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.
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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.
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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.
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!
If you’re an aspiring writer, a good literary manager is often a vital ingredient for your success and continuing career. They’re with you on every step of your journey. They give you notes on your projects, help you strategize and prioritize, keep you motivated, and get you in front of execs, producers, and other players to get that next job. It’s a crucial and ongoing relationship that can make or break your career. The manager/client relationship is an intimate and important one that should be based on trust and communication, as well as on personalities. Because of this, it’s worth taking the time to think about what kind of working relationship you want to have with your rep. Managers and by extension management companies have different strengths and approaches to working with clients. From the bigger players like Anonymous Content, 3 Arts and Circle of Confusion, to the more boutique companies like Bellevue Productions, MXN Entertainment, and Lit Entertainment, each manager or management company has a different working philosophy and mandate for building a client’s career—from development to career strategy to producing policies to staffing and more. Understanding these differences and knowing what to be aware of and what questions to ask when looking for representation is essential. 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 (recipient of a Film Independent Producing Fellowship, a 2016 Tribeca Sloan grant, a 2018 Fast Track Sloan grant, a 2015 Athena List winner and on the 2016 Black List), as well as AT RISK (recipient of a Film Independent Writing Fellowship and on the 2018 Black List). Kate’s extensive experience as a manager, producer, and executive of projects big and small has made her an expert on representation, and she’s excited to share her expertise exclusively with the Stage 32 community. Kate will start with the basics of the management landscape, describing the role of a literary manager and illustrating what a good manager/client relationship could look like. She’ll go over the different approaches managers have when working with clients and teach you the major players and the different types of management companies, including the larger companies, and the smaller more boutique ones. She’ll then delve into how a writer should pick a manger by helping you understand what personal needs and wants you should consider when looking, what questions you should ask during the interview process, and what red flags you should be aware of when meeting with potential managers. Next, Kate will go over the relationship between managing and producing and what goes into a manager producing your project. She’ll talk about what you should consider when talking to your manager about serving as a producer. Finally Kate will delve into the ins and outs of a beneficial manager/client relationship, including how to get the ball rolling once you sign, how to work well with them day-to-day, week-to-week, and what expectations you should both have for each other. Kate will leave you with an understanding of the literary representation landscape and a clear idea of what to consider and what questions to ask when finding your own manager. Praise for Kate's Stage 32 Webinar "Kate was fantastic, clear and succinct about what she's looking for, what she's not looking for and a general overview of what managers do." -Gail B. " Kate Sharp was incredible. She laid out the road map for where a screenwriter goes after completing screenplays. She made it clear on what to look for in a manager and how it differs from having an agent. 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.
***Please note: There are audio issues with this webinar so the price has been reduced. If purchased you are acknowledging this fact.*** Learn directly from Tatiana Kelly and Jim Young, independent producers who have worked with actors such as Bradley Cooper, Zoë Saldana, JK Simmons, Jeremy Irons, Dennis Quaid, Olivia Wilde, Amanda Seyfried, Peter Sarsgaard, Sharon Stone, James Franco, Lily Tomilin, Cuba Gooding JR, Dev Patel and Jeremy Irons! In order to raise financing for any independent film, most investors these days will be savvy enough to be utilizing the foreign sales-driven model of selling a film based on a director and talent. Attaching “valuable” talent to a film as early as possible is extremely beneficial for filmmakers looking to get a green light on their film. However agents receive so many financial offers for their clients on a daily basis that those that are on an unfinanced film and without a monetary offer will likely go to the bottom of the pile. With an independent budget, how can you make your film stand out as an attractive offer to talent reps? How can you get top talent excited about your project without using money as an incentive? If you don’t already have connections to casting directors, what options are available to get in touch with A-list actors? Stage 32 Next Level Webinars is thrilled to bring back Tatiana Kelly and Jim Young to teach you how to attach talent to your independent film! Having worked with various A-list actors on independent films such as Lovelace, The Words, Life of a King and Wristcutters: A Love Story, they will teach you how to break through an actor’s fortress and get them interested in your project. You will learn how to determine what to offer talent based on your budget, how to be strategic about what agencies you’re making offers to, what to keep in mind at the script stage and early in the casting process and how to get past the dilemma of getting talent without money and getting money without talent. You will leave this webinar not only knowing how to attach talent to your project on an independent budget but how to get actors excited about working with you!
