Pre-Production Musts To Set Any Filmmakers Up For Success

Hosted by Heath Cullens


On Demand Webinar - For immediate download. Unlimited access for 1 year.

Start Learning

Please make sure you use the same email address as the one you use to sign in to Stage 32, otherwise you won't have access to your webinar.
apply Your coupon will be applied after you agree to terms below.

- or -

Overlay Icon

Stage 32 Next Level Education has a 97% user satisfaction rate.


Heath Cullens

Webinar hosted by: Heath Cullens


Heath Cullens is an accomplished director best known for directing IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA, AP BIO, GREAT MINDS WITH DAN HARMON, and FX’s YOU’RE THE WORST. Currently, he is directing MYTHIC QUEST for Apple TV. Heath’s other notable credits include IDIOTSITTER for Comedy Central, DEADBEAT for Hulu, and BLACK JESUS for Adult Swim. In addition to directing, Heath also produced the Lionsgate feature ARMED RESPONSE, starring Cary Elwes, Ethan Embry, and Alan Arkin. A recipient of a Drama League Directing Fellowship and a member of the Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab. Full Bio »

Webinar Summary

As a filmmaker, you know that every opportunity to shoot your story is precious. The days when your team is working, your cameras are rolling and your actors are in hair and make-up are days of golden opportunity. But they can also be days of stress and frustration if you haven't prepared properly during pre-production. We want you to have the best shoot days possible and that's why this webinar is invaluable for filmmakers.   

In this webinar, accomplished director Heath Cullens shares his process of preparing for a shoot exclusively with the Stage 32 community.

As a filmmaker, the importance of preparation during pre-production cannot be overstated. Here is your chance to learn how best to prepare from a world-class director. 

Heath Cullens is a director best known for directing IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA, AP BIO, GREAT MINDS WITH DAN HARMON, and FX’s YOU’RE THE WORST. Currently, he is directing MYTHIC QUEST for Apple TV.

A good filmmaker is a prepared filmmaker. Filmmakers must focus on getting the story they envision onto the screen, but that vision will unravel if you don’t prepare before. However, if you do prepare properly, you give your film the best chance for success. 

You’ll receive a step-by-step approach to utilize on your projects to ensure a smooth, productive, and creatively rewarding on-set experience for you and your production team. You’ll cover how to:

  • Hire the best team
  • Communicate your vision
  • Prioritize what you need to shoot
  • Structure your shoot day
  • Create a strategy with your DP
  • Properly use rehearsal time and table reads
  • And much more

By the end of this webinar you’ll have a process you can use - and the ability to revisit the lesson on Stage 32 - to ensure the confidence to lead your team as a filmmaker.

What You'll Learn

Point of View: Getting Clear on Your Intent & Vision

  • Why must you tell this story?
  • What do you love about this story?
  • Whose story is it?
  • Who is your audience?

Priorities: Creating Focus & Clarity

  • Finding the essential element in each scene
  • Determining which aspects of each scene require the greatest time or energy
  • Structuring your shoot day to ensure you get what is most important

People: Hiring & Communicating

  • Effectively interviewing and hiring your department heads
  • Communicating with your collaborators
  • Defining what you need from your collaborators

Players: Working with Actors

  • What function does each role have in the story?
  • How to communicate with actors
  • How to use rehearsals to ensure your performers are prepared on set
  • What is table work and how should you use it

Plan: Tools & Strategies

  • Making a shot list that works for you
  • Making the most of your location scout
  • Creating strategy and vision with your Director of Photography

Q&A with Heath

About Your Instructor

Heath Cullens is an accomplished director best known for directing IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA, AP BIO, GREAT MINDS WITH DAN HARMON, and FX’s YOU’RE THE WORST. Currently, he is directing MYTHIC QUEST for Apple TV. Heath’s other notable credits include IDIOTSITTER for Comedy Central, DEADBEAT for Hulu, and BLACK JESUS for Adult Swim. In addition to directing, Heath also produced the Lionsgate feature ARMED RESPONSE, starring Cary Elwes, Ethan Embry, and Alan Arkin. A recipient of a Drama League Directing Fellowship and a member of the Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab.


Q: How do I watch my webinar live?
A: If you received a confirmation that your webinar is on Go to Webinar, you will receive an email from Go to Webinar with further instructions for participating in the live webinar. You can also access your webinar link in your purchase history located under settings in the top right-hand corner of your Stage 32 profile.

