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. Full Bio »
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.
Q: What is the format of a webinar?
A: Stage 32 Next Level Webinars are typically 90-minute broadcasts that take place online using a designated software program from Stage 32.
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A: If you attend a live online webinar, you will be able to communicate directly with your instructor during the webinar. If you cannot attend a live webinar and purchase an On-Demand webinar, you will have access to the entire recorded broadcast, including the Q&A.
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A: Yes! After the purchase of a live or On-Demand webinar, you will have on-demand access to the recording, which you can view as many times as you'd like for a whole year!
In depth and comprehensive 4-session class on the craft of directing with exclusive handouts and downloads Who doesn’t want to be a director? It’s the dream job of many, and it’s easy to see why. As director you get to helm a project, command a creative army, and bring your vision to life. Yet directing is by no means an easy job; it goes way beyond just sitting in a canvas chair and yelling “action!” Whether you’re directing a big budget blockbuster, an episode of TV, or your first micro-budget independent feature, you can’t go into it blind. Being an effective director requires preparation, strategy, discipline, and an overall understanding of your responsibilities and how best to perform them. Perhaps the biggest challenge of being an effective director is the need to understand and master every step of a project’s journey. This includes developing a visual style/point of view, collaboration, text analysis, pre-production planning, working with actors, camera and actor blocking, and overseeing the post-production process. No element here is less important than the next, and if you want your project to be successful, it’s up to you as the director to make sure you can navigate each step as well as the last. While there is no one “right” way to direct a film or episode of television, there are a number of techniques and skills that make for a smoother, more creatively fulfilling process. With the right techniques and the right guidance, finding success as a director is not only possible, but entirely within your grasp. Heath Cullens is an accomplished director best known for directing 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 every step of directing and will now share what he knows exclusively with Stage 32. In this four session class, Heath will walk you through every step of directing a film or television episode, and delve into the skills and techniques you need to know to successfully helm your own project. In session one, he will go over the overall role of the director, how to develop your own visual style and point of view, basic terminology and how to be an effective collaborator. In session 2, Heath will teach you pre-production, including text analysis, building a shot list, camera basics, and how to effectively schedule. Session 3 will focus on production, including working with actors, making your day, knowing when you “got the shot” and how to manage your crew. Finally, Heath will spend the last session going over post-production, including working with the editor and and dealing with notes from producers, investors and the editor. You’ll leave this class with a clear idea of how to tackle every step of a director must take and the confidence to bring these skills with you to your own project. Plus! Heath will provide you with a series of exclusive and helpful handouts to take with you and use when directing your next project. Downloads include: Camera Level & Shot Size Shot lists Ground plans – hand drawings Pre-production guide Mood board Camera Bible & Camera techniques WHAT TO EXPECT: This class is designed for beginner and intermediate students looking to learn the ins and outs of directing a film or television show. This is an in-depth, practical, and detailed class with significantly more content than a standard 90-minute webinar. This class will consist of four sessions, each roughly two hours in duration and spaced one week apart from one another. In addition to the presentation-style lessons where Heath will be walking you through various elements of the craft of directing, you will have the opportunity to ask him questions during each session. Plus, to stay motivated and inspired, you will have access to a private, dedicated Stage 32 Lounge where you can communicate with your fellow classmates throughout the process. To see the full class schedule, see below under "What You Will Learn". Praise for Heath's Previous Stage 32 Directing Class Sometimes one signs up for a class not really knowing what to expect. This class I could never have anticipated! Heath went above and beyond any expectations I might have harbored. This was one of the best classes I have ever taken on Stage 32 or any other platform. I walked away with so much information, confidence and respect for the role of the director. My heartfelt thanks to Heath -Angela R. "This was a phenomenal class. Thank you for providing a class of this caliber. Heath was informative and engaging." -Angel M. Heath was extremely knowledgeable and a great teacher. He had a perfect combination of facts and passion. He invested a lot of energy into, not only, teaching the class, but he also went above and beyond to inspire the class. Very grateful. -Rainy K. I found this course so relevant. The content and the presentation were amazing. I especially liked that Heath gave us the ability to look for the big ideas when directing not taking just one or two nuggets. Thank you for always bringing the best instructors and relevant content. -Susan L.
