As President of Production at Zero Gravity Management, Tai Duncan oversees film projects from inception to completion encompassing all aspects of development, casting, finance and production. Zero Gravity is a production and management company based in Los Angeles that boasts a strong client list of screenwriters, directors, actors and financiers for feature films and television. Tai Duncan recently produced PROUD MARY for Screen Gems starring Taraji P. Henson and HOW IT ENDS for Netflix starring Theo James and Forest Whitaker, HONEST THIEF starring Liam Neeson and THE MARKSMAN starring Liam Neeson. Zero Gravity produced the Warner Brothers, Ben Affleck starring action/thriller THE ACCOUNTANT, the drama A FAMILY MAN starring Gerard Butler and Willem Dafoe and Executive Produced the hit Netflix television show OZARK starring Jason Bateman. Prior to his time at Zero Gravity Management Tai was a producer and Senior Vice President at Paul Schiff Productions, contributing to the feature films: MONA LISA SMILE (Sony Pictures Entertainment), WALKING TALL (MGM), HOOLIGANS (Odd Lot Entertainment) DATE MOVIE, and EPIC MOVIE (New Regency/20th Century Fox). Prior to working with Paul Schiff, Tai worked as an executive at The Donners’ Company, primarily focusing on identifying and procuring new projects and contributing to the creative aspects of the following films: TIMELINE (Paramount), CONSTANTINE (Warner Brothers), XMEN 2 (20th Century Fox) and OUT COLD (Buena Vista/Spyglass Entertainment). Before his time at The Donners’ Company, Tai started in the agent trainee program at the United Talent Agency (UTA). Full Bio »
History is littered with the bones of many failed films which fell apart due to conflicts between the director and producer. While you'll often hear how important it is for a filmmaker to have relationships with all the vital players and department heads on his or her set (and it certainly is), the reality is that the relationship between the director and the lead producer is the one that will begin the earliest and last the longest throughout a particular project. A healthy, cohesive relationship between the film director and the producer will show the cast and crew that a united front has been formed and that everyone is pulling in the same direction. An unhealthy, bifurcated relationship will put the cast and crew on their heels, which will inevitably hurt the project.
Directors and producers are often people of vision and power. Harnessed correctly and collaboratively, that combination can bring out the best in everyone and help to make a project stay on time, on budget, and on message and voice. Harnessed incorrectly, ego and hubris take over. It may seem obvious that communication is the key to assuring that the relationship flourishes, and that's not totally untrue. But the key to a productive and positive relationship between the director and producer is understanding all aspects of what needs to get done, recognizing what the other person's needs are, defining what's worth standing up for and what's worth letting go, and recognizing that at the end of the day, you're both fighting for the same result.
Q&A with Tai
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The world of podcasts has been exploding over recent years. Over 100 million Americans listen to podcasts on a regular basis, and individual shows can have tens of millions of fans. We’re not just talking about nonfiction works like THE DAILY or SERIAL; fiction podcasts are also having a moment as more writers are turning to the audio medium to tell incredible stories. Forebearers like HOMECOMING, LIMETOWN, THE BRIGHT SESSIONS, and WELCOME TO NIGHT VALE have opened the door for a cavalcade of new, exciting, innovative, and truly great audio storytelling. And as the number of fiction podcasts increases, so does this medium’s fan base as millions of people consistently tune in to their favorite fiction programs. Even as film and television production has slowed down or come to a halt, the doors are still wide open for recording podcasts since they can easily be produced remotely and from the comfort of one’s own home. The water’s warm when it comes to creating your own podcast and joining this vibrant community, but it’s still important you make something that’s not only written well but sounds great. The prospect of sound design and audio quality can be daunting for those considering venturing into podcasts. It’s not unusual to believe that you’ll be unable to make a high quality and sharp sounding podcast without expensive equipment and a state-of-the-art recording studio. How good can a podcast sound if it’s being recorded in your closet or kitchen, after all? As it turns out, it can sound pretty good, and it can sound good without you needing to break the bank. But it’s not something you can just put together willy nilly. There’s a delicate, precise science to sound design and it’s something that requires a good amount of wherewithal, and forethought. Yet with this understanding in place, it is absolutely possible to create a professional sounding podcast wherever you are and under any budget. Mischa Stanton is an award-winning and sought after podcast sound designer & producer who has created immersive soundscapes for some of the biggest