If you received a confirmation that your webinar is on Zoom, you will receive a separate email from Zoom with further instructions for participating in the live webinar. Your login link will not be in your Stage 32 profile. If you did not receive your link via Zoom please email

Q: How do I watch my webinar on demand?
A: You will be able to watch your webinar on demand as many times as you’d like inside your Stage 32 profile. The recording is processed and posted between 24-48 hours after the webinar concludes. You can follow the instructions below.


  1. Log into your Stage 32 profile
  2. Click "Settings" in the top right-hand corner (gear icon)
  3. Click "Purchase History"
  4. Choose this webinar and click the link to view
If You Do Not Have a Stage 32 Profile:
  1. Go to
  2. Create a profile using the SAME email address you used to sign up for this webinar. The email addresses must match in order to watch the webinar.
  3. Once you have your profile set up, you can view the webinar by clicking "Settings" in the top right hand corner (gear icon)
  4. Click "Purchase History"
  5. Choose this webinar and click the link to view

Q: What is the format of a webinar?
A: Stage 32 Next Level Webinars are typically 90-minute educational broadcasts that take place online using a designated software program from Stage 32. Your webinar will be taught by a working industry professional with in-depth teaching on a topic. If you are able to attend live you will be able to ask your Stage 32 Educator questions during Q&A.

Q: What are the system requirements to watch my webinar live?
A: You will need to meet the following system requirements in order to run the webinar software: Windows 7 or later Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) or later.

If you have Windows XP, Windows Vista and Mac OS X 10.9 (Mountain Lion): The webinar software does not support these operating systems. If you are running one of those operating systems, please upgrade now in order to be able to view a live webinar. Upgrade your Windows computer / Upgrade your Mac computer.

Q: What if I cannot attend the live webinar?
A: If you cannot attend a live webinar or purchase an on demand webinar, you will have access to the entire recorded broadcast, including the Q&A.

Q: Will I have access to the webinar afterward to re-watch?
A: Yes! Like all Stage 32 education, after the purchase of a live or on demand webinar, you will have on-demand access to the recording.

Q: How do I get a copy of the handouts provided?
A: If the webinar you take included handouts you can find them as downloads underneath your on demand video. You must be logged into your Stage 32 profile to view the video and get the handouts by clicking settings in the top right hand corner, then clicking purchase history.

Q: What if I need accessibility and accommodations?
A: Email to request accommodations.

Thanks for your loyalty to Stage 32 Education. We value having you in the Stage 32 community.

If you have any further questions, we are always happy to help. Please contact Stage 32 support at


"I thought it was on point and very informative. Heath was great." -Frank L.


If you have a generic question about Stage 32 education you can take a look at our frequently asked questions section on our help page, or feel free to contact support with any other inquiries you might have.

Other education that may be of interest to you:

Stage 32 Directing Class: How To Interpret A Script To Inform Your Directing Choices + HANDOUTS

Limited spots available - grab your spot now! Learn how to make your best directing choices based off what is written in a script from the director of IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA, A.P. BIO, GREAT MINDS WITH DAN HARMON, MYTHIC QUEST, and YOU’RE THE WORST! **PLUS! Be connected with Heath via email for the duration of the lab** Payment plans available - contact for details   “It all starts with the script.” We’ve all heard some version of this when discussing what makes a great movie, short, or television series. But how do we, as directors, use that script? As directors, it is our job to interpret the script to not only determine the intention of the writer, but to figure out the most effective and powerful ways to shoot each scene. A script is more than just dialogue and stage direction. It’s a road map to all of the elements you’ll need and decisions you’ll make when directing. As a director, it is critical that you know how to read that map, as understanding the text (and subtext) of the script will inform the choices you make as the director. This exclusive 4-session interactive class focuses on learning to read and interpret the script from the perspective of the director. Whether you’ve already booked the job or are preparing to pitch on a job that needs a director, this course will help you take what’s on the page and translate that into a compelling point of view that can be communicated to producers as well as your on-set collaborators. We will investigate all of the elements that go into storytelling — like plot, action (yes, there’s a difference between the two), character, theme, setting, spectacle, language — even punctuation! Garnering an understanding of these elements will inform all aspects of how you direct a project - including camera movement, how you light a scene, wardrobe, makeup, and much more. You will be learning from Heath Cullens, best known as the director of acclaimed television series IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA, A.P. BIO, GREAT MINDS WITH DAN HARMON, MYTHIC QUEST, and YOU’RE THE WORST. Heath has worked with Lionsgate, Hulu, and Adult Swim and his background in theater and working with playwrights affords him a uniquely strong ability to teach you the necessary skillset of best translating what's on the page to the screen.  Your script truly is your road map to a successful product and this course will teach you how to read that map and bring it to life on screen. Don't miss this opportunity to learn from a true master of his craft! PLUS! Heath will provide you with exclusive handouts that will help you on your own projects. Downloads include: Feature Film Story Map Act 2 Story Map Beat Sheets & Explanations Genre Breakdowns PDFs of Scripts Discussed In The Course Testimonials from Heath's Previous Stage 32 Courses: "There's a reason why Heath is continually hired to direct A-list television and film...and it shows! I feel very fortunate to learn from such an expert." - Mark C. "So informative! I never realized how much goes into directing until this course. Heath really opened my eyes to how to approach the craft." - Sarah L.

