How To Produce Your Horror Movie From Development To Post-Production

Hosted by Jonathan Heap


On Demand Webinar - For immediate download. Unlimited access for 1 year.

Start Learning

Please make sure you use the same email address as the one you use to sign in to Stage 32, otherwise you won't have access to your webinar.
apply Your coupon will be applied after you agree to terms below.

- or -

Overlay Icon

Stage 32 Next Level Education has a 97% user satisfaction rate.

Jonathan Heap

Webinar hosted by: Jonathan Heap

Oscar-Nominated Director at Gathering Productions

Jonathan Heap is an Academy Award-nominated director, writer, and producer with a dozen feature films, and short credits. His first film was BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT, starring Donald Sutherland for Miramax. He followed that up with five more features, including the award-winning horror film now playing on Amazon and Tubi. He also developed a project for Warner Bros. and Sydney Pollack, which later became the Coen Brothers film SUBURBICON, which George Clooney directed. His other films starred the likes of Rob Lowe, Stephen Baldwin, Eric Roberts, and Tom Skerritt, among others. Full Bio »

Webinar Summary

Do you want to make a horror movie? Horror movies have never been more in demand in the global marketplace. Horror movies don't need big name actors so their budgets tend to be lower. Scary movies translate into every language where comedies can be hard to travel across borders. A career making horror movies can be lucrative and long-lasting for you if you know the tricks of the trade. And who better for you to learn this craft from than an Academy Award nominated filmmaker who has made multiple horror movies? 

This exclusive Stage 32 webinar will show you how to make a scary movie from scratch - from your initial idea through prep, production and post-production. Knowing how to take your film on this journey to completion can put you in the rarified air of being a proven filmmaker and can open doors throughout the industry. 

Your host, Jonathan Heap, will show you how to use every aspect of the filmmaking process to tell a gripping and fresh horror tale from scratch that doesn’t rely on imitating past films, unrealized characters, or illogical stories.

Jonathan is an Academy Award-nominated director, writer, and producer with a dozen feature, television, and short credits, including an award-winning horror film now playing on Amazon and Tubi. He’s also worked with major studios like Warner Bros., where he developed a project for Sydney Pollack that became the Coen Brothers’ SUBURBICON, directed by George Clooney.

In this webinar, Jonathan will show you how to:

  • Utilize the five kinds of horror films to develop your material
  • Reinvent and generate new horror ideas we haven’t seen before
  • Find great creative and production partners
  • Use lighting and special effects to your advantage
  • Up the scares in post-production

By the end of your time with Jonathan, you’ll have the tools to take your scary movie idea to the next level and actually get it made!



Testimonials for John's webinar:

I liked Jonathan and his presentation. He offered very practical and sound advice, which is always appreciated. - John G.

Very meticulous & methodical. Great instructor! - Jefferson

Covered all aspects of production. I found his homemade film very suspenseful. Horror with dread and a supernatural disappearing figure plus the music and lighting. - Arthur B. 

What You'll Learn

Starting with the Development

  • The 5 kinds of horror
  • Researching similar successful horror films
  • Understanding what scares you

The Script

  • The different Kinds of “scares” and how to use and write them
  • Identifying your ensemble and the roles they place
  • Creating sympathy and jeopardy
  • The basic horror structure
  • The role of Violence (psychological vs. actual)
  • How often do you need “scares”?


