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: 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!
"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
Part 1 - Writing, Budgeting & Pre-Production How to write an effective short script The brainstorming process Utilizing real life experiences, what are memorable moments in your life that stick out to you? Moments in a friend’s life? Creating characters: What topics do you uniquely understand? What jobs have you held? What did your parents do for a living? Where did you grow up? Writing in proper format What is the difference between writing “is working” and “works” in a screenplay and why does verbiage matter when writing action? Should I put my WGA and copyright notices on the title page? The business of making a short film What do I need to do to protect myself? Creating an LLC and lawyering up for the right reasons. How much is this really going to cost? Evaluating SAG Short Film Agreements, cost of renting equipment, everything from lighting to locations, and looking forward to release and distributions, what are the costs beyond the actual production of a film? Logistically, how will I be able to execute all the elements? How do I handle room and board for out of town talent? Is there a local film commission I can work with, and if so, what exactly is their role in helping me execute my vision? Part 2 - Directing, Marketing & Distributing Your Film Preparing to direct and the production process What do I need to do before I get to set? What is the purpose of having location walkthroughs? When and how to I make the shot list and how many shots do I really need? How do I make my vision clear to crewmembers while still being collaborative in the process? How do I work with an actor for the first time? How much say should they have in the script and changing the character? Should I allow an actor to change my lines? How do I follow their emotional journey over the course of shooting a film that is totally out of order so it makes sense in the final product? When problems arise on set, how do I respond? What are best practices to maintaining authority without creating conflict? How do I ensure that everyone is getting the proper attention they need so I can avoid problems? What happens if I find out we didn’t shoot something we needed? How do I work with footage or sound that didn’t come out the way I expected? How long should my final product be so I can be successful at film festivals? Marketing your film What can I do to promote my film before we ever start filming? When is the appropriate time to start promoting? What kind of promotion looks and feels professional versus amateur? Is there such a thing as oversharing information on social networks? During production, how can I use my cast and crew to promote the project? What parameters should I set to not give away plot points? What is the role of a still photographer on set and how can I leverage the still photographer for publicity? How do I reach out to press outlets to promote my film? How do I find out what press outlets are the right ones for my film, and how do I even get a journalist interested in covering it? What makes an effective versus ineffective pitch letter? Releasing your film What makes an effective trailer? How can I best prepare and present the trailer and still photos for promotional purposes? Should I create a Facebook page for my film and a website and a Twitter and an Instagram, etc.? How do I get into Sundance? If I don’t get into Sundance, is my career finished? There are entirely too many film festivals, how do I begin to figure out which ones are good and which ones are bad? What are effective ways of meeting, then following up, with producers and gatekeepers that I meet at these events? What kind of communication does an executive find annoying? Should I sell my film or give it away for free? If I give it away for free, how will I be able to pay myself back? How do I quantify if my film was a success? How do I use the short film to get myself ready for my next project? What if the film didn’t come out the way I wanted, am I completely done as a filmmaker? How do I use the lessons I learned to make my next project better? Now that I’ve made my first short film and loved it, how do I make this my full time job and become a professional filmmaker?
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***
In this exclusive Stage 32 webinar, we will be focusing on how to take your script and simplify it, while keeping the elements of the script complex, so it's easy for the reader (an executive, producer, manager) - and ultimately the viewer - to be able to follow your story. Your instructor, Samm Haillay, has produced films which have red carpet premiered at Cannes, Sundance, Venice, Toronto and more! Samm will share a simple/complex theory which he had developed called “The Story Rainbow”, which will examine the relationship and interconnectivity between Story, Narrative and Plot. We will be focusing on how to keep your script simple - yet complex - rather than confusing and complex. Of course, structure is vital, but we’ll be weaving a “Story Rainbow” through the elements of your script. You will be given the tools to approach the development of your film from a different angle. Clearly, it's worked for Samm, having had such success with his films screening at some of the world's top festivals!
During the Write Now Challenge, we turned the spotlight - and the microphones - back over to you during the Write Now Challenge Webcast! Using the "Breakdown Webcast: Writing True Stories" as a guide, your challenge was to find a true story or subject of a biopic that resonates with you! Write a short document that details the subject of the project - whether a historic event, historical figure, or a combination of both - including a "way into the story," principal character(s), basic synopsis, potential themes for exploration, and why it resonates with you as the writer. During the webcast, participants discussed true stories and historical figures that were either well-known or obscure, but all riveting! Participants described accounts from the US Civil War, Korean War, legal battles, pro-wrestling, and many more!
