Arjan Brentjes started his career as a painter, but made the transition to filmmaking later in recent years. Since 2010 Arjan has been creating award-winning animated short films, including this year's SAD BEAUTY, which is a Raindance nominee and slated to play almost 30 film festivals in 2020 alone. Molly Manning Walker is a cinematographer and director based in London. Her debut short film GOOD THANKS, YOU? premiered at 2020’s Semaine De La Critique and screened are BFI London, Bilbao and Palm Springs, as well as the upcoming Raindance Film Festival. She recently completed THE FORGOTTEN C which was commissioned by The Uncertain Kingdom. Will Niava is an Ivorian-Ghanaian film director based in Montréal, Canada who has directed and edited a number of projects around the world. His debut short film ZOO won Stage 32's 5th Annual Short Film Contest and is currently selected at over 40 international film festivals, including Raindance Film Festival. The film is set to be release on The Criterion Collection Chanel paired up with Jaques Audiard’s “ A Prophet”. Will just wrapped the shooting of his 2nd short film “Element” in Cote D’ivoire, all the while preparing his first feature film experience in Ghana, co-writing alongside the Oscar-nominated director Jérémy Comte. Your Moderator: Amanda Toney, Managing Director, Stage 32 Amanda is a producer best known for WHAT LIES AHEAD starring Rumer Willis and Emma Dumont and METAPHORMS, a Hungarian production which premiered at the Raindance Film Festival. She recently sold an unscripted TV show to a major US network. Full Bio »
Stage 32 is proud to continue our partnership with Raindance Film Festival for the 5th year in a row, and while we may not be able to all come together in London to celebrate so many amazing and talented filmmakers, we're thrilled to partner with Raindance to highlight global talent virtually and from the comfort and safety of our own homes.
Even in its virtual format, Raindance continues to showcase and champion the best new films from all over the world, and included in this year's incredible program is a collection of remarkable short films. Stage 32 is bringing together some of the world's top up and coming short filmmakers whose most recent films are playing Raindance.
Included in this conversation will be Arjan Brentjes, whose animated short film SAD BEAUTY is playing at Raindance, along with almost 30 other film festivals this year alone. Also featured will be London-based director and cinematographer Molly Manning Walker whose debut short film GOOD THANKS, YOU? will be playing this year's Raindance in addition BFI London, Bilbao, and Palm Springs Film Festivals. Rounding out the panel, is Will Niava, an Ivorian-Ghanaian film director based in Montréal, Canada, whose film ZOO won Stage 32's 5th Annual Short Film Contest and is currently selected at over 40 international film festivals.
In this FREE Stage 32 webinar, Arjan, Molly, and Will will take part in an exclusive Q&A moderated by our very own Stage 32 Managing Director Amanda Toney to discuss the state of short filmmaking today and how they put together their most recent projects.
Top Short Filmmakers
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In today’s climate, independent filmmakers and producers are expected to make their movies on lower and lower budgets. This is hard enough for a simple or grounded drama, but what if your film includes supernatural elements or other aspects that require effects? How can you keep the budget low while still including the monsters, explosions, illusions, and other that can only be made possible special and visual effects? As it turns out, it’s more possible than you might think, especially with the right preparation. Whether you need to work with practical special effects or include visual effects in post, the key is always careful planning ahead of time. There are many pitfalls that producers and filmmakers can run into when working with effects, including going over budget and not getting the result your film needs, but these can always be overcome with the appropriate preparation, research and understanding ahead of time. So how exactly do experienced indie producers prep for effects? What can be done in early pre-production and throughout? And how can you make sure that, even on a low budget, your effects are, well, effective? Let’s explore. Micah Gallo is an award-winning writer, director, cinematographer, producer and post-production expert who has been making films for over ten years and has worked on effects and post-production for over 40 feature films. A filmmaker from an early age, Micah’s fascination with visual composition and technology inspired him to cofound the award winning post-production facility Lit Post where he built the company up and collaborated with other top artists to design new cutting-edge effects previously unavailable for independent films. As a filmmaker, Micah has earned several Best Director and Best Cinematography awards as well as the Emerging Cinematography award for Achievement in Cinematography from the International Cinematographers Guild. Micah most recently served as writer, director, producer and post production supervisor on the celebrated cult creature feature ITSY BITSY, starring Bruce Davison (X-MEN) and Denise Crosby (STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION). Micah’s excited to bring his experience both as a writer/director and as a post-production expert to the Stage 32 community. Using his experience both as a filmmaker and an effects guru, Micah will walk you through the steps you need to take as an independent filmmaker to include visual effects and special effects into your film at any budget. He’ll go through the process of analyzing your script with an eye for effects, how to research and get bids from vendors, and incorporating effects into both your shot lists and storyboards. Micah will also give you tips on how to handle the critical lighting and video testing phase of effects and how you can work with your DP, AD, and production designer to ensure everyone’s on the same page. Micah will also lay out how to handle effects while on set and how you should be shooting for VFX. He will also teach you how to navigate effects shots in post-production. Throughout, Micah will be providing specific examples from his own award-winning film ITSY BITSY, which heavily used both special effects and VFX, and using this as a case study you can take back to your own project.
