Andrew Kersey is a literary manager and the head of Kersey Management whose clients are working on projects at all the major studios and streaming outlets including Netflix and Amazon, and the networks and cable channels ABC, Fox, NBC, CW, Disney Channel, and Nickelodeon. Andrew recently just sold his client's sci-fi spec script to Universal with THE SOCIAL NETWORK and FIFTY SHADES OF GREY Oscar-nominated producer Mike De Luca, and his client’s comedy VACATION FRIENDS is in production at Broken Road for Hulu starring John Cena and Lil Rel. Andrew has helped his clients pitch countless projects and knows better than most what buyers are looking for and how a high concept approach can make all the difference in getting that script sold. Full Bio »
Once you finish your screenplay and decide it’s time to reach out to producers and representatives, one of the most common responses you may receive is that your idea is not ‘high concept’ enough or your logline doesn’t have a ‘high concept hook’. This term is thrown around a lot in the movie business, but what does it actually mean? ‘High concept’ might be a buzz word, but it’s also a term that carries with it significant meaning as well as some lessons and perspective you can bring back to your own project if you know how best to approach it.
Readers, producers and buyers see so many spec scripts that have no chance of becoming films not because the writing isn’t great, but because the writer did not spend enough time on concept. It is one thing to fall in love with a story idea. It is another to stick with it during the uncomfortable phase of working on that idea to make it more enticing to the world. So how can you ensure you consistently develop ideas that excite readers and push your script toward a sale? How do you know if your idea is “high concept” enough? What exactly does “high concept” even mean?
Andrew Kersey is a literary manager and the head of Kersey Management whose clients are working on projects at all the major studios and streaming outlets including Netflix and Amazon, and the networks and cable channels ABC, Fox, NBC, CW, Disney Channel, and Nickelodeon. Andrew recently just sold his client's sci-fi spec script to Universal with THE SOCIAL NETWORK and FIFTY SHADES OF GREY Oscar-nominated producer Mike De Luca, and his client’s comedy VACATION FRIENDS is in production at Broken Road for Hulu starring John Cena and Lil Rel. Andrew has helped his clients pitch countless projects and knows better than most what buyers are looking for and how a high concept approach can make all the difference in getting that script sold.
Andrew will break down what makes a script ‘high concept’ and how you can write and sell your own high-concept screenplay. He’ll nail down exactly what a high concept story is and offer examples of high concept movies in different genres, explaining what makes them successful. He’ll then break down why high concept stories are so appealing, from the perspective of producers, studios, and audiences. Next Andrew will delve into how to actually write a high concept story and whether you can adjust your existing screenplay or write one from scratch. He will go through breaking down genre walls and other writing tips you can take with you. Andrew will then teach you how to sell your high concept story. He’ll talk about the importance of your logline and title and give you tips to pitch your high concept story to execs and buyers, including how to explain your world and use comps. Finally he will go over common mistakes writers make when creating high concept stories and will reveal where not to begin and whether size and budget matter. Expect to leave this webinar with a much clearer idea of what makes something “high concept” and a series of tips and ideas you can bring back to your own project to better sell it.
"Throughout my time as a literary manager, the term "high concept" has come up more times than I can count. The writers that I work with that are most successful are the ones that understand what this term really means, what buyers are looking for, and how they can adjust to fit this idea. I'm excited to share these secrets with the Stage 32 community."
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 recording, which you can view as many times as you'd like for a whole year!
PRE-CLASS PREP - Read your syllabus and plan out your writing ideas. Begin to think about 1-2 ideas that might be a good idea for your drama pilot. Start to prepare for your pilot pitch. WEEK #1 – Introduction, Pitch Docs, Character This week we will cover the syllabus, your instructor's background and experience, your goals for this eight-week lab and launch into a discussion on creating strong characters for your pilot. We will discuss the types of drama pilots and how they differ from network to network. We will go over how to create effective loglines and pitch documents. Then we will delve into character – what makes for strong characters and weak ones. The assignment for this week will be to create a pitch document and write a detailed description (around half a page) on each of your series regular characters. WEEK #2 – Pilot Outline and Series Bible This week we will break down pilot structure, plot and subplots. Pilot structure varies depending on the type of drama pilot (procedural or serial) and the network (broadcast, cable, streaming, digital, etc.) We will identify what kind of network to target for your story idea and structure the pilot accordingly. We will also discuss the function of your series bible and what it needs to include to support your pilot. The assignment for the week is to complete a pilot outline and start work on your bible. WEEK #3 – Pilot Outline (One on One Consultations – No Online Class) This week will consist of one-on-one consultations regarding pilot structure. Each writer will send in their pilot outline in advance and will have a 10-minute call to discuss what works and what doesn’t. The assignment for the week is to address any notes given on the outline before proceeding with next week’s class and to continue working on your series bible. WEEK #4– Scenes, Beats, Dialogue, This week we will address the qualities of effective (and ineffective) scenes, story beats, and dialogue. The assignment for the week will be to write three complete scenes from your outline: the teaser/opening scene, a scene with heavy dialogue, and a strong character scene. WEEK #5– Acts 1 and 2 We will discuss both the four-act and five-act structure. You will decide which works best for the pilot that you are developing. This