ON-DEMAND COMING SOON!
This webinar had a live screening session recently and has not yet been converted into a video format.
Your host Michael Polish is one of today's most critically acclaimed filmmakers, having directed almost a dozen hit films. His first feature film, Twin Falls Idaho premiered at the Sundance Film Festival to rave reviews and was hailed by renown critic, Roger Ebert as "one of the best films of 1999." Roger Ebert included Twin Falls Idaho in his Top 10 Selects of 1999. Michael went on to write and direct 10 more feature films, including: The Astronaut Farmer, starring Billy Bob Thornton and Virginia Madsen Northfork, starring Nick Nolte and James Woods The Smell of Success, starring Billy Bob Thornton, Tea Leoni & Ed Helms Hot Bot, starring Zack Pearlman and Danny Masterson Stay Cool, starring Winona Ryder and Sean Astin (Nominated for best feature at Tribeca Film Festival) Big Sur, an adaptation of the Jack Kerouac novel starring Kate Bosworth For Lover’s Only starring Stana Katic (CBS’s hit show Castle) 90 Minutes in Heaven, starring Hayden Christensen Amnesiac, starring Wes Bentley The upcoming Sharon Tate biopic adapted from Greg King’s book Sharon Tate and the Manson Murders Michael has been nominated for three Independent Spirit Awards where his movie Jackpot won the John Cassavetes Award. Full Bio »
To kick off your directing career with Roger Ebert calling your film "One of the best films of the year" you can pretty much be assured you're on a path to success.
We are proud to present to you the director who has done just that - Michael Polish. After his Sundance darling Twin Falls Idaho garnered Roger Ebert's critical acclaim he has gone on to direct over 10 feature films including:
Michael will be teaching the 2nd installment of our Stage 32 Masters of Craft series - The Indie Filmmaker's Toolkit: Maximize Your Resources, Creativity and Profits. In this online event Michael will share with you how a professional director approaches a film from inception and carries it through to post-production including a discussion of available distribution options. The goal is to give you the agency to make your films without the necessity of the Hollywood studio system (though this information will be handy if that's your path as well). He will go in-depth about the director’s process from finding superior scripts and setting your priorities in pre-production to the challenges of running your set, leading your crew and balancing the demands of your producers. He’ll explain how to interact with everyone vital to your film’s success from producers and film executives to actors, cinematographers, and editors to get the best version of your film. Finally, Michael will share insider knowledge on effective methods to market and distribute your film that will give you the power to maximize your profits.
From his experience writing and directing 10 feature films, he’ll share his war stories (like losing vital funding in the middle of a shoot) and his strategies for dealing with any obstacle that arises. You’ll be better equipped to deal with mishaps and avoid filmmaking pain points. If you want to make your film and you want to know where to start, how to proceed and how to ensure you walkaway with a masterpiece, this is the webinar for you!
You’ll leave with a comprehensive understanding of what is necessary to succeed as an indie director and gain control over the direction of your career.
Whether it's your first or your 20th, you will walk away with the confidence to shoot your next film.
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! For a live webinar, you will be given the link within 2 business days after the live session.
