Thomas A. Crowell, Esq. is an entertainment and intellectual property attorney and partner with the New York law firm of LaneCrowell, LLP. Mr. Crowell counsels clients on a wide range of entertainment law and intellectual property rights issues, including deals with TLC, Elsevier Publishing, Starz, Discovery Communications, Focal Press, the Smithsonian Network, WE: The Women's Entertainment Network, The Science Technology Network, IDW Publishing, and Sony Entertainment. His clients' work is seen in the pages of Marvel and DC comics and on movie, TV, computer, and mobile screens across the world. A frequent columnist for film industry publications, Mr. Crowell is also the author of a best-selling legal guide for independent producers, The Pocket Lawyer for Filmmakers (Focal Press), which has been adopted as a core textbook in many film and law schools across the United States. His latest book is “The Pocket Lawyer for Comic Book Creators” (Focal Press) — is the very first dedicated legal guide for the comic book industry. He currently serves as a series editor for Focal Press and its new line of legal guides for artists. Prior to becoming an attorney, Mr. Crowell was a television producer and the head of business development for one of Japan's premier satellite television news companies, the Science Technology Network. Mr. Crowell began his legal career at KMZ Rosenman, where he established his expertise in entertainment, media, intellectual property protection, and general corporate and commercial matters. In addition to his private practice, as a teacher, Thomas is the co-creator and Director from Practice, emeritus, of the “Indie Film Clinic” at Cardozo Law School, where he has taught courses in film and media law. THIS PRESENTATION HAS BEEN PREPARED FOR EDUCATIONAL AND INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE LEGAL ADVICE OR A LEGAL OPINION. PLEASE BE AWARE THAT QUESTIONS YOU RAISE DURING THE WORKSHOP ARE NOT CONFIDENTIAL. ONLY YOUR ATTORNEY CAN ADVISE YOU WHICH LAWS ARE APPLICABLE TO YOUR SPECIFIC CASE AND SITUATION. Full Bio »
What is the most important element toward your film to landing a distributor? The script? The director? You may be surprised. For many distributors, the choice of one film over another often comes down to whether your film features an actor that audiences recognize. Actors’ performances breathe life into a film, and their fame gives a film its marketing power. Whether you're shooting a student or short film, ultra low budget, low budget or new media, it's important to sign talent that will help move the needle on your project. As important, you must know how to navigate the wide, varied landscape of actor agreements to assure that you are buttoned up legally so that distributors and sales agents are attracted to your project.
Because performers realize the hold they have over a film project, negotiating talent services agreement can be a nail-biting experience. Virtually every recognizable performer has a team of agents, managers, and attorneys ready to protect the actor’s interests and negotiate the best deal they can for their client. For producers, knowing how to negotiate an actor’s contract is critical for the success of their films. Making sure that you have your film set up properly from the legal perspective at the get-go will help put you in the best position to negotiate. And, making sure you know the clauses to look out for during negotiation and how to handle them is crucial.
Thomas A. Crowell, Esq. is an entertainment and intellectual property attorney and partner with the New York law firm of LaneCrowell, LLP. Mr. Crowell counsels clients on a wide range of entertainment law and intellectual property rights issues, including deals with TLC, Elsevier Publishing, Starz, Discovery Communications, Focal Press, the Smithsonian Network, WE: The Women's Entertainment Network, The Science Technology Network, IDW Publishing, and Sony Entertainment. His clients' work is seen in the pages of Marvel and DC comics and on movie, TV, computer, and mobile screens across the world. Throughout his career he's helped hundreds of producers and actors protect themselves when signing the Talent Services Agreement.
Thomas will walk you through labor and employment issues to consider when hiring key cast for your production, as well as give you payroll company resources you can use. You'll learn how to sign you production up as a signatory with SAG-AFTRA and how to be compliant. He will help you determine which union agreement your film will fall under and discuss the differences to consider between a student/short film, ultra low budget, low budget or new media project. Once you understand how to set up your film correctly, he will teach you how you can negotiate with agents, managers and other actor's representatives. Finally, Thomas will go over the key elements of a legal actor/talent services agreement. This is an all encompassing look at the broad landscape of actor's agreements taught with an easy to understand and comprehensive delivery.
