Writing the Producible Low-Budget Screenplay

Hosted by James Kicklighter

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James Kicklighter

Webinar hosted by: James Kicklighter

Multi-Award Winning Writer and Director

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 »

Webinar Summary

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.

What You'll Learn

  • Understanding the Marketplace
    • Identifying the creative and commercial realities of the business, choosing the right material to develop and determining the needs of casting to sell the film.
  • Choosing Material
    • Learn how to choose marketable material, how to find the right creative partners and test the waters before moving into development, and more importantly, the production process.
  • Creating Compelling Characters
    • How to write characters that go beyond the stock character, imbuing them with personality, diction, and traits that create unique voices.
  • Optimizing the Screenplay for Production
    • Developing a project that can be made on the budget available, geographical locations and available talent.
  • Writing Accessible Locations
    • How to create a film around locations that can be filmed believably and cost efficiently.
  • Shifting the Shooting Schedule
    • How to create congruent scenes for cost efficiency, combining locations for effective scheduling, planning ahead for failure to create successful outcomes.
  • Showing and Not Telling
    • Learn how to consider the characters you write into the script for SAG and what correlates between creative and cost.
  • Modifying the Script in Production
    • Learn how to modify a screenplay when budgets overrun or shooting days are changed to keep production moving.
  • Building Partnerships for Release
    • Understand that process of promotion from development all the way to release and how this pre-awareness will enable you to move out of development and into production.
  • Attaching Talent
    • Learn the different, most effective ways to reach out to bankable talent to enable your project to move into production.
  • Q&A with James

About Your Instructor

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.

FAQs

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! 

Testimonials

"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

Questions?

If you have a generic question about Stage 32 education you can take a look at our frequently asked questions section on our help page, or feel free to contact support with any other inquiries you might have.
 

Reviews Average Rating: 4.5 out of 5

  • Good presenter with interesting material
  • Lots of generalities, as expected. For a writer, story comes first and this didn't help a great deal.
  • James Kicklighter was an excellent speaker. Having a host who is a working director today, still honing his craft and sharing his insights, made the experience very insightful. As a writer, I felt like I was actually having a one on one with the real deal. Very enjoyable.

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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.

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