We have found ourselves in an age of content overload. As audiences, everywhere we turn we are inundated with stories online, on screen, in podcasts and on the radio. And these are just the stories that make it to these platforms. Script readers and producers are going through much, much more, often reading hundreds of screenplays a month. And yet, with so much content out there, scripts still rise to the top. There is a reason why projects like FLEABAG, OZARK, PARASITE, and Jordan Peele's US cut through the noise, with or without big budgets or names. It’s not theme or content matter that achieves this; it’s authenticity. The industry is changing, but this simple truth never does. Executives, producers, studios, and audiences will always seek out authentic voices. The question, then, is what exactly is authenticity and how does it read on a page? Adding authenticity to your work is a lot harder than adding, say, character headings. It’s not a switch to turn on and it’s not something that can be easily engineered. Cultivating an authentic voice is a challenge every writer faces and takes years of honing your craft. However, there are things you can do right now to better zero in on your own voice and show it off to executives and other gatekeepers. Better understanding what authenticity looks like on a page, how executives identify it, and the steps writers with strong authentic voices take before approaching a script will give you the best possible chance of your project standing out, continuing into production and ultimately premiering to the masses. Sarah Cornelius serves as Creative and Production Executive at award-winning Whitewater Films, helmed by director-producer Rick Rosenthal (HALLOWEEN II, BAD BOYS, TRANSPARENT). This approach has resulted in Whitewater producing numerous notable films which have won Independent Spirit Awards, the Sundance Directing Award, a Primetime Emmy, as well as collecting nominations for an Oscar and the Sundance Grand Jury Prize. Whitewater has produced projects for Paramount Classics, Netflix, Showtime, IFC, Samual Goodwyn Films, The Orchard, CNN Films and more. Whitewater Films recently completed their feature STANDING UP, FALLING DOWN starring Billy Crystal & Ben Schwartz with first-time director Matt Ratner. Their film, THE LAST SHIFT premiered at Sundance 2020 with two time Oscar-nominee Richard Jenkins. In addition they produced FIRST GIRL I LOVED (Sundance winner), HALFWAY THERE (Sundance Episodic Showcase winner) and SMALL ENGINE REPAIR (SXSW premiere). Sarah has been involved with development on each of Whitewater's projects and has the ability to communicate conceptual notes in a direct and effective manner. Sarah will use her extensive experience evaluating scripts and discovering talent to delve into what goes into finding your authentic voice and how to bring it into your script. She’ll begin by discussing the main questions you should ask yourself before writing a script, including how to prevent writer’s block, how to anchor your concept, and the three ‘whys’ you must address before getting started. Sarah will then approach the concept of authenticity from the point of view of an executive, and what specific things they look at to identify a writer’s voice. She’ll speak to format and clarity, imagery and action, dialogue, point of view, and creativity and risk-taking. Sarah will even teach you how to retain your authenticity past the writing phase. She’ll discuss how to ask for and incorporate feedback while still holding on to your voice and how to pitch what you wrote with authentic confidence. Finding your own authentic voice is never easy, but Sarah will give you the tools you need to better understand how to bring your voice forward and hone in on it with more confidence. Plus, you will receive 10 downloads of notable screenplays that exhibit an authentic voice (and 2 downloads of scripts without an authentic voice) that Sarah will use to demonstrate how authenticity reads on the page: Jordan Peele's US CAPTAIN FANTASTIC THE SHAPE OF WATER PARASITE AMERICAN BEAUTY RESERVOIR DOGS WHIPLASH HARRIET TRAINSPOTTING APOCALYPSE NOW SHOWGIRLS CATWOMAN Praise for Sarah's Stage 32 Webinar "Sarah was incredible! Loved her teaching style and insight. Great webinar!" -David P. "Very informative, well worth it!" -Caroline B. "Great webinar - loved the use of scripts and clips. Wonderful speaker!" -Ron H. "Sarah Cornelius was wonderful. Time well spent today." -Brian B. Like what you heard from Sarah during this webcast? Send your script to Sarah and speak with her for a full hour by clicking here.