Spain attracts filmmakers from all over the world and has, especially, for the last decade, because of its popularity as a country for film production. Movies like MISSION IMPOSSIBLE II and FAST AND FURIOUS, as well as the series GAME OF THRONES and THE WITCHER, are just a few examples of productions shot in and around Spain. Not only is it brimming with talented actors and crew members, but the countryside alone is a candy store for creatives looking for beautiful locations and backdrops. Thanks to equally attractive tax incentives, a strong distribution base, and the presence of HBO and Netflix in the country, Spain is now on the map as an international film production hub. If filming abroad has been on your mind, producing in Spain may be more cost effective than you initially thought. But if you’re not familiar with the production territory, tax incentives, or how to go about preparing for a production in a foreign country, you could be missing out on collaborative opportunities that can take your film further both financially and globally. Navigating requirements, rebates, and the foreign market can be intimidating. But international film production doesn’t have to be overwhelming when you have the right information at your fingertips. David Zannoni is an international business specialist and consultant for Fintage House in the US, Europe, Canada and Latin America territories, and knows what it takes to produce or co-produce in Spain. Fintage House is the world's most respected company for revenue and rights protection for industry professionals and companies. David makes deals and speaks at international film markets, festivals, and conferences, including: the Cannes Film Festival, the European Film Market (EFM) in Berlin, the American Film Market (AFM), Ventana Sur, the Bogota Audiovisual Market (BAM), and the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), and travels regularly to the United States, the Netherlands, Europe, and all over Latin America. David will enlighten you on the many benefits of shooting and distributing your film in Spain. David will kick off the 90 minute webinar by sharing his knowledge on the industry there, then moving attendees into the many benefits of shooting and distributing your product in Spain. Smaller, Independent films upwards to larger productions can benefit from foreign production shares. There are regional requirements and national requirements, and David will break those down with ease. He’ll also explain what co-producing in Spain means, and how it just might be the secret ingredient your production needs to be seen by other producers and distributors. Praise for David's Previous Stage 32 Webinars "David is incredible and lovely and clearly knows his stuff." - Cynthia P. "Eye-opening information. A no-brainer approach that wouldn't be so obvious to the uninitiated." - Gary O. "By far, the best class I've seen on the subject." Kirk K. "David is a fantastic teacher. And what a voice! I could listen to him all day. More importantly, I learned so very much!" - Isabella T.
