Talking Rom Coms! Richard "RB" Botto (Stage 32) & Amy Baer (Women in Film Board President)

Hosted by Amy Baer, President Gidden Media - Richard Botto, Founder Stage 32

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Amy Baer, President Gidden Media - Richard Botto, Founder Stage 32

Webinar hosted by: Amy Baer, President Gidden Media - Richard Botto, Founder Stage 32

Amy Baer - President, Gidden Media Amy Baer's experience in the entertainment Industry uniquely spans major studios, independent financiers, and producing. Collectively, the films she has supervised and/or produced have grossed nearly $2 billion in worldwide box office. Her first film as a producer was the 2013 hit LAST VEGAS (starring Michael Douglas, Robert DeNiro, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline) which grossed $136MM worldwide. In 2012, Baer raised a 7 figure development fund and launched Gidden Media, a content incubation and production company. Its first film, the romantic drama MARY SHELLEY, starring Elle Fanning (THE BEGUILED) and directed by Haifaa Al Mansour (WADJDA), had its World Premiere at the 2017 Toronto Film Festival. It was released by IFC in May 2018. GM’s next film, the inspirational true story BRIAN BANKS, had its World Premiere at the LA FILM FESTIVAL on September 22nd, 2018, and won the LAFF Audience Award. Starring Aldis Hodge (UNDERGROUND), Oscar-nominee Greg Kinnear (LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE) and directed by Tom Shadyac (BRUCE ALMIGHTY),) the film tells the story of Brian Banks, an all-American high-school football player committed to USC by his junior year, whose life was upended in 2002 when falsely accused of rape. With the help of the California Innocence Project, Banks got his conviction overturned his name cleared in 2012 after a decade of wrongful imprisonment and parole. BRIAN BANKS is eyeing an early 2019 release. Before starting her own company, Baer served as President & CEO of CBS Films (2007-2011), launching the division for CBS Corp. Baer spent the previous 17 years at Sony Pictures Entertainment, where she oversaw such hit films as 1997’s MY BEST FRIEND’S WEDDING, Oscar nominated ADAPTATION (2001), S.W.A.T. (2002), SOMETHING’S GOTTA GIVE (2003), and the 2006 holiday hit THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS, which earned Will Smith an Oscar nomination. She also developed the 2011 Oscar-nominated Sony hit MONEYBALL, starring Brad Pitt. She began her career at Creative Artists Agency in 1988 as an assistant to the late Jay Moloney. Baer became Board President of Women in Film in June 2018, stepping into the role at a critical juncture in Hollywood, as the entertainment industry faces a broad reckoning over gender disparities and sexual harassment. Founded in 1973, Women In Film advocates for and advances the careers of women working in the screen industries – to achieve parity and transform culture. Baer graduated magna cum laude from Georgetown University in 1988 with a B.A. in English literature. She is married to producer Matt Baer (UNBROKEN), and has two sons. In addition to Women in FIlm, she also serves on the board of the Planned Parenthood Advocacy Project. She is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, the Producers Guild of America, and SAG-AFTRA.   Richard "RB" Botto - Founder, Stage 32 Richard “RB” Botto is the Founder and CEO of Stage 32 (stage32.com). Stage32 is the world’s largest online platform connecting and educating film, TV & digital creatives and executives worldwide. Since 2011, Stage 32 has emerged as an online community of over 500,000 creatives with over 1,000 hours of online education taught by over 500 industry executives. Stage 32 is also the official film education & networking platform of AFM and the Cannes Film Festival Marche du Film. RB is also a working actor, producer and screenwriter. As a producer, his films have played at dozens of festivals including the Sundance award winning feature, Another Happy Day, written & directed by Sam Levinson, the documentary Crutch, and the upcoming Rain-Beau’s End. As a writer, his latest screenplay, The End Game, is currently in development at Covert Media. As an actor, his latest film On the Corner of Ego and Desire is premiered at the 2018 Raindance Film Festival.RB has spoken at such festivals as Cannes, AFM, Tribeca, Raindance, SXSW and has taught at institutions such as Harvard and Columbia University on the subjects of filmmaking, screenwriting, social media, crowdfunding and crowdsourcing. Additionally, he has appeared on MSNBC, CNBC, Fox News, and other news and entertainment outlets speaking on the film and tech industries. Prior to launching Stage 32, RB was the founder, publisher and editor of RAZOR Magazine, a national men's lifestyle magazine which had a readership of 1.5 million at its peak. He was also a sports radio host on a variety of programs on ESPN and FOX affiliates. In the 90’s, RB was an integral part of the team responsible for creating the vendor tracking system used by many of today’s top e-commerce companies. Botto headed the development, design and commercial implementation for several of the top 50 most visited sites on the web during that period. RB serves on the Advisory Board for Old Town Music Hall, a classic film theater in El Segundo, built in 1921. A lifelong fan of film, a serial entrepreneur and a passionate creative himself, he’s a great guy to have a drink with! Oh, and he was once named one of People Magazine's Most Eligible Bachelors (no lie)   Full Bio »

