editor of Bloody Disgusting, another leading horror website. More recently, Jonathan joined forces with Epic Pictures’ Shaked Berenson to form the Horror Collective, where he serves as Vice President of Acquisitions and Distribution and finds and acquires genre titles for North American distribution as well as foreign sales. An internet personality, he has appeared on multiple podcasts and news segments to discuss the social and cultural significance of horror and his writing has been featured on sites such as Rotten Tomatoes, WatchMojo, Atom Tickets, Phantastiqa, ComingSoon.Net, and Shudder’s weekly newsletter The Bite. Through his extensive background, Jonathan has become a bona fide expert on the horror film industry and how independent genre filmmakers find success. Jonathan will teach you how to operate the horror and genre website landscape in order to get your genre film featured and form relationships critical to the marketing and ultimate success of your project. First, Jonathan will walk you through the assets you need to have leading up to your marketing campaign. He’ll show you what content you can create cheaply and efficiently during all stages of production, how to make it look good, how to think outside the box, and what the dreaded “curse of knowledge” is. Next Jonathan will explain how to unroll these assets, including working with your distributor (or yourself) to create a marketing plan, what to unveil and when, who to offer exclusives to, and how to get your cast and crew involved. He will give you tips of what to consider when submitting to film festivals, what to use to promote your premieres when you get accepted and what to hold onto, and how to use festivals as further promotion of your film. Then Jonathan will delve into how to get onto major outlets. He will teach you how to find contact information for writers, how to write emails for the greatest chance of success, and how to maintain a relationship that you can always rely upon. Finally, he will walk you through what to do after your movie has been released. He’ll teach you how to keep interest high moving forward and how you can keep on unveiling content. Standing out and getting your film noticed is always hard, especially in the world of horror, but Jonathan will give you practical and actionable tools to find success and your project the attention it needs. Praise for Jonathan's Stage 32 Webinar "Really valuable and interesting content and told very clearly, concisely and just very open and down to earth, really enjoyed this webinar 5 stars!" -Jaye A. "Excellent and thorough presentation." -Christopher B. "Great host, very insightful webinar." -Matt D. "The webinar and host were both great - lots of useful info" -Matthew L.
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)
Horror genre television series are now in demand in a BIG way. Many production companies and buyers are actively looking for stories that provide thrills, chills and scares. In recent years, we’ve seen a surge in developing and producing popular shows for cable, steamers and network television. Shows like AMC’s THE WALKING DEAD, A&E’s BATES MOTEL, Netflix’s THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE and BLY MANOR, FX’s AMERICAN HORROR STORY, and HBO’s LOVECRAFT COUNTY have been paving the way for a new era of high quality, diverse, and ambitious horror series unlike anything that’s ever been created before. And according to the ratings, the appetite for this TV genre only continues to grow. If you have ever thought about writing, producing or selling your own horror television series, now is the time. You want to capitalize on this hot genre if you have a horror project you're thinking about creating or if you're interested in going to market with one you already have. But even with this opportunity, you still need to have a dynamite show to present if you want to be noticed. That’s why it’s critical you have a clear understanding of your series, your story, your world and your characters to draw from. Building a strong foundation for your horror series is not easy, but if you can ace all of these elements, you may have just found your way in and the piece of material that will fire you off the launch pad. Let us give you the guidance to make your horror series as good as it can be and help you springboard your writing career. Kevin Nicklaus is a veteran development executive with a long tenure with the The Wolper Organization, which has a first-look deal with Warner Bros., including HBO, HBO Max, Warner Bros. features, and more. He has been integral to the early development and sales of BATES MOTEL for A&E, the Emmy-nominated ROOTS for History, STEPHEN KING'S SALEM'S LOT for TNT, THE MISTS OF AVALON for TNT, HELTER SKELTER for CBS, THE BAD SEED for Lifetime and more. Kevin has been active in the world of horror television for years now and knows better than most what it takes to get a scary series off the ground. Over the course of five weeks, you will work closely with Kevin in a virtual class setting to develop your horror series and build your pilot and series outlines in order to work towards a market-ready and standout show. Kevin will guide you through teasing out in on your idea based on the marketplace, sharpening your logline, breaking down your characters, outlining your first season and pilot and working in effective beginnings and endings. If you already have a concept, or even a completed pilot, Kevin will use the same tools to help you hone your material. Throughout the course of this exclusive online lab, you will have direct access to Kevin as a mentor by email and via video conferencing as you develop your horror series. Students who sign up for this lab with Kevin will be eligible to participate in a Level 2 Lab where Kevin will work with you on putting together your pitch documents and developing your pitch! WHAT TO EXPECT This lab is designed for writers and creators of all levels looking to get their horror TV project ready to put together. This is an in-depth, practical, and detailed lab with significantly more content than a standard 90-minute webinar. By the end of this 5-week writing lab, you will have a sharpened, more market-ready and clearly developed television series along with a working outline. This lab will consist of five weekly sessions, each roughly two hours in duration. In addition to the lessons where Kevin teaches the class, you will have the opportunity to ask him questions during each session as well as multiple chances to speak with her directly about your specific project. Plus, to keep you motivated and inspired, you will have access to a private, dedicated Stage 32 Lounge where you can communicate with your fellow classmates throughout the development process. To see the full writing lab schedule, see below under "What You Will Learn". PLEASE NOTE: This exclusive Stage 32 lab is limited to 15 writers and will be booked on a first come, first served basis. The opportunity to work this closely and for this long with a working executive and an expert in the field is an incredibly unique and valuable opportunity. If you are interested, please do book quickly. Once the spots are gone, they’re gone for good. Payment plans are available - please contact Harrison at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information
While every writer dreams of finding a producer or network to finance his/her episodic series, most of us are not that lucky. However, that does not have to be the end of Your creative journey nor means a story doesn’t have an audience. This webinar will help empower storytellers and give them the knowledge and tools to circumvent the gatekeepers and create a successful short form series that can even make money. Award winning Indie writer/producer Caytha Jentis, the creator of the hit comedy series The Other F Word that stars Judy Gold and Steve Guttenberg and streams on Amazon, will share the secrets of her success on how she took an episodic concept and turned it into a top short form series that has reached over 1M viewers and has generated revenue and work for her. See more of Caytha's journey by clicking here.