Whether you are making student films, short films, feature films, or new media projects with ultra low, low, medium or big budgets, you will learn EXACTLY what you need to get your actor's agreements buttoned up and protected.
"One of the best yet! All are informative and I have learned from each, but this one topped the charts. Definitely want Thomas back. Thanks!"
"This was incredibly detailed. I appreciated that Thomas took a lot of time showing real life examples and included easy to understand descriptions of all the clauses that would make my spin. Well worth the time."
Thomas A. Crowell, Esq.
Very helpful graphics; good pace (not to fast or slow); speaker had high level of knowledge/experience. Very helpful. - J. Marshall
Tons of great information very well explained - Thanks! - R. Heaps
Great job.. Thank you. - R. Miles
One of the best yet! All are informative and I have learned from each, but this one topped the charts. Definitely want him back. Thanks! J. Rose
This webinar has a 100% satisfaction rating! Acquiring the rights to a literary property with an eye towards turning it into a movie or television series is one of your primary responsibilities as a filmmaker or producer. Or, if you’re a writer with a screenplay or someone who owns IP that can be made into a film or TV series, how do you know you’re signing the right contract with a producer? Whether you are looking to acquire a screenplay, article, book, graphic novel or comic book series you need an option/purchase agreement — or is it shopping agreement? Or is it an attachment agreement? Trying to understand which agreement is right for you can make your head spin. But, it’s important to make sure you come to the table with the right agreement to protect yourself upfront and secure all the necessary rights to the amazing property you’re after. At a glance, it seems that there is overlap between the holy trinity of rights agreements: shopping, option/purchase and attachment. Unfortunately, many people confuse the terms and as a result people often end up coming to the bargaining table with very different ideas on what kind of agreement they are — resulting in the creation of Frankensteined-together versions of these three types of contracts. The wrong drafting can leave the writer stripped of their copyrights or producers and filmmakers unable to secure financing because they don’t have the rights they thought they paid for. There are key distinctions between these three agreements and any producer or filmmaker(or on the flipside, writer)must know the difference between them. Experienced entertainment attorney Thomas A. Crowell, Esq. is here to help. Thomas A. Crowell, Esq. counsels clients on a wide range of entertainment law and intellectual property rights issues, including clients who have had deals with TLC, Elsevier Publishing, Starz, Discovery Communications, Focal Press, the Smithsonian Network, WE: The Women's Entertainment Network, The Science Technology Network, IDW Publishing, and Sony Entertainment. His clients' work is seen in the pages of Marvel and DC comics and on movie, TV, computer, and mobile screens across the world. A former television producer and director of development for STN, Thomas has spent the better part of the last two decades creating ways to make difficult legal concepts accessible to creatives. Thomas will give you a solid foundation of the legal issues involved in the acquisition of film rights, as well as a rubric for understanding, negotiating, and drafting key provisions in the option/purchase, shopping agreement, and attachment deals. He will walk you through the basics of copyright law and the legal steps necessary in transferring rights. Next he will discuss common pitfalls writers and producers make when it comes to breaks in the chain of title, joint authorship, and work for hire. Critically, Thomas will spell out the differences between shopping, option/purchase, and attachment agreements and will give invaluable tips on how to negotiate and draft these agreements to ensure you’re getting what you need and not being taken advantage of. You will have the tools you'll need to navigate the murky waters of copyright law and to land the rights to your dream literary property. Plus! Thomas provides you with a 32 page detailed resource guide to help you navigate the nuances of various agreements Praise for Thomas' Stage 32 Webinar “I would wholeheartedly recommend this webinar not only to producers and writers, but to anyone in the business, even if you think you know what you're doing. It's mandatory viewing if you call yourself a professional." - Anna H. "Very informative. Liked how he emphasized applying for copyright. I still thought registering with WGA was enough. Liked how organized his lecture was. I'll watch it again." - Joanne E. "The best I've heard this explained." - Patricia C. "The best webinar I have taken here so far. Great visuals, clear explanations, relevant topic." - Maritere Y. "Thomas was excellent. Articulate, helpful diagrams, and I liked his delivery and vast experience as a producer and lawyer." - Virginia K
