Zahida works as Director of Operations with independent film distributor, Gravitas Ventures, working with Karia Brown and Mark Lyons to help deliver Gravitas films to a variety of internet and cable platforms. Zahida’s passion for all things film-related also led her to various roles at Warner Bros. and Twentieth Century Fox before joining the Gravitas team in the fall of 2014. Zahida helps guide indie filmmakers through the delivery process and helps to ensure the release of these movies on the ever-growing VOD space. She loves meeting new filmmakers and helping them through the final step in the movie making process. She continues to produce short films, watch copious amounts of movies, and expand her knowledge of independent distribution. An LA native, she received her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Film from UCLA and has since worked behind the scenes on various shorts, indie features and a web series. Full Bio »
What a great time it is to be a filmmaker, producer or financier. Distribution channels have never been more plentiful or more wide open. That means more options for you to maintain a fuller degree of control for your content. And that's never a bad thing. But it also means that there are more ways to get your film or project out into the world and, most importantly, more revenue opportunities toward securing profitability. And one of the most popular and lucrative choices in today's market is Video on Demand (VOD).
To take advantage of all of these opportunities, you need to not only know where to look, what platforms are best suited for your material, and how to engage with the proper people to get a deal done, but you also must know how to deliver your film.
Zahida Kazar is the Director of Operations for popular independent film distributor, Gravitas Ventures. She works directly with top executives Karia Brown and Mark Lyons to help deliver Gravitas films to a variety of internet and cable platforms. Zahida’s passion for all things film-related also led her to various roles at Warner Bros. and Twentieth Century Fox before joining the Gravitas team in the fall of 2014. Zahida helps guide indie filmmakers through the delivery process and helps to ensure the release of these movies on the ever-growing VOD space. She loves meeting new filmmakers and helping them through the final step in the movie making process.
Zahida will teach you how to understand and navigate the VOD space. She will discuss various rental and VOD platforms including Amazon, iTunes, Netflix and Hulu and teach you what these platforms and distribution companies are looking for. She will also dive into deliverables expectations inclding encoding, your key art, metadata, the importance of your synopsis, and your legal deliverables (so very important). From there, Zahida will help you understand how to prep your film for release including your social media and PR campaigns. And she will prepare you for what to expect after your film is released including key things to keep in mind to help assure that your project has legs in the marketplace. All this and much, much more, including an in depth Q&A session with Zahida.
"Distribution is a subject that gives me so much anxiety. Zahida took all of it away with her clear explanation of the process."
- Martina L.
"Grabbing a beer...Watching again."
- Henderson D.
"Comprehensive and first rate."
- Samuel F.
"Excellent. More like this please."
Plus, a live and interactive Q&A with Zahida!
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As the world of independent television and film continues to shift, international co-productions are becoming more common. That’s because crossing borders is often an effective way to find better funding, better locations, and ultimately a wider audience. But international co-productions are not always a slam dunk. Partnering with other countries is a complicated endeavor and brings with it challenges and hurdles you wouldn’t have to face otherwise. Potential pitfalls are plentiful, but then again, so are opportunities. It comes down to putting in the work ahead of time, covering your bases, and making sure you know what you’re doing before diving in head first. Working across countries is hard enough when you’re part of a studio or large corporation. There are still contracts to hash out, politics to navigate, and differences in cultures to understand. But when you’re an independent producer or filmmaker looking to cross country lines, it can feel impossible, an overwhelming prospect where you don’t even know where to start. After all, you don’t have the backing of a legal department and you don’t have experts on payroll. You just have you. So where do you start? Is an international co-production worth it for you? What steps should you take to get the ball rolling and how can do you protect yourself along the way? With more than twenty years in the industry, Alexia Melocchi has worked in nearly every aspect of the entertainment industry. Alexia is currently a producer at Little Studio Films, a representation and production company with more than 25 films and series credits. She serves as Partner and Producer, involved in all aspects of company operations, including distribution and co-production deals, managing production activities, and film and television marketing. Alexia is well versed in the art of international co-productions and will share the secrets, tips, and lessons she’s learned over her two decades in the industry exclusively with the Stage 32 community. Alexia will walk you through the nitty gritty of starting international co-productions and the things you need to know before jumping in. She will begin by going over the pros and cons of producing overseas, both for film projects and television, and when to determine if an international co-production