Webinar Summary

With the tremendous box office success of CRAZY RICH ASIANS, BOOK CLUB and THE BIG SICK and the streaming successes of SET IT UP, SIERRA BURGESS IS A LOSER, and TO ALL THE BOYS I LOVED BEFORE, romantic comedies are making a huge comeback for all types of audiences. Variety called Rom-Com's the "Hottest genre" for 2018 and beyond. If you have been sitting on a Rom-Com script or been thinking about writing one, now's the time to learn about the current marketplace for romantic comedies.

What You'll Learn

Join our very own Richard "RB" Botto, producer Amy Baer (MARY SHELLEY, MY BEST FRIEND'S WEDDING, SOMETHING'S GOTTA GIVE) and Head of Development of Gidden Media Chris Ceccotti (BRIAN BANKS) as they break down the current marketplace for romantic comedies in a FREE webcast!

About Your Instructor

Amy Baer - President, Gidden Media

Amy Baer's experience in the entertainment Industry uniquely spans major studios, independent financiers, and producing. Collectively, the films she has supervised and/or produced have grossed nearly $2 billion in worldwide box office. Her first film as a producer was the 2013 hit LAST VEGAS (starring Michael Douglas, Robert DeNiro, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline) which grossed $136MM worldwide.

In 2012, Baer raised a 7 figure development fund and launched Gidden Media, a content incubation and production company. Its first film, the romantic drama MARY SHELLEY, starring Elle Fanning (THE BEGUILED) and directed by Haifaa Al Mansour (WADJDA), had its World Premiere at the 2017 Toronto Film Festival. It was released by IFC in May 2018.

GM’s next film, the inspirational true story BRIAN BANKS, had its World Premiere at the LA FILM FESTIVAL on September 22nd, 2018, and won the LAFF Audience Award. Starring Aldis Hodge (UNDERGROUND), Oscar-nominee Greg Kinnear (LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE) and directed by Tom Shadyac (BRUCE ALMIGHTY),) the film tells the story of Brian Banks, an all-American high-school football player committed to USC by his junior year, whose life was upended in 2002 when falsely accused of rape. With the help of the California Innocence Project, Banks got his conviction overturned his name cleared in 2012 after a decade of wrongful imprisonment and parole. BRIAN BANKS is eyeing an early 2019 release.

Before starting her own company, Baer served as President & CEO of CBS Films (2007-2011), launching the division for CBS Corp. Baer spent the previous 17 years at Sony Pictures Entertainment, where she oversaw such hit films as 1997’s MY BEST FRIEND’S WEDDING, Oscar nominated ADAPTATION (2001), S.W.A.T. (2002), SOMETHING’S GOTTA GIVE (2003), and the 2006 holiday hit THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS, which earned Will Smith an Oscar nomination. She also developed the 2011 Oscar-nominated Sony hit MONEYBALL, starring Brad Pitt. She began her career at Creative Artists Agency in 1988 as an assistant to the late Jay Moloney.