Creating a movie is more than just a labor of love: it's also an investment of time and money. But while countless hours are spent raising money, putting the project together, setting up shots, and editing footage, many producers and filmmakers spend too little time or have little understanding of how to take care of the legal aspects of their productions. As a result, producers and filmmakers often learn the difficult lesson that no matter how good their films may be, a distributor can't sell a movie unless all of the necessary rights and permissions have been secured. In fact, without the correct agreements in place, filmmakers may be surprised to find out that they may not even own their own films! For the last 2 decades, Thomas Crowell has been one of the most respected legal voices in the entertainment industry. He's helped countless filmmakers and producers get protected and stay protected throughout the life of their projects. He'll be using real documents and legal examples to show you in layman's terms how to avoid the biggest traps filmmakers and producers fall into. No matter what budget range you're working in, his information is actionable and applicable. Whether you have a finished film, a script, or the beginnings of an idea for a television program, this course will show you how to spot the top legal problems filmmakers and producers face… and give you a set of tools you can use to tackle them! "One of the best webinars yet! All are informative and I have learned from each, but this one topped the charts. Calmly and clearly explained every pitfall I fear. Definitely want him back. Thanks!" - J. Rose
The script is finally ready…now, how do you prepare for your first day on set? There are a lot of factors that go into preparing for your film shoot. We’ve brought in producer, Samm Haillay, to talk about the process from script to set. Samm is an eight-time feature film producer, whose films have premiered at Cannes, Venice, Sundance, SXSW and who’s film Island of the Hungry Ghosts won best Feature documentary at 2018 Tribeca Film Festival. He’ll be going over everything from schedule, budget, casting, locations and more to get you prepared for day one. He’ll be sharing his decades of experience and helping you avoid common mistakes made, as you get ready to shoot your film.
There are a lot of reasons why the surge in popularity of podcasts is so exciting right now. It makes that rush hour commute to work much more enjoyable for millions of people every day. It opens up avenues for more stories to be discovered and more storytellers to create. And it’s a format that can be a lot easier and more affordable for independent artists to produce. You don’t need cameras, you don’t need a set; you just need a quiet room and a couple of microphones. And unlike visual media, podcasts provide a format where high concept, traditionally expensive genres like fantasy, action, and science fiction are just as achievable as more contained styles—if you want an alien in your podcast, for instance, you don’t need to invest in CGI; you just need an actor to say “Look! There’s an alien!” The art form of podcasts can be an equalizer in a way film and television have never been. It gives independent voices the ability to create something great and display their abilities, all without having to take out a mortgage. Plus, it gives you the ability to create IP that you control - all while helping you build a loyal following to serve as champions to help you carry your message. That’s not to say producing podcasts is a walk in the park. There is a whole lot that goes into it, and there is a lot you need to do as a podcast producer to ensure your project sounds good, feels professional, and holds its own against the big guns. It might be less expensive, but making the foray into audio fiction can be a daunting prospect if you’ve only worked in film and television (or have never produced before). There are some questions where you might not even know where to start: How do you find and cast voice actors? What kind of microphone should you use? How do you edit audio? What about sound effects? Do you make them yourself or can you source them from somewhere? What aspects of production should you be investing most of your money in? And once you have a finished product, where do you even put it so people can start listening? Mike Disa is currently the director of the highly praised Netflix show Paradise PD and has been working in the industry, both in television and features, for two decades. With no film training or knowledge of the byzantine workings of the entertainment business, he eventually found success and has worked with studios such as Dreamworks, Disney, Warner Bros., Paramount, and many others. Over