Taught by 25+ year producer (GOOD WILL HUNTING, AMERICAN PIE, MANCHESTER BY THE SEA), director (KILL THEORY, THE PEOPLE SPEAK) and Project Greenlight Co-Founder, Chris Moore. Want to see a free Q&A with Chris & Stage 32 Founder & CEO Richard Botto? Click here. "I chose to teach at Stage 32 over Masterclass because I believe in their mission. Their education isn't storytelling hour or dated material, it's exclusively about offering practical, actionable, and motivational information on what's happening in the industry right now. This is going to be a fun, but honest 2-part class that will help you navigate the business today." - Chris Moore With so many variables in today’s entertainment industry how do you know the steps to not only give yourself the best chance of breaking in, but also the guidelines on how to sustain a high profile and highly successful career? What if you were able to have a legendary industry veteran look at your current trajectory and give you advice? Stage 32 is going to give you just that. Chris Moore has asked and answered these questions over a remarkable and diverse 25+ year career in entertainment. As an award winning director and producer of over 30 projects such as Oscar-winning Good Will Hunting, American Pie and Oscar-winning Manchester by the Sea Chris has seen and experienced just about everything. And as the co-creator of the wildly successful Project Greenlight, Live Planet (both with Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and Sean Bailey) and The Chair, Chris has made mentoring and teaching creatives serious about a life in entertainment his mission. Chris is here exclusively on Stage 32 to shed a light on the big picture questions that you should be focusing on including: How to manage a career over time What truly matters from a professional and personal standpoint How to take the long view in your approach How to cut out the noise and listen to the “right” voices How to navigate the industry today! Session 1 How to Learn from Your Successes and Failures & Stay Focused on the Career you Desire - Chris will walk through tangible, actionable advice you can walk away with and apply to your own projects and/or jobs. He will provide an overview of the different paths and the resources that can help you reach your goals. ***In this on demand class, Chris will no longer be reviewing loglines and synopsis from students. Session 2 Evaluating & Learning Why and How You Choose the Next Move to Make - Chris will go over a select number of submissions that students have submitted from the first session. He’ll go over, in detail, an analysis of the situation and provide real-time, actionable information to help you better understand how to navigate your next steps. We’ll do our best to chose examples that apply to multiple levels in the industry so you can apply it to your own career.
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.
Learn directly from the Director of Development for Ryan Reynolds' Dark Trick Films! Creating an independent film from scratch is daunting, but immensely rewarding, and can be done with any level of resources. Films under $1MM are especially a sweet spot for many independent filmmakers but certainly come with their sets of challenges. Stage 32 is excited to bring in the development executive for Ryan Reynold's production company Dark Trick Films & TV, Blake Goza, who has spent the last 7 years working projects such as Deadpool, Buried, The Change Up and RIPD. Even though Blake works on some of the most popular films & television of today, it's his personal project - a film entitled Escort - which he made independently for under $1MM that fuels his passion for being a creative. With this webinar, Blake will give you a producer’s perspective on building an independently financed movie, from start to finish, for under one million dollars. Using The Escort as a case study, he will walk you through each stage of the independent process: finding a script, packaging talent, determining a budget, acquiring financing, shooting, post production, and ultimately, distribution. Blake will discuss process specifics, like his decision to attach a sales agent in the early stages of development; what financing options he prefers - the benefits and risks of private equity versus foreign pre-sales; what talent he chose to attach first – the argument for finding your director before making offers to actors; and how to build a release strategy for your film that allows for success as you define it – whether your goal is critical acclaim, commercial exposure, or financial reward, begin with the end in mind, and build a platform that allows you to achieve that goal. If you’ve wanted to produce a film outside of the studio system on a responsible budget, then this class if for you!
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.
