Frank Stiefel began making films at age 63 and then won an Academy Award at age 70. Formerly a TV commercial executive in New York, Frank decided later in life to pursue filmmaking. His directorial debut, the documentary short INGELORE about mother, a deaf Holocaust survivor, played in festivals around the country and was later broadcast on HBO. In 2012, Frank began shooting the artist Mindy Alper as she completed an epic sculpture of her psychiatrist. This turned into his film HEAVEN IS A TRAFFIC JAM ON THE 405, which went on to win the Jury and Audience prizes at the Austin Film Festival and Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. It was a nominee for Best Documentary Short Subject film at the International Documentary Association and earned Frank the Oscar at the 90th Academy Awards. Frank has found incredible success transitioning to a creative career later in life and is excited to reveal what he’s learned on his journey exclusively with the Stage 32 community. Full Bio »
For as much information and exposure that is out there about the entertainment industry and how it works, it can still feel like a jungle. The politics are difficult to track, the gatekeepers are difficult to access, and there’s no clear blueprint for how to “make it”. Hollywood is overwhelming for everyone trying to break in. It’s hard to know where to start, how to make inroads, or how to build a reputation or career—these are universal. Yet for those trying to transition to a creative career from a different industry or later in life, these challenges can feel even steeper.
It’s not uncommon to view Hollywood as a young person’s game. After all, many people who find a foothold in the industry only do so after putting in a lot of work as an underpaid assistant or PA, a trajectory that might be possible for people in their 20s but is a lot less feasible when you’re older. It can feel like there’s an expiration date for when you’re “allowed” to break into the entertainment industry, and at some point, the doors simply close. This doesn’t need to be the case, though, and there are many examples of people finding success later in life or after transitioning from a different industry altogether. In fact, there are big advantages to taking this step at this point in your life and upper hands that Hollywood lifers will never experience. Nonetheless, transitioning to a creative career later in life is not easy and presents unique challenges. But with a strong lay of the land and the proper tools under your belt, it’s a journey that is absolutely achievable.
Frank Stiefel began making films at age 63 and then won an Academy Award at age 70. Formerly a TV commercial executive in New York, Frank decided later in life to pursue filmmaking. His directorial debut, the documentary short INGELORE about mother, a deaf Holocaust survivor, played in festivals around the country and was later broadcast on HBO. In 2012, Frank began shooting the artist Mindy Alper as she completed an epic sculpture of her psychiatrist. This turned into his film HEAVEN IS A TRAFFIC JAM ON THE 405, which went on to win the Jury and Audience prizes at the Austin Film Festival and Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. It was a nominee for Best Documentary Short Subject film at the International Documentary Association and earned Frank the Oscar at the 90th Academy Awards. Frank has found incredible success transitioning to a creative career later in life and is excited to reveal what he’s learned on his journey exclusively with the Stage 32 community.
Using his own story and path to success, Frank will discuss how he made the jump to filmmaking later in life, what he learned along the journey, and what lessons you can take along with you as you make your own transition. After giving a short history of his own career, Frank will use his first short film INGELORE as a case study to explain how to do research and take notes in the trenches. He’ll give you ideas of how to make something of your own on the cheap and resources you can draw from. He’ll explain how to form your own “band”, and find the tribe you need to break in, and will offer tips on how to run your project. Frank will then focus on preparing to make the transition to a new creative career. He’ll go over questions you should ask yourself before making the switch and how to form your plan. He will talk about how to better afford the transition and other pieces of advice you should consider before making the leap. He’ll also explain the most important thing he learned while making the transition. Next, Frank will focus on his Oscar-winning film HEAVEN IS A TRAFFIC JAM ON THE 405 and how it came to be. He’ll explain how it began without a plan and how it later transitioned to a plan. He’ll also use HEAVEN as an example to demonstrate how you can use your unique personal background to inform your project, as well as how to take criticism along the way. Frank will also discuss what he’s learned from his multiple festival runs and how he’s used it to win an Oscar, and what comes next after winning. Finally, Frank will break down how to make your own age and experience work in your favor while breaking in. Finding success in Hollywood is difficult, but Frank has done so by carving his own path. He will give you perspective, inspiration, and strategies so that you can do the same.
"I think I'm proof that it's possible for someone to find success in the entertainment industry at any point in their life and from any background, though it does take a little savvy and a whole lot of work. My hope is that you'll be able to use my story to help you out on your own transition."
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.
Q: Do I have to be located in a specific location?