  • Selecting the right creative partners and what to look and ask for
    • Producer
    • DP
    • Production Designer
    • Effects
  • Understanding the Importance of your Locations
  • Creating a schedule around the genre’s unique needs
  • Casting
    • Do you need names?
    • Finding a complementary ensemble


  • What the director should have prepared
  • The Key to Lighting
  • The importance of Camera Tests (makeup, effects, location)
  • Effects: Practical or CGI?
  • Prepping your Production design
  • The Hierarchy of Horror Elements (different than other genres)


  • Hiring the right editor
  • Determining tone and rhythm
  • Coordinating with your team in prep
    • Workflow
    • Making sure shots and effects work
    • Case studies
  • Effects
    • Boarding them out in prep
    • Coordinating
  • Music is King
  • Coloring and shading can make or break your film
  • Screen testing before picture lock

Q&A with Jonathan

About Your Instructor

Jonathan Heap is an Academy Award-nominated director, writer, and producer with a dozen feature films, and short credits. His first film was BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT, starring Donald Sutherland for Miramax. He followed that up with five more features, including the award-winning horror film now playing on Amazon and Tubi. He also developed a project for Warner Bros. and Sydney Pollack, which later became the Coen Brothers film SUBURBICON, which George Clooney directed. His other films starred the likes of Rob Lowe, Stephen Baldwin, Eric Roberts, and Tom Skerritt, among others.


Q: How do I watch my webinar live?
A: If you received a confirmation that your webinar is on Go to Webinar, you will receive an email from Go to Webinar with further instructions for participating in the live webinar. You can also access your webinar link in your purchase history located under settings in the top right-hand corner of your Stage 32 profile.

If you received a confirmation that your webinar is on Zoom, you will receive a separate email from Zoom with further instructions for participating in the live webinar. Your login link will not be in your Stage 32 profile. If you did not receive your link via Zoom please email

Q: How do I watch my webinar on demand?
A: You will be able to watch your webinar on demand as many times as you’d like inside your Stage 32 profile. The recording is processed and posted between 24-48 hours after the webinar concludes. You can follow the instructions below.


  1. Log into your Stage 32 profile
  2. Click "Settings" in the top right-hand corner (gear icon)
  3. Click "Purchase History"
  4. Choose this webinar and click the link to view
If You Do Not Have a Stage 32 Profile:
  1. Go to
  2. Create a profile using the SAME email address you used to sign up for this webinar. The email addresses must match in order to watch the webinar.
  3. Once you have your profile set up, you can view the webinar by clicking "Settings" in the top right hand corner (gear icon)
  4. Click "Purchase History"
  5. Choose this webinar and click the link to view

Q: What is the format of a webinar?
A: Stage 32 Next Level Webinars are typically 90-minute educational broadcasts that take place online using a designated software program from Stage 32. Your webinar will be taught by a working industry professional with in-depth teaching on a topic. If you are able to attend live you will be able to ask your Stage 32 Educator questions during Q&A.

Q: What are the system requirements to watch my webinar live?
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 10.9 (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 cannot attend a live webinar or 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 re-watch?
A: Yes! Like all Stage 32 education, after the purchase of a live or on demand webinar, you will have on-demand access to the recording.

Q: How do I get a copy of the handouts provided?
A: If the webinar you take included handouts you can find them as downloads underneath your on demand video. You must be logged into your Stage 32 profile to view the video and get the handouts by clicking settings in the top right hand corner, then clicking purchase history.

Q: What if I need accessibility and accommodations?
A: Email to request accommodations.

Thanks for your loyalty to Stage 32 Education. We value having you in the Stage 32 community.

If you have any further questions, we are always happy to help. Please contact Stage 32 support at


"I am a professional animator working in games, with a strong interest in filmmaking and a desire to learn more about how this industry works. Jonathan gave me a very inspiring and informative introduction to the entire process. I love the fact that he shot a short film in his apartment, which he showed us in the class! He really proved that you can make a lot with limited resources. I learned a lot and I'm feeling inspired to start making things right away!" -Tom P.

"Jonathan Heap was very down to earth and gave great practical advice. " -Irene C.

"Covered all aspects of production. I found his homemade film very suspenseful. Horror with dread and a supernatural disappearing figure plus the music and lighting." -Arthur B.


If you have a generic question about Stage 32 education you can take a look at our frequently asked questions section on our help page, or feel free to contact support with any other inquiries you might have.

