James Crawford is an ink-to-screen producer and development executive working in southern California, with expertise working with international creative professionals. He is currently the Head of Development for Fireside Pictures, a full-service production company with offices in Ottawa, Canada and Los Angeles. Prior to joining Fireside Pictures, James was the Executive Director of Development at Engage Entertainment, where he developed, sold, and produced seven movies to Hallmark Channel over the three years, including The Rooftop Christmas Tree (UPTV), Sleigh Bells Ring and A December Bride (Hallmark). In addition to his feature production experience, James developed several 1-hour television series at Engage, pitching to EPiX, WGN America, Cinemax, and Universal Cable Productions. James worked as the Creative Executive at Cartel Entertainment, a television and film literary management and production company, and was responsible for identifying, developing, and pitching content for its first-look deal with Entertainment One, including the Stephen King novel The Regulators. At Cartel Entertainment, James developed pitches to Amazon, FX, Hulu, Netflix, Cinemax, UCP, and other major networks. James produced the animated short series A Brief History of Dick Moves, which won Best Web Series at the 2018 Glendale International Film Festival, and has worked as a producer on the independent documentaries Code Blue: Resuscitating Rural Surgery (2019) and You See Me (2015). In the fall of 2018, James was an adjunct faculty member at Loyola Marymount University, where he taught the undergraduate film history course 1960s and 1970s American Cinema. He has been a panelist at several pitch fests, including USC’s First Pitch and The Great American Pitchfest. For the past two years, James has taught screenwriting and project pitching at the Rocaberti Writers’ Retreat at Chateau Marouatte near Angoulême, France. James is a member of the Producer’s Guild of America and the Television Academy. Full Bio »
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, with mistletoe, tinsel, sleigh rides, and, of course, a boatload of new Christmas movies. Indeed, for millions of families across America and the world, appetite is high for new Christmas-themed content. Hallmark alone is premiering 40 (!!) new Christmas movies this holiday season. That’s on top of the 40 they produced in 2019. And Hallmark isn’t the only player in the Christmas movie game. Many other networks and streamers have entered this space like Netflix, Hulu, Lifetime, Freeform, Ion, OWN, and BET, to name a few. With so many networks and streaming platforms hungry for Christmas content, there has never been a better time for writers and producers to bring their own Christmas story to the screen.
If you want to write or produce your own Christmas film, there are a lot of opportunities available to you, but you first need to understand what this space is currently looking like and how you can best fit in. Who’s buying and selling? What makes a Christmas themed script successful and how can you best produce and assemble your film to make it marketable, unique, and exciting? Better understanding the context and current landscape can give your own Yule tide project the success you’re looking for.
James Crawford is a producer and development executive currently at Fireside Pictures with several holiday titles—and several dozen other pitched projects—under his belt. While at Engage Entertainment, James developed, sold, and produced seven movies to Hallmark Channel over three years, including THE ROOFTOP CHRISTMAS TREE, SLEIGH BELLS RING and A DECEMBER BRIDE. In addition to his feature production experience, James has developed several one-hour television series, pitching to EPiX, WGN America, Cinemax, and Universal Cable Productions, among others. James worked as Creative Executive at Cartel Entertainment, a television and film literary management and production company, and was responsible for identifying, developing, and pitching content for its first-look deal with Entertainment One, including the Stephen King novel The Regulators. At Cartel Entertainment, James developed pitches for Amazon, FX, Hulu, Netflix, Cinemax, UCP, and other major networks. James has a storied background as a producer and executive and is intimately familiar with what it takes to turn a script into a produced holiday film.
James will teach you how to write and produce a successful Christmas movie in today’s industry. He’ll begin by going over the market and explaining who is buying and selling. He’ll also outline what stories are popular right now. He’ll then delve into tips for writing an effective Christmas movie, both TV movies and films. He’ll discuss aspects like screenplay format, plotting and structure, themes to lean into and avoid, diversity, characters, and what the holiday film essentials are. Next James will go over how to produce a Christmas movie. He’ll talk about what a successful budget range should be and when to start pitching. He’ll explain how to cast your movie for success and where to spend your money in production. Finally he will go over distribution options for your holiday film and whether it can sell outside of the US. If you’ve always wanted to make your own Christmas movie or have a story that you think could work within the holiday market, let James give you the lowdown you need to take the next steps toward holly jolly success.