A: No, you can participate from the comfort of your own home using your personal computer! If you attend a live online webinar, you will be able to communicate directly with your instructor during the webinar.
Q: What are the system requirements?
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 10.8 (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 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.
Q: Will I have access to the webinar afterward to rewatch?
A: Yes! After the purchase of a live or On-Demand webinar, you will have on-demand access to the audio recording, which you can view as many times as you'd like for a whole year!
Aimee has added 5 more spots! 2 Spots Remain In today’s film market independently producing a film is a great way to get your project made. There are thousands of independent films that are developed, made and distributed every year that started from a script. But how? Now, more than ever, the need for a major studio to get your project into production becomes less and less, while more control is put into your own hands. Whether you're a filmmaker, producer, writer or actor, you have the ability to produce and shepherd a film project if you know the right steps to take to get it done. In order to do this, though, you will need to get your project market-ready and make it attractive to co-producers, financiers, actors, directors, distributors and more. Looking professional when going out to the market with a film project is key and separates the professionals from the amateurs. Figuring out who and how to get your script into the right hands and get the ball rolling on a project can feel overwhelming, almost impossible for a newer creator. Knowing the right way to strategize, present, and partner with the perfect collaborators is key to success. A good producer is always in action, looking at ways to make her project the best it can be. As intimidating and bewildering as this might feel to creators, it’s absolutely within your reach. And, there are strategies you can learn to put you on the right track to turn your passion project into a reality, especially if you have guidance to help you get there. Aimee Schoof is the co-founder of Intrinsic Value Films and has produced more than 35 feature films. Of those, 9 have premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, four at the Tribeca Film Festival, three at SXSW, and one each at LA Film Festival, Toronto, Venice, New York FF, New Directors/New Films, and Berlinale, to name a few. Aimee’s company develops, produces and sells independent films that have been distributed worldwide, have won many awards and been honored with numerous nominations. Accolades include winning a Sloan Sundance Award and a Sundance Special Grand Jury Prize. Aimee’s work has led her to be nominated five times by Film Independent as a producer. She is currently both a Sundance and Film Independent Fellow and has worked in international sales attending all major markets, and regularly lecturing on film finance and production. Aimee’s extensive experience has made her intimately familiar with how to successfully get a project off the ground and build a team to get a script made. In this advanced level and exclusive four-session lab (no more than 10 students will be admitted), Aimee will work directly with you in an intimate class setting to help you make your script marketable and put the pieces together to get the film ready to go. To do so Aimee will begin by working with you on your script and concept. She will help you understand what shape your script is currently in and how marketable your story is. Next she will help you strategize and give you the tools to find the partners you’ll need for your project, including other producers and executive producers, directors, writers, actors, and more. Then Aimee will work with you on your project’s pitch deck, including perfecting your logline and synopsis. Finally Aimee will guide you through forming your own specific plan of attack moving forward, including building the list of people to reach out to and getting your foot in the door with organizations. Aimee will even work with you on practicing your pitch, cold calls, and email messages. Expect to leave this lab with a better handle on the potential for your script, a working pitch deck, and a plan of attack to find your own team and get your film moving towards the finish line. Plus! Aimee will also provide you exclusive, confidential and helpful documents for you to download and use for your own projects including: Up-to-date list of in-demand writers and directors to reach out to Pitch Deck examples Free access to Variety Insight for one month ($200 value) Outreach email templates WHAT TO EXPECT (FOR THE SESSION BREAKDOWN, SEE BELOW) This lab is designed for beginner and intermediate creators looking to get their film project ready to pitch and put together. This is an in-depth, practical, and detailed lab with significantly more content than a standard 90-minute webinar. ***Aimee has added 5 more spots! 2 Spots remain *** You will be given exclusive and confidential handouts that will accompany the lessons and that you will be able to hold onto after the lab ends. This lab will consist of four weekly sessions, each roughly two hours in duration. In addition to the lessons where Aimee teaches the class, you will have the opportunity to ask her questions during each session as well as multiple chances to speak with her directly about your specific project. 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 TV project development process. To see the full film producing lab schedule, see below under "What You Will Learn". PLEASE NOTE: This exclusive Stage 32 lab is limited to 10 people and will be booked on a first come, first served basis. The opportunity to work this closely and for this long with a veteran producer and an expert in the field is an incredibly unique and valuable opportunity. If you are interested, please book quickly. Once the spots are gone, they’re gone for good. Payment plans are available - please contact Amanda at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information Praise for Aimee's Previous Stage 32 Webinars: "I've taken many Stage 32 webinars and they've all been wonderful, but Aimee's had me ready to run through a wall! So much thoughtful and intelligent information!"- Debra S. “Aimee was able to take these big ideas and make them feel totally accessible and easy to understand. I really enjoyed hearing from her” -Howard F. “I feel ready and inspired to set out on my own and make some great movies after listening to Aimee!” -Hannah W.