Baer became Board President of Women in Film in June 2018, stepping into the role at a critical juncture in Hollywood, as the entertainment industry faces a broad reckoning over gender disparities and sexual harassment. Founded in 1973, Women In Film advocates for and advances the careers of women working in the screen industries – to achieve parity and transform culture.

Baer graduated magna cum laude from Georgetown University in 1988 with a B.A. in English literature. She is married to producer Matt Baer (UNBROKEN), and has two sons. In addition to Women in FIlm, she also serves on the board of the Planned Parenthood Advocacy Project. She is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, the Producers Guild of America, and SAG-AFTRA.

 

Richard "RB" Botto - Founder, Stage 32

Richard “RB” Botto is the Founder and CEO of Stage 32 (stage32.com). Stage32 is the world’s largest online platform connecting and educating film, TV & digital creatives and executives worldwide. Since 2011, Stage 32 has emerged as an online community of over 500,000 creatives with over 1,000 hours of online education taught by over 500 industry executives. Stage 32 is also the official film education & networking platform of AFM and the Cannes Film Festival Marche du Film.

RB is also a working actor, producer and screenwriter. As a producer, his films have played at dozens of festivals including the Sundance award winning feature, Another Happy Day, written & directed by Sam Levinson, the documentary Crutch, and the upcoming Rain-Beau’s End. As a writer, his latest screenplay, The End Game, is currently in development at Covert Media. As an actor, his latest film On the Corner of Ego and Desire is premiered at the 2018 Raindance Film Festival.

RB has spoken at such festivals as Cannes, AFM, Tribeca, Raindance, SXSW and has taught at institutions such as Harvard and Columbia University on the subjects of filmmaking, screenwriting, social media, crowdfunding and crowdsourcing. Additionally, he has appeared on MSNBC, CNBC, Fox News, and other news and entertainment outlets speaking on the film and tech industries.

Prior to launching Stage 32, RB was the founder, publisher and editor of RAZOR Magazine, a national men's lifestyle magazine which had a readership of 1.5 million at its peak. He was also a sports radio host on a variety of programs on ESPN and FOX affiliates.

In the 90’s, RB was an integral part of the team responsible for creating the vendor tracking system used by many of today’s top e-commerce companies. Botto headed the development, design and commercial implementation for several of the top 50 most visited sites on the web during that period.

RB serves on the Advisory Board for Old Town Music Hall, a classic film theater in El Segundo, built in 1921. A lifelong fan of film, a serial entrepreneur and a passionate creative himself, he’s a great guy to have a drink with!

Oh, and he was once named one of People Magazine's Most Eligible Bachelors (no lie)

 

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Writing the Cinematic Protagonist: How to Create Memorable, Multi-Dimensional Lead Characters

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.

The 6 Apps and Platforms You Should Be Using to Break Into Hollywood and How To Do It Right: Clubhouse, Instagram, Stage 32 and more

