A Letter From Our CEO – Now, Community Matters More Than Ever (COVID – 19)

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Posted by Chaun Lee
Jason Mirch Jason Mirch

Good morning Stage 32 Family! I sincerely hope that everyone is healthy, safe, and despite being cooped up, happy and maintaining a positive attitude. Just like every Monday, I want to kick off the week with a message of inspiration and motivation. This week I am excited to share the story of a dear friend of the Stage 32 community and myself personally. 

Chaun Lee is a member of the Stage 32 Writers' Room which - if you are unfamiliar - is a community of screenwriters from around the world, serious about their craft and pursuing a life in the industry. It is an exclusive community where members get support from fellow writers, meet and speak with industry executives, participate in 4 craft and business webcasts per month, and get access a private lounge where they can trade scripts, give and receive advice, all in a supportive and exclusive environment.

When I first met Chaun through the group I was fascinated by her background. Without giving too much away, part of it involves Chaun repelling from helicopters and working in the Middle East. Yeah, really. So it was a surprise to me that she was so nervous about putting her work "out there" to be seen and critiqued. But over the months in the Writers' Room, Chaun continued to grow in confidence, skill, and writing ability.

Recently, Chaun wrote a short script as part of a Write Now Challenge Webcast - one of 4 monthly Writers' Room webcasts, in which I challenged members to write a scene or story with a plot twist. Several members wrote excellent scenes and I encouraged many of them to produce the projects.  To her credit, Chaun took me up on that suggestion! Then there came the next challenge for Chaun. 

I received an email from Chaun that said, "I'm hoping you can assist or offer advice. I want to start planning to do the short for The Impasse sometime next month or March...My issue is that I don't know anyone in my city. I just signed up for a Meetup group of writers, but they only meet once a month and I'm not sure how helpful that will be. Do you have any suggestions?" 

If you have been a member for Stage 32 for a while, you already know where I'm going with this. I wrote back and said, "Reach out to Atlanta-based filmmakers and creatives through Stage 32! Post in the lounges - producers lounge, crew etc. - and let people know that you are looking for a crew and want to get to know more people in the film scene in Atlanta." 

By the next morning, Chaun was already making new connections! "I took your advice again. I have now connected with several people!" 

Chaun later followed up with another email which said, "I did what you suggested and a producer reached out to me on Stage32. He read The Impasse and wants to make the short!!! He says he already has a location in mind. We’re supposed to meet next week...he wants me to continue writing the full-length feature. I’m sooo excited! Just wanted to let you know. It was your assignment that sparked this creation."

This is such a powerful story because it proves that hard work, perseverance and community can turn your goals into a reality. Chaun leveraged the full power of Stage 32 to get her project made! She workshopped an idea in the Writers' Room, used Stage 32 to connect with local producers, cast, and crew in her area, and she took control of her filmmaking career

I am so proud of her success and I am excited for her to share her story! Take it away, Chaun...

I’ve been screenwriting for the past four years consistently, and the past ten inconsistently. I stumbled across Stage 32 from a Facebook post that a member made over a year and a half ago. I decided to check it out because of the great things that were said about Stage 32 in the post. Wow, I’m so glad I did! My life has changed so much since then. I've met some truly wonderful people who’ve helped me tremendously in my writing endeavors as mentors who spent extensive amounts of time to further my growth as a new screenwriter. I wanted to share some of the key aspects of my journey to assist anyone else who might be in the same boat I was in.
 
Ok, the truth—initially I was completely lost on how to begin. I thought my work was stellar, top-notch, ready to stand next to the likes of seasoned professionals. NOT. So, of course, my ego got bruised when submitting my work for review on Stage 32. I even teetered with the idea of giving up, but the words of my late father kept lingering in my head, “You can’t win if you quit.” And, I’m no quitter.
 
My next step was to do a little more research; I started with checking out some of the videos from the Stage 32 Writers' Room. I saw a few videos where some of the members’ work was being critiqued in a non-threatening environment of creatives. It appealed to me, so I joined. I was excited, especially when I got some great feedback for my Romantic Comedy (which placed in the semifinals last year in the Save The Cat Screenplay Challenge) and then I was encouraged to pitch in the Writers' Room Pitch Tank Webcast hosted monthly.
 
Pitching by far was the most difficult part, having a deeply seated fear of public speaking. The first time I pitched, I was so nervous, I actually forgot the name of the project I was pitching in front of an invited industry executive and a host of colleagues in the Writers' Room! When I finished pitching, I was drenched from perspiration and mortified with my tail between my legs.
 
                       
Stage 32 member Chaun Lee has made huge leaps forward because of the Writers' Room
 
 
But, then something wonderful happened—I started getting messages in the chat during the Writers' Room from my peers encouraging me and telling me great things about my project and, most of all, pleading with me not to give up. I was on the verge of tears, but had held it in, and when I saw those messages, I was able to smile and cut myself some slack...something I realized I needed and hadn’t learned to do. This group of people, creatives like me, gave me the space to be my imperfect self without judgement. I now ensure I show up every week for my group, my tribe, my community of creatives, and I so look forward to it.
 
I’ve still had a lot of bumps. But, recently, I wrote and directed a short film based on an assignment given in the Writers' Room by Jason Mirch, Director of Script Services and host of the Writers' Room. The assignment was to write short script with a plot twist. I chose to write a psychological thriller called, The Impasse, revolving around a troubled patient who is forced into a breakthrough by her therapist when confronting a "door" she refuses to open.
 
When Jason read it for the group during the Write Now Challenge Webcast, he encouraged me to pursue filming it. Then, he took it a step forward and ushered me in the right direction. He told me to reach out to folks on Stage 32 who might be in my same city in the Atlanta area.
 
Behind the scenes interviews with the cast & crew of The Impasse by Chaun Lee 
 
 
I did and I met several producers and chose a wonderful producer, Stephen Beehler, to assist me in bringing my vision to life! We finished filming a few weeks ago with a small crew. The feedback has been awesome and I expect great things to come in future festivals. I owe it all to my beginnings in the Writers' Room!
 
So, if you’re hesitant or unsure about joining the Writers' Room, don’t be! Just commit and invest in yourself. I promise you won’t regret it. I certainly haven’t and I’m now part of an amazing group of writers from all walks of life, in many different countries, who are all dedicated to the same thing I am, telling a great story. It’s been a lot of fun and a lot of work, that’s truly, truly paying off big.
 
 
Follow up from Jason: Obviously, the world is going through a difficult period, and now more than ever it is important to stay connected and support one another. For that reason, I am offering FREE access to the Stage 32 Writers' Room for a month to any new member who emails me at j.mirch@stage32.com. I will respond personally and send you a special link to join for month, which includes all of the previous webcasts on demand, perks, benefits, and access to the private lounge. I look forward to hearing from you! In the meantime, keep writing and keep up the positive energy! 
 
 

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