Other education that may be of interest to you:

Produce Your Horror Movie From Concept To Final Delivery

WEEKEND FLASH SALE!! Learn from an Academy Award-nominated director who's worked with Sydney Pollack, the Coen Brothers, George Clooney, and more. Do you want to know how to produce a horror movie from scratch? There is an art to the craft of making a great horror movie and if you understand all the tricks or the trade it will allow you turn your nightmares on the page into a career launching dream of a movie.  In this exclusive Stage 32 on-demand class, you’ll learn what it takes to make a horror film from the script through post-production and delivery. Whether you’re a writer, director, or producer, understanding the scope of the process in this detailed four-session class will help you see the way to make your dream film into a reality that audiences can watch.  Walking you through the making of your frightening feature is Jonathan Heap. He’s an Academy Award-nominated director, writer, and producer with a dozen feature, television, and short credits, including an award-winning horror film now playing on Amazon and Tubi. He’s also worked with major studios like Warner Bros., where he developed a project for Sydney Pollack that became the Coen Brothers’ SUBURBICON, directed by George Clooney. First, you’ll develop your script. By analyzing successful scary movies to see what works, you’ll strengthen your concept and your approach to producing it. You’ll then dive into pre-production, one of the most crucial steps in filmmaking, as you set up your crew and schedule. In production, the fun really begins. You’ll learn to look for creative opportunities on set to heighten every frame through design, lighting, camera movement, costumes, makeup, and special effects, as they all work in tandem to tell a thrilling story. You have your last chance to raise the stakes and scares as you enter post-production. You’ll look at a variety of examples to see different techniques that you can use with music, effects, coloring, and more to create a fearsome film. Jonathan will use his vast experience to show you how to develop and produce a great horror movie from scratch. By the end of this class, you’ll have what you need to make your horror film and thrill audiences all around the world.

How to Make Money Performing Audiobook Narration

Learn how you can capitalize on a fruitful career as an audiobook narrator from two professionals who have narrated over 300 audiobooks! For the last 5 years, audiobooks have outpaced print media in sales. As traditional publishing becomes harder to crack, and less lucrative for that matter, more and more writers are turning to audiobooks to get their work out to as big an audience as possible. Audible alone has over 250,000 titles and that number is expected to rise tremendously over the next few years. And the number of people downloading audiobooks continues to soar. Of course, with rising demand comes a rising need. And the biggest need in the audiobook space at the moment is for distinctive, engaging  and professional voice actors and narrators. Audiobook narration has become a goldmine for many. If you have worked as an actor, done voice over work, been told you have a great voice or believe you have a fantastic one yourself, you owe it to yourself to learn about the space. This is a job where you can often apply by home or simply by submitting a homemade demo. In fact, in many cases, you can narrate the book from home by setting up an inexpensive, yet professional sounding home studio. In fact, getting yourself set up and ready to audition is much simpler than you think. James Patrick Cronin and Julie McKay have narrated more than 300 audiobooks in the space of just over 4 years. They have worked together and individually with most of the major publishers in the field, in addition to having collaborated with numerous independent publishers and authors. Their work spans a wide array of genres, from Children’s Lit to Sci-Fi, Memoir to Historical Non-Fiction, and they have voiced numerous New York Times and USA Today Best-Selling authors and one National Book Award finalist. James and Julie will give you the blueprint and the building blocks toward making money narrating audiobooks. They will teach you how to set up an affordable home studio, discussing in detail what you truly need and what can be left out of the shopping cart. They will dive into performance, the narrator's prerogative, how to maintain vocal health, and how to fully prepare so you deliver your best performance. You will learn how to set your rate (and not undersell yourself), explain time management and give you clear instructions on how to act as your own agent. Most importantly, they will teach you how to find available jobs and put yourself in a position to get hired again and again.   Praise for James and Julie's Teaching "I found the content, insight and knowledge from this webinar to be absolutely fascinating." -- Ebs A. "Great primer toward getting into this particular type of VO work." -- J. Nissel "Voice over work is something that has always intrigued me. I've always been told I had a voice for this kind of thing. Now I'm ready to take the leap! So easy to understand and apply. Thank you!" -- Rashida C.