As the world of television continues to fragment, streaming platforms (Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Disney+, Apple TV) have become major players. More and more of these platforms are moving into original content, which means the number of new shows being produced has never been higher. However, these platforms have different needs, different expectations and different boundaries and mandates than those of traditional broadcast networks. So how does a creative navigate this brave new world? And how does a writer stand out to get staffed or sell a standout drama series? This webinar will explain in comprehensive detail how drama series are pitched, developed, and sold to streaming platforms and what you can do as a writer to position yourself to get noticed. The world of streamers is changing quickly. New platforms are coming online seemingly by the month, and with each one, the rules and the mandates continue to change. In many ways the world of TV streaming platforms is like the Wild Wild West, overwhelming and hard to nail down. At the same time, that's what makes it so exciting - the opportunities are limitless. But with so many writers vying for an opportunity to sell or be staffed on a show, it’s incredibly important to understand the changing landscape and know the best ways to operate within it. Having a clear sense of how executives at streamers think and what they’re looking for will give you a distinct advantage in adjusting your script to pique their interest or in presenting yourself more effectively to sell your show or get staffed on one of their growing number of series. Spencer Robinson is a literary and talent manager at Art/Work Entertainment who's been in the industry for over twenty years. His clients have been in films with directors Quentin Tarantino, Steven Soderbergh, Clint Eastwood, Gore Verbinski and more. In the TV world, his clients have been regular cast members on shows for Netflix, The CW, Cinemax, CBS, NBC, FX, Starz, Nickelodeon, EPIX, and TBS, to name a few. His writing clients work in both features and television on broadcast, cable, and streaming platforms. He currently has a client writing on two Netflix series, and another client who just sold a show to Amazon. He also reps a writer who currently has a project at Aggregate Films, which has a deal at Netflix. Spencer will use his extensive experience working with writers and selling their shows to streamers to share some of the do’s and don’ts of writing a drama pilot for streaming television and outline how to tailor your script to make the best impression with the executives at these platforms. He will do this by first laying out how the streaming platforms differ from one another and what exactly they're looking for. Not all streaming platforms are created equal and it's imperative you know the difference. From there, Spencer will dive into script structure and formatting, specifically analyzing what you should be considering before you write your pilot. Next, he will tackle staffing and sales, so no matter what your goal whether to be in a writer's room or selling your pilot, you have all the information you need to position yourself correctly and with the best chance of success. Spencer will even get into the difference between streaming platforms and broadcast networks so you can determine where your material might be a best fit. Expect to leave this class with a comprehensive understanding of the shifting industry of streaming television and a toolkit to better excel within it. Like what you heard from Spencer during this webcast? Send your script to Spencer and speak with him for an hour by clicking here. Praise for Spencer's Stage 32 webinar: Spencer was awesome! Super informative and detail driven - providing great insights. Packed so much into a short amount of time which I'm super grateful for! -Eric C. Spencer Robinson has high energy and packs a ton of information in his lecture. Most importantly Spencer gives realistic advice while encouraging writers to move forward fully informed of the terrain. -Oweeda N. Spencer opened my eyes to how the TV world works with broadcast and streaming. What a great crash course! -Ricki L. "Very enlightening. Gave a realistic view of how difficult it is to get a pilot made but was just inspiring enough to give hope. :)" -Clive M.