and most popular podcasts of all time, including LEVAR BURTON READS, Marvel Entertainment’s blockbuster podcast MARVELS, and celebrated science fiction podcast cult hit THE BRIGHT SESSIONS, which is currently in development to be adapted as a television show. Their work has been featured by Wired, Vox, Polygon, Popular Science, The AV Club, and The New York Times, and has garnered 10 Audio Verse Awards for Podcast Sound Design in just 4 years. Mischa has quickly become one of the foremost experts on podcast audio and is prepared to share what they know exclusively with the Stage 32 community. Mischa will walk you through what you need to know to make your own podcast sound professional on a limited budget, from preparation all the way through editing and finalizing. They will begin with a quick introduction of the human ear and a rundown of what psychoacoustics is and why you should consider it moving forward. They will teach you how to build your own home studio, including finding the right place in your home, the inexpensive but effective ways to sound proof your space, and additional purchases you can make to improve acoustics. Next Mischa will give you a rundown of the recording equipment you will need and smart purchases that can work with your budget. This will include microphones, interfaces, mixers, and headphones. Then they will delve into actual techniques to use while recording your podcast, including near/far and mono/binaural techniques and how to effectively record your podcast remotely. They will provide tips on directing your podcast from an audio perspective, including how to properly cast to ensure everyone sounds different and finding the balance between stage and screen styles. They will then walk you through actually running a recording session, how to make the most of your rehearsals, and documents and spreadsheets you should follow. Mischa will also explain how to edit pacing and feel the flow while directing your sessions. Next they will teach you about sound design, including where to get sounds and effects and how to actually lay out a session. They will run down specific techniques you can use to improve your podcast’s soundscape, including EQ, reverb sends, and accessibility. They will also explain the best and worst editing software to use. With Mischa’s knowledge under your belt, you’ll be able to create your own podcast with a sound quality that can stand toe-to-toe with the best of them. Praise for Mischa's Stage 32 Webinar: "This was a tremendously informative and helpful webinar -- well done and time very well spent!!!" -Peggy K. "Well done! Tons of good info!" -Kathleen O. "It was very informative, especially how Mischa explained and demonstrated step by step the process on making a podcast." -Sandra R.
Learn The Fundamentals Of Writing For Television With A Literary Manager Who Recently Staffed Clients On SINGLE DRUNK FEMALE, GINNY & GEORGIA, P-VALLEY, GROWN-ISH, HACKS, UPSHAWS, and more! Last year, a record number of 559 original scripted shows aired on broadcast, cable, and streaming television. From Succession and The Morning Show to Ted Lasso and Abbott Elementary, the most successful TV shows can capture a generation of fans and generate cultural conversations. And every show started with a great pilot script that launched the series. Television pilot structure can be complex but there are several principles that should always be followed. Writers who dream of that coveted “Created By” credit must first develop a sellable concept and compelling characters, then tell a self-contained story in either thirty or sixty minutes that sets up a larger story with an engine strong enough to carry it for multiple seasons. In this exclusive 4-part Stage 32 on-demand class, Audrey Knox, a literary manager at The Cartel, will teach you all of the basic steps required to write a strong TV pilot script so that you can flourish as a TV writer. Audrey has recently staffed her writers on series such as SINGLE DRUNK FEMALE, GINNY & GEORGIA, P-VALLEY, GROWN-ISH, HACKS, UPSHAWS, and more. Whether your goal is to write a pilot script that sells or to write a sample that gets you staffed in the writers’ room of a TV show, the first step is to learn the basics of writing a TV pilot. Many showrunners only give your script five pages before deciding whether you’re worth hiring, and thousands of writers attempt to get their foot in the door in Hollywood every year. Knowing the challenges new television writers face when starting out in TV is essential for building a writing process and knowledge base that helps you overcome them. This class is ideal for feature or novel writers that are looking to write their first TV pilot, TV writers who are looking to take their pilot writing skills to the next level, and new writers who are looking for how to start writing for TV. Praise for Audrey's Teaching: "I can't say enough good things about Audrey. She cares about helping her students and provides very valuable information. I wish she was MY manager!" --Sam R. "I didn't realize how much should go into reaching out to reps until I took this class from Audrey. I was doing it all wrong!" -- Morgan B. "Audrey is one of the best teachers on Stage 32. I can't recommend learning from her enough." -- Sydney M.
