Director James Kicklighter is a multi-award winning Los Angeles-based film director and producer. His work has been recognized by the world’s press, including The Hollywood Reporter, The Times of India, Film Courage and FilmInk Australia. James has worked on nearly two dozen films over the last 10 years in the microbudget range. James began his career making numerous small budget short films, which allowed him to move into award-winning feature films. Most recently he directed The Sound of Identity about the first transgender woman ever to perform as Don Giovanni in a professional opera. The film is produced by Emmy Award-winning producers Russ Kirkpatrick & Andy Kinslow and executive producer Josh Bachove (Lizzie, Yoga Hosers, The Little Hours). Kicklighter produced Every 9 Hours, the directorial debut of novelist Jim St. Germain (A Stone of Hope) and Emmy-award winner Adam Margolis. Every 9 Hours is a modern-day exploration of skin color and gender and how they affect one's ability to participate in relationships and society and stars Phillip Smithey (“Code Black,” “Grace and Frankie”), Elisabeth Ferrara (“Lethal Weapon”), Kahyun Kim (“American Gods”), Marcy Goldman (“Airplane!”) and legendary actor Danny Trejo (Machete, Predators). Kicklighter recently completed principal photography on his multi-year documentary The American Question. Following numerous subjects since December 2016, the film examines personal values systems to understand the partisan divide in America with a wide range of thought leaders across the cultural and political spectrum. Kicklighter directs The American Question with a creative team including producer Guy Seemann, an international political consultant, and editor Carlos Puga, the Emmy-award winning producer of MTV’s “True Life,” and recent SXSW Jury Award Winner and Sundance Jury Nominee. Full Bio »
As you know, independent film is enjoying a resurgence. Whereas a few years back, it seemed as if getting a low budget indie off the ground was a Herculean task, now, especially with the rise of Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Disney+ and other streaming platforms not only purchasing indie fare, but producing it on their own, lower budget independent films are back in high demand. However, to take advantage of the current gold rush, you must understand what makes an independent script attractive to managers, agents, producers, development execs, financiers and others in a position to greenlight your screenplay.
For most writers focused strictly on the craft, the disconnect between a script that gets high marks for the writing, yet still has a problem drawing attention of managers and agents or finding a buyer, is a lack of knowledge as to the current marketplace. It is vital that you understand the creative and commercial realities of the business. Everything else streams from there including all the aspects that you will need in your screenplay to make it a no brainer for the aforementioned gatekeepers and decision makers to want to get involved with the project. With so many screenplays flooding the market, reps, producers, filmmakers, financiers want to choose those screenplays that already have the heavy lifting toward getting the script into production already figured out.
James Kicklighter is a multi-award winning writer/director whose work has been recognized by the world’s press, including The Hollywood Reporter, The Times of India, Film Courage and FilmInk Australia. James began his career raising funds for numerous small budget short films, which allowed him to move into award-winning feature films. Most recently he directed The Sound of Identity about the first transgender woman ever to perform as Don Giovanni in a professional opera. The film is produced by Emmy Award-winning producers Russ Kirkpatrick & Andy Kinslow and executive producer Josh Bachove (Lizzie, Yoga Hosers, The Little Hours).
James will teach you the ins and outs of writing a producible, low budget independent feature that will draw the right attention. He'll start by diving into the marketplace and how you can research, review, and understand the current landscape. He will then discuss how to choose material, create compelling, deep, and unique characters, and how to write using accessible locations. He will teach you how to optimize the screenplay for production, including some tips and tricks to help a filmmaker and/or producer understand how they can schedule efficiently just by reading the script. If you are looking to control your own material, James will even dive into how to attach talent and modify the script while in production.
"James has style and class to spare. I've taken over 20 Stage 32 webinars and this was one of my favorites."
- Theo K.
"So much detail and so much information. Makes me look at my scripts in a whole new light."
- Amanda D.
"I've had so many screenplays that have received Consider or Recommend coverage from executives in this business, but I've never been able to get one of these screenplays launched and I could never understand why. Now I do. The writing is there, but the awareness to a producer's needs can be better. I'm on it. Thanks, James."