The director and actors may get the lion’s share of the credit, and the writer might be the one who thought up the story in the first place, but it’s the producer who actually puts a film together and who turns ideas into reality, all the way from conception through distribution and beyond. The role of a producer can be enigmatic, though. It’s not as straightforward of a job as, say, an actor or a DP, and with so many different types of producers (Line producer? Associate producer? Executive producer? Co-Executive Producer?) it’s a hard concept for people to wrap their heads around. But if you’re interested in being a producer yourself and in leading the charge in creating great content that people want to watch, it’s important you better understand the role and find ways you can separate yourself from the pack and excel. There are a lot of producers out there, a lot of people working to create content. However there are a lot fewer who are prolific, who have multiple projects under their belt and have the know-how to make any project they have their sights set on a success. So what makes these power producers stand out? How do they choose what to produce and how do they operate within the industry to make things happen? And how can you join their ranks? A good step might be to learn directly from a power producer herself. Luckly, successful producer Aimee Schoof will lend her experience exclusively to the Stage 32 community. Aimee Schoof is the co-founder of Intrinsic Value Films and has produced more than 35 feature films. Of those, nine 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 has had more than 25 years’ experience working as a hands-on producer on projects of all shapes and sizes and knows what I takes to thrive in this role. She’s excited to share that with you. Aimee will give you a soup-to-nuts overview of what it takes to produce a film of any level and how to position yourself for success not only on your current project, but for your career moving forward. She will begin by teaching you the different types of producers on a film and what each person’s responsibility is. She’ll then give you strategies of how to choose your own path as a producer, including what it means to be an independent producer. She’ll walk you through how to find partners, collaborators, and mentors in this industry and will discuss the crucial but tricky task of finding and selecting material to produce. She’ll also break down whether a producer should focus on just one project at a time or multi-task. Aimee will illustrate what exactly a day in the life of a producer actually looks like. Aimee will then focus on relationship building, one of the biggest parts of a producer’s job. She’ll break down how to form and maintain relationships with agents and managers, actors, casting directors, and fellow producers, among others. She’ll then discuss the best practices for networking to build your connections, including how to work film festivals and markets to meet new and exciting potential partners or friends. Next, Aimee will delve into how best to source IP as opposed to working with original stories. She’ll go over the balance between holding your relationships close and expanding your network and how a good producer budgets their time when working on multiple projects. Aimee will also give you tips on how you can produce a science fiction film, even on a budget. Then, Aimee will give an honest and realistic breakdown of what a film’s timeline actually looks like—how long it actually takes to make a film and how you can stay motivated along the way. Aimee will use examples and case studies from her own past films, including projects made from existing IP, to further break down the role of a producer. Like what you heard from Aimee during this webinar? Send your script to Aimee and speak with her for an hour by clicking here. Praise for Aimee’s Webinar “I loved this! Aimee knows so much about the subject. I really learned a lot” -Cheryl B. “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. “This was great! Thank you!” -Joanne D. “I feel ready and inspired to set out on my own and make some great movies after listening to Aimee!” -Hannah W.
This month, Jason is excited to welcome producer Regina Lee into the Writers' Room Pitch Tank! Regina's resume is very impressive! She has sold pilots to HBO, Starz, FOX, BET, as well as multiple TV pilots at 20th Century Fox TV Studios. She produced two TV movie thrillers that aired on Lifetime. As a production company executive with a deal at CBS Network, she was on the team that sold multiple projects to CBS and The CW, getting a show on the air at CBS. She began her executive career at Universal Pictures, where she was the primary executive in charge of American Wedding and Curious George. She was a studio executive in charge of movies such as The Good Shepherd (Matt Damon, Angelina Jolie, Robert DeNiro), The Fast & the Furious 3, Bridget Jones 2, The Cat in the Hat, Seabiscuit, and Red Dragon. Over an hour and a half, Regina and Jason listen and critique pitches from Writers' Room members and offer advice on how to help your pitch break out in a crowded market!
The script is finally ready…now, how do you prepare for your first day on set? There are a lot of factors that go into preparing for your film shoot. We’ve brought in producer, Samm Haillay, to talk about the process from script to set. Samm is an eight-time feature film producer, whose films have premiered at Cannes, Venice, Sundance, SXSW and who’s film Island of the Hungry Ghosts won best Feature documentary at 2018 Tribeca Film Festival. He’ll be going over everything from schedule, budget, casting, locations and more to get you prepared for day one. He’ll be sharing his decades of experience and helping you avoid common mistakes made, as you get ready to shoot your film.