As an independent filmmaker, screening your project at a film festival may be the best opportunity to put your film (and yourself) on display. It remains a powerful platform for filmmakers of all levels to have their work seen. In fact you’d be hard-pressed to find a successful filmmaker working today who didn’t get their start at a festival. It’s where films get sold, where talent gets discovered, where reputations are crafted, where communities are built, and where the best networking can happen. And with the current movement away from the theatrical model and towards streaming, festivals can also often be the only possible way to physically show your film on the big screen to an audience during its life cycle. Film festivals are indeed often the next desired destination for a filmmaker, but it’s not always easy to get in, even with a great film. It can be disheartening after finishing a film and investing so much money and resources into it to realize there is still more money to be spent in going the festival route. The act of submitting to festivals can set you back hundreds, if not thousands of dollars simply through festivals’ submission fees. It’s probably going to add up no matter what, but it can set way pricier without a plan in place. It’s common for filmmakers ready with a film to more or less blindly submit to festivals: “Sundance? Check. Tribeca? Check. Cinequest? I heard that one was good, let’s do it.” Yet just because you’ve heard of a festival, just because it’s a legitimately great festival, doesn’t mean it’s the right fit for your project, and it doesn’t your film is the right fit for them. Successfully navigating the festival landscape requires a lot more effort and a lot more time than just pressing that submit button. Yet doing the research, understanding your goals, and carefully building your strategy will not only yield more positive results, but will also save you money on unneeded submission fees in the long run. For nearly a decade Harrison Glaser has been immersed in the professional film industry working for Austin Film Festival and Stage 32. As Austin Film Festival’s Film Competition Director, he programmed the festival’s films for five years and discovered his passion for identifying deserving projects and championing exciting and unrecognized talent. During Harrison’s tenure as AFF’s Film Competition Director, over 100 films he programmed went on to secure distribution, six short films were later nominated for Oscars, and one that he qualified ultimately won the Academy Award. His work with Austin Film Festival and Stage 32 allows him to champion undiscovered storytellers and help them amplify their work. He also serves as a professional moderator for many different film related industry panels both online and offline. Through his many years leading AFF’s film selection and working closely with other film fests, he has become intimately familiar with the inner workings of larger festivals, as well as the common missteps many filmmakers make when working with them. He’s excited to share what he knows exclusively with the Stage 32 community. Harrison will walk you through how best to develop your film festival strategy and choose the right festivals for your film, well before you start submitting. He will begin with the basics of why you should or shouldn’t be submitting to festivals in the first place, and how to best think of festivals as a tool. He’ll then lay out what the festival landscape looks like, including what makes up the “Festival Circuit”, what Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3 festivals are, and the lowdown on both niche festivals and destination festivals. Next he will delve into the importance of having your own specific festival goal and how to find it. He’ll provide six examples of valid and common festival goals and how best to adjust your submission strategy for each. Harrison will go deep into how to research festivals before submitting and what you should be looking for before you should feel comfortable paying their submission fee. He’ll also offer various strategies to choose the right festival and giving yourself the best advantage in getting accepted, including considering niche festivals, finding your ‘in’ and developing your network. He’ll spend some time explaining how scam festivals work and what you can do to spot them and stay away from them. He will offer some tips and context of what you should do if you film is ultimately rejected from one of your top choices, and also what to do if your film is ultimately accepted. You will leave with a slew of strategies to tackle your festival run more strategically and more effectively. Praise for Harrison's Previous Stage 32 Webinar: "This was great. Very comprehensive about festival strategy and works for shorts and features. Probably the best content about this topic I've seen" -Paige F. "The teacher really knew his subject. He was also friendly & warm and made the students feel relaxed. A well spent event and I learned so much." -Toni M. "Appreciated the way Harrison did not gloss over any point — he spoke thoroughly about everything." -Elease P. "Very knowledgeable, open, easy to follow" -Marilyn L.