is the right call. She’ll tell you the four aspects of your project you should focus on before making this call. She’ll then discuss what makes a story international and how to use this to your advantage. Alexia will then go over the advantages of having international settings in your script. Next she will focus on tax subsidies and credits in different countries, how these can be targeted, the challenges that come with claiming them, and the rules and requirements you’ll generally need to meet to qualify for them. She’ll also discuss the prospect of working with international broadcasters or producers. Then, Alexia will give an in-depth and detailed rundown of the benefits and challenges of producing in six major countries: Italy, Spain, Canada, UK, and Australia. She’ll offer a breakdown of the specific costs that go into overseas productions, as well as the legal ramifications of these projects, including how international cooperation might affect ownership of your IP and rights. Alexia will discuss what an effective timeline of a successful co-production deal might look like and will finally give you tips on how to work international markets like Cannes to find the partnerships you need. This webinar is useful to producers considering an international co-production as well as writers, actors and directors who feel their talent or material might work well on an international scale Like what you heard from Alexia during this webinar? Send your script to Alexia and speak with her for an hour by clicking here. Praise for Alexia’s Webinar “Alexia had so much specific and helpful information that I’m going to be able to use moving forward” -Karen H. “Alexia is the best! I’m so glad I got to see this webinar” -Hannah E. “I was impressed with how much the instructor knew about this topic. I have a lot of ideas and tools I can take with me for my own projects now” -Jerry B.
For Hispanic Heritage Month (or Latinx Heritage Month), it's important to reflect on the contributions made by the Latinx community, consider the progress made and the work that still needs to be done to empower and raise up Latinx voices. This is especially true for the film and TV industry. Incredible work has been done in front of and behind the camera recently that showcases Latinx talent and culture, including films like COCO, ROMA and IN THE HEIGHTS and shows like VIDA, ON MY BLOCK, and more. And as the industry strives for more inclusiveness and equity, this is the time for more Latinx talent to share their voices and their stories around the world.But more than just celebrating accomplishments, it's important we take stock of where we are today. To continue creating change in the industry, we must review what representation exists and what is lacking, what is being made and watched, both in America and in Spanish-speaking countries, and how Latinx creatives can best find their foot in the door.Therefore, in honor of Latinx Heritage Month, Stage 32 has partnered with some of the industry's top leaders from both the U.S. and Latin markets who are dedicated to elevating the voices of the next generation of Latinos in entertainment. Together, we will be hosting a FREE no-holds-barred panel and discussion where our experts will discuss trends in the Spanish-speaking market, opportunities for bilingual content, language barriers in the U.S. and how to overcome them, and how to shorten your path to success.Plus we'll have an exclusive Q&A where YOU will have the opportunity to ask any questions you'd like.We'll see you there! Panelists Diego Cantu, Emmy Award Winning Screenwriter and Producer Guillermo Olivo, Director and Documentarian David Zannoni, International Business Specialist, Fintage House
Learn directly from Liz Profumo, Managing Attorney of the Immigration Firm D'Alessio Law Group! "Lots of info provided and all questions were answered. Thank you so much, you've made the first step much easier! So glad this webinar came up as I was feeling pretty lost and confused on how to go about it. I'm trying not to 'self-diagnose' as you said, but it has made me realise I need to get more professional experience and put myself out there more, to give myself the best shot at getting the visa." – Jessamie K. "[They were] very informative and gave great advice…All in all, I left the webinar very pleased and more informed!" – Herschel A. In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, Managing Attorney Liz Profumo and her team at DLG Immigration will walk you through the O-1 ‘Artist of Extraordinary Ability' Visa. Liz will deconstruct the issues that foreign nationals encounter when crossing the border, applying for visas, finding employment in a new country and relocating. You will leave the webinar knowing: Exactly what the O-1 visa entails. How to construct the resume of the visa. How to getting letters of support. What other visa options exsit if the O-1 isn’t a good fit for you. What to do - and not to do - at the border. How to identify and avoid immigration scams. Your host Liz Profumo has been practicing immigration law exclusively since 2007. Her practice is limited to immigration and nationality law and concentrates on temporary and permanent business and employment related visas for investors, artists, and entertainers, and she has assisted hundreds of artists, performers, and other industry professionals to realize their dreams of living in the United States. The associates at DLG Immigration have personal experience in the immigration process and the entertainment industry, and understand your logistical requirements as well as your legal requirements. They understand the types of documentation you will have and what to ask you for and are here exclusively for Stage 32 to help our members around the world pursue their dreams of working in the U.S.