How to Break In to TV Directing and Excel at the Job

Most people have a general idea of what a director does, but that idea usually pertains more to feature films. Directing television can be a separate beast altogether. Successful TV directors need to be adept at navigating inherent contradictions associated with this role. Unlike in films, TV directors have to both have a vision and still fit in with the overall feel of the series. And they need to be in charge despite often only coming in for an episode or two. These are tough lines to straddle, but doing so and honing your craft can lead to a successful and exciting career. Pursuing a career in directing in any medium is rife with challenges: there is no set path to success and finding insight into the inner workings of directing is challenging. Television directing is an even more specific specialty within the world of directing. Several ways of working and behaviors that would be ideal for a feature director are not compatible with the way television is produced. In addition, the path to breaking in as a television director is quite different from that of a feature director. If your goal is to direct television, it’s vital to understand the way television is produced and the role that the director plays within that specific production environment. Heath Cullens is an accomplished television director who has directed episodes of TV shows like IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA, GREAT MINDS WITH DAN HARMON, and FX’s YOU’RE THE WORST. Heath’s other notable credits include IDIOTSITTER for Comedy Central, DEADBEAT for Hulu, and BLACK JESUS for Adult Swim. In addition to directing, Heath also produced the Lionsgate feature ARMED RESPONSE, starring Cary Elwes, Ethan Embry, and Alan Arkin. A recipient of a Drama League Directing Fellowship and a member of the Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab, Heath is well-versed at the art of TV directing and will now share what he knows exclusively with Stage 32. Heath will dig into the specifics and craft of directing for television and will reveal how to pursue it and how best to do the job once you get it. Heath will first explain how best to pursue work in TV directing, including discovering the type of TV is the best fit, how to find your ‘in’, developing a reel, shadowing, and working with established creators. Next he will delve into the vital relationships you’ll need to maintain as a TV director, including with the EP/showrunner, the crew, the cast, and the network or studio. Finally Heath will go through the major challenges you should expect in this role and tips on how to navigate. Along the way, Heath will share challenges and experiences from his own career. The role of a TV director can be enigmatic and often eclipsed by feature films, but Heath will give you the rundown so you can be equipped with the knowledge and advice to pursue this route on your own.

How to Adapt a True Story as a Film or Series

What do the singer Elvis Presley, the con-artist Anna Delvey and the phycisist Albert Einstein have in common?  Their true life stories have recently been adapted into major feature films and TV series.  True story adaptations find success largely because the writers and creators understand where to find the story within these real lives to adapt. They efficiently honed in on an angle that pulled the audience in while developing emotional arcs that kept viewers invested. Writing is a craft, no doubt, and one that must be managed differently when pen hits paper and for adaptations. It takes work and a deep understanding of your story as well as the medium you’re adapting it for, but it’s something you can achieve for your own true life passion project, especially with the proper understanding and guidance. Kate Sharp is a producer and literary manager at Bellevue Productions. Prior to joining Bellevue, Kate was the VP of Development and Production at Occupant Entertainment, producing short-form content for Showtime, MTV, Verizon, Facebook, and U2, and was an Executive Producer on the Hulu original, Emmy-nominated TV series BEHIND THE MASK. Her film credits include PEEP WORLD, BETTER LIVING THROUGH CHEMISTRY, MADAME BOVARY and THE HALLOW. Kate is currently producing THE BURNING SEASON with Naomi Watts and STRANGER THINGS’ Sophia Lillis attached to star. Kate has worked with countless writers on adapting their true story projects of all types and knows what it takes to turn a true story into a script that producers, reps, studios and execs will be interested in. Kate will delve into the craft of adapting a true story to a film or series, and how to put words to the page to make this happen. She will define the three types of true story or biopic adaptations so you can determine which option is best for you and give you the tools to decide if your story should unfold as a feature or limited series so you can determine which option is best for you. She will also walk you through best practices for researching, finding your own angle to the story, and how to write your script so it feels authentic while still possessing emotional arcs and narrative liberties to ensure your script is marketable and successful in the market. Through Kate’s rundown, you will walk away with confidence and write an adapted script that gets the attention it deserves.   Praise for Kate's Previous Stage 32 Webinar   "Kate Sharp was incredible. She's a great instructor, and also looks like a very special person to have as a manager, who loves what she does and would be a great partner for a writer! Thank you for sharing her gifts with us!" -Ricki L.   "The information was straightforward and practical. I made loads of notes to go back over. Thanks!" -Gillian R.   "BRAVO, KATE!!! She provided a wonderful presentation fueled by stellar "real world" facts and scenarios" -Bill B.