To see a video sample of the class, see below! 4 part class taught by Nate Matteson, literary manager named one of “Hollywood's New Leaders” by Variety Magazine. No matter if you write comedy, drama, horror or sci fi, every page has to count. It's easy for an executive to get distracted or lose focus if a script doesn't have high enough stakes for the protagonist, and/or the antagonist and secondary characters. One of the biggest reasons for passing we hear from executives are lack of clear or tangible stakes. Learn what it takes to keep the stakes high and keep the executive reading! Stage 32 Happy Writers is excited to bring you the previously-recorded 4 part class:How to Keep the Stakes High in Your Script - Keeping An Executive and Audience Engaged taught by Nate Matteson, literary manager at Gotham Group. Learn straight from the source on what he teaches his clients to keep them working! Here's a sample of what to expect in this exciting Next Level Class: Purchasing gives you access to the previously-recorded live class.Although Nate is no longer reviewing the assignments, we still encourage all listeners to participate!
There's nothing worse than having a screenplay bought or a project with financing get placed on hold because of legal issues that could have been handled at the start. Too many projects have been shelved permanently and will never see the light of day because of conflicts and misunderstandings that could easily have been avoided. Unfortunately, few screenwriters, filmmakers or producers know the right questions that need to be asked and answered in order to protect yourself and your project legally. It doesn't need to be this way, though. There are simple legal steps you can take from the beginning to assure a smooth and steady ride so your focus can be on making the best project possible. Especially for those in creative fields, navigating legal issues can feel overwhelming and confusing, maybe even unnecessary. Yet having a basic legal understanding of how to protect your work and property is incredibly crucial. You need to know how to legally incorporate everyone's input and notes into your script without worrying about losing authorship. You need to know how to set up a partnership for success and why so many people run into trouble when doing so. You need to know when it's okay to agree to work for free or 'on spec' and why it's still vital to have a written agreement. And you need to know when it's okay to talk business on your own behalf. The good news is you don't need to pass the bar in order to ensure you and your projects are in good legal shape. Instead, you just need a little guidance. Producer and attorney Gary W. Goldstein, has produced some of the biggest box office hits in film history and has served as a mentor to dozens of prestigious writers, producers, and filmmakers. His credits include PRETTY WOMAN, UNDER SIEGE, THE MOTHMAN PROPHECIES, and many more. He's also papered some of the biggest deals in film history. By working as both a producer and entertainment attorney, Gary's knowledge of deal memos and contracts is without peer. He knows all the do's and don'ts, the tips and tricks, and the side streets and alleyways toward making sure that you are not only protected, but getting the benefits and compensation you deserve for your efforts. Now, exclusively for Stage 32, Gary will present a complete "how to" in order to assure that you use a proven and smart approach to protecting yourself legally. He will teach you his 3 rules that should never be broken when entering into deals; whether you should use an agent or an attorney (or both) to negotiate your compensation and benefits on your behalf; how to deal with release forms and option agreements and how to assure you get everything in writing so there are no surprises or disappointments down the road. He will show you how to maintain a paper trail of all communication and why it's monumentally important to do so. He will discuss the realities of maintaining creative control and how to handle the creative contributions of others as well as the pitfalls to avoid when receiving feedback. He will instruct you on the qualities of finding a good creative or business partner or partners and the essential questions to ask up front. As if all this wasn't enough, Gary will provide a 40-page interactive workbook exclusive for those who take this webinar. This is an invaluable resource! Huge Praise for Gary! "Here’s some practical advice for those seeking a career in Hollywood, from someone who really knows what the hell he's talking about." - J.F. Lawton, Screenwriter (PRETTY WOMAN, UNDER SIEGE) "When I met Gary, I had nothing but talent and a drive to succeed. Nine months later, I had my first script option, my first studio writing assignment, and a Writers Guild card. The advice here is worth its weight in gold" - Allison Burnett, Screenwriter & Director (AUTUMN IN NEW YORK, FEAST OF LOVE, GONE AND UNDISCOVERED GYRL) "When I became your student, I was a mom with a script. Now, I'm a series writer-producer-director. Thank you for helping me achieve one of my biggest dreams. And thank you for this class. You continue to amaze." - Sally Rubin, Screenwriter, Producer, Author "Gary W. Goldstein’s mentoring will prove 100% better than whatever else you may be considering. He will change your life." - Marilyn Warda, author, The Randomness of Life "I’ve learned more about how things really work from Gary than I have over the past 10 years and countless other classes!" - Angela Falkowska, Screenwriter "The workbook alone is worth 10 times what the webinar cost. I am in awe. Thank you, Gary." - Antonio T. "Again, Stage 32 outdoes itself. What a score landing Gary. He's a legend." Jason R. "Gary, you had me from minute one. Amazing information. And delivered with class and style. -Angela P.