Good morning Stage 32 Creative Crew! I hope that you've had a fantastic Introduce Yourself Weekend on Stage 32 making new connections and finding your tribe. If you haven't yet had a chance to jump in and introduce yourself, make sure that you are getting in on the action! There is still time to get in the mix.
As you may also know we are currently in the in the final weeks of our "That's a Movie" Logline Contest: The Sequel. We have received thousands of entries from around the world and we are so excited to launch the very first in a series of reveal webcasts starting April 9th. Of course the winners of the contest receive some incredible prizes, but perhaps the biggest news to come out of the contest last year was that Stage 32 Member Zach Tirone was signed by literary manager Andrew Wilson at Wonder Street Entertainment after connecting through Stage 32!
I have known Andrew for over 15 years going back to the days when he was one of the managers who was integral in bringing the SAW franchise to the screen. Andrew is in an elite club of Literary Managers. He represents some of the most exciting writers and directors in the industry, and whose clients’ collective worldwide film grosses have reached over a billion dollars. Andrew's company - Wonder Street - is currently producing THE MAURITANIAN for STX Entertainment, which stars Jodie Foster, Benedict Cumberbatch, Zachary Levi, and Shailene Woodley.
So when I brought Andrew onto the panel of judges for the first "The a Movie" Logline Contest I knew he was going to bring the heat. And he didn't disappoint. And it was during the webcast that one of Zach's loglines caught Andrew's eye. Andrew picked that logline as his winner for the competition. Zach later chose Andrew for a consultation and...well... I will let Zach take it from here...
Screenwriting was not how I envisioned my profession; nor is it to this day, easy for me. I came to writing after years of honing my directing and acting chops in conservatories and out in the professional world of Chicago and New York. However, life throws you curve balls and one day you wake up and realize that world is not going to tell the stories that you are truly passionate about. If it’s really important to you, you have to take it upon yourself to create that vision. This is something that took a long time for me to understand. Out of school, I didn’t really comprehend what “make your own art” meant unless it was directing a theatre production with colleagues and friends. That still applies and is useful, but I needed to understand this concept on a more personal, professional level. Even though the stage is my first love, I wanted more object permanence out of my storytelling. As a film geek from a young age, this naturally led me to screenwriting.
Just like succeeding in any profession, writing requires extreme dedication, countless hours of practice, and inevitable failure. I jumped deep into routines and studied every piece of information and script I could get my hands on. But understanding the ins and outs of the industry is just as daunting as it is learning how to effectively write a screenplay. I slowly progressed, churning out page after page and promised myself to fake it until I make it. From my more active auditioning days, I recalled that I was a remember on Stage32. Now that writing had become the focus, I figured I should reconnect with all services that might be helpful. I was thrilled to see what an amazing platform Stage32 had grown into!
Finally feeling comfortable with my work, I started to submit to competitions, which seemed like an accessible way of making headway. However, despite some successes, I became somewhat disillusioned with the cost vs. usefulness in that method of breaking in. What I needed was to have real, productive conversations with industry gatekeepers who could help me shape my scripts and prepare them for the extremely competitive field of Hollywood.
Stage 32 Member Zach Tirone: "This happened because of Stage 32."
This is where Stage32 felt like a beacon of light in a dark, ambiguous world. I found Andrew Wilson after he came back on my radar by selecting one of my script’s, “Strom,” as his selection for the Stage32 Logline Contest. I did some research on him and the management/production company he works for, Wonder Street. It seemed like Andrew’s sensibilities matched with the type of stories I want to tell. My screenwriting focus is on historical relationship dramas and thrillers based on true stories, which after some simple IMDBPro research, did indeed match with Wonder Street’s current slate. I took a chance and booked a consultation call with him for one of my crime drama TV pilots entitled “The Westies.” I was blown away by how thoughtful and articulate Andrew’s feedback was. We immediately connected on the vision for the show and what it could be. We agreed to stay in touch and I took some time to digest his insightful notes. I was able to send him an updated version of the script, as well as a show bible, to which he really responded to and…the rest is history! Wonder Street not only represents me but we are making progress on packaging “The Westies” to shop around town.
To my fellow writers out there, take the time to use Stage32 as it can best suit your needs at the moment. Please note that there are no shortcuts, magic formulas, or hidden secrets in this career and nothing is a replacement for doing the work. However, Stage32 has many avenues that can be extremely helpful if used correctly. Take advantage of them to gain feedback on making your scripts the best they can be. Do your research on executives before you connect with them to ensure that they are the right fit for your project. This will demonstrate what kind of detailed professional you are and will certainly make your pitches land better.
My one key piece of advice would be to do one thing for your art every day no matter what, no exceptions. This could mean cranking out pages, doing research, or even watching a film/tv show comparable to what you’re working on, etc. Life is a constant barrage of stress and challenges, but if you really want this, you have to make the time and place it high on the priority list.
Lastly, whatever your passion might be, find ways to make your art a reality as best you can. This is means everything from writing your own script or story but also connecting with fellow creatives out there on platforms like Stage 32. For every writer or director, there might be a producer, editor, cinematographer - really any role - out there that could be waiting to find someone who shares their goals. Even though I’m not a big social media person, learn to embrace it and how it be beneficial to your career. Everyone says it but it’s true, the way technology is these days, you can actualize your art and easily share it with the world. I recently wrote, directed and produced my debut indie short film “Miles to Go” which was shot on FilmicPro and we just wrapped post production. It wasn’t an easy endeavor but it made me a better artist for the experience. Fill your life with similar challenging but rewarding experiences and I think you’ll find yourself creatively fulfilled. Cheers!
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Zach Tirone is an actor, writer and director based in Los Angeles, CA. In addition to Stage 32, you can find him at zachtirone.com, on Twitter @zachtirone and follow his short film “Miles to Go” on Instagram @milestogofilm and on Twitter @filmmilestogo
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