Jaia Thomas is an entertainment attorney with over nine years of legal experience assisting clients with transactional and intellectual property matters. She regularly counsels filmmakers and producers on all aspects of film financing, production and distribution. She also regularly assists content creators with federal copyright registration and licensing. Ms. Thomas is an adjunct instructor at UCLA, where she teaches a course titled, “Copyright Law in the Entertainment Industries.” The course provides students with an overview of copyright protection and how it affects the television, film, fashion and new media industries. Prior to her appointment at UCLA, Ms. Thomas was an adjunct instructor at American University, where she taught graduate producing students about production company formation. She provided students with the tools necessary to launch and sustain their own television and film production companies. Ms. Thomas is a regular legal contributor for Entrepreneur Magazine, where she regularly writes about the intersection of entrepreneurship, entertainment and intellectual property law. Jaia Thomas is a graduate of Colgate University (BA) and The George Washington University Law School (JD). She also holds a Certificate in Television, Film and New Media Production from University of California, Los Angeles Full Bio »
In an industry built on storytelling there’s nothing more valuable than ideas. A good idea or good story can take you far in Hollywood, but it also makes you vulnerable. From Avatar to Empire, hundreds of films and television shows have been faced with infringement and idea theft lawsuits over the years. While the film and television industry can be an exciting and supportive place, this is not always the case and it’s more common than it should be for writers’ ideas or stories to be stolen. Without the proper protection and forethought, this can leave creatives at risk.
As the saying goes, it’s a jungle out there, and the risk of having your ideas stolen is unfortunately always a possibility, as is the possibility of being accused of doing this yourself. It’s important to always be vigilant and aware of these dangers. Yet this does not mean it’s open season on creators. Whether you’re concerned about having your idea stolen or facing lawsuits of your own, there are important steps you must take to ensure you and your intellectual property remain protected. There will always be a risk of being taken advantage of, but better understanding the dangers as well as how to protect and copyright your work will put you in a much safer and more secure position.
Jaia Thomas is an entertainment attorney with over ten years of legal experience who has brokered deals with companies like ABC, NBC, HBO, and Bravo and has been quoted as a legal expert in such publications as The New York Times, USA Today and ESPN. Jaia regularly assists clients with transactional and intellectual property matters and counsels filmmakers and producers on all aspects of film financing, production and distribution. She also regularly assists content creators with federal copyright registration and licensing and has had several works published in the American Bar Association, National Bar Association and multiple law journals. Through her many years specializing in federal copyright registration and licensing, Jaia has become an expert on how creators can keep their projects safe, and is ready to share what she knows exclusively with the Stage 32 community.
Drawing from her many years of legal experience successfully assisting filmmakers with transactional and intellectual property matters Jaia will provide you with all the legal tools necessary to protect any and every type of script and screenplay. She will begin by discussing copyright registration. She’ll explain how to register a script with the US copyright office and explain the legal advantages of doing this. She’ll also debunk common misconceptions such as the “Poor Man’s Copyright”. Next she will explain what goes into Writers Guild registration. She’ll outline how to register a script, idea or outline with the Guild and explain the legal advantages and disadvantages of doing so. She’ll also delve into the key distinctions between registering with the US Copyright Office and Writers Guild. Jaia will then go over idea protection and theft. She’ll teach you how to protect a television show or reality show in its idea form and will outline the legal requirements for filing an idea theft claim in New York and California. She’ll even go through a case study of the seminal idea theft court case Desny V. Wilder from 1956. Finally Jaia will provide you with additional precautionary measures you can take in protecting yourself, including mobile apps, digital watermarks, confidentiality agreements and non-disclosure agreements. Expect to leave knowing exactly how to protect your current and future ideas, scripts and projects.
Praise for Jaia's Stage 32 Webinar
"Highly informative. Thank you Jaia Thomas!"
"Great webinar with invaluable tips and advice. Great presentation and presenter. Very pleased and satisfied."