Praise for James's Past Stage 32 Webinar
James was awesome. Clear, concise, and knowledgeable.
“James Crawford was very informative, and the way he brought the webinar across was entertaining and kept you engaged. I loved every bit of it! I hope he comes back for a round 2”
Super helpful and very clear. Right to the point. Not full of anecdotes but actual teaching.
“It was very informative in a practical way. James was great!”
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!
Like it or not, the film and television industry is and will always be a business. It may produce stunning works of art and lead to social and cultural impacts, but it still comes down to the bottom line. That means that as a writer, unless your name is Christopher Nolan, you’re going to have to deal with more constraints that just the words on a page in order to make your vision a reality. You’ll need to convince a producer that the script can be made and can be made with the money available. And, if you’re a filmmaker or producer, you’ll need to understand how much of the budget is going to each page in order to make your film profitable. In order to do this, it’s important to understand how to read scripts from a cost perspective and what stands out to them as red flags or unnecessary challenges. Considering this throughout the writing and development process rather than being caught off guard after a script is fully written can be invaluable. It can be frustrating to have limitations get in the way of your creative expression, to be told that the world and story in your head can’t be made because of financial constraints. It can feel like selling out to alter your script in order to fit a financier’s budget. This doesn’t have to be the case, though—you don’t have to sacrifice your narrative in service of the bottom line. Instead, there are ways to meld your creativity with some financial savvy and learn to think about how story, character, and structure translate into dollars on the page. So before you write that ambitious live action space opera, the one on the rain planet with children and exotic animals, join producer James Crawford and learn how a producer thinks and breaks down pages.This will give you a leg up on the competition when trying to get your script made. James Crawford is the Head of Development for Fireside Pictures. Prior to joining Fireside Pictures, James was the Executive Director of Development at Engage Entertainment, where he developed, sold, and produced seven movies to Hallmark Channel over three years, including THE ROOFTOP CHRISTMAS TREE, SLEIGH BELLS RING and A DECEMBER BRIDE. In addition to his feature production experience, James has developed several one-hour television series at Engage, pitching to EPiX, WGN America, Cinemax, and Universal Cable Productions, among others. James worked as Creative Executive at Cartel Entertainment, a television and film literary management and production company, and was responsible for identifying, developing, and pitching content for its first-look deal with Entertainment One, including the Stephen King novel The Regulators. At Cartel Entertainment,James developed pitches for Amazon, FX, Hulu, Netflix, Cinemax, UCP, and other major networks. James has a storied background as a producer and executive and is intimately familiar with what it takes to turn a script into a produced film or series. James will provide you with an understanding of the unforeseen costs that go into producing a script. He’ll begin by going over what it generally means to think like a producer in the first place. He’ll then delve into the specific financial challenges that come with genre and ‘genre-ish’ projects and how you can prepare yourself for these issues. James will break down the seven main types of producers on a project and what each one does. James will focus on the relationship between the producer and the line producer, a critical partnership for finding the resources to keeping your vision. James will then give you a full breakdown of what costs could go into every single page of your script, from above-the-line and below-the-line talent to locations, production design, and small things you might not have ever considered before that can seriously add up. To illustrate this, James will provide you with a case study of a real scene of a real shooting script, illustrating line-by-line where the costs lie in the script. Finally, James will teach you 10 strategies you can use if you’re starting to go over-budget. You will leave with a firmer understanding of how your script will translate to costs, and clear strategies to keep your vision while going easier on the budget. Praise for James’s Webinar: James was awesome. Clear, concise, and knowledgeable. -Stephen B. “James Crawford was very informative, and the way he brought the webinar across was entertaining and kept you engaged. I loved every bit of it! I hope he comes back for a round 2” -Imo C. Super helpful and very clear. Right to the point. Not full of anecdotes but actual teaching. -Helena W. “It was very informative in a practical way. James was great!” -Dave M.
As the Vice President of Three Point Capital, Viviana Zarragoitia is one of the most prolific financiers who routinely lend on tax incentives, both domestically and internationally, on independent films. She is aware of the rules and regulations of tax incentives in many jurisdictions, and have spoken on numerous panels about tax credits. In this webinar she will cover working with transferable vs. non-transferable credits, give an overview of the states and countries that are most popular right now, the reasons why and the incentives that each of them offers. Viviana will also go through the general steps that are required to take advantage of tax incentives from beginning to end, as well as the requirements to qualify for tax incentives. She will highlight the importance of working with CPAs, the roles of production accountants and line producers, as well as how all departments in a production are affected. She will also use 2 states as case studies for how to go through the process of applying for and receiving a tax incentive. You will walk away gaining a deeper understanding of the details involved with tax credits; how to take advantage of them, how to monetize them and how to follow the guidelines to ensure they are in compliance with the rules.