Whether we’re talking about a comedy or drama, sci-fi or horror, a film or television series, animated or live action, short-form or long-form, having good characters is essential. There’s no escaping it. Even a script with everything else going for it, if it doesn’t have strong, compelling characters, it’s not going to work. Great characters connect the audience to your world and ground it in humanity. They provide stakes, bolster your plot and keep it moving. It’s therefore crucial to understand what make an effective character and how you can create that in your own project. Unfortunately there’s not a step-by-step guide to crafting the perfect character. There’s no secret formula and there’s no surefire algorithm. Good characters are complicated and hard to define because so are people. Good characters hold a mirror up to reality and let the audience see themselves or someone else they know in them. And all of that might be fine and good in theory, but what does that actually mean in practice? If you’re a writer how can you create a character who serves as a mirror, who will stick with audiences long after the movie or show ends? And if you’re a producer or director, how can you recognize a great character from a mediocre one through the written word? Lee Sternthal is a screenwriter, director and photographer who has written screenplays for every major studio, including TRON: LEGACY for Disney, as well as scripts for Johnny Depp, Mel Gibson and many others. His film, THE WORDS starring Bradley Cooper, Zoe Saldana and Jeremy Irons was an Official Sundance Film Festival selection and was later bought by CBS Films. Lee is a Sundance Institute Fellow, and his work has appeared on The Black List. Through his writing career, Lee has spent more time than most considering the art of character and using that to aid his own career, as well as writers he continues to mentor and champion. Lee will walk you through the power of character and how to create great characters for your own project. He’ll begin by discussing why exactly characters are so vital to story and will teach you the key differences between a TV character and a film character. Next he will give you a brief history of character in storytelling and reveal the one fictional character from history that all other characters draw from. Lee will then discuss the difference between heroes and anti-heroes, as well as help you determine which of your characters is the driver and which are the riders. He’ll then delve into the art of a great antagonist and why an interesting adversary is so crucial to a successful story. Lee will help you frame your story through the clarity of need, both in character and in story. Next Lee will go over the classic Hero’s Journey and slightly re-imagine it for modern times. He will give you strategies and exercises to better understand and develop your own characters, including his “What’s Their God?” and “Changing A Flat Tire” games. He’ll then teach you the concept of revealing character through behavior and hiding character with words. Next Lee will delve into the idea of how your characters fit into your world, including how the environment might change your character. He’ll teach you the Shakespearean approach to character and compare it to the Balzacian approach, and will also discuss the difference between neuroticism and human comedy. Finally Lee will go over the dance between plot and character, illustrating how the two should work with and against each other to create a feedback loop that’s necessary for any great script. Praise for Lee’s Webinar “Great insight. Really helped me in moving forward.” -Martin R. “I really enjoyed Lee's perspective on script writing. The examples he provided were very helpful. I'm very appreciative that he would share his knowledge, some of his techniques and be so generous with his encouragement.” -Simone L. “Lee had a great way of explaining how to get a feel for the character and why they have the traits they do. Lee did a great job of covering a lot of character related topics which I am glad I have been exposed to.” -Karl H.
Back by popular demand, Stage 32 Next Level Education brings you Max Adams, 20-year working screenwriter and acclaimed author who has worked with Columbia Pictures, Touchstone Pictures, Universal Pictures, Walt Disney Studios, and Tri-Star Pictures! You will also learn about static locations vs. clear, wider, more open locations and how they can work for and against you in your writing. You will also have a clear understanding on how to use motion and action to move your screenplay forward. You will walk away having all the tools and techniques necessary to apply to fiction, nonfiction, screenplays, teleplays, and stage plays to make visuals and action “real” on the page - an art unto itself and something that can separate your work from the pack. You will learn how to create compelling visuals on the page that will catapult your writing into an unforgettable — and visual — experience for your readers on the page, and your audience on the screen. The immediacy of motion on a film screen, and its necessity, sets film writing apart from every other written medium on the planet. And is the difference on the script page — and film screen — between selling — or that script dying in a drawer, and that film never being made.
Over the past few years, studios, independent production companies, networks and streamers have been turning to stories based on IP (Intellectual Property). Often times screenwriters, filmmakers and producers find great source material based on a book, article, life or public domain and the next part is struggling to figure out how to adapt it. You want to make sure that you are able to tell your story in the best possible way. Could it make a good movie? Or, do you have more elements that could make it extend longer into a full TV show? Or, what about creating a podcast that could sell? Making this crucial decision on how to adapt your story can help accelerate your path toward success. When embarking on a strategy to figure out how to adapt your IP, it's important to understand the potential and the limitations within the material. This includes considering many variables including the genre, budget, and story beats. Although you may have begun with a specific format in mind, sometimes you may find that your material may inherently lend itself to one format or another. So, how do you