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Learn how to protect your content online directly from Jaia Thomas, an Entertainment Attorney who specializes in federal copyright registration and licensing as well as film financing, production and distribution! Content creators are increasingly relying on digital and social media platforms to build their brand. Whether you’re a screenwriter, an actor, comedian, or anything, creating content for platforms like Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo, TikTok, and Instagram can be a powerful way to be discovered, find fans, and give yourself the chance for bigger opportunities. Yet despite the positives, the internet isn’t exactly the safest place, and having your work stolen or plagiarized is unfortunately far too common. Keeping your content protected on online platforms can be complicated but if you put your own work online, it’s crucial you first understand how to best legally protect yourself. Just because your work is posted and widely accessible on platforms like Twitter or Instagram doesn’t mean you can’t take steps to have it protected. The internet can be tricky, but it’s not the wild west it once was. Understanding how to be safe and what happens to your ideas when they’re posted can make all the difference. For instance are your YouTube videos protected under the U.S. Copyright Act? Who owns your tweet or snap? And what steps can you take from the outset to dissuade people from stealing your work? Better understanding the legal side of this world and being aware of the steps you can (and should) take is incredibly important if you’re interested in building your online presence and putting your own ideas out there for everyone to see. Jaia Thomas is an entertainment attorney with over ten years of legal experience who has brokered deals with companies like ABC, NBC, HBO, and Bravo and has been quoted as a legal expert in such publications as The New York Times, USA Today and ESPN. Jaia regularly assists clients with transactional and intellectual property matters and counsels filmmakers and producers on all aspects of film financing, production and distribution. She also regularly assists content creators with federal copyright registration and licensing and has had several works published in the American Bar Association, National Bar Association and multiple law journals. Through her many years specializing in federal copyright registration and licensing, Jaia has become an expert on how creators can keep their work safe, and is going to share what she knows exclusively with the Stage 32 community. Jaia will equip you with the tools necessary to protect your work and ideas in an increasingly online world. She will first outline the copyright registration process and how it applies to online content She’ll even go through step-by-step how to get your online work registered with the U.S. Copyright Office. Next she will delve into specific online sites and platforms, discuss their terms and conditions and give you tips on how to protect your work on each. This includes YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and Faceboook. Jaia will discuss legal issues surrounding the ownership of social media posts. She will also highlight recent infringement lawsuits in the entertainment industry surrounding content being shared on social media platforms. Lastly, Jaia will discuss the requisite steps necessary to remove infringing material from the web.
Learn directly from Jeff Kitchen, 20-Year Advanced Screenwriting Teacher who has taught Development Executives at all of the major Hollywood Studios! This course was previously recorded. All sessions now available on demand. It's for seasoned writers and development executives; Beginners are absolutely welcome, but please be aware this will be high-impact and fast paced. Dramatic writing is considered the most elusive of all the literary disciplines, and plot construction is notoriously tricky. You must weld together a seething amalgam of ideas, actions, characters, and powerful moments—and the finished product has to roll out one scene after another in a specific order to create maximum dramatic impact. The story has to move ahead crisply and grip the audience in a powerful transformative experience, in any genre. Even seasoned pros struggle with this. Stage 32 Next Level Education is thrilled to bring you our first ever Advanced Screenwriting 10 Week Working Writers Lab! This lab is taught by Jeff Kitchen, who has taught his three-step process, Sequence, Proposition, Plot, to development executives from all the major Hollywood studios—and they consistently say it’s the most advanced development tool in the film industry. Now, for the first time anywhere, Jeff is doing a high-intensity training program on this remarkable tool, an exclusive for Stage 32! In this lab, Jeff will train you in the detailed mechanics of how to work with reverse cause and effect and sophisticated conflict structuring to strip your story down to its absolute essentials and make it work. Then once you got your core story solid, you use Sequence, Proposition, Plot to systematically build out each of the acts, then all the major sequences, and finally all the scenes, writing each scene as you