Stage 32 CEO, Producer, and Screenwriter Richard "RB" Botto joins our Panel as we listen and read your pitches live to help educate the Writers' Room screenwriters on what is and isn't working in their pitch.
Learn directly from Jairo Alvarado, Manager at Circle of Confusion (The Walking Dead) who specializes in representing and breaking young directors, and who recently signed Mischa Rozema on his feature debut with Warner Bros. for his project Sundays! "I've taken a lot of classes and in particular, webinars over the years. Jairo is probably the best instructor I've encountered. He's not just throwing the stuff we always hear at us, but he's going to the true heart of good [filmmaking] yet explaining it in a way that turns on the light ... constantly. He is truly teaching us "how to become fishermen (or women).” - M. Beattie In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, you will learn the different creative approaches you can take to make your directorial debut or move from writer into the director’s chair. Your host Jairo Alvarado will go over how to look at your career with a modern and technical approach, as well as strategies to help you stand out in today’s competitive climate. Your host Jairo Alvarado is a manager at Circle of Confusion (The Walking Dead) and recently made a big splash in the industry trades when he signed the filmmakers behind Sundays. Due to Jairo's foresight in assisting the talented filmmakers to make a "proof of concept" film based on a feature idea, the $51,000 short resulted in an industry wide bidding war, with Warner Brothers eventually winning the rights to turn the short into a feature film. As a manager at Circle of Confusion Jairo also looks after clients such as Josh Bearman and Josh Davis (Epic), Jordan Blum (American Dad), Christian Cantamessa (Air), Greg Williams (Samarkand). Back by popular demand, Jairo is here to share his expertise exclusively with Stage 32!
Acting is such a tough profession. Facing rejection, navigating the Hollywood system, understanding the rules and politics of it all—it’s all hard enough in general, but even harder when you have to go at it alone. That’s why it can make all the difference to have a talent manager. Good talent managers can drastically transform your career as an actor. They have the connections that can get you into rooms and auditions you weren’t privy to before, they can help you prepare for roles and auditions, and they’ll give you the expertise to support you in navigating your own career and finding success long-term. Talent managers are great, but finding one in the first place can be a challenge. Just like with everything else, this comes down to marketing yourself. There are a lot of actors out there looking for representation, and it’s easy to get lost in the crowd. To find a good representative, it’s critical that you stand out. Displaying talent as an actor certainly comes into the equation, but so does marketing yourself correctly and creatively to better pop when a potential manager is looking through potential clients. To do this, it’s important to understand what a talent manager does, how they think, and how they operate. There are ways to get talent managers interested and excited about representing you. Sometimes it just comes down to learning the language. Joe Lorenzo started working in talent management 15 years ago and has since transitioned to Los Angeles, running his talent management and producing firm, Society Entertainment. He currently has working talent on a variety of networks including ABC, FOX, CBS, Showtime and more, streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon and a variety of independent films. With his background as a casting director, Joe has been able to get name talent, name directors, and recognized writers on to projects he is producing. Joe packaged 4 films in 2005, including the feature film GIRLS CLUB with Jaime King, and the Television Movie of the Week, CHRISTMAS AT WATERS EDGE with Keisha Knight Pulliam. In 2006, Joe produced ROCKER, a low-budget indie with his client as the writer and the star. In recent years he produced the feature films NEXT OF KIN in Los Angeles, BOSTON GIRLS in Boston Mass, and THE NO SIT LIST aka BABYSITTERS BEWARE, in Los Angeles. Joe has been managing actors for a very long time and intimately knows what it takes for an actor to land representation. Joe will give an in-depth rundown of how to attract and work with talent managers, from a talent manager’s perspective. He’ll begin by discussing the best ways to get a talent manager’s attention, including the importance of headshots, how to write your resume, tips for a great acting tape, and how to get the right people to give you referrals. Then he will discuss what managers generally look for in clients. Next, he will go over what talent managers expect from the clients they sign, including how best to communicate and the power of honesty. Joe will delve into how managers approach both developmental clients as well as clients that are already currently working with credits. He will speak to the ever-present question of the differences between agents and managers, the different ways each can help you, and how an attorney can also come into play. He will then talk about the different major markets in the industry and how an actor can find success even if they do not live in any of these cities, including mastering the self tape audition and how to ace a live Skype audition. Joe will give you four specific ways to edge out to the competition in the room or on tape and will delve into ways actors can stay current on their own, including creating their own content and being proactive on social media. Finally Joe will give you an idea of how new clients generally start their relationship with their manager, including paperwork you should expect and how to approach initial conversations. You will leave this webinar with a strong understanding of how talent managers operate and more confidence in how better to approach and work with them to bolster your own acting career. Praise for Joe's Stage 32 Webinar I loved how straightforward and upfront Joe was about everything. I’m excited to use this to step up my own game! -Leticia G. This was so helpful. It’s great to hear about managers directly from a manager himself—especially one as giving and honest as Joe. -Jeremy H. This was great! I learned so much. -Henry V. I’m so glad I saw this. It really helped me wrap my head around acting representation, which always felt so unwelcoming and enigmatic until I heard it from Joe. -Ashley W.