As the landscape of independent film continues to evolve, a clear funding path has developed for films budgeted between high-six figures and $10MM. Indeed, it’s become an effective “sweet spot” for investors. At this budget you can typically attract and secure some star power, one important step toward increasing the odds that your investors will see a return on their investment. But this is just one reason why this budget range is attractive to many investors. There are many more variables at play which will help you raise money for a film or project in this price range. But first, you must understand some tried and true principles that will help you find investors, present your project in the proper fashion and lock them down for an investment. Knowing how to raise money intelligently for films and projects within this budget range can be your calling card toward a powerful career in the independent producing space. Simply put, those who understand the strategies and methods that can help your investors see a return get to keep those investors time and time again. And those investors can, and usually do, bring along more investors if they're happy. While everyone says that raising financing is the hardest aspect of filmmaking, there are smart ways to find money that you may not have thought of, and there are also ways you can expand your dollars once you start raising funds for your project. In addition, there is a well-known group of professionals and creatives that have been working on films in this budget range for years and it's important that you know who they are, how to approach them and what the expectations are once you do. Founded by Elsa Ramo, one of the top entertainment attorneys in the industry today and recently named to Variety’s 2019 “Dealmakers List,”, Ramo Law PC provides comprehensive legal services to its clients in the entertainment industry with a specialized focus in representing financiers, producers, directors, distributors, studios and production entities in all transactional aspects of film, television and digital content. The firm provides experienced legal services to optimize its clients’ financial, legal and business position in the financing, production, and exploitation of their content. Ramo Law has represented over 100 films and 50 television scripted and unscripted series in 2019 alone, including Emmy award-winning shows and films which debuted at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Clients include Imagine Entertainment, FOX, Balboa Productions (Sylvester Stallone’s production company), Scout Productions (creators and EPs of QUEER EYE), Boardwalk Pictures (EPs for CHEF’S TABLE) and Skydance. Elsa and her associates are bona fide experts when it comes to the nuts and bolts of finding financing for your independent film. Elsa and her senior associates Zen Raben and Sean Pope will join forces to demystify the film financing process so that producers, writers, directors, and financiers can understand the basic yet crucial components of how independently financed films are funded. They will begin by discussing entity formation. They will explain why you need to form an entity for your production and what type of entity you should form, as well as what state you should form it in. They will go over the information you will need to form the entity, the forms that need to be filled out with the state, and how operating agreements work. They will also teach you what a waterfall is and why you should include one in your operating agreement. Next, Elsa, Zev, and Sean will delve into important things to keep in mind specifically for your LLC formation, including the state of formation, deciding if it will be member-managed or manager-managed, who should be in control of creative decisions and who should be in control of business decisions. They will then talk about equity investment and go over who exactly provides equity investment, what investors get out of it, where the investment gets placed and why investors are motivated. Next, Elsa and her associates will explain debt financing. They will teach you the four common types of collateral in debt financing, and four types of debt you will be dealing with. They will go over the key terms and considerations you should know, and just like equity investment, they will explain who provides debt investment, what the investor gets out of it, where the investment gets placed and why investors are motivated. Elsa, Sean, and Zev will even stage a mock closing call between a producer and senior lender to demonstrate what it looks like to lock in funding from an investor. Finally, Elsa, Sean, and Zev will give you an invaluable closing checklist, walking you through everything you need to keep in mind when going after funding. Expect a thorough, comprehensive and undeniably helpful guide to give you the tools you need to find the funding for your next project. This is designed for all levels but particularly effective for those that are currently producing and/or packaging a feature film. Praise for Elsa's, Zen's and Sean's Stage 32 Webinar: "It was absolutely brilliant! One of the best webinars I've attended yet! Loved the mock call. That was so educational!" -Becca G. "They are all knowledgeable and had a great presentation" -Carlos B. "Great webinar financing. Will be watching again." -Martin R. "AMAZING WEBINAR!!!" -Stephanie D.