Animated television is currently experiencing a boom like we’ve never seen before. Since it’s possible for the bulk of the work to be completed from home or while socially distanced, animation has been flourishing as more players are turning to this format. New shows like SOLAR OPPOSITES on Hulu, CLOSE ENOUGH on HBO Max, FINAL SPACE on TBS and BLOOD OF ZEUS on Netflix are hugely popular, and this is just the beginning. Scores of upcoming animated shows are in the pipeline and just around the corner. Considering this appetite, it doesn’t look like this trend is fading any time soon. And more interest in animation means there are more opportunities for your own project to get noticed and get picked up. The opportunities may be extra plentiful right now, but you still need to do your homework and understand the animated TV industry and what they’re looking for if you want to be noticed. This means nailing down a great concept, a fantastic pitch deck, and a strategic and effective pitch. And all of these elements don’t need to just be good; they all need to lend themselves to the format and industry that is animated TV. But if you can ace all of these elements, you may have just found your way in and the piece of material that will fire you off the launch pad. Brad Graeber is the CEO and co-founder of Powerhouse Animation Studios, recognized as a leading producer of action animation for its work on Netflix original series like CASTLEVANIA and SEIS MANOS, as well as a multitude of video game cinemas, trailers, and commercials. Through Powerhouse, he has also produced several shows in the children’s space including Nickelodeon's THE ADVENTURES OF KID DANGER and Disney's IT'S A SMALL WORLD: THE ANIMATED SERIES. Based in Austin, TX, Brad is currently overseeing the highly anticipated upcoming Netflix series MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE: REVELATION, based on the HE-MAN cartoons from the 1980s and produced by Kevin Smith. Few people know better than Brad what it takes to turn an idea into a successful animated show, and he’s going to share his knowledge with the Stage 32 community. Brad will draw from his deep experience in the world of animated TV to break down how to best develop your animated series and pitch and sell it to a streamer or other network. He’ll first teach you what animated TV looks like today, what networks are looking for and where we’re headed. Next he’ll dive into what you should do to get your own animated series market-ready. He’ll address the three questions you NEED to answer before you try to sell your show, and will give you for shaping your character descriptions, plot outlines, structural elements and unique viewpoint. Brad will also talk about how to get the meeting with an interested network or studio. Next Brad will go into crafting your pitch documents including an effective pitch deck and accompanying artwork. He will also go through the 8 biggest mistakes he sees writers make when putting together their animated shows and give you tips on how you can avoid these pitfalls. Brad will even share the pitch deck he used for his original series SEIS MANOS that got it picked up by Netflix and will break down the process of developing the show and getting the streaming giant on board. If you are working on an animated show, you’re going to want to hear what Brad has to say.