The Stage 32 Writers’ Room has just surpassed a milestone achievement - 100 webcasts! For the last year and a half it has been the honor of Director of Script Services Jason Mirch to act as the humble host, guiding webcasts that include script and screenwriting breakdowns, virtual pitch sessions to industry professionals, one-on-one conversations with some of the biggest names in the business, and writing exercises that challenge our imaginations and sharpen our skills. The goal of the Writers’ Room has always been to give writers all over the world the support, access, and education to thrive in their craft and career. Our recent Writers' Room guests have included Oscar-nominated Pixar writer Meg LeFauve, Billion Dollar Producer Amy Baer, AKEELAH AND THE BEE Filmmaker Doug Atchison, Universal Pictures Executive Ken Korba, A QUIET PLACE development executive Linsday Schwartz, GREEN HORNET producer Bradley Gallo, and many more - all of whom spoke and interacted directly with our members. Several of our members have connected with each other and have swapped scripts, collaborated on projects, produced projects they have written, and writers have even been optioned by producers largely because of the Writers’ Room! The Writers' Room is strong because of the incredible members who are serious about their craft and advancing their careers. So we are turning the spotlight over to some of our talented Writers' Room members who will tell us how they broke out in a highly competitive industry and achieved success during this Stage 32 Writers' Room Member Success Spotlight webcast! During this webcast, Writer, Producer, Actor & Stage 32 CEO Rich "RB" Botto and Writer, Producer, and Director of Script Services Jason Mirch shine some light on members who have utilized the power of Stage 32 and the Writers' Room to achieve tremendous success in the industry and learn the secrets they have discovered for breaking out! During this webcast the panel includes: Screenwriter, Martin Reese, who received a $5,000 option agreement from Glass House Distribution and Trick Candle Productions for a script he developed with the help of the Writers' Room! Screenwriter, Chris Torres, who landed representation with Manager Brooklyn Weaver of Energy Entertainment after being a part of the Writers' Room and being connected for a meeting by Stage 32! Author and Screenwriter, Christi Corbett, who developed one of her novels into a screenplay which was then optioned by producer Brad Wilson of Higher Purpose Entertainment!Screenwriter and Filmmaker, Chaun Lee, who used the power of Stage 32 and the Writers' Room to develop a short film which she then produced using local crew and cast in Atlanta just prior to lockdown!
Learn directly from Steve Desmond, a filmmaker and screenwriter who completed a successful crowdfunding campaign and nearly doubled his initial raise! Steve has also worked on projects with Imagine Entertainment, Dreamworks Animation, The Disney Chanel, Level 1 Entertainment, Blacklight Transmedia, Preferred Film & TV and The Walt Becker Company! You have a great idea for a feature film, documentary, or short film. You’re tired of just writing stuff and want to make your dream project into a reality. But you don’t have the money to do it… Yet. In this exclusive Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, filmmaker and screenwriter Steve Desmond will help you build a killer crowdfunding plan so that you can raise the funds to get your dream project off the ground. Steve recently ran his own campaign to fund his short film on Kickstarter with a goal of raising $16K. He not only hit his goal, but blew by it raising a total of nearly $30K and his film is now in post-production! From his own experience, he’ll teach you how to craft a compelling pitch, build an online audience, and maximize your project’s potential. He’ll also go over the pros and cons of Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and other major crowdfunding sites, so that you can pick the one that’s best for you. From making your pitch video to writing the perfect funding email to marketing your project across all social networks, this will be a one-stop shop for how to successfully crowdfund your film.