structure it. This gives you a remarkably solid working draft of your story. The lab will be a high-intensity training program, focusing entirely on technique, so you learn how to turn a fairly developed idea into a structured outline that gradually knits all your story elements into a coherent script, developing details as they becomes necessary, and creating gripping conflict that keeps the audience on the edge of their seats. Sequence, Proposition, Plot enables you to take all the energy that goes into rewrites and engineer your script properly before you write it. Because this is a highly intensive, hands-on format, Jeff will use a mix of lecture, drills, analysis, class work, and homework. Each person should be familiar with the movie, Training Day, starring Denzel Washington. The last hour of each class will be spent building an original story as a class, with each person constructing their own version of the practice story as they learn the detailed mechanics of using this tool fully and properly. The last two sessions will be devoted entirely to intensive work with the demo script that each person is building, structuring scenes and writing dialog based on the deep structure that you’ve developed and constructed. You will emerge with a powerful mastery of this tool, and the habits of mind of the trained dramatist. Class Breakdown: Session 1: Introduction and Instruction on Sequence Work backwards to create a tight chain of cause and effect Separate the necessary from the unnecessary Find the spine of your story, unencumbered by unnecessary detail Get the big picture working, then gradually develop the details Apply reverse cause and effect (Sequence) to the overall story for the practice script Session 2: Instruction on Proposition, Plot Build the core conflict and get the audience on the edge of their seat This works in any genre Test for power and amplify conflict where needed Set up a potential fight and touch off a fight to the finish Apply Proposition, Plot to the overall story for the practice script Session 3: Dramatic Action Create continuous, coherent, compelling dramatic action Work from the macro down to the micro Gradually develop and weave in detail as it becomes necessary Break the overall story down into acts Apply Sequence, Proposition, Plot to Act I of the practice script Session 4: Writer’s Objective vs. Protagonist’s Objective Learn the difference between the writer’s objective and the protagonist’s objective Create structural unity, with each part serving the whole A sense of proportion orients you in the proper use of this tool Find the holes in your story and create solutions as you flesh the story in Do Sequence, Proposition, Plot for Act II of the practice script Session 5: Cause and Effect Find the cause of an effect, not what came before it If the big picture doesn’t work then the details do not matter An argument actually consist of two opposing arguments Do Sequence, Proposition, Plot for Act III of the practice script Session 6: The Central Dramatic Question Going on the offensive—a declaration of war The central dramatic question does not occur in the middle of the script Break each act down into sequences Apply Sequence, Proposition, Plot to Act I, Sequence 1 in the practice script Session 7: Create Order From Chaos Chaos is crucial to story creation. Order is crucial to plot construction Learn to stay on track with reverse cause and effect, and not follow false trails Know that your storytelling has to be top notch because well-structured crap is still crap Apply Sequence, Proposition, Plot to Act I, Sequence 2 in the practice script Session 8: How To Engineer Your Script Before You Start Writing Engineer your screenplay before you write it and save many rewrites Attack the audience Be the master of the tools, not their servant Break down sequences into scenes Apply Sequence, Proposition, Plot to Sequence 1, Scene 1 in the practice script Session 9: Work On Practice Script Total work session using Sequence, Proposition, Plot on the practice script Apply Sequence, Proposition, Plot to Sequence 1, Scene 2 in the practice script Then write the dialog for that scene Apply Sequence, Proposition, Plot to Sequence 1, Scene 3 in the practice script Then write the dialog for that scene Session 10: Wrap Up Total work session using Sequence, Proposition, Plot on the practice script Apply Sequence, Proposition, Plot to Sequence 2, Scene 1 in the practice script Then write the dialog for that scene Apply Sequence, Proposition, Plot to Sequence 2, Scene 2 in the practice script Then write the dialog for that scene Keep going until we drop About The Instructor, Jeff Kitchen: Jeff Kitchen has been one of the top screenwriting teachers in the film industry for twenty years, and is a sought-after script consultant. He worked as a dramaturg and taught playwriting in New York theater, and is the author of Writing a Great Movie: Key Tools for Successful Screenwriting. Jeff has taught development executives from all the major Hollywood studios and they consistently say that he teaches the most advanced development tools in the film industry. You can read more about him on his website: www.DevelopmentHeaven.com. Testimonials About Jeff Kitchen: “I've worked with Jeff one-on-one