What is it about the most successful TV comedies that have allowed them to stand the test of time? Whether it’s ALL IN THE FAMILY, SEINFELD, PARKS AND RECREATION, or FLEABAG, it’s not the jokes that have made these shows so successful—as funny as they might be—it’s the characters. Distinct, hilarious, memorable and, above all, authentic characters are always the ingredient that will make a good TV comedy great. Whether you are working on your own comedy project or are hoping to write on an existing show, it’s crucial to have an understanding of what makes TV comedy characters great and how you can create your own Archie Bunkers and Leslie Knopes. Crafting great comedic characters is not only important in creating a successful show; it’s also how you can get noticed. After all, with so many different types of comedies in the marketplace, it is becoming the toughest genre to break into. Writing great characters can separate your work from the rest and give you the kind of attention that solid jokes and a good sense of humor simply can’t muster on their own. This means it’s vital not only to have great characters, but to know how to make them shine on the page. The good news is there are strategies and actionable lessons you can use to elevate the characters in your own television comedy. Vijal Patel is an Emmy-nominated and Peabody Award-winning writer and executive producer who has written for many award-winning comedy series including ABC’s BLACK-ISH and THE MIDDLE. Vijal currently serves as writer and co-executive producer of the ABC comedy series SCHOOLED, starring Tim Meadows and AJ Michalka. He also writes and develops feature film projects for the powerhouse studio DreamWorks. Vijal has built his career on writing comedy and using it to explore race, family, religion, politics, and class struggle. In this exclusive Stage 32 webinar Vijal will teach you how to make your characters funny. He’ll go through the 2 most basic comedy archetypes and explain the difference between jokes and attitude humor. He’ll teach you how to differentiate your characters and ensure they’re unique and will guide you through both the “One Word” exercise and “Situation” exercise to help improve your characters, using examples from THE SIMPSONS, FLEABAG, BLACK-ISH, SEINFELD, and others. Vijal will then delve into how to make your characters feel authentic and how to write impactful character descriptions to ensure they pop on the page. Finally he will dive deep into how to write funny dialogue for your characters, including how to use humor, how to end the joke, metaphors, similes, and reactions. Vijal will leave you with a series of strategies and clear examples that you can bring back to your own project to make your characters, funnier, more memorable, and more authentic.
Any producer can tell you just how much goes into creating a budget for a film. Layer after layer, projection after projection, contingency after contingency, it’s always an incredibly difficult, incredibly fragile, and incredibly intricate document that take an immense amount of work and care to put together. And with so many elements involved, it’s just too big and specialized for a program like Excel to handle. There is a reason why nearly every studio, producer, accountant and unit production manager utilizes Movie Magic Budgeting to write budgets. If you are in the position where you have been asked to create a budget, Movie Magic is absolutely essential. It is the easiest and cleanest budgeting program and can handle anything from shorts to multi-cam and single camera series to full features. It is both simple and deeply complex as you start getting into the minutiae of everything it can do. Yet a solid understanding of how to operate Movie Magic is a powerful tool in the arsenal of those looking to move up into management on either the show or studio level and might be a requirement for those looking to find success in their producing career. Rami Rank is a leading and sought-after producer with credits on shows including Amazon's GOLIATH, Showtime’s DEXTER, SWINGTOWN on CBS, HELP ME and HELP YOU on ABC, as well as features such as the remake of APRIL FOOL'S DAY. Beginning his career working on indie features as a Production Coordinator, Production Manager and Line Producer, Rami later joined Universal Studios where in addition to helping manage the Backlot and Stage Operations he also ran UVS-1, Universal’s Virtual