How to Write Powerful Female Characters for a Global Audience - with 9 Script Downloads

In today’s marketplace, not only are more and more films are becoming female focused, but the demand for screenplays and films with female driven lead characters is growing rapidly. With the success of blockbusters such as WONDER WOMAN, ATOMIC BLONDE, RED SPARROW, ALIEN: COVENANT and TERMINATOR: DARK FATE, the box office is proving that not only is there an appetite for female-starring films, but also that they can be profitable. Everyone is looking for the next original idea with a female lead that can be turned into a franchise. There are many misconceptions and challenges that writers fall into when it comes to creating female characters for a large, global audience. The most common is the gender flip, which is taking a male character and write it as a female. It’s examples such as this that are most often believed to be the correct approach to creating a female character in a male driven genre when in fact it’s the opposite. This webinar will provide these kind of examples and explain where the mistakes lie, how to correct them and the importance of creating authentic female characters. Aimee Rivera is the development executive at Skydance Media. Skydance produces blockbuster films such as TOP GUN: MAVERICK, Netflix's 6 UNDERGROUND, directed by Michael Bay and starring Ryan Reynolds, ANNIHILATION, MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: FALLOUT, TERMINATOR: DARK FATE, and WORLD WAR Z. Aimee is focused on finding female driven blockbusters and franchises for Skydance's upcoming slate.  Aimee will go over how the #MeToo movement has changed the way female characters are written and an overview on how female leads in today's world have evolved. She will get break down WONDER WOMAN, ATOMIC BLONDE, RED SPARROW, THE HUNGER GAMES, TERMINATOR: DARK FATE, and ALIEN: COVENANT and look at the differences between these female characters and compare them to male franchise characters in films such as MISSION IMPOSSIBLE, JASON BOURNE and JAMES BOND. She'll teach you what makes a great character, what are the tropes and common misconceptions and break down the types of female characters you can write. She will discuss writing characters in male driven genres for today's market including whether there are boundaries you must be aware of when writing female characters, what the modern female character looks like in today's filmmaking world, whether male writers can write female characters, and what today's audience looks and connects with as it relates to strong, but flawed, female leads. Aimee will also get into her ultimate tips on writing female characters - not only in male-driven genres, but also in a post #MeToo world. She'll even share some writing exercises to assure that your female characters JUMP off the page.   This is an opportunity to develop, hone and, ultimately, write female characters that not only will attract representation, producers and financiers, but to make sure your script is as market ready (and perhaps, franchise ready) as possible.     Praise for Aimee's Stage 32 Webinar:   The webinar was great and so was Aimee! She's extremely knowledgeable about the movie industry and writing screenplays and provided excellent examples of strong female characters in action movies. -Lyle D.   This was great - a lot of information talked about very succinctly, with tips and discussions on the different facets and difficulties that can present themselves. Very enjoyable! -Dawn P.   A great theme about female characters. Needed this very for my story. I like the simplicity of the elements taught with the details of what's needed for films nowadays. -Mary M.

How to Use the Power of Social Media to Market and Promote Your Low Budget Film or Project