a fascinating career, Mike has worked with some of the greatest and most infamous people in Hollywood including Steven Spielberg, Eric Goldberg, Ralph Bakshi, Glenn Close, Steve Oedekerk, David Tennant, Amy Poehler, Adam Sandler, Jeffery Katzenberg and Roy Disney. Always an innovator, Mike recognized the interesting time right now for developing material based off of IP and took it upon himself to adapt his feature script SENTINELS: POINT OF NO RETURN into a 12-part podcast series, which is now produced. Having recently gone through the experience Mike is excited to share his approach and his lessons learned producing his adaptation exclusively with the Stage 32 community. Mike will walk you through everything you need to know to produce your own successful podcast. He’ll begin by discussing pre-production and how to know when your script is podcast-ready. He’ll give you tips on finding and setting up your recording and delve into the audio equipment you’ll need to invest in, including how to find the right microphone that’s also affordable. Mike will also discuss the process of casting, finding the right voice actors for your parts and how to navigate read-throughs and rehearsals. Next Mike will teach you how to actually produce your podcast, including how exactly to record, recording pitfalls you should avoid, and what the directing process looks like. Then he will discuss podcast post-production and how to use your recordings to paint a full audio picture. He’ll tell you which editing software to use and how to find music and sound effects to compliment you project. He’ll also discuss where to take your project for post-effects. Finally, Mike will go over how to distribute your finished podcast. He’ll outline hosting services that are available and how to upload your episodes online. He will give you tips on how to create your own website for the podcast and how to publicize it. He’ll also explain why you don’t want to charge money for the final podcast. Throughout, Mike will illustrate the process by using anecdotes and lessons learned from his own podcast SENTINELS: POINT OF NO RETURN. Expect to walk away with a full picture of the steps you need to take to produce, record and distribute your own successful podcast. Praise for Mike's Stage 32 Webinar: It was outstanding. Mike was thorough and generous with his own experiences. Very very well done. -Rebecca R. The webinar was well structured with clear and informative slides. Mike gave so much information in a way anyone could understand even with out any industry knowledge. -Justine W. I thought Mike as a great teacher. I loved the content and his ability to share his knowledge and experience in a very upbeat way. -Rama R. I have been curious about Podcasting so joined this Webinar. Mike was meticulously detailed about the ins and outs of it from beginning to end. I took copious notes; I was fascinated by everything he said and he said every thing that needed to be said about the entire process. He was so detailed, stressed what NOT to do as well as HOW to do it. He is a superb instructor. It could not have been presented in a more succinct manner. -Marietta K.
Quick, name your 5 favorite movies of all time. Chances are they are all encompass different genres and various worlds and journeys. But likely, they all have one thing in common: A memorable and multi-dimensional protagonist. Writing lead characters can be tricky. They're usually the first character that comes to mind when we're crafting our story. As such, we tend to have definitive, even strict, ideas of how that character will dress, how he or she will behave, and even what happens to them along the way. As such, many writers end up crafting their leads as rigid and one-dimensional. As a result, their lead character becomes passive and the supporting characters end up being much more proactive and interesting. Writing a truly memorable lead character takes a full understanding of your character's wants, needs, obstacles, flaws and much more. It means digging into the psychology of your lead before you begin writing so that you can make wonderful, informed discoveries throughout the writing process. With a constant parade of franchise sequels, remakes, and reboots, it’s become harder than ever to create a unique and nuanced lead that audiences feel they haven’t seen before. And in a marketplace crowded with more of the same, it’s never been more essential (and potentially lucrative) for screenwriters to set their work apart. In addition, with the explosion of content being created for the streaming platforms, it's more important than ever, no matter whether you're writing features or TV, that you be able to create lead characters that development execs, producers, showrunners, and financiers can't deny and want to follow into fire. That uniqueness in voice and vision is getting writers signed, sold, staffed, and more and more work than ever