- David V.
"I learned something today. I want to produce my own work. Actually two things. I CAN produce my own work. This webinar was worth its weight in gold."
- Martina S.
"There’s nothing like listening to one who is passionate and educated on the craft of Filmmaking. James is a voice for aspiring filmmaker's ears. Thank you for the well outlined course.“
- Emeka M.
Q: How do I watch my webinar live?
A: If you received a confirmation that your webinar is on Go to Webinar, you will receive an email from Go to Webinar with further instructions for participating in the live webinar. You can also access your webinar link in your purchase history located under settings in the top right-hand corner of your Stage 32 profile.
If you received a confirmation that your webinar is on Zoom, you will receive a separate email from Zoom with further instructions for participating in the live webinar. Your login link will not be in your Stage 32 profile. If you did not receive your link via Zoom please email email@example.com.
Q: How do I watch my webinar on demand?
A: You will be able to watch your webinar on demand as many times as you’d like inside your Stage 32 profile. The recording is processed and posted between 24-48 hours after the webinar concludes. You can follow the instructions below.
YOU MUST HAVE A STAGE 32 PROFILE TO WATCH YOUR VIDEO – STAGE 32 IS FREE TO JOIN If You Already Have a Stage 32 Profile:
Q: What is the format of a webinar?
A: Stage 32 Next Level Webinars are typically 90-minute educational broadcasts that take place online using a designated software program from Stage 32. Your webinar will be taught by a working industry professional with in-depth teaching on a topic. If you are able to attend live you will be able to ask your Stage 32 Educator questions during Q&A.
Q: What are the system requirements to watch my webinar live?
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 10.9 (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 cannot attend a live webinar or 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 re-watch?
A: Yes! Like all Stage 32 education, after the purchase of a live or on demand webinar, you will have on-demand access to the recording.
Q: How do I get a copy of the handouts provided?
A: If the webinar you take included handouts you can find them as downloads underneath your on demand video. You must be logged into your Stage 32 profile to view the video and get the handouts by clicking settings in the top right hand corner, then clicking purchase history.
Q: What if I need accessibility and accommodations?
A: Email firstname.lastname@example.org to request accommodations.
Thanks for your loyalty to Stage 32 Education. We value having you in the Stage 32 community.
If you have any further questions, we are always happy to help. Please contact Stage 32 support at email@example.com.
"There’s nothing like listening to one who is passionate and educated on the craft of Filmmaking. James is a voice for aspiring filmmaker's ears. Thank you for the well outlined course.“ - Emeka Mbadiwe
“I have been recommending the Short Film Master Class to film makers since I completed it. It is entertaining and contains so much information. Not only does he cover "how", but includes the "why". James is phenomenal.’” - John Garrett
“Insightful, informative and entertaining! A must-attend for the rookie and the pro alike. James hands you tools to utilize in today's viral distribution market. After the course, you'll feel empowered and prepared to shoot, distribute and publicize your next project.!” – Jay Lowe
“This was a great class! James effectively takes you into his journey of becoming a filmmaker. He shares his experiences of what to do and what not to do. Taking his class has put me on the right track as I start my film making career. Thanks James!“ – Cecilio Chopper Martinez
Almost every successful filmmaker today—from Ava DuVernay to Rian Johnson to Chloe Zhao to Ryan Coogler—got their start by writing and directing their own short films. It’s so common of a springboard for creatives that most managers and executives actively incorporate scouting short films as part of their recruitment model when looking for new talent or new ideas. If you're an aspiring writer or director ready to make a living as a filmmaker, mastering the art of crafting a short film can be the perfect launching tool for your career. Simply putting together any short film isn’t going to be your instant ticket into the industry, however. Tens of thousands of filmmakers produce new short films every year. With so much competition, how do you make your own film stand out? How can you avoid the mistakes that riddle the writing and directing process of making a short film? Once your film is made, how do you get it out to the world aside from just uploading it on YouTube and hoping people view it? And what can you do to convince investors and producers that you're ready to make the leap into bigger projects? James Kicklighter is a multi-award