There aren’t a lot of jobs more challenging than that of an independent producer, but there also might not be any job as rewarding. It’s the producer who turns a bunch of ideas and dreams into reality and a singular product that can be enjoyed by people all over the world. What can be better than essentially creating something out of nothing? From conception and pre-production through distribution and beyond, the producer is with the film from beginning to end, builds the team, and makes the decisions that ultimately make the project a failure or success. This role is an enigmatic one, though, since it covers so much, and to be truly successful in this position requires that you know a lot about A LOT in order to foresee future issues, stay protected, and ensure you have all of the items you need to deliver a completed product. If there are any problems or surprises that come up during the making of a film-and there ALWAYS are--it will invariably fall on the producer to address and figure out a way for the film to carry on. As the producer, it's impossible to fully predict what issues will inevitably arise during production, but having an understanding of the different facets of your job and what it takes for a film to be completed and released is crucial. As a result, going into a a film's production blind and completely green is inadvisable. Instead, before taking the plunge in producing your first film, it's important to know everything you can and get the guidance you need so you can take that first step with your eyes wide open. Jim Young of Animus Films is a leading independent producer in the industry, with almost two dozen films under his belt. Jim has created a successful career producing true-story films such as THE CATCHER WAS A SPY with Paul Rudd, LIFE OF A KING with Oscar-winner Cuba Gooding Jr., THE MAN WHO KNEW INFINITY with Oscar-nominee Dev Patel, LOVELACE with Oscar-nominee James Franco and Amanda Seyfried, and the upcoming film, THE PEOPLE VS. VEGAS DAVE. Jim has a long history of producing critically acclaimed features and documentaries including YEAR OF THE BULL at Showtime, THE WORDS with Oscar-nominee Bradley Cooper and Zoe Saldana. Through years of successes and challenges, Jim has learned what it takes to be a working full-time producer and is excited to share what he knows with the Stage 32 community. Over the course of four sessions, Jim will dive deep into the roles and responsibilities of an indie film producer and give you the guidance you need to tackle your next (or first) project with confidence and foresight. He will walk you through every step of making a movie, from development to casting and financing to prep and physical production all the way through festivals, distribution and release. Plus! Jim will offer exclusive and helpful documents and resource sheets you can download and take with you for your own projects. Downloads include: Option/Purchase Agreements Sample Budget Foreign Sales Estimates Sample Investor Agreement Sample Shooting Schedule Sample Call Sheet Calendar of Film Festivals Sample Delivery Schedule for a Distributor WHAT TO EXPECT **Jim will be available on email during the 4 class sessions to answer any questions you have.** This class is designed for beginner and intermediate students looking to learn the ins and outs of independent film producing. This is an in-depth, practical, and detailed class with significantly more content than a standard 90-minute webinar. This class will consist of four sessions, each roughly two hours in duration. In addition to the presentation-style lessons where Jim will be walking you through various elements of indie producing, you will have the opportunity to ask him questions during each session. Plus, to stay motivated and inspired, you will have access to a private, dedicated Stage 32 Lounge where you can communicate with your fellow classmates throughout the process. To see the full class schedule, see below under "What You Will Learn".