week we will go over all the necessary story beats that exist in acts 1 and 2 of a drama pilot, including exposition, number of scenes per act, traditional page count, inciting incidents, acts 1 and 2 breaks, etc. The assignment this week will be to complete Acts 1 and 2 of your pilot. WEEK #6– Acts 3, 4 and 5 Similarly to last week, we will cover the necessary story beats that traditionally exist in acts 3 and 4 of a drama pilot. If your pilot structure has five or more, as some broadcast network shows do, there will be time allotted for further instruction on how to proceed. The assignment this week is to complete the first draft of the entire pilot and to turn in your series bible. WEEK #7–Consultation for Revision (No Online Class) This week will consist of one-on-one consultations. Please turn in your pilot at least 24 hours before your scheduled call, and each writer will have a 10-minute call to go over notes. Your assignment this week is to address any notes. WEEK #8– One-on-one Feedback and Polish (No Online Class) This week will consist of 10-minute one-on-one phone calls as well. Please submit your revised pilot at least 24 hours before your scheduled call. Final notes and next steps for your pilot will be given. Payment plans are available - please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Having a known or in-demand actor in your independent film can make all the difference in whether it succeeds or not. A name actor gives your film a sense of legitimacy, which attracts new investors and more interested distributors. It also gives your film more opportunities for press and buzz, and will convince more people to watch it once it is released. That famous actor is very likely what you need to clinch your film, actually get it made, and have it ultimately find an audience and a home. But there’s a big, glaring problem with this truth: You need a name actor to get funding, but you need that funding in order to get the name actor. It ends up being a vicious circle, a catch-22 that can come across as frustratingly insurmountable, a barrier for entry that no independent filmmaker can get beyond. Let’s not mince words. Landing high level talent for your film is HARD, especially if your funding hinges on that actor saying yes. But at the same time, this isn’t the unsolvable puzzle it may at first seem. It comes down to finding the right investors and giving them what they need to say yes. This means pulling out all of the stops, preparing correctly, and doing the hard work. You’ll never be the only filmmaker going after top level talent, but you might be one of the few who’s able to do it the right way. First, it’s vital to understand what the “right way” actually is and what you need to know to do this right. Acquiring a talent is always going to be a hustle, but knowing what it takes and how to navigate this world can give you a serious edge. Independent feature film producer Franco Sama has produced an impressive array of over twenty independent feature films including cult favorite GUNS, GIRLS AND GAMBLING starring Gary Oldman, Christian Slater and Dane Cook, which was released theatrically acquired by Universal Pictures. Other films Franco has produced include; BLACK LIMOUSINE starring David Arquette, Vivica A. Fox and Bijou Phillips, TOOTH AND NAIL starring Michael Madsen and Vinnie Jones, THE PENITENT MAN, starring Lance Henriksen and Andrew Keegan and PAID, starring Corbin Bernsen and Tom Conti. Franco’s company Samaco Films continues to fund and develop independent films from burgeoning filmmakers. After nearly two decades of experience in film finance, distribution and packaging, Franco has come to understand how to crack the code and attract top level talent to independent films. He’s ready to share what he’s learned exclusively with the Stage 32 community. Franco will go in-depth on how exactly an independent filmmaker can find both cast and funding for their project. He will begin by explaining what budget range you should be aiming for to allow you to acquire the talent you’re looking for. He’ll then teach you the steps you must take before reaching out to either talent or investors. He will explain how to tap into an investor’s mindset and use it to your advantage, including why it might be easier for you to raise $5 million than $500,000, and how you should frame your project as an opportunity for investors. He’ll explain what development funding is, how it works, and why it’s now necessary in today’s landscape. Next, he will delve into how you should be building a strong team for your project before you start approaching talent. He’ll lay out the seven critical people you will need to bring on from the beginning, why you need an executive producer, how to choose the “right” director and casting director, and whether you can attract major talent as a first time director. Franco will explain the importance of acquiring international sales estimates and will lay out what your presentation deck to investors should look like to find funding and gain the cast you’re looking for. He will also talk about how pre-sales work and how many you need to be seen as successful. He’ll then start talking about the actual casting process, including how to create a realistic actor’s wish list, deciding between “A-List” and “B-List” actors and whether or not they pass Franco’s “Parentheses Test”. He’ll explain casting with an eye towards sales and then explain the difference between letters of intent, letters of commitment, and phone verification when going after talent. He’ll also break down contingency investments and how to know when to employ deferment and back-end offers with actors. Franco will explain how to make legitimate offers to actors and agents and how to ensure they’re never empty offers. He’ll go into how “pay or play” works in this world and why going out too early to actors can destroy your casting choices. Finally Franco will explain how you can use tax incentives to help with casting. Expect to leave with a thorough and comprehensive understanding of the steps you need to take to bring on your dream actor. Praise for Franco's Stage 32 Webinar "One word - Invaluable." - Larry S. “Head & shoulders above the usual webinars on film distribution and finance. Franco actually knows his stuff and has a track record to back it up. Really good presentation.” – Scott B. This was incredibly illuminating and really entertaining at the same time. I'm so glad I watched this" -Glenda T. Wow. I cannot believe how much I learned from this webinar. Franco is the best. -Terrence R.
