Daniel Sol is the co-founder and co-director of the Oscar-qualifying Hollyshorts Film Festival and formerly a theatrical sales executive for Lionsgate. With a passion for film and filmmaking since childhood, Daniel decided to move to California in 2000 with an interest in the film business. After working on commercial productions as a production assistant for Tony Kaye Films and then acting in various films, he gained an understanding of the filmmaking process. After graduating at Cal State Northridge in 2006, he realized that young filmmakers had very little access to industry professionals, and few options for screening their films. And thus, the HollyShorts Film Festival was born. Now in its 13th year, HollyShorts has quickly become the most influential short film festival in Los Angeles, with Daniel guiding it as Festival Director and lead programmer for the festival and the HollyShorts Monthly Screening Series, which takes place each month at the TCL Chinese 6 Theatres. Aside from HollyShorts, Sol also battled daily with domestic exhibitors as a theatrical sales executive at Lionsgate from 2008-2014. Mr. Sol is also the co founder of the premium Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and Apple TV content channel BITPIX (www.bitpixtv.com). He married Puah Benzicron May 29th 2016. Full Bio »
We're excited to take a peak behind the curtain into the mind of a film festival director to talk about what they look for when programming a festival. We've brought in the co-founder and co-director of the Oscar-qualifying Hollyshorts Film Festival, Daniel Sol, to go over the everything you need to know when you are considering submitting your short film to a festival.
About Daniel, Director of Oscar-qualifying Hollyshorts Film Festival
Why do film festivals reject short films? Accept films?
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It’s the dream of almost every filmmaker to one day get nominated for and win an Academy Award. It’s the gold standard that everyone strives for—from burgeoning film students to Leonardo DiCaprio. Yet this goal can also feel utterly unattainable. It’s The Oscars after all. Awards go to Meryl Streep and Martin Scorsese, not to me. Believe it or not, you absolutely have a path to the Oscars. It’s more possible than you think, and countless talented independent filmmakers find their way through the nomination process without big money, without big celebrities, and without big studio backing, but instead with just a really fantastic project. Don’t throw that dream away. There’s a road to the Oscars that you can take. Finding your way into the Oscars Ceremony is possible, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy or just happens organically. The Academy Awards are a competition, and like any competition, they come with rules and regulations, procedures, and strategies to win. If you want to one day see Oscar gold, you need to make a fantastic film, but you also have to understand the ins and outs of the awards, the politics that surround it, and where you can best fit in. Let’s explore. Daniel Sol is the co-founder and co-director of the Oscar-qualifying Hollyshorts Film Festival and has helped multiple filmmakers through the Oscar qualification process, including the short film SKIN which won the Academy Award after premiering and qualifying at his festival. Daniel was formerly a theatrical sales executive before he founded HollyShorts as a response to seeing that young filmmakers had little access to industry professionals and few options for screening their films. Now in its 17th year, HollyShorts has quickly become the most influential short film festival in Los Angeles, with Daniel guiding it as Festival Director and lead programmer for the festival. Daniel is also the co founder of the premium Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and Apple TV content channel BITPIX. Daniel’s long experience at the helm of an Academy-qualifying film festival has given him a unique perspective on what it actually takes for filmmakers to find their way to an Oscar nomination. Exclusively for Stage 32, Daniel is going to break down exactly what it takes to qualify your film for an Academy Award and the steps you can take to score a nomination or even become an Oscar winner. He’ll lay out how the Academy nomination process works and will dive into current trends, explaining what sort of themes and genres are more likely to ultimately get nominated. He will then break down the qualification process and the different ways you can get your own project qualified, including through qualifying festivals and other avenues. Daniel will finally talk about steps you can take and what to expect after your film is qualified, including strategies to better your chances of hopefully getting nominated. Becoming an Oscar-nominated filmmaker is not as out of reach as you may think, and Daniel will break down what you can do to better make this dream a reality.
