Social media is changing constantly. Every day, there is a new site to create a profile on that allows you to be socially connected with the rest of the world. My main issue is that it is hard to become connected with others who have the same interests as myself. Most of the time when I log into Facebook, I don’t see fun posts or articles about movies and travel. Instead, I see pictures of someone’s dog sleeping in a chair or statuses from someone who is in a bad mood and just had to share it with the rest of the world. No offense to anyone who is known for doing these things; they are simply not things that I, myself, am interested in reading.
Because of this, I am always wary to join a new social media platform. However, my point of view changed once I received an e-mail about Stage 32 (http://www.stage32.com/welcome2/). Having never heard of it before, I ventured onto the website and explored. I was shocked once I learned more about the organization. It had everything that I was interested in as well as members upon members who shared those same interests. Basically, it has the same structural factors as Facebook and LinkedIn, but it comes with a new twist: it is designed specifically for those involved in film, photography, and basically media production altogether. Yes, I speak the truth. I created a profile and was quickly linked to filmmakers and actors all over the world.
These people with mutual interests continue to spark my curiosity when they post questions in forums, share blog posts, and keep me “in the know” about film festivals, competitions, and news in the industry. It is a very neat way to stay connected socially with others online, and the best part: it is guaranteed that you will be connected with others who like the same things you like, because the pool of people on the site is very specific. Thus, say good-bye to those pictures of pets filling up your newsfeed and posts where people ramble on and on. This website can do wonders not only for your own motivation, but also for your career.
I recently had an interview with Richard Botto, the CEO of Stage 32, to hear what he had to say about this new social media platform. I wanted to know the motivation behind the idea and what it has to offer creative professionals like myself. The interview is located below:
MS: How did Stage 32 come about?
RB: The embryonic idea for the site came to be while we were at the American Film Market a few years back. AFM is a sort of dog and pony show where screenwriters, filmmakers, and producers from all over the world travel to Santa Monica to pitch their ideas for projects and completed films. For many, this is a Hail Mary pass of sorts – a lottery ticket play, if you will. All this time is spent preparing for this 7-10 day chance to sell your product,
or, in many cases, yourself. Many leave dejected. They spend the next 51
weeks preparing for the next show.
We felt there had to be a better way. A way for all creatives to be connected 24/7/365. That was the nugget of the idea, and it has, of course, evolved into something much more spansive.
MS: What were the initial thoughts, ideas, and concerns?
RB: To be truthful, there was only one: Would people take to the site? As creatives ourselves, other social networking sites just weren’t cutting it. Facebook is too family and friends oriented. To me, it takes you away from your career focus. It’s a distraction. Great for downtime, but not for primetime. LinkedIn, while perhaps helpful for certain professionals, doesn’t really lend itself in a beneficial manner to the creative community, especially when it comes to the group postings. There’s simply too much spamming and self promotion. I’ve made a positive connection or two on LinkedIn, but they have been few and far between. Any time I tried to open a dialogue in a certain group, the posting would get drowned out by spam. I found that frustrating.
But, let’s face it, those networks, along with a few others, have a fervent following. So the concern was that many would not see the need for another social network. What we found was that almost all creatives shared our frustration. They were clamoring for a focused social network – A place where opportunities presented themselves daily, and yet where they could also spend some downtime just connecting and communicating with others. I receive letters all the time from members telling me they’ve dropped their other social network accounts and are now exclusively on Stage 32. We’ve often been called Facebook meets LinkedIn for creatives. I find a hard time finding fault with that assessment.
MS: How does one benefit the most from it?
RB: By being active. By utilizing all the features. By checking in often. Like anything else in life, you get out what you put in. But I think this axiom is elevated – if an axiom can be elevated beyond its undeniable evidence – for those in the creative community where competition is a constant obstacle to success. Creatives need to fight for every inch. You need to beat out the next actor, dazzle the next director, and outsmart the next producer in an effort to win an available investment dollar. It’s an ongoing battle and the most successful creatives understand the war never ends. You show me a success story and I’ll show you someone with a plethora of contacts. A master marketer. A person who treats him or herself as a brand.
At the end of the day, it’s all about putting yourself in the best position to succeed. The site presents a myriad of opportunities, it’s up to the member to seize them.
MS: What are some of the site’s most unique characteristics?
RB: Unquestionably, it’s the community first and foremost. The site could not exist, could not survive, could not thrive without the community being as selfless as it is talented. Whether it’s through postings in the Stage 32 Lounge, support and assistance on a member’s wall, or gracious comments to a guest blog post, the community always rises up. They contribute. They share. They root each other on. It’s always a thrill to learn of a member scoring a job, or launching a project. But it’s even more of a thrill to see other members rally around and celebrate the win.
MS: Tell us a little about the Stage 32 blog. It seems as if you brought your RAZOR editor’s hat to the site.
RB: This is very true. My desire was to bring quality content to the site. To build a library of pieces that were as entertaining as they were educational. The fact is, I love a good story. And I love good writing. So to be able to have such accomplished artists such as Doug Richardson, Rex Pickett, Danny Rubin, and most recently, acting legend and Academy Award nominee, Terence Stamp, grace our pages, well, that’s a gift of inestimable measure. But, our bloggers span many fields and have experienced varying levels of success. And I think that’s where the beauty lies: All of these stories are relatable. There’s a takeaway no matter who the author and no matter what your profession.
MS: What is the overall goal for the website?
RB: I don’t think the main objective will ever necessarily change. At the risk of sounding pollyannaish, we want every member to see his or her dreams become a reality. As for the site itself, it will continue to evolve. We have some exciting features planned for the future. Ultimately, we’d like to be a creative’s Home Depot of sorts. One stop shopping to assist in building your career.
MS: For those just now entering the production world, what would your greatest piece of advice be?
RB: Learn to market. Take a business class, or at the very least, read a few
books. With the advent of crowdfunding, the need to understand how to handle marketing and promotions is more important than ever. Same when it comes to the influx of distribution channels. You will be fighting for every dollar, every eyeball, every eardrum. Those who put themselves in the best position to win are not only terrific at their craft, but also have a firm grasp of how to capture the attention of those who matter.
MS: What other things have you worked on before this, and what do you hope for it to be like five years from now?
RB: I was the founder of RAZOR Magazine, and during its six year run, I served as publisher for four years, editor for two. More recently, I worked as an associate producer on Sam Levinson’s first film, ANOTHER HAPPY DAY,
starring Demi Moore, Ellen Barkin, Thomas Hayden Church, and Kate
As for the future, I have a screenplay in development and another being considered by a major production company. I’m also in the process of outlining a novel, which I plan on breaking ground on in a month or two. And, of course, just taking Stage 32 higher and higher. Changing people’s lives, we hope, for the better.
I’d like to thank Mr. Botto again for taking the time out of his busy schedule and also for his informative words.
Botto is also a producer and screenwriter. He was an associate producer on Sam Levinson’s first film, ANOTHER HAPPY DAY which premiered at Sundance and stars Ellen Barkin, Demi Moore, Thomas Hayden Church, and Kate Bosworth. His latest screenplay, THE END GAME, was recently a top 10 finalist at the Creative World Awards, and is currently in development.