Research is a component of almost any writing project-- often, a major component. It gives you the ability to write with authenticity, to better understand your characters, and to find story ideas you might not have otherwise considered. Yet research isn’t just useful for solo writers working on their feature or pilot. Research can make or break your pitch to an executive or allow you to stand out in a special way when trying to bring stakeholders on board. More so, research can help you stand out as a member of a TV writers’ room, building story arcs with your colleagues as part of a writing staff. In almost every situation, research can be a writer’s best friend, but only if you know what you’re doing when starting the research process. Not all research is made equal, and some forms of research will serve writers better than others. The internet makes a practically infinite range of material available to television and feature writers, on almost any subject imaginable. 'Doing research online' in a general way isn't enough. Every writer you're competing with for an open assignment, a staff job, or a slot on a development slate is also 'doing research online.' You need to figure out the most effective way to wield what you learn, which varies from situation to situation and project to project. So what's the best way to approach researching your project? Perhaps even more importantly, what are the most effective strategies for deploying the tool of research to further your writing career? Michael Sonnenschein is a long-time and practiced TV writer who has been staffed on shows like The CW’s 90210, NBC’s political conspiracy thriller CRISIS the original, and the groundbreaking syndicated comedy reality series BLIND DATE. Michael began his career as part of the Disney/ABC Television Fellowship after working as a freelance journalist and reporter for publications like the Village Voice, GQ, LA Weekly and elsewhere. He has also developed and sold several series and pilot pitches; current projects include an unannounced series at a streaming service adapting a novel set in the little-known violent aftermath of the American Revolution, a revisionist history of the Roman Empire, and a legal thriller set in Washington, DC. Michael has been able to sell his projects through his careful use of research and knows the steps to take to get research on your side. Using real Hollywood examples and projects from his own past, Michael will teach you the most effective research strategies for any project you’re working on. He will focus on the specific research processes for writing your own project, pitching to studios and execs, and serving on a TV writers room staff. He’ll also discuss how to make sure your research doesn't backfire and weigh down your pitch, bog down your story, or annoy your showrunner-- all of which happen more often than people realize. He will reveal unusual and little-known research sources that will yield material Google won't show you. He’ll also dive into how to gain research from the real world-- unconventional ways to find out about things, researching through experience, and how to get interview subjects to open up and give you the real stuff you need to tell the story you want to tell. "Every project I've sold, and every writing sample that's gotten me a job, has involved research, and I think that's the norm. But when writers treat research as a blunt instrument, it's often ineffective or even counter-productive. I'll share some specific tools and tactics I use in this underdiscussed part of being a working writer in Hollywood." -Michael Sonnenschein
Some of the most well regarded recent feature films and television shows were based on books, including the Oscar-nominated Little Women, JoJo Rabbit, The Two Popes, The Irishman and the Emmy-nominated Game of Thrones, Chernobyl, Fosse/Verdon, Sharp Objects and many more. Authors spend months, if not years, formulating characters and worlds that make it onto the printed page. This creativity serves as great source material that would translate greatly to the big or small screen. If you're an author who's written a novel and are looking to get it adapted, a screenwriter that's written a script based off a book you have (or would like to obtain) the rights to, or a producer or financier who has the rights or are circling securing the rights to a property you believe would make a great film or TV show, you need to understand the steps to take to obtain the rights, protect yourself legally, and make the development process a smooth and enjoyable ride. Discovering an adaptation-worthy story can be as simple as stumbling across an interesting book or article at a bookstore, library or newsstand. Understanding how to obtain the rights and develop that material effectively is the harder part. It takes meticulous planning and approach to be able to get the rights to the desired intellectual property and successfully adapt and develop the material. Many factors go into getting an adaptation to the screen including negotiations, legal hurdles and making sure you're staying authentic to the source material. Once misstep and it could derail an amazing project. You need to be prepared. Jim Young has produced films adapted off of books and intellectual property such as The Catcher Was a Spy (starring Paul Rudd), Lovelace (starring James Franco, Sharon Stone, and Amanda Seyfried) and The Man Who Knew Infinity (starring Dev Patel, Jeremy Irons, Toby Jones, and Stephen Fry) and Life of King (starring Cuba Gooding Jr.). He's had his films premiere at Sundance, Tribeca, SXSW and has earned himself a reputation of being an expert in adaptations. Through years of working with authors, publishers, talent, financiers and distributors Jim knows how to adapt a book into a film and TV series from start to finish. Jim will teach you how to acquire the rights to a book you're interested and go over where to look for title, how to approach the author and publisher and how to close the deal. He'll give advice on the story development process and how to engage the author during that time, as well as tips on how to avoid liability. You'll learn two essential people you must have in your pre-production phase and how to work with the cast, crew and author on set. You will get insider tips on what to do before your film or TV show hits the screen to gain momentum for your project. And, finally, Jim will give you six legal elements to have in place prior to your project's release. This is must-know information coming from someone who's prolific in producing films based off of books.