Action sequences are no longer solely confined to big budget features. Movies and series of every size demand them. And while they can boost the status and popularity of a project, they are also complex and difficult to shoot and require special treatment and knowledge from the director. They are, in some way, mini silent movies, relying on image rather than dialogue to tell your story. To be a successful director today, whether you’re focused on film, television, or anything else, it’s important to have the necessary tools so you can tackle these demanding sequences Because every filmmaker, producer and crew members needs to know how action sequences are created, prepared and executed, Stage 32 brought in a bona fide expert to show you how it's done. Michael Nankin has been a working writer, director, producer, and showrunner for 40 years and has directed action-packed episodes of popular television shows like the Peabody award-winning BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, TAKEN, VAN HELSING, HELL ON WHEELS, CSI, and more. Michael started as a writer/director at Walt Disney Studios at age 22 and his first independent film, THE GATE, was the highest-grossing Canadian-produced film ever at the time of its release. His first series, LIFE GOES ON, was the first series that presented a continuing character with Down Syndrome as well as the first HIV-positive continuing character. Michael’s other directing credits include Showtime’s THE GOOD LORD BIRD, ALPHAS, TURN, DEFIANCE, and the upcoming Stephen King horror series CHAPELWAITE starring Adrien Brody. A Humanitas Prize and Leo Award winner, Michael is an incredibly successful and sought-after director, in part due to his ability to inject action and energy into the projects he takes on. Exclusively for Stage 32, Michael will lay out how exactly to lay out a fantastic action sequence for your own project. He’ll do this by first explaining how to find the story and character development within the scene and use this as a guide to forming your plan. He’ll then go in-depth on how exactly to prepare for your action scene before you even go on set, including collaborating with the other departments, storyboarding and shotlisting, and the critical wounds and kills meeting. Michael will then teach you how to actually direct the scene on set, detailing camerawork, working with the stunt team, and shooting for visual effects and more. Along the way, we will examine two specific action sequences from projects directed by Michael Nankin – one from his film RED FACTION: ORIGINS and another from an episode of the celebrated AMC series HELL ON WHEELS. Michael will walk through the choices he made in putting these scenes together.
Learn directly from Rachel Chervin, former Development Department at Broadway Video (Saturday Night Live, Portlandia, Man Seeking Woman), Gersh Agency and Imagine Entertainment! A screenwriting journey of a thousand miles begins with a single page, to paraphrase an old saying. Well, more accurately, ten pages - that's the amount of space a typical writer has to grab the attention of the anonymous, overworked reader that picked their script off a pile for evaluation. If a writer's sample script is excellent enough, the pieces start to fall into place: an entire script read, the writer recommended, the agent's decision to represent, the long and fruitful thousand-mile career. None of it happens, though, if the script never makes it to the agent's desk. But who are these mysterious readers? Who decides which scripts go on to consideration or representation - and maybe one day fame and fortune - while others get a stone-cold pass? It's not exactly who you might think: while the agents and managers of Hollywood excel at their jobs, they only have so much time in the day and most of it is not spent seeking out new talent. That job falls to the Gatekeepers, the assistants and pro readers who tackle stacks of scripts every week hoping to find the diamond in the rough: a script they can confidently recommend. In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, host Rachel Chervin will bring you an insider's perspective on agency submissions and what you can do to maximize the impact of your writing on the unsung decision makers of Hollywood. Rachel will discuss fun and informative strategies for giving yourself the best chance possible to make a lasting impression on everyone who reads your script. There are so many ways that writers can take themselves out of the running with easily avoidable mistakes, but fortunately, there are just as many ways to stand out from the pack and deliver a calling card script that demands recognition. The key, besides great writing, is knowing the Gatekeepers' game plan - and then blowing it out of the water. Rachel Chervin has been on both the buying and selling sides of the business and has extensive experience with what industry executives are really looking for and the language they use to talk about scripts under consideration. She has worked in development for Broadway Video (Saturday Night Live, Portlandia, Man Seeking Woman) in both features and television, working to find and promote up-and-coming comedic voices in the industry. She has previously worked for several years at Imagine Entertainment and the Gersh Agency on several feature films including The Rite (2011) and Katy Perry: Part of Me (2012).
Love it or hate it, the power of social media is undeniable. Harnessing the power of social media is one of the great secret weapons many producers, filmmakers, screenwriters and other creatives and professionals use to draw attention to and market their films. Learning how to correctly use social media can not only win you an audience for your film or project, it can also get you much desired attention from managers, agents, sales agents, distributors and other people of influence who can help you get your film seen and move the needle on your creative and professional career. And the greatest thing about social media? It's free. It won't impact your budget in the slightest, yet the return on your time investment can be greater than any money you can spend. But you have to know how to navigate the landscape. Make no mistake, you need this important tool in your arsenal and we'll show you how to wield its power. There is nothing more valuable than a large enthusiastic and vocal audience of supporters. Having people champion you and your film carries with it social proof. The more people who spread the word and the more advocates they can recruit, the more marketing and promotional power you have. This is why studios spend millions of marketing dollars on social media. But you can get the same results without spending a dime. And in this day and age, social proof is valued almost as much as IP. It brings you and your project heat. It says to managers, agents, sales agents, distributors, producers, financiers and other executives and decision makers that you have something worth paying attention to. Something of value. Something they need to see. Jennifer Winberg has over 10 years of branding and entertainment experience in digital strategy, social media, and integrated marketing. Recently, she launched the Digital Marketing Team for the Day and Date Film Division - Lionsgate Premiere. She's worked on a wide range of films from limited theatrical, VOD, independent, and home entertainment releases. Jennifers has worked with mini and major studios such as: Disney, Fox, Sony, Lionsgate, and Gravitas Ventures. She has designed and run film social media campaigns that have gone viral and have drawn millions of eyeballs. Jennifer will take you through all the reasons you need social media for your film, from SEO purposes, to driving an audience, to giving you the opportunity to tell your story and the story of your film to a mass audience. She will teach you which social media platforms are the right fit for your film and will give you the best return on your time investment. She will teach you about messaging and how to stay on point. She will discuss different types of media and how to utilize each to maximize your exposure and return engagement on each platform. If you are thinking about hiring someone to handle your social media, Jennifer will show you what to look for in a hire. She will take you through various campaigns and tactics, bartering, cross promoting and enlisting your cast and crew to get involved. She will take away your anxiety of the time commitment you may believe social media involves by showing you various social timing and simple graphic design programs. And to make it all easier, Jennifer will present some case studies designed to spark ideas and remove your fears. "Ok, I took this because I HATE social media. Now I see that I allowed that concept to fester and grow irrationally. Jennifer presented this information in a way that made an optimist out of this skeptic. I'm not even going to dip my toe in, I'm diving in head first." - Maria N "Masterful." - Anthony C. "As comprehensive as it gets." - Martina J. "Social is littered with abandoned film accounts. I have always had success promoting my films on social media because I make sure to post great content and to be engaging. But, wow, there is SO much I was missing out on. So many things I did not know, overlooked, or simply didn't consider. Jennifer had me scribbling pages of notes. My mind is spinning. Can't wait to put all this information into practice." - Laura D.