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. 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. 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. 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 will use clips as case studies from some of his most recent films. This webinar will give you all these necessary tools to truly understand your process when going in to edit your film. “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 “Without question Max Leonida’s work has been met with audience approval, critical praise and media exposure – all of which serve to substantiate his amazing ability. He has truly emerged as one of the field’s most influential filmmakers." - Jamie Weissenborn, Senior Vice President Sony Picture Television)
As an independent filmmaker, screening your project at a film festival may be the best opportunity to put your film (and yourself) on display. It remains a powerful platform for filmmakers of all levels to have their work seen. In fact you’d be hard-pressed to find a successful filmmaker working today who didn’t get their start at a festival. It’s where films get sold, where talent gets discovered, where reputations are crafted, where communities are built, and where the best networking can happen. And with the current movement away from the theatrical model and towards streaming, festivals can also often be the only possible way to physically show your film on the big screen to an audience during its life cycle. Film festivals are indeed often the next desired destination for a filmmaker, but it’s not always easy to get in, even with a great film. It can be disheartening after finishing a film and investing so much money and resources into it to realize there is still more money to be spent in going the festival route. The act of submitting to festivals can set you back hundreds, if not thousands of dollars simply through festivals’ submission fees. It’s probably going to add up no matter what, but it can set way pricier without a plan in place. It’s common for filmmakers ready with a film to more or less blindly submit to festivals: “Sundance? Check. Tribeca? Check. Cinequest? I heard that one was good, let’s do it.” Yet just because you’ve heard of a festival, just because it’s a legitimately great festival, doesn’t mean it’s the right fit for your project, and it doesn’t your film is the right fit for them. Successfully navigating the festival landscape requires a lot more effort and a lot more time than just pressing that submit button. Yet doing the research, understanding your goals, and carefully building your strategy will not only yield more positive results, but will also save you money on unneeded submission fees in the long run. For nearly a decade Harrison Glaser has been immersed in the professional film industry working for Austin Film Festival and Stage 32. As Austin Film Festival’s Film Competition Director, he programmed the festival’s films for five years and discovered his passion for identifying deserving projects and championing exciting and unrecognized talent. During Harrison’s tenure as AFF’s Film Competition Director, over 100 films he programmed went on to secure distribution, six short films were later nominated for Oscars, and one that he qualified ultimately won the Academy Award. His work with Austin Film Festival and Stage 32 allows him to champion undiscovered storytellers and help them amplify their work. He also serves as a professional moderator for many different film related industry panels both online and offline. Through his many years leading AFF’s film selection and working closely with other film fests, he has become intimately familiar with the inner workings of larger festivals, as well as the common missteps many filmmakers make when working with them. He’s excited to share what he knows exclusively with the Stage 32 community. Harrison will walk you through how best to develop your film festival strategy and choose the right festivals for your film, well before you start submitting. He will begin with the basics of why you should or shouldn’t be submitting to festivals in the first place, and how to best think of festivals as a tool. He’ll then lay out what the festival landscape looks like, including what makes up the “Festival Circuit”, what Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3 festivals are, and the lowdown on both niche festivals and destination festivals. Next he will delve into the importance of having your own specific festival goal and how to find it. He’ll provide six examples of valid and common festival goals and how best to adjust your submission strategy for each. Harrison will go deep into how to research festivals before submitting and what you should be looking for before you should feel comfortable paying their submission fee. He’ll also offer various strategies to choose the right festival and giving yourself the best advantage in getting accepted, including considering niche festivals, finding your ‘in’ and developing your network. He’ll spend some time explaining how scam festivals work and what you can do to spot them and stay away from them. He will offer some tips and context of what you should do if you film is ultimately rejected from one of your top choices, and also what to do if your film is ultimately accepted. You will leave with a slew of strategies to tackle your festival run more strategically and more effectively. Praise for Harrison's Previous Stage 32 Webinar: "This was great. Very comprehensive about festival strategy and works for shorts and features. Probably the best content about this topic I've seen" -Paige F. "The teacher really knew his subject. He was also friendly & warm and made the students feel relaxed. A well spent event and I learned so much." -Toni M. "Appreciated the way Harrison did not gloss over any point — he spoke thoroughly about everything." -Elease P. "Very knowledgeable, open, easy to follow" -Marilyn L.
This week Host & Director of Script Services Jason Mirch reads and critiques Write Now submissions written by Writers' Room members. Jason offers insights on how the writers executed the inciting incidents in their projects.
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.