truncate a story into a 110 page script? Should you include more characters and write a pilot that can serve multiple seasons? Could you write a podcast to help your characters come to life? Understanding your audience and where that audience consumes content today might alter your thinking. And, most importantly, you must be paying attention to the marketplace - what's selling, who it sold to, where it will live - so that you don't waste time and navigate the landscape in a productive, more successful manner. Jim Young of Animus Films is a leading independent non-fiction producer, with almost two dozen films under his belt. Jim has created a successful career producing true-story films such as THE CATCHER WAS A SPY with Paul Rudd, LIFE OF A KING with Oscar-winner Cuba Gooding Jr., THE MAN WHO KNEW INFINITY with Oscar-nominee Dev Patel, LOVELACE with Oscar-nominee James Franco and Amanda Seyfried, and the upcoming film, THE PEOPLE VS. VEGAS DAVE. Jim has a long history of producing critically acclaimed features and documentaries including YEAR OF THE BULL at Showtime, THE WORDS with Oscar-nominee Bradley Cooper and Zoe Saldana. Almost all of Jim's projects are based off of IP and he has a clear grip on what adapts best to what medium and what the marketplace is currently looking for. Jim will go over how determine your objective for your project whether you're a director, writer, actor or a hybrid. He'll go over what is important to you in the overall process in order to help you be clear on what you want to get out of adapting your IP into a film, television pilot or podcast - whether it be creative satisfaction, financial gain or proof of concept. He'll go over what the flow of your story is - open ended or single climax, event vs. character driven and visual vs. storytelling. He'll help you determine your writing style to help cater to which format will work best for your project, discussing comparisons between X-FILES, DIE HARD, STAR WARS and STAR TREK. You'll learn how different genres and budgets play into a project based off of IP. And, most helpful, Jim will go over the current marketplace in terms of popularity of projects based on IP, and break down the pros and cons of working in each medium - film, television and podcast. You will have a clear direction on which format will work best for your project. Like what you heard from Jim from during this webcast? Send your script to Jim and speak with him for an hour by clicking here. Praise for Jim's Stage 32 Webinars: "This was my first webinar and I learned so much. I thought Jim was thorough in his descriptions of what each medium has to offer regarding IP" -Marietta K. "Jim opened up new avenues for our IP that I didn't realize existed. He was a great presenter and shared his own experience with relevant info. It was really motivating." -Ricki L. "Thoughtful way of exploring options. Using podcasts was inspirational." -JoAnne E. "Tons of new information. Thanks!" -Jacqueline L.
Congratulations – you’ve finished your first draft! But now comes the real work. The old adage goes that ‘writing is rewriting’ and that is absolutely true in film and television. A big part of screenwriting is learning how to receive feedback and how to implement it. Most professional writers go through numerous drafts and rounds of feedback before taking their scripts to the market. Just think about the first time you tried anything new – a new instrument, a new workout program, or a new screenplay. Unless you’re a natural, your first attempt isn’t usually your best. It’s the practice – or in this case, the rewriting – that helps you get better and will allow you to create something truly special. Too many aspiring writers think the hard work is over after the first draft. A first draft is a milestone accomplishment, but ultimately just one rung up the bigger ladder. But rewriting and polishing is not always an intuitive process – it’s hard to determine what to change or how much to change it. A big part of rewriting or polishing is learning how to listen to others, and realizing that even a solo screenplay can become a collaborative process. Steve Desmond is a WGA screenwriter whose screenplays have been voted onto the prestigious industry Black List four times in the past five years, including in 2020 with his latest script, The Saturday Night Ghost Club. He sold his sci-fi adventure screenplay, Harry’s All-Night Hamburgers, to Warner Bros in a bidding war, with an Oscar nominated producer attached. FilmNation (Arrival, The King’s Speech) hired him to adapt the Stoker-award-winning horror novel The Cabin at the End of the World. He’s also been hired to work on projects for Legendary Pictures, Sony, Blumhouse, Mandalay, and IM Global, amongst others. His short film, Monsters, that he wrote and directed, has amassed over two million views online and screened in over 100 film festivals worldwide, winning 45 awards. Steve has found his voice as a sought-after screenwriter by mastering the art of the rewrite and his excited to share what he knows with the Stage 32 community. Exclusively for Stage 32, Steve will give an in-depth and practical deep dive of the art of rewriting and polishing that you can take back to your own screenplay or pilot. Steve will share how best to utilize feedback and explain the difference between a rewrite and a polish. He will go through the psychological components of rewriting and show you how to make an effective plan to go through the rewrite process, and then how best to execute it. Next Steve will talk about how to actually trim your script by focusing on scenes and characters and how to work with producers and executives, including how to receive notes and maintain communication. He will then give you tools you can use to determine when you’re actually done. Expect to walk away with a slew of tools and ideas you can use to rewrite your own project and make it the best it can be. Praise for Steve's Previous Stage 32 Webinars: "This was fantastic. Steve offered so much insight, dozens of little nuggets that rang true or gave me pause to think of something I'd never considered before."-Ed K. "Perfectly laid out, clear and concise material taught by a genial host!"-George P. "Steve was fantastic. His examples and insights were on point. Thanks!"-Adam H. "I made 3 pages of notes; good pertinent topics with simple fundamental answers presented. Very helpful, worth the time and fee."-Thomas W.