for many of my projects. His tools and insights push me to explore the material in a deeper way — and find the dramatic core of the situation. I know he's made me a better writer and made my process more organized and more effective. I highly recommend his book, his classes, and his personal attention.” - Jessica Sharzer - Writer/Producer - American Horror Story “Jeff Kitchen’s writing techniques and teaching have been invaluable tools in my own creative work. His attention to character, process, and form have informed all of my work and will continue to do so. I start every script with the simple question that Jeff asks daily, “What do you want to leave the audience with?” The question and Jeff’s teaching form the foundation for compelling, honest work.” - Ted Melfi - Writer/Director - St. Vincent “Your seminar for Development Executives was by far the best seminar I have ever taken. I have found the tools you discussed to be very instrumental in my analysis of scripts on a day to day basis. Your class is the most comprehensive one offered as far as making people understand how to apply the tools and make them work. This was one class that I can honestly say has helped me to become a stronger executive. I am very grateful to you. I recommend your seminar to anyone in the entertainment industry who wants to know what it takes to make a strong script.” - Jen Grisanti - Story/Career Consultant at Jen Grisanti Consultancy Inc.; Writing Instructor for NBC’s Writers on the Verge; former 12-year studio executive “I found your class to be user-friendly and very informative. I especially enjoyed your technique of working backwards from the climax--it really helps to streamline a screenplay and strengthen the throughline. I highly recommend this class to screenwriters of all levels of proficiency.” - Debra Meringa - Sony Pictures “Having taken virtually every screenwriting course in existence, I found Jeff Kitchen's workshop to be the most valuable in town. His techniques and tools guide one through the entire process of screenwriting: from basic concept to general script structure and further down to the scene level. Jeff is a master teacher who truly understands the art and technique of the screenplay. His course is worth its weight in gold.” - Chris Brancato - Writer - Hannibal, Law & Order: Criminal Intent “From within the swarm of gimmicky screenwriting seminars and trendy new how-to's, it is Jeff Kitchen's approach, relying heavily on the classic principles of dramatic structure and logic that emerges as truly innovative. His technique is the answer for anyone seeking practical tools with which to diagnose script problems, generate effective solutions, or transform story ideas into compelling drama. Jeff's seminars are aggressive; they are work sessions that produce real results immediately. Come with your sleeves rolled up”. - Erin Quigley - Producer, Development Exec., 23 Red Prods. “Jeff Kitchen’s technique and his dedication to the art of screenwriting taught me writing skills that took my script to a whole new level. I’ve never seen anything like what he teaches, and it works better than anything out there. After taking his course I got top representation and sold a script to New Line Cinema.” - Sam Brown, Screenwriter “I recently attended Jeffrey Kitchen's screenwriting seminar and cannot praise it too highly. He is one of the best teachers I've ever had. His attributes are that rare to find. First, he is clear and concise and is a master of the techniques he teaches. Secondly, he has infinite patience and instinctive generosity so that everyone feels that their project is worthwhile, even as he uncovers its flaws. The technique he teaches is truly extraordinary and Jeffrey, it turns out, may be the only person in the world using it in this particular way. I have taken other screenwriting courses and his is head and shoulders above them all. As a result of Jeffrey's course I feel much more secure in my writing. I finally feel that my script will have the best possible structure.” - Mira Tweti, Screenwriter “Jeff Kitchen teaches the most powerful and practical screenwriting tools in the business. I’ve studied numerous techniques, but Jeff is the first person I’ve met who presents a fully developed craft that screenwriters can actually use. His expertise unlocked, energized, and structured a script that I was completely stumped on and now a major studio is considering it for an A-list actress.” - Jon Van Dyke, Writer-Director “Years ago, I was fortunate to begin my ongoing training with the generation of masters that first wrote for stage, then live television, and then film. Jeffrey is one of the few contemporary writer-teachers with a grounding in those ageless techniques of good drama, a tradition rarely passed to current generations.” - George Higginson, Screenwriter “Jeff Kitchen is the best screenwriting teacher in the world.” - Tom Huckabee, Executive Producer, Frailty To read Jeff Kitchen's book, Writing a Great Movie: Key Tools for Successful Screenwriting click here!
Can you tell your whole story in just six sentences? This month, we're challenging you to use Pixar's dead-simple approach to outlining to breakdown your story or help you come up with something completely new!
