Even more power of networking...

Posted by
Richard "RB" Botto Richard "RB" Botto

There's no greater success than when the primary strategy of a plan is served. As Curt and I drew up the blueprint for Stage 32, we had many goals, but paramount amongst them was this: Help creatives find work and, by attrition, get projects off the ground.

Over the last few months we've seen no less than a half dozen projects launched exclusively employing Stage 32 cast and crew. Further still, thousands of members have made connections that have led to casting opportunities, management contracts, and development deals. Each time it happens to you, our Stage 32 family, we share in the experience. It's incredibly rewarding.

A few days ago, Persephone Vandegrift, posted on her wall about the exciting new assignment she received as a result of networking on Stage 32. Persephone has been a Stage 32 member for a while and I've seen how productively she uses the site. She's incredibly active, and in her postings gives as much as she receives. Her hard work, inquisitive, yet selfless approach led to a conversation with another Stage 32 member, a producer, who took a look at some of the work she had uploaded to the site. One thing led to another and well…the gig was landed.

I asked Persephone to share her Stage 32 Success Story with the rest of the community. She graciously, as is her nature, accepted. Enjoy.

-- RB

PS – As always, if you have any questions or remarks for Persephone or myself, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.

Yes, I am cheating by borrowing from RB's previous post because, as I tried to explain to him (rather poorly), I don't usually blog. I have a blog, and this is going to sound ridiculous, but I am who I am - I never know what to say. I'm so used to living in my lady-cave (on cheese & crackers & water, if available) talking to myself, writing or researching stories to write or drooling over scraps of random information about random facts about stories that I'm writing, that I forget to blog.

I find it easier to blog for someone else's blog, which, as it turns out, has something to do with the title. Networking - it IS for everyone.

As I type this, I have just sent my contract back to 5th Kompanie Productions. They offered me the opportunity to write the pilot for their historical miniseries The Vanquished. The offer came as a result of, yes, networking, which would not have taken place had it not been for Stage 32.

It is the first time something like this has happened to me, at forty-whatever years old. I've been writing since the 90's after spending many, many years acting in the indie theatre scene. And I spent even many more years shipping my writing out there in hopes for someone to bite, and they have. Yes, it can be tiring and frustrating to ship our work out, and we have all been at that point where we sometimes question 'is this it'? Is this all we get for all this hard work? It's at those times we have to dig really deep, wipe the crumbs away, and remember who we are.

And speaking for myself here, I didn't come this bloody far to give up.

Networking is invaluable and it works. We all know this, and we are all doing it the best we can. Everyone wants everyone else to see their work, but I see folks getting bogged down and exhausted from hours, days, weeks, and years of self-promotion. We can't forget to network - not just a 'hello I see you are into film so am I'. Start a conversation. As much as you want folks interested in your work, be interested in theirs. And don't fake it, honestly, you will get caught out.

Enough of that. I suppose you want to know how this Vanquished opportunity came about via the hot property that is Stage 32?

A month or so after I registered, I happened to be perusing the projects one day to see if there were any other historical projects out there. (Did I mention my obsession with historical stories?) Yes, I am a bit of a geek for them. I'm not perfectly versed in ALL areas of history, but it is what I turn to for my writing inspiration. (I will spend weeks or months researching one little tidbit of historical reference that could make or break a story, with enough cheese one can last for a long time.)

So there I was, perusing the projects, when I came across a rare one called Mother of War, written by Lucia Mauro with Joe Orlandino as the producer. Mother of War is about a 19th century Italian heroine, Anita Garibaldi. It is a fantastic tale. I identified with it because I had just finished my own historical tale, Death of a Mortal Woman, set in ancient Rome. It's listed under my projects on Stage 32 if you are curious.

I commented on Joe's project, told him about my own, and how inspired I was to find another writer writing about little known women in history. There was no other intention behind it other than to show my support for it. That passing comment opened up a conversation with Mr. Orlandino. And it turned out that he had read the few pages I had up of DOMW and offered great feedback and advice.

Great! I'd made a friend and found out about a great new project on its way to the screen.

Then, a few weeks later, Mr. Orlandino informs me that he put my name forward as a potential writer for a new historical miniseries about WW2. Just like that. I knew I wasn't well versed in WW2, but I would make myself more familiar on the off chance they wanted to talk to me.

And that is how fast it happened.

The producers called me a couple of weeks later, and it was like talking to old friends. They asked for writing samples. I had not written for TV before but I didn't let that dissuade me. I sent the best script samples I could, what I felt would reflect the best of my writing style and figured if it was meant to be then it would be. And I think I learned a valuable piece of advice for myself at the same time, which is to always have samples of different genres at the ready because you never know when you will be called on to prove your writing worth.

No matter what your forte is, you will always find kindreds out there. I just happen to love historical films. And even if the producers had not chosen me, I was more than ready to help them out in any way shape or form with The Vanquished.

When the call finally came that they had chosen me, first came the shock, of course, and then what they said next put me over the moon - they said it was the quality of my writing samples that wooed...convinced them that I was 'the one' for their project.

That affected me the most because when I was a lass of twenty-young, I was told, by a writing teacher, when I had just dipped my big toe into the writing river, that I couldn't write. She shouted at the top of her lung capacity, I thought she was going to explode. And I didn't write - for fifteen years. Oh if I could just show up on her doorstep and shout at the top of my lungs:

I'm going to write a pilot! For a miniseries! It's called The Vanquished! I'm a WRITER! In your face! (It feels good typing it here at any rate.)

That's where I am now, giddy, and getting ready to write my first pilot. I can't say enough about the benefits of networking via this site. I've met some amazing people since joining, I've gotten my first professional writing job, I'm following some amazing projects and I know there's hundreds more out there.

Keep networking, keep being your creative, passionate selves. I'm not saying that this 'pilot' means I've 'made it' or anything and now I'm some expert. But I have learned that if you are going to network, network in the right way. Do not just paper people's profiles with links. Engage, find common ground with those you are contacting, and remember that networking is not a one-way street. People may not respond straight away or, ever, but keep going forward and thinking outside the box.

Had I not set up a profile here and had I not met Mr. Orlandino who introduced me to 5th Kompanie who offered me the writing job, I would not be writing this post for RB, who will be at the same festival as me in May, which is also where my first short film is showing (in my hometown of Seattle).

How's THAT for a little networking huh?

Not just another deity wandering around Olympus, Persephone Vandegrift is a slightly human playwright, fiction & poetry author, and screenwriter. Not always in that order. Most recently she is in pre-pro for her 1st award winning short script All Things Hidden, about the ramifications of a domestic violence tragedy on a young girl filming in Seattle 2012. Her short play, It's Not Really Suicide, Is It? dealing with the affect of PTSD, war & suicide on three friends, debuts in May at Double XX Fest in Seattle. Past theatre credits include classical adaptation - Revenge and Sorrow in Thebes, an awkward short comedy - A Little Nightmare Before Your Christmas, drama short Return of Helen (of Sparta) & short comedy The Ticket. Next up, historical miniseries The Vanquished, and re-writing, re-writing, re-writing spec scripts Curse of Mercy Wood & Death of a Mortal woman, outlining next two - Secret of Banrion Wood, and Water King! Seph can be found via Stage 32, Persephone.v.writes at gmail.com, on Twitter @Persephwrites or languishing on the banks of the River Styx.

Don't forget to also check out Persephone's Stage 32 profile.

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