winning writer and director whose work has been recognized by the world’s press, including The Hollywood Reporter, The Times of India, Film Courage and FilmInk Australia. He has directed nine short films that have found success at film festivals around the world as well as through distribution. He is currently developing projects with Richard Saperstein (THE MIST, SE7EN) and Beau Turpin (COUNTERPUNCH). His latest feature film THE SOUND OF IDENTITY, about the first transgender woman to perform as Don Giovanni in a professional opera, was released this year and is produced by Emmy Award-winning producers Russ Kirkpatrick & Andy Kinslow and executive produced by Golden Globe-winner and Academy Award-nominated Josh Bachove (MINARI, THE LITTLE HOURS). In this 2-part exclusive Stage 32 Masterclass, you will learn: How to write, direct and distribute your own short film The art of writing a short screenplay How to develop strong characters that will attract top acting talent, while working within a budget that the average aspiring filmmaker can afford. The process of directing your first short How to get the cast and crew that you want How to raise money and setup the budget, How to select the right camera and technical equipment, How to work with locations and your actors to maximize your production value. Insider tips for distributing and marketing your final product - a step that most filmmakers never learn. Hw to target film festivals, cultivate relationships with media, and create a launch strategy that will best serve your film in the present while preparing you for the future.
Over the past few decades as the media landscape has changed, so have methods for reporting and information gathering. Your Stage 32 Next Level educator, award-winning director, James Kicklighter, has personally learned this while directing his new documentary film, Digital Edition, profiling the digital tools changing media as we know it. In “Deconstructing Oscar-Winning Films: Spotlight, Network & All The President’s Men,” we will evaluate and deconstruct common methods deployed in these three groundbreaking films to tell stories about journalism and media. Through this process, we will identify the successful techniques from these masterpieces for directing and writing movies about the media we consume. While filmmaking isn’t typically thought about as “investigative,” to create a film about journalism and media, it requires extended research that goes beyond writing the fictional screenplay. We will evaluate the preparation process of interviewing industry professionals, utilizing research to inform the written narrative, and how to visually manifest the themes on screen. You will walk away learning techniques to help your directing, writing, acting and producing to help you improve your projects! As an added bonus - ***Get 3 FREE Oscar-Winning Scripts: Spotlight, All The President's Men & Network***
Whether musical biopics like Rocketman, historical dramas like Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile or The Irishman from Netflix, or films loosely based on historic events like 1917 or Once Upon a Time in Hollywood... audiences are fascinated by true stories. During this super-sized 90-minute webcast, we explore films and series including Chernobyl, The Social Network, Munich, Molly's Game, Charlie Wilson's War, and more to find out what makes a good script based on true events or real people work.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every industry in the world, but perhaps none as harshly as that of live events. Whether it’s concerts, theaters, conferences, conventions, or anything in between, organizations built around bringing people together are scrambling to adapt in order to survive and continue their missions. Nowhere is this more true or evident than with film festivals. Film fests big and small have been grappling with large existential issues since the outbreak and have needed to find large scale and innovative changes to continue sharing films and championing artists in a now virtual setting. The landscape of film festivals has no doubt changed, but what exactly does this change look like and how permanent will this move to virtual be? How can festivals stay afloat and how should filmmakers be using festivals in this new era? In another FREE Stage 32 COVID-19 webinar, directors and programmers from Tribeca, Hollyshorts, Raindance, and Austin Film Festivals, as well as Stage 32’s very own Managing Director Amanda Toney will come together for an exclusive Q&A session where they’ll answer questions from the Stage 32 community about the state of film festivals and where they believe things are headed. They’ll address platforms and solutions available to film festivals (including Stage 32’s Screenings platform!), and will give their thoughts and advice to filmmakers on how to consider, approach and submit to festivals in this new virtual era. Bring your questions and prepare for a direct, upfront, and honest discussion.