Learn How To Produce In The Global Entertainment Marketplace From An International Producing Expert "Alexia is clearly very experienced & she is so gracious in sharing her wisdom with all of us. I'm truly grateful that you all put on this class!" -Becca G. As global audiences continue to grow, the entertainment industry is building internationally, and in this exclusive Stage 32 class, you’ll learn exactly how to get into the global entertainment marketplace with your projects. Over four weeks, you’ll be guided by international producer Alexia Melocchi of Little Studio Films. Alexia has made a career out of successfully acting as a bridge between Hollywood and the international marketplace. She previously worked as a distributor and sales agent, where she sold over 50 films to profit for clients and acquired more than 150 major studio and independent films, including LA LA LAND, NOW YOU SEE ME 2, and more. Alexia will show you the ins and outs of the international industry, including: The processes and etiquette you need to know The rules and regulations to follow The pitching materials you need, depending on the market How to access the players when you don’t have connections Financing options, including tax credits vs. co-pros vs. in-kind services And more You'll also receive these confidential handouts from Alexia: The top companies in Europe, Canada, and Australia taking project submissions Marketing one-sheet used by international sales agents Sample email for contacting international buyers Don’t miss out on the chance to learn from one of the most prolific international executives by taking this class. You’ll walk away a step closer to seeing your films and TV shows made as you embrace the global wave and launch your international producing career. Praise for Alexia's Previous Stage 32 Education "Really great. Actually useful, practical advice. Wasn't full of bullshit platitudes, Alexia shot straight with us." -Max W. "Alexia did a fantastic job of making it all relatable and cutting through the noise." -Clint G.
Sometimes your story just can't be wrapped up in a neat bow with a perfect Hollywood ending. As a writer, you may weave a unique narrative and the idea of tying up all your loose ends into a neat resolution just doesn't seem right. Or, if you're a producer or filmmaker you might want to set your project up for a sequel, so you may want to have your characters riding off into the sunset once you get to the end. If wrapping up your story in perfect fashion doesn't appeal to you, why don’t you consider an Ambiguous Ending? Ask yourself: Is there an artful exit from your story that defies predictions and is both thought-provoking and exasperating in equal measure? Can you work your way towards an ending that people will argue about in the bar immediately afterwards and for months (even years) online? The Ambiguous Ending is a great storytelling trick to pull off, but it’s not easy. If you mess it up, you’re left with a confusing final reel that audiences are likely to dislike— and they’ll carry their loathing out of the theater with them. This webinar explores the possibilities and guides you past the pitfalls. The Ambiguous Ending can present major challenges for you as a storyteller: How do you lay a trail of plot breadcrumbs for your audience that seem to lead them in two directions at once? How do you develop characters who are simultaneously engaging while possibly lying through their teeth about the reality of the situation they’re in? How do you set up the rules of your narrative world so that one reality can peel off from another? How much misdirection is OK? This type of ending requires you as the storyteller to deploy a sophisticated toolkit out of the gate. Luckily, we have a story expert who served as the in-house story consultant for IM Global for nearly a decade and worked on developing films for Julia Roberts, Nicole Kidman, Tom Hanks and Emma Watson. In this exclusive Stage 32 Next Level webinar Karina Wilson will look at some of the tricks and techniques you can use to create delicious doubt about the ending of your script in everyone but yourself. Praise from Karina's previous Stage 32 webinar: "Her presentation was well organized, her slides contained the right amount of information to digest and takes notes from. Her delivery was excellent." - Martha C. "I was so impressed!" - Loretta C.