Networking is the key to success in any industry, but in the entertainment business, it is a NECESSITY if you want to break in. And now in this increasingly online and virtual world, a large part of networking takes place in virtual settings, namely on apps and online platforms. This landscape is constantly changing, and while it can be hard to keep up with, it can also be incredibly lucrative. It is not uncommon now for writers to be discovered because of a viral post on Twitter, for friendships to be formed on Clubhouse, or for a script to be optioned right here on Stage 32. All of this just while sitting at home on your computer or phone. It’s clear that these tools are too powerful of a tool to ignore, but it’s important you know how to use these tools correctly. The world of virtual networking can seem overwhelming and foreign, especially when you’re more accustomed to traditional networking and in-person events. Yet success on these platforms is not just reserved for Gen-Z and “influencers”; creatives of all ages and background are finding success and getting discovered through these tools. Yet the key is knowing how to use these apps the right way. Just like for in-person events and old-school networking, you can use these opportunities to build your connections, or you can leave others with a bad impression. It often just comes down to understanding the rules and expectations on each platform, and understanding how to contribute and make yourself part of the community. So what are the apps where the real opportunities are forged? How can you stand out (in a good way)? With the right strategies and approach, you’ll be able to build your network and meet people who can be your cheerleaders along the way. Kristen Lucas and Tara Gore are powerhouse networkers in the entertainment industry. Kristen Lucas is a talent manager at Bohemia Group, specializing in actors and filmmakers in film and television. Her clients have appeared in films such as Netflix's I CARE A LOT and THE HONEST THIEF alongside Liam Neeson, and on television such as Netflix's THE GOOD COP and THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE, Hulu's CASTLE ROCK, AMC's BETTER CALL SAUL and many others. Tara Gore has produced over 300 live shows and original content for MLB including Avicii, Billy Joel, Demi Lovato, Zac Brown Band, One Republic, Elton John, John Legend, Jason Aldean, Ziggy Marley and many more. Kristen and Tara attribute their success to hustling to find opportunity where others find dead ends. Their long history of creative networking has built them a vast network of contacts across all areas of entertainment and business and allowed them to ensure the success of their clients and projects. Working together, Kristen and Tara will outline the six main apps and platforms they use to network and find connections and clients: Clubhouse, Instagram, Twitter, Stage 32, IMDB, and LinkedIn. For each they will lay out how the app works, how you can best operate within it, and the mistakes to avoid. Along the way they'll dive into success stories each platform has provided and why they worked, as well as horror stories and how you can avoid similar fates.    Online networking doesn’t need to be scary and it's something you can master no matter what your background is. Expect to leave this with a bunch of ideas, real world examples, and inspiration to master these apps, continue meeting new people online, and finding your place in this industry.

How to Write and Sell a High Concept Screenplay

Once you finish your screenplay and decide it’s time to reach out to producers and representatives, one of the most common responses you may receive is that your idea is not ‘high concept’ enough or your logline doesn’t have a ‘high concept hook’. This term is thrown around a lot in the movie business, but what does it actually mean? ‘High concept’ might be a buzz word, but it’s also a term that carries with it significant meaning as well as some lessons and perspective you can bring back to your own project if you know how best to approach it. Readers, producers and buyers see so many spec scripts that have no chance of becoming films not because the writing isn’t great, but because the writer did not spend enough time on concept. It is one thing to fall in love with a story idea. It is another to stick with it during the uncomfortable phase of working on that idea to make it more enticing to the world. So how can you ensure you consistently develop ideas that excite readers and push your script toward a sale? How do you know if your idea is “high concept” enough? What exactly does “high concept” even mean? Andrew Kersey is a literary manager and the head of Kersey Management whose clients are working on projects at all the major studios and streaming outlets including Netflix and Amazon, and the networks and cable channels ABC, Fox, NBC, CW, Disney Channel, and Nickelodeon. Andrew recently just sold his client's sci-fi spec script to Universal with THE SOCIAL NETWORK and FIFTY SHADES OF GREY Oscar-nominated producer Mike De Luca, and his client’s comedy VACATION FRIENDS is in production at Broken Road for Hulu starring John Cena and Lil Rel. Andrew has helped his clients pitch countless projects and knows better than most what buyers are looking for and how a high concept approach can make all the difference in getting that script sold. Andrew will break down what makes a script ‘high concept’ and how you can write and sell your own high-concept screenplay. He’ll nail down exactly what a high concept story is and offer examples of high concept movies in different genres, explaining what makes them successful. He’ll then break down why high concept stories are so appealing, from the perspective of producers, studios, and audiences. Next Andrew will delve into how to actually write a high concept story and whether you can adjust your existing screenplay or write one from scratch. He will go through breaking down genre walls and other writing tips you can take with you. Andrew will then teach you how to sell your high concept story. He’ll talk about the importance of your logline and title and give you tips to pitch your high concept story to execs and buyers, including how to explain your world and use comps. Finally he will go over common mistakes writers make when creating high concept stories and will reveal where not to begin and whether size and budget matter. Expect to leave this webinar with a much clearer idea of what makes something “high concept” and a series of tips and ideas you can bring back to your own project to better sell it.   "Throughout my time as a literary manager, the term "high concept" has come up more times than I can count. The writers that I work with that are most successful are the ones that understand what this term really means, what buyers are looking for, and how they can adjust to fit this idea. I'm excited to share these secrets with the Stage 32 community." -Andrew Kersey