Stage 32 is committed to bringing you entertainment, education, and community from the comfort and safety of your own home. Our Script Services Coordinator, Nick Assunto, has procured an amazing slate of talented and funny actors and Stage 32 members to read his pilot The Conspiracists, a half-hour sci-fi comedy. During this exciting virtual event, you will get an exclusive look behind the scenes of a professional television table read. Watch as the actors make the script come alive for the very first time. This is a rare opportunity to peel back the curtain go behind the scenes to watch and see a script workshopped directly with professionals. Our fearless leader, Richard "RB" Botto kicked off a night of hanging out virtually. You'll get a chance to laugh along courtesy of some Stage 32 members who are incredible actors from your favorite tv shows and improv theaters including The Upright Citizens Brigade, Second City, and The Pack. Cindy Chu - playing Helena Francois (New Girl, Hawaii Five-0, MacGyver) Angela Cristantello - playing Beatrix Baker (Agent Carter, 9-1-1) Nican Robinson - playing Greg Shepherd (13 Reasons Why, Thunder Road) Carolyn Deskin - playing Mee Moo and Super Professional Sue (Water's Edge, Sorrow) Rama Vallury - playing Turkey Hemingway, Sweaty Phil, Nervous Intern, Boss Man and Bus Drive (Happy Ending, AOK) Ramona Apthorp - playing Pickle Frost PLUS! after the table read we did a Q&A with the actors, writer Nick Assunto, our fearless leader Richard Botto and our Director of Script Services, Jason Mirch moderated by our Managing Director Amanda Toney so you will get the perspective from everyone involved about the table read! What a great way to have fun and learn! Mark your Calendar! LIVE Online Table Read of the Comedy Pilot "The Conspiracists" Friday, March 27th at 7 pm PST Please help support your fellow Stage 32ers by sharing this on social. Check out the social media buttons at the top to share on Instagram @stage32online , Twitter @stage32 , Facebook @stage32 , and LinkedIn @stage-32 .
It can be the bane of a filmmaker’s existence, but there’s no denying that financing is a critical step in getting that movie made. After all, not even the greatest script can get produced without the money and resources to back it up. But this is never a straightforward endeavor. Securing the funding for your film is almost without question a fraught, complicated ordeal. It can be enough to drive the most optimistic filmmaker away, but if done smartly and successfully, financing can give you the resources you need to not only see your vision through, but perhaps even to elevate it, to gather opportunities and talent to raise your project’s profile and find further success. Finding and dealing with financing for a film can feel like a Sisyphean task, a hunt for treasure without any map to help. After all, we’re not just talking about finding people with deep pockets who believe in your vision (though that definitely helps); you also need to be well versed in tax structure and incentives, legal codes, equity models, sales projections, crafting a pitch to investors—all things you likely didn’t learn along the way or through the process of writing that script. Yet as overwhelming and insurmountable as it seems, there’s always a way through, and there are strategies and skills you can pick up as a producer or filmmaker to find the money and navigate the politics and nuances of this difficult landscape. 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’s extensive experience has made her an expert in the art of film financing, and she has developed a slew of skills and lessons learned to more successfully find and manage funding for independent projects, skill and lessons that she’s excited to share with you. Aimee will give you a comprehensive look at how to finance your independent film and the tips and strategies to have in your arsenal to make sure you’re taking advantage of every opportunity available. Aimee will start by discussing how equity models are structured and the benefits that come with starting your own LLC. She will then delve into the legal components of a standard investment deal, including being clear with who owns the rights to the film and how those rights are distributed and paid for. Then, Aimee will go into navigating foreign sales and domestic sales within this quickly changing landscape and how you may be able to find the right sales partner that can give you an advance to make the movie. Aimee will teach you everything you need to know about tax incentives and how best to take advantage of them and earn back what is essentially free money. Next, Aimee will discuss the benefits of crowdfunding and the strategies and tips she has employed in the past to create a successful campaign. She will talk about the rise of the digital streamers and how to target these platforms for possible funding. Aimee will then delve into the art of finding and approaching potential investors, including the research you need to do and how best to pitch them your project. Aimee will even share one of her own pitch decks to illustrate how to craft the perfect pitch deck. She will teach you ways to think outside-the-box and find non-traditional investors or partners that you might not have otherwise encountered. Finally Aimee will teach you strategies to better network, including finding way to get to people you don’t personally know and how to use film festivals and film markets to your advantage. Be prepared to leave this webinar with an expansive and comprehensive view of film funding and the tools you need to get your next project financed. Like what you heard from Aimee during this webinar? Send her your script and speak with her for an hour by clicking here. Praise for Aimee’s Webinar: Clear and efficient! -Dirk B. I've watched several webinars on film financing and this has been by far my favorite. Thank you for the practical, straightforward advice, and for presenting the info in a way that is not too overwhelming to take in. -Rose M. Grounded and Practical -Jennifer S. This webinar was jam packed with so many useful and accessible strategies I can start using today. Thank you! -Brian D.