before. So how can writers create characters that appeal to a wide audience without sacrificing the very qualities that make them singular? Tyler Ruggeri is a writer with over a decade of experience on both sides of the entertainment industry. His original screenplay The Making Of Rock Hudson sold to veteran producers Celine Rattray (The Kids Are Alright, Bernie) and Trudie Styler (Moon) of Maven Pictures. He is currently adapting a critically acclaimed non-fiction book and writing an original action drama. Prior to his writing career, Tyler was a talent manager at Exile Entertainment, where he represented screenwriters and directors while developing the company’s slate of projects. He signed emerging filmmakers including Lee Patterson (Nicholl Fellowship winner for Snatched) and Damien Chazelle, whose film Whiplash was nominated for five Academy Awards (including Best Adapted Screenplay) and won three, as well as the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival. In addition to Whiplash, scripts he developed with clients have sold to A-list producers/financiers and garnered industry attention and assignments from major studios. Tyler has read thousands of screenplays and knows first hand what makes a memorable and multi-dimensional protagonist. And now for the 2nd time, exclusively for Stage 32, Tyler is back to teach you how to write interesting and complicated characters that audiences can root for without sacrificing depth. Tyler will focus on studying (and deconstructing) the building blocks of movie protagonists in a straightforward, fun, and easy to digest format. He’ll discuss character in a macro-level approach while zeroing in on recent examples from popular films. He will teach you about making meaningful choices for your characters and how you can't be afraid to make the tough choice. He will delve into your characters wants, needs, and goals. He will discuss whether you lead character needs to be likable. He will teach you all the rules of writing characters and show you how you can break those rules to stand out from the crowd and make an exec turn pages. He will teach you all the tips and tricks of character building that he's learned over the last 10+ years of working with writers and reading scripts. He'll even discuss writer's block - if there is such a thing - and how to get beyond it all and keep writing. In short, he will teach you everything to have your lead characters jumping from the page and pulling the reader along for his or her journey. "Tyler is an extremely articulate presenter. It really helped to have such specific information about how a character can be multi-dimensional. I already see the issues with my protagonist and can't wait to get it all fixed!" - Becca B. "I took pages and pages of notes, thank you! Very well delivered, Tyler clearly had a vast knowledge of the subject. I really enjoyed it!" - Natalie E. "Thank you for bringing Tyler back. One of my favorite Stage 32 educators! This seemed like a week's worth of material delivered concisely and deliberately. I'm so grateful! - Bob K.
Learn directly from Producer Mitchell Peck, who has produced 3 studio movies with worldwide distribution! Hollywood is a global aspiration. This year, 80+ countries submitted films for Academy Awards consideration. And the number of aspiring screenwriters is growing every year thanks to websites like Stage 32, and others. Tech and resource barriers to entry for filmmakers are being lowered, with DSLR's, iPhones, online distribution, social media, etc. Financing is easier than ever before, thanks to options like Slated, Indiegogo, Kickstarter, etc. Filmmaking is finally a democratic medium. Yet, at the same time, Hollywood remains largely impenetrable -- and opaque -- to outsiders. Literary agencies, production companies and movie studios will not read "unsolicited submissions." Hollywood is an inefficient system; good material falls through the cracks all the time. For 20 years in Hollywood as a movie producer, Producer Mitchell Peck has specialized in identifying material (scripts, books, articles, life-rights, etc.) and aspiring screenwriters from outside the Hollywood system -- and successfully guiding them into Hollywood's best literary agencies, top management-production companies, and major movie studios. (Check out some of Mitchell’s success stories on his website below). Few producers can boast the same track-record of success as Mitchell on behalf of aspiring screenwriters. In this webinar, "Anatomy of a Hollywood Movie Deal: 7 Case Studies of Success with Producer Mitchell Peck” Mitchell will shed light on -- and hopefully demystify -- the process of successfully navigating the Hollywood marketplace by sharing highlights from seven (7) Hollywood movie deals in which he successfully guided aspiring screenwriters to top agency representation, script development deals, and-or produced studio movies with worldwide distribution.