We hear all the time that “nobody does period pieces”, but when you turn on the television you can’t go three clicks without finding historical fiction. The fact is that the market is hot right now and if you have an idea for a historical fiction project now is your time to get it in shape for the market. Shows like The Spanish Princess, American Crime Story: The Assassination of Giani Versace, Babylon Berlin, Call the Midwife and more are dominating the airwaves with controversial plot lines and characters that rivet us. But you have to know how to create a project that cuts through the noise.When embarking on developing a story about a historical person, place, or event, often times it is easy to get wrapped up on the specific details of how history was written. But the fact is is that the best shows we watch today bend that reality and bring historical period into a more modern era that audiences want to watch. When an executive reads a project they will know right off the bat if they are embarking on true storytelling that will captivate today’s modern audience and not just be a biographical retelling of the past. You need to understand what type of intellectual property gives you the link up for historical project. Also, you need to understand how to write the world and the characters to be able to get an idea of what you are up against in the marketplace. We’re here to show your how. Anna Henry is a Producer and Development Executive who has worked at CBS, ABC, Nickelodeon, and multiple production companies, as well as a manager at Andrea Simon Entertainment. Her clients have worked on shows such as THE DEUCE, POWER, IN CONTEMPT, TOMMY, VIDA, SEVEN SECONDS, HUNG, CHICAGO FIRE, FEAR THE WALKING DEAD, THIS IS US, and THE FLASH, and have set up projects at AMC, Amazon, Starz, HBO, Sony, Fox, EOne, ITV America, OddLot Entertainment, Corus, and others. Anna has projects currently in development around the world and is incredibly familiar with what goes into a great television pilot. Praise for Anna's Stage 32 webinar: "The webinar was fantastic. I am writing my first one hour drama pilot so this webinar was packed with the exact information that I will be immediately putting to use in my rewrite. The slides were clear, concise and informative. The speaker was excellent at conveying the information I needed." -Bobby C. "It was really great information. Anna was a terrific host, very knowledgeable and shared a lot of information and tips." -Marla H. "Comprehensive, insightful. Combined a lot of material I had heard snippets of on character, world dev, etc. but artfully stitched together in one presentation." -James F. "It was amazing, enlightening - completely. I learned soooo much - especially as a feature writer who's been asked to turn a feature script into a pilot!! Thank you soooooo much." -Kristin G.
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.
Award-winning editor Won Novalis shows you the massive creative and financial benefits of working with your editor early, that he's learned working with big-name clients including GE, United Way, Microsoft Bing, and more. Your film's editor is one of the few positions making key creative decisions on your project. However, many productions don’t hire or bring in editors until after the footage is shot. Including an editor early and understanding what they offer gives you new insights, saves you time and money, and ultimately results in a superior product, giving you the competitive edge. Large-scale studio projects understand the critical value of consulting with their post-production teams as early as the storyboarding process. Doing so strengthens the narrative and saves time as the editors get to work during principal photography. Whether you’re a producer, director, or editor, this exclusive Stage 32 webinar will show you what editors do and the fantastic benefits of working with your editor early on, including: The link between the editing and cinematography The editorial onboarding process What directors can do to empower their editor How editors read scripts to eliminate common redundancies Finding opportunities to better utilize visuals or audio to engage the senses Creating a pre-visualization The benefits of editing during principal photography And so much more Walking you through understanding this impactful role is award-winning editor Won Novalis. He is the co-owner and founder of the production company Cry, where he works with clients all over the US. Won brings incredible versatility to his work as an editor and storyteller, and has worked for commercial clients GE, Microsoft Bing, Johannes Leonardo, Razor Fish, the United Way, Goodwill, and Delta, among others. By the end of this webinar, you’ll understand how lower-budget and independent projects can benefit from an editor’s fresh perspective and great skills, ultimately creating a better project overall. TESTIMONIALS FROM PREVIOUS EDUCATION FROM WON: "I've cried so many times over long editing days. Nova is so smart and passionate, and gives the best feedback on edits that I know I'll never have those same issues again!" - Jack K.