As a director, one of your most important jobs is eliciting great performances from actors. Fail at that, and your film or series could crumble under the weight of bad acting. Although the best directors shape performances with a deftness that may seem effortless, it is not. In fact, becoming a great director of actors is hard work and takes years of disciplined practice. Like playing a violin, it is a skill that must be nurtured. But there is a place to start: Set the goal of becoming an “actor’s director.” You’ve heard the term before, but what does it really mean? Why does it matter? And how can you become one? An actor’s director is simply a director who respects actors, can read their wants and needs, understands the craft of acting, and knows how to optimize an actor’s performance with simple, short directions (or no apparent direction at all). While actors routinely compliment directors by bestowing this title upon them, becoming an actor’s director means far more than earning the respect of those in front of the camera. In truth, the best directors are actor’s directors by definition. The temperament and skillset of an actor’s director yields superior performances, and it leads to more fulfilling actor-director relationships. By studying the strategies, attitudes, knowledge base and habits of actor’s directors, you too will be on the path to better performances in your own films and series. And, who better to know what it takes to become an actor's director than Matthew McConaughey's teaching partner at University of Texas, Scott Rice. Scott is an Emmy Award-winning director who has directed projects for Sony Pictures, A&E, MTV Networks and more. His films have been distributed by Hulu, Showtime, Comedy Central and PBS. After studying under world-renowned film scholar David Bordwell, Scott began his career as a 3D animator and art director for Activision. He scripted the groundbreaking hit game SOLDIER OF FORTUNE and has since written on assignment for Elizabeth Avellan (SPY KIDS) among others. Scott is also an ADDY award winner for his commercial work. His national commercial clients include Shell, Las Vegas, MasterCard and Sears. As Scott explores how to become an “actor’s director,” he will share a volume of best practices and wisdom born of a rich 25-year career. Scott will begin by explaining what it means to be an “actor’s director” in general and will go over what you need to be familiar with ahead of time in order to be one yourself, including a basic rundown of the craft and challenges of acting and how to use empathy. He’ll illustrate what a strong actor-director collaboration looks like, how to harness the power of ‘yes’, and how to correctly ‘watch’ a performance while on set. Next Scott will delve into how best to prepare before production, including navigating scene work, the read-through and rehearsal process, dealing with shot listing, and creating a schedule while keeping your actors’ needs in mind. He’ll also discuss how best to handle walkthroughs and blocking and when to use stand-ins. Then Scott will teach you the best ways to interact with actors on set, including how to meet with them ahead of time, and how to hold yourself and speak while on set. He’ll spend time talking about the casting process and ways to serve as an “actor’s director” while auditioning and interviewing talent. Scott will then offer tips on how to work with non-actors, including children and animals, and share Steven Spielberg’s techniques for these challenges and how to use improvisation. He will delve into strategies for solving problems that occur on set, including how to identify a weak performance, getting out of a ‘black hole’, when to move on and circle back, and how to decide what you really need to move forward. Scott will share 8 things you should avoid while on set in order to be a better “actor’s director”. In the end, Scott will leave you with a thorough understanding of what it means to be an actor’s director and, more importantly, provide actionable advice for how to become one yourself. Scott will accompany his presentation with exclusive material from his nationally recognized film course which goes behind the scenes of Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey’s latest films. Scott will illustrate successful actor-director relationships through anecdotes from McConaughey and notorious directors including Gary Ross (THE HUNGER GAMES), Jeff Nichols (LOVING), and Harmony Korine (SPRING BREAKERS). Praise for Scott's Stage 32 Webinar "Scott was a great choice for an instructor. Very knowledgeable and a good teacher" -Blake N. "Scott was a fabulous presenter. He definitely brought his A-game today. Thanks, Scott!" -Paul T. "It was terrific. Great instructor. I loved his insights and recommendations. He clearly stays on top of his profession and is always learning." -Crystal B. "Just what I needed to hear" -James G. "Great. I have been an actor for a long time. Loved Scott's approach to working with actors. Spot on" - Shelagh M.
Now that the barrier to entry is lower than ever to start creating your own content, it's imperative to learn how to capitalize shooting on digital. Whether it's understanding the needs of digital services like Netflix, or platforms like YouTube, there is a spot in the market for you to make it a career. In this exclusive Stage 32 webinar your host Stephen Balsley will be going over the technology side of the Industry, with a specific focus on the shift from Film to Digital. We will also be learning to look at Media as a whole, from how each piece is interconnected, to how technology is affecting extraordinary change in every area of Media. We will go over specific examples of Filmmakers who have successfully capitalized on the shift to Digital, and will provide useful steps to ensure your projects are taking full advantage of the available Technology to give you the best possible chance at creative success. The Technical side can be one of the most difficult and daunting areas of any Industry (like opening up the hood of a car), but Stephen's goal for this webcast is to inspire an overall curiosity into all of the change that is currently happening, and to begin to gain a firm understanding of how the Industry works around, and is very often driven by, the Digital Age in which we live. Stephen Balsley began his career at a RED Digital Cinema nearly 9 years ago, and has watched it grow from a small startup company into one of the leading Cinema brands in the world. During that time, the RED One camera was largely credited with driving the shift from Film to Digital, with RED cameras now being used in a large number of films and other projects across the Industry. Although Stephen’s expertise is in RED, he is well experienced in all types of cameras, including Arri, Canon, Nikon, Blackmagic, and more.