Learn the craft and business of screenwriting from David Seidler, the Academy Award winning screenwriter of THE KING'S SPEECH starring Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush PLUS! You'll receive a copy of David's script for THE KING'S SPEECH! A career as a screenwriter can be both highly rewarding and immensely challenging. You’re not only working on the story and structure of your script, but you’re also constantly figuring out the structure and path of your career. Approaching your script and lifelong career are actually quite similar. When you’re writing a scene you need to continually ask yourself “does this scene move my story forward in a meaningful way?” The same applies to the choices you make in your career. The most prolific and successful screenwriters tend to simultaneously hone their craft and career trajectory in tandem. However, how can you work on your screenwriting craft and manage a career as a screenwriter to maximize your success? What elements of the craft of screenwriting should you pay most attention to as you’re starting off and what career decisions should you make that will prove fruitful for your future? How can you build a screenplay and make career choices that will bring you the most creative fulfillment and success? In this exclusive Stage 32 on-demand webinar, Academy Award winning screenwriter David Seidler will take you through the fundamentals of screenwriting to elevate your work as well as the best ways to plan your lifelong screenwriting career. David will walk you through specific choices he made in his Oscar winning screenplay for THE KING’S SPEECH, including story and scene structure, character development and arcs, dialogue choices, and more. You will learn how David approached his writing process for THE KING’S SPEECH and how the artistic and professional choices he made led to him winning the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. David will then walk you through how to navigate your career as a screenwriter and the importance of knowing your destination before you start your journey - in both your script and your career. This webinar is an incredibly unique and rare opportunity to learn the art and business of screenwriting from a master of his craft. Don’t miss the chance to learn from one of the top writers in the industry! PLUS! David will provide you with an exclusive copy of the award winning screenplay for THE KING’S SPEECH that you can use to help hone your screenwriting and storytelling craft. Praise For David's Screenwriting "David Seidler beautifully wove the complexities of the human condition with laughter, heartache and even madness - all for the sake of storytelling." - Rotten Tomatoes "The King’s Speech, written by David Seidler, is moving, informative, and easily engages a broad audience." - Script Magazine
Learn directly from Claire Winters has spent the last fifteen years working as an actor, film and acting teacher, and writer/editor. Testimonials: "Thank you for challenging me to find the best in myself to present to industry professionals. I appreciate your encouragement to embrace all dimensions of myself in how I communicate. It was a pleasure to take your class." - Nikki Jacobs, Actor "It’s not just her writing skill that made working with Claire such a great experience (though she has that in spades), but her insightful questions really got at the heart of what I wanted people to feel when reading my bio. Her knowledge of the entertainment industry also meant that she curated which work experiences the bio highlighted in an effective way. I now have something that I’m proud to share." - Sarah Sido, Actor Do you sit down to write your bio and become paralyzed with fear and second-guessing? Or do you wonder who that blow-hard is you've created staring back at you from the computer screen? As careers in the entertainment industry become ever-more entrepreneurial, it's essential for every creative to have a bio that presents her in her best light. Yet, unfortunately, many bios are too impersonal to make an impact, or too self-effacing to engender confidence, or so egocentric that they turn their readers off. How can you write about your career in a way that sparks interest and begins a professional relationship on the right foot? In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, you'll be lead through exercises on how to tell the story of your career with creativity, intelligence, wit, and, most importantly, in your own distinct voice. Not only will you emerge with a framework for a bio you'll be proud to share, but you'll also have deeper self-respect and inspired ideas for your next steps. PRAISE FOR CLAIRE'S TEACHINGS: "From the moment we began our work together, I found Claire to be an exceptional listener, deeply insightful and someone who truly delivers excellence. I felt seen and known through her words. Though I am a writer, it was through the bio she wrote for me that I fully saw myself and understood the big picture of what I offer. Working with Claire is a beautiful, collaborative process. She invites and encourages all feed back. I thought her first draft was amazing but was so moved by how she refined and strengthened the second draft by leaps and bounds. She out did herself. Work with Claire. She is excellence and artistry embodied." - Heidi Rose Robbins, Author & Speaker "It’s not just her writing skill that made working with Claire such a great experience (though she has that in spades), but her insightful questions really got at the heart of what I wanted people to feel when reading my bio. Her knowledge of the entertainment industry also meant that she curated which work experiences the bio highlighted in an effective way. I now have something that I’m proud to share." - Sarah Sido, Actor "What I loved about the process was that it forced me to really dig deep to find the answers to questions I hadn’t really thought about, but that are so important in the grand scheme of things. I knew going into the process from having taken Claire’s workshop that she would produce something good. What surprised me was her attention to detail, her genuine interest, and how pleasant she is to work with. It really was a fun experience, and in the end my bio wasn’t just good, it was great." - Neil Cox, Actor "Thank you for challenging me to find the best in myself to present to industry professionals. I appreciate your encouragement to embrace all dimensions of myself in how I communicate. It was a pleasure to take your class." - Nikki Jacobs, Actor
Learn the key components for your script that will attract top talent from a WME executive who's worked with Denzel Washington, Michelle Pfeiffer, Liam Neeson, Robert Downey Jr., and more. Do you want to see your script on the big screen? Do you want to write the kind of script that makes A-list actors wants to attach themselves to? A script that agents and managers fight to represent and sell? Then you need a commercial script. WME executive Chris Lockhart has read thousands of scripts and has been tasked with finding the next hit project for talent like Denzel Washington, Michelle Pfeiffer, Liam Neeson, Robert Downey Jr., and many more. In this exclusive Stage 32 on-demand webinar, Chris will show you the key elements he believes need to be in a script to know if it will grab the attention of executives and talent and how to utilize these elements correctly. You’ll cover what a commercial script is, the concepts that sell, how to write this type of script, and how to bring your voice into the script so that it reads like an exciting and fresh piece of material that only you could have written. Chris will be using the script from Top Gun: Maverick as his main example to further dissect these critical elements. Plus! You will receive a download of the Top Gun: Maverick script. Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity to learn from one of Hollywood’s top talent influencers and story editors as you develop your next hit commercial script. Praise for Chris's previous webinar with Stage 32 "Amazing seminar loved it. It was the best I have ever watched or ordered!" - Robert M. "Chris was clear, concise, helpful, and focused. Loved his enthusiasm and humor." - Lori H. "Oh my god, I was laughing all the way through. In between writing about 10 pages of notes. SO much fun and a wealth of knowledge." - Denise G.