Production business. Since then, he returned to production and continues to put together high profile films and series. Through his storied career, Rami has become intimately familiar with the inner workings of Movie Magic Budgeting and set to share what he knows exclusively with the Stage 32 community. Rami will give a full walkthrough of how to successfully use the Movie Magic Budgeting (MMB) software to put together a budget for your own film or series. He will begin by giving an overview of what the budget will look like on MMB, including the top sheet, the accounts, details, helpful shortcut keys, and understanding what amt, units, x, cur, and rate mean. Next he will talk you through how to set up a budget from scratch, including how to choose the right template, input budget info, and set up your header and footer. Rami will teach you how to set up and use different units and will then delve into globals, explaining what they are and how to create them. He’ll to through global groups, applying globals and changing globals. Then he will discuss fringes, explaining what they are in the context of MMB, and go over percentage fringes, flat rate fringes, applying and removing fringes, and setting the fringe account. He will also explain how groups work on MMB, why they are important, how to create them yourself, and how to turn them on and off. Next Rami will explain how to use the currency function and how to set up and build contractual fees. Finally Rami will break down additional basic functions of MMB including pagination, recalculation, and printing and PDF conversion. Movie Magic Budgeting can be an intimidating software, but Rami will give you an accessible and actionable walkthrough so you can have the tools and confidence to build your own budget with it. Rami will be operating from Movie Magic's Version 7.7, the Legacy version of its budgeting software, which is also the version that most professional producers currently use. Praise for Rami's Stage 32 Webinar "It was great, good presenter, very experienced, good communication" -Paul B. "Terrific host, valuable content." -Mark M. "Rami was great. He was entertaining, and showed he knew what he was teaching. Webinar flowed well and was engaging for the whole timeframe" -Nicholas B. "Very helpful, good overview of the software" -Angie L.
I was born for this. Started on street corners tap dancing, doing comedy, telling stories & holding an audience until they pay me J A Masters Degree from USC Film School and three decades later there hasn’t been a day when I wasn’t writing, directing, producing or managing as an executive a feature film, television, documentary, live event and/or new media program. I’ve been blessed to learn from and collaborate with some of the luminaries of sports and entertainment producing and business management. For these efforts, I picked up a shelf full of awards & trophies, maintained an upward financial trajectory and learned to enjoy the ride. A few of the collaborations in my career include: Netflix, YouTube, NBC, CBS, ABC, Univision, HBO, Showtime, TNT, MTV, VH-1, Sony Pictures, Paramount Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate Studios, Legendary Pictures, Blizzard Entertainment The Grateful Dead, Quincy Jones, Michael Jordan & David Falk, Phil Knight/NIKE, Magic Johnson, Peter Guber/Mandalay, Dr. Dre, Snoop & Eminem, Arthur Miller, Michael Bloomberg, Laurence Fishburne, the NFL, MLB and NBA, and most of the financing entities in Hollywood. I’ve established tax incentives that spark states into profitable production while structuring large scale financing. Easier said than done, trust me! Now, I’m thrilled to join with Stage 32 to talk about my journey and share my experiences from over the years. I love to give back to up and coming filmmakers and I’ll be holding an online Q&A to talk with you, the Stage 32 community, and tell you about the things I’ve learned along the way. If you’re in the middle of your filmmaking journey, now, no matter where you live in the world, I’ll be taking questions from you live, so ask away! So relax, this opportunity to not give up on your daydream just got a lot closer. Clint Eastwood, Kip & Kern Konwiser Kip & Virginia Madsen Kenny Ortega (director/choreographer), Jim Belushi, William Levy, Emilio Estefan Kip, Ron Shelton (director/writer), Pete Rose, Kurt Soderling (DP) Pre-production at Legendary Studios "The Konwiser Bros." Kern & Kip Konwiser