How to Handle Guild Residual Payments For Your Film Production - with Free Agreement Downloads

If a film production is going to use talent that belongs to a guild, you will need to adhere to labor related matters when it comes to residuals. Residuals are how you pay your guild talent and a key component of any production. These payments have a strict way in which they need to be handled in order to make sure that your talent is being compensated properly - whether it's payment upfront or payment on the backend. Conversely, if you are in a guild you need to ensure that your contract lays out the correct components with residuals to make sure that you are paid properly.  Whether you are the person paying or the person receiving, we're talking about money here and you don't want to get it wrong. Understanding residual payments in some of the world's key film markets (US, UK and Canada) is vital to your production. As you are putting together your budget and ensuring that your production comes in at or under your budget you have to know how residuals work. Working with guilds can be tricky, but as long as you are clear upfront on how to pay their members and how that flows into your budget you can ensure success. And, if you're talent that belongs to a guild you want to ensure that you are getting every payment that is owed to you for your service on a project.  David Zannoni is an international business specialist for Fintage House in the US, Europe, Canada and Latin America territories. Fintage House, the world's most respected company for revenue and rights protection for industry professionals and companies. David negotiates agreements for films and television series and is involved in business development and relationship management globally on hundreds of productions. David is continuously present to make deals and speak at international film markets, festivals and conferences, including: the Cannes Film Festival, the European Film Market (EFM) in Berlin, the American Film Market (AFM), Ventana Sur, the Bogota Audiovisual Market (BAM), and the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), and travels regularly to the United States, the Netherlands, Europe, and all over Latin America. David will teach you what exactly residuals are and go over a comparison of them in the USA, Canada and the United Kingdom. He will go into a deep dive example on a US example where he will discuss options for payments of residuals and how the calculation works. You will understand how the payment for residuals is secured in security interest, the collection account or the payroll house. He will even go over the agreements you should know that are related to residual payments. He will even dive into residual and media allocation and the recoupment schedule. You will leave with a clear understanding of how residuals work and how to best protect yourself on both sides when dealing with them. With this webinar you will receive free template downloads: DGA Basic Agreement SAG AFTRA Security Agreement SAG AFTRA Standard Agreement SAG AFTRA Television Distributors Assumption Agreement SAG AFTRA Television Buyers Assumption Agreement WGA Theatrical and Television Basic Agreement Standard CAM Agreement International Multi-picture Rights Distribution License Agreement Sample Webinar Resource Sheet   Praise for David's Previous Stage 32 Webinars   "David is incredible and lovely and clearly knows his stuff." - Cynthia P.   "Eye-opening information. A no-brainer approach that wouldn't be so obvious to the uninitiated." - Gary O.   "By far, the best class I've seen on the subject." Kirk K.   "David is a fantastic teacher. And what a voice! I could listen to him all day. More importantly, I learned so very much!" - Isabella T.

The Write Now Webcast: Breaking the 4th Wall

Using the principles learned in the Breakdown Webcast: Breaking the 4th Wall, this month members were challenged to write a short scene in which the character(s) break the fourth wall to drive the plot forward, reveal character and deliver exposition. As part of the webcast, Jason turns the microphone over to the writers to read their projects aloud for the other members in the group. 