Only 3 Spots Still Available - Grab Your Spot Now! Develop, perfect and practice your television series pitch with Emmy-nominated showrunner Todd Slavkin, the showrunner on hit series including SMALLVILLE, SHADOWHUNTERS, MELROSE PLACE 2.0, and most recently THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY! ***Flexible Learning: if you cannot attend any of the sessions live don't worry - you will be sent the links to the recordings of each session within 48 hours of the live session and you will have direct access to Todd on email to ask him any questions about your craft or career so you can keep up at your own pace and schedule.*** Payment plans available - contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details Pitching is an art and a business. If you want to successfully pitch and sell your television series, you not only need to create a standout show, but you need to build a world-class pitch and hone your pitching skills in order to seize the day and win the room. Everything from the structure of your pitch and the visuals in your pitch deck to your tone, voice, body language, and demeanor in the room (or on zoom) is crucial in having a successful pitch. In this interactive Stage 32 8-week pitching lab, you will work directly with veteran television/film writer and top showrunner Todd Slavkin to build your professional TV series pitch and, ultimately, pitch your project to Todd to receive high-level feedback on your work. Todd will teach you the art and craft of pitching and selling your television project to producers, studios and networks/streamers while you build your market ready pitch so you are armed for success. Todd's experiences showrunning series for Disney, The CW, ABC, and more have provided him with an arsenal of showrunning tools that he will share with you to prepare you and your pitch for the marketplace. Todd has worked in all different kinds of genres and has been involved with many popular television shows, including SMALLVILLE, SHADOWHUNTERS and most recently THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY, for which he was nominated for two Emmys. He has written pilots for ABC, NBC, FOX, FREEFORM and The CW, where he developed and was the showrunner of MELROSE PLACE 2.0. Other television credits include NO ORDINARY FAMILY, ALPHAS, DEFIANCE, DOMINION and GUILT. He began his career in features, penning DARK REFLECTION and CONTROL, starring Ray Liotta, Willem Dafoe and Michelle Rodriguez. Over 8 intensive, information-packed weeks, including a one-on-one consultation with Todd where you will work together on your pitch, you will actually craft the verbal and visual sales tools to successfully sell your project. You will delve into pitch structure, voice control, emotional intonation, the effective pause and even how to use sound effects. You will also build and learn how to best use a visual deck/lookbook. Some sessions will also include guests, mainly writers who have had success selling their pitches to major companies and outlets, as well as agents and managers, all sharing their own stories and tips for success. One-on-one time with an industry expert of this caliber is incredibly rare. You will walk away from this lab having built and practiced your TV series pitch with Todd so you can go out into the market and confidently sell your project! And there's never been a better time to have your TV series pitch ready! Praise For Todd's Teaching "Todd's experience and expertise shine through. If you've ever wanted to be a showrunner on a TV series then learn all you can from him." -- Rahime B. "I never realized how much fell on the showrunner before working with Todd. He's a fantastic educator!" -- Meg L. "You brought to the zoom screen the qualities I’m sure you excel at as a showrunner – humour, vulnerability, candidness, insight, patience, wisdom, respect, humility, confidence, inclusion. Each of these words have been selected specifically!" -- Jan R. "I just wanted to send a quick note to say THANK YOU for the wonderful showrunner class! The amount of information given in the 4 classes was incredible and you can tell by the stellar guest speakers that Todd you are truly admired for not only your work, but also for being a kind, thoughtful human :)" -- Sage P "Todd is an absolute angel! This was the most wonderful class I’ve ever taken! If we ever does another class, I’d love to join." -- Lauren M. "I loved Todd's class. Todd is so enthusiastic and informative, he has a true love of teaching. I would take future classes with him, no question. I really came away with an understanding of how showrunning works and the responsibilities and career paths." -- Allyson M.