Since announcing our new screenings initiative, thousands of new members have joined the Stage 32 community, and there was no better time than to come together to connect, learn, and grow in our digital universe. So with that, I wanted to welcome our new members to the party by hosting one of my AMAs (Ask Me Anything): Quarantine Edition. Damn, you guys were on fire! The entertainment industry is rapidly changing as we all navigate this evolving landscape. In the last few weeks, in addition to talking with over 800 filmmakers from canceled festivals, I've had countless conversations with executives and industry professionals how creatives can keep hustling and put themselves in position to succeed in this new and ever-changing landscape. With everything going on, I can say without hesitation that I had a LOT to share! And I know you all had questions! In this over 2 hour AMA webcast we got together for inspiring, motivating, and brutally honest craft and industry talk. Remember, no matter what your discipline, skill level, geographical location, etc, this AMA will be helpful for ALL! You all brought your questions and the energy and I handled the rest. Amidst this global crisis that has forced so many of us indoors, we are excited to give film, tv, and digital creatives a safe place to stay creative and build relationships with their fellow entertainment industry folks from all over the world. Let's continue to come together for some inspiration, motivation and community love. And if you know any other creative who is not a member of Stage 32 that could use a lift, please invite them as well by sharing the on demand link to download. I enjoyed spending quality time with you all.
The world is changing quickly and the phrase “new normal” is being bandied about with abandon. Even though filming is limited (at best), development continues to move forward and that means producers are busier than ever. In the entertainment industry, scripts continue to be optioned, projects continue to get developed, talent continues to find representation, and production is slowly starting to resume in LA and more so all over the world. So what does producing look like in this "new normal"? It’s definitely time for a check-in. So let's delve into the state of the industry today with Oscar-nominated producer Chris Moore and our fearless leader, and fellow producer, Richard "RB" Botto. Chris Moore has done and seen it all. During a career spanning over 30 years, Chris has produced films that have had multiple Oscar nominations and wins such as Good Will Hunting and Manchester by the Sea, to studio blockbusters like American Pie andThe Adjustment Bureau, to independent darlings such as Waiting, to creating and starring in the critically acclaimed industry television shows Project Greenlight alongside Matt Damon and Ben Affleck and The Chair. One of the secrets of Chris' longevity in the business is a full understanding of the business. He's as plugged in as they come and he knows how to adjust quickly, swiftly, and successfully as the landscape changes - which seems to happen on a daily basis these days. Most importantly, Chris is known in the industry as a take-no-prisoners, no bullshit guy. He tells it like it is and pulls no punches, which, in this business, is welcome and refreshing. Richard “RB” Botto is a producer whose films have played at dozens of festivals including the Sundance award-winning feature, Another Happy Day, starring Ellen Barkin, Demi Moore and Kate Bosworth, written & directed by Euphoria creator Sam Levinson, What Lies Ahead, starring Rumer Willis & Emma Dumont, the documentary Crutch and the upcoming Rain-Beau’s End starring Ed Asner and Sean Young. He is the Executive Producer on Vagic with Amy Baer at Gidden Media and My Clone’s an A-Hole with National Lampoon. He is also in active production on 3 more projects in various mediums. RB is also the Founder and CEO of Stage 32 (stage32.com). Stage 32 is the world’s largest online platform connecting and educating film, TV & digital creatives and executives worldwide. Through Stage 32 he has helped incubate Chick Fight, starring Malin Akerman and Alec Baldwin, produced by Yale Productions and Ramo Law, and 10-31, produced by Eli Roth and Orion Pictures. Additionally, RB’s book Crowdsourcing For Filmmakers: Indie Film and the Power of the Crowd, was published by Focal Press/Routledge under the American Film Market Presents banner and quickly became one of their best-selling titles. The paperback, kindle edition and audiobook have all hit #1 in 6 different film and business related categories on Amazon and Audible and the title has received over 100 5-star reviews across all platforms. In another FREE Stage 32 COVID-19 webinar, Chris and RB team up for an exclusive Q&A session where they’ll answer questions from the Stage 32 community about the state of the industry today and where they believe things are headed. Bring your questions about the craft and business. If you know anything about Chris and RB, you know you're in for a candid, no bullshit, straight through the heart conversation!