What You Need To Know BEFORE Writing Your Feature Spec Script

It’s an incredibly exciting time to be churning out fresh stories. But when you’re writing feature spec scripts, you’re the boss of the story and no studio executive is there to tell you what they need from a marketing and sales perspective. So how do you know if you’re writing a script that will sell? There are a million ways to tell one story, but how do you tell your stories without spending hours of your precious creative juices only to be told that “It’s good, but I can’t do anything with it”? Don’t worry. We have an incredibly successful writer/producer who is going to bring his years of experience writing hits to teach you what this common mistake is and how to make sure you never hear the words “It's not for me.” Matt Ember is a writer/producer who has worked on over 20 feature films and television shows including THE CONNERS on ABC, THE WAR WITH GRANDPA with Robert Deniro, GET SMART with Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway and FAILURE TO LAUNCH with Matthew McConaghey and Sarah Jessica Parker and many more. Matt has been involved with spec scripts over his storied career and he will be bringing his knowledge exclusively to Stage 32! Matt will be teaching you the functions of a feature spec script, the pros and cons of being a “hired gun” vs. writing your own spec script, PLUS the 5 reasons you should write a spec script. Based on your reasons for choosing to write a spec script, he’ll talk to you about how you should write your script. He’ll also go over the 5 things a spec script is NOT, the spec script as a personal statement, thinking like a professional, and understanding the marketplace. He’ll use three successful spec scripts as examples to give you specific writing tips on character, structure, format, and the things you need to know before you start writing. This is an exciting opportunity to learn from and ask a successful writer/producer all your questions and get direct guidance so you can deliver your best feature spec scripts!   PLUS! Matt will provide script downloads of 3 spec scripts you can learn from!  

How to Build a Simple Film Business Plan to Get Investors on Board

One of the hardest parts of being an artist is understanding the business part of the “film business”. You very likely have the “art” part down--you have a script; you’re an actor; you learned how to direct, etc--but as you set out to make the magnum opus that is your film, you quickly realize that you are spending way more time talking about legal documents, business prospectus, waterfalls, and returns on investment. It’s not what anyone signed up for when they set out to be artists, but it’s still absolutely part of the job. This doesn’t need to be a bad thing, though. Understanding the business side of your craft and learning how to work within this world will give you the ability to ultimately create the art you want to make. Unless you already have a personal fortune at hand to put towards creating your project, you’re going to need to work with non-artists, executives, and financiers to find the funding to turn your vision into a reality. This means you’ll need to convince them that your project is worth investing in. A solid business plan can help you achieve this goal. A great business plan will get investors excited, it will tell them who you are as a filmmaker, and most importantly, it will translate your project from a creative language to the business language that investors more readily understand. This is no small feat, but it’s a critical step in getting your film made. If you can learn to speak investors’ language, they will help you speak yours. So what does a great business plan look like and how can you make your own to position your project for optimal success? With over thirteen years of experience in film distribution, Bryce C. Campbell is one of the leading distribution and marketing executives in the industry. Bryce got his start working at Miramax Films and later began working with Open Road Films as the Vice President of Operations for Distribution and Marketing. In this role, he oversaw vendor relations, finance and film budgets, as well as handling sales with a concentration in the US and Caribbean territories. One of his key interests is negotiating distribution deals with filmmakers and leveraging industry analytics to provide insight into box office potential for each project. Bryce’s heavy experience with the business side of filmmaking has given him a wealth of knowledge of how best filmmakers can get buyers on their side, and he’s sharing what he knows exclusively with Stage 32. Bryce will show you how to talk business and present business materials that “non-artists” can appreciate. Specifically he will walk you through building a strong and convincing business plan. He’ll explain how to make a strong opening statement, with examples, and he’ll show you what needs to be broken down at the beginning. He’ll delve into what should be included in your bio and what can be taken out for buyers to be interested in working with you. He’ll go over the 4 key things that need to be in your business plan when discussing your project and will demonstrate what you need to get an investor to trust you. He’ll spend time talking about research and comps and how to use these for films and talent. He’ll then teach you how to show an investor they will make money back on your film. Finally Bryce will explain how to create a strong closing summary and leave investors with a good impression. Through Bryce’s lecture, even the least business-savvy artist can gain valuable skills to better present their project to buyers and find the money and business partners needed to find success.

register for stage 32 Register / Log In