Learn How to Better Pitch Your Ideas: Go from Storyteller to Storyseller

Too often, great ideas go unnoticed by producers, directors, agents, and managers alike, and deserving writers don’t get the shot they’re looking for as a result. This isn’t because these decisionmakers don’t care; it’s because the writer didn’t pitch or sell their ideas the right way or because they’re project was overshadowed by someone else’s. The reality is, successful screenwriters are as much storysellers as they are storytellers. Whether you like it or not, your primary goal as a writer must be to stand out in a sea of competing projects. To do this, you can’t just write well, you need to talk about your writing well too. You need to get the person you’re talking to excited to read your work or to consider you for a project, whether that’s in a full general meeting, a quick five minute pitch, or even in just a few passing seconds. The bottom line: Whether you're a screenwriter, filmmaker, producer, or any creative or industry professional looking to gain representation, sell their material, attract talent, raise financing, or simply looking to find work, you WILL have to pitch. Further, you WILL be in competition with others pitching as well. You've put so much time and effort into your work and building your reputation, you don't want to have it all undermined with a terrible pitch. And the truth of the matter is that most people that pitch make the same fatal mistakes over and over. They don't know how to tell a concise, riveting story. They don't know what to put in, what to leave out, and what elements really and truly sell someone on their story. But not you. Not anymore. Will McCance is the Vice President of Production for Ian Bryce, producer of blockbusters like SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, ALMOST FAMOUS, the TRANSFORMERS franchise, and most recently Michael Bay's SIX UNDERGROUND for Netflix. At Ian Bryce Productions, Will oversees the company's entire development slate. Before working with Ian Bryce, Will worked in development at Original Film's TV department, working on hit shows such as THE BOYS (Amazon) and PREACHER (AMC), as well as on SWAT (CBS) and HAPPY! (Syfy). Independently, Will has produced films such as the upcoming LOLA JAMES, starring Nicola Peltz and Oscar-Nominee Virginia Madsen, BERNARD AND HUEY, starring Jim Rash, David Koechner, and Mae Whitman, as well as Belarus's 2018 Oscar selection for Best Foreign Film, CRYSTAL SWAN, along with Vice. Through his years working as an executive, Will has deep experience with working with writers and choosing to work with them or not based on their pitch, and is prepared to share what he’s learned with the Stage 32 community. In this exclusive webinar, Will will equip you with all the tools you'll need to elevate your next script to the top of the reading stack. He will discuss the various techniques of pitching, from finding the right words and unique style, to understanding which type of pitch to use and when. He will also analyze sample TV and feature film pitches and break down the hidden power of the perfectly-worded logline. He will teach you tactics, strategies, and even books that will make you a stronger storyseller, and in turn, a stronger storyteller.   Will will even deliver a live 5-minute pitch of his own to use as an example and will share other film and TV pitches to analyze what works and what doesn’t.    Through Will’s presentation, you will not only learn how to better understand and explain your story, but to also instill a newfound sense of confidence that you can take with you to your next meeting or pitch session.

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