Love it or hate it, the power of social media is undeniable. Harnessing the power of social media is one of the great secret weapons many producers, filmmakers, screenwriters and other creatives and professionals use to draw attention to and market their films. Learning how to correctly use social media can not only win you an audience for your film or project, it can also get you much desired attention from managers, agents, sales agents, distributors and other people of influence who can help you get your film seen and move the needle on your creative and professional career. And the greatest thing about social media? It's free. It won't impact your budget in the slightest, yet the return on your time investment can be greater than any money you can spend. But you have to know how to navigate the landscape. Make no mistake, you need this important tool in your arsenal and we'll show you how to wield its power. There is nothing more valuable than a large enthusiastic and vocal audience of supporters. Having people champion you and your film carries with it social proof. The more people who spread the word and the more advocates they can recruit, the more marketing and promotional power you have. This is why studios spend millions of marketing dollars on social media. But you can get the same results without spending a dime. And in this day and age, social proof is valued almost as much as IP. It brings you and your project heat. It says to managers, agents, sales agents, distributors, producers, financiers and other executives and decision makers that you have something worth paying attention to. Something of value. Something they need to see. Jennifer Winberg has over 10 years of branding and entertainment experience in digital strategy, social media, and integrated marketing. Recently, she launched the Digital Marketing Team for the Day and Date Film Division - Lionsgate Premiere. She's worked on a wide range of films from limited theatrical, VOD, independent, and home entertainment releases. Jennifers has worked with mini and major studios such as: Disney, Fox, Sony, Lionsgate, and Gravitas Ventures. She has designed and run film social media campaigns that have gone viral and have drawn millions of eyeballs. Jennifer will take you through all the reasons you need social media for your film, from SEO purposes, to driving an audience, to giving you the opportunity to tell your story and the story of your film to a mass audience. She will teach you which social media platforms are the right fit for your film and will give you the best return on your time investment. She will teach you about messaging and how to stay on point. She will discuss different types of media and how to utilize each to maximize your exposure and return engagement on each platform. If you are thinking about hiring someone to handle your social media, Jennifer will show you what to look for in a hire. She will take you through various campaigns and tactics, bartering, cross promoting and enlisting your cast and crew to get involved. She will take away your anxiety of the time commitment you may believe social media involves by showing you various social timing and simple graphic design programs. And to make it all easier, Jennifer will present some case studies designed to spark ideas and remove your fears.   "Ok, I took this because I HATE social media. Now I see that I allowed that concept to fester and grow irrationally. Jennifer presented this information in a way that made an optimist out of this skeptic. I'm not even going to dip my toe in, I'm diving in head first." - Maria N   "Masterful." - Anthony C.   "As comprehensive as it gets." - Martina J.   "Social is littered with abandoned film accounts. I have always had success promoting my films on social media because I make sure to post great content and to be engaging. But, wow, there is SO much I was missing out on. So many things I did not know, overlooked, or simply didn't consider. Jennifer had me scribbling pages of notes. My mind is spinning. Can't wait to put all this information into practice." - Laura D.  

SOLD OUT: Stage 32 Writing Lab: Write Your Drama TV Pilot in 8 Weeks - From Concept to Completed Script (February 2022)

***Lab spots filled*** - Interested in writing comedy? Join our comedy TV writing lab next week with literary manager Spencer Robinson - learn more here. If you'd like to get on the waiting list for the next Drama TV lab email If you have an idea for a TV show but have never gotten around to writing the pilot, or maybe you've written the pilot script and are hoping to polish and rework it, this is the perfect time to finally get down to business and create something you can be proud of and can get the attention of networks and execs. We can give you the guidance and accountability to get you there.Over the course of a 15+ year career, Anna Henry has read thousands of television scripts and worked with hundreds of writers. She has also set up projects with Netflix, Amazon, Starz, ABC, CBS, Sony, 20th Century Television, Nickelodeon and many more. She is also an instructor for Netflix & Stage 32 Creating Content for a Global Marketplace Program.In this lab, Anna will work directly with you in a class setting and also during one-on-one sessions to help you write a fantastic, market-ready pilot. To do so, Anna will guide you through picking a concept, creating engaging characters, perfecting your structure, constructing an outline and, finally, writing your pilot. If you already have a concept or even a completed pilot, Anna will use the same tools to help you hone and sharpen your material.   PLEASE NOTE: This exclusive Stage 32 lab is limited to 15 writers and will be booked on a first come, first served basis. The opportunity to work this closely and for this long with an executive and an expert in the field is an incredibly unique and valuable opportunity. If you are interested, please do book quickly. Once the spots are gone, they’re gone for good.     "My passion is helping writers make their work better. I’m not a screenwriter, so I don’t try to insert my voice into your work. With 20 years of experience as a development executive and literary manager, I consider myself to be your advocate and guide. I know the marketplace and know what will make your project successful. But my goal is to tell YOUR story in your voice. I don’t give vague “reviewer” notes, and I am brutally honest. If you want a cheerleader, I recommend you get notes from your friends. If you want to put in the work to elevate your writing, you’ve come to the right place." - Anna Henry     "Anna exceeded my expectations, both in terms of quality (and quantity) of information and overall value. Anna was personable, knowledgeable, and organized. Anna and Stage 32 delivered the goods." - John R.  

register for stage 32 Register / Log In