Introduce Yourself : CJ Walley Checking in for Introduce Yourself Weekend by CJ Walley

CJ Walley

CJ Walley Checking in for Introduce Yourself Weekend

Hey, what's this? It's Chuck Norris's youngest son jumping one of the Ford Raptors fresh off the set of Top Gun 2: Maverick. Why is it happening? Because I wrote a freaking car chase in my first script assignment, that's why. Did the truck survive? You bet it did and, the very next day, I took its dusty ass down to the Stage 32 offices to go see my buddies - because that's how I roll.

It's been a long time but I just wanted to say hello and join in this month's Introduce Yourself Weekend.

I joined Stage 32 back in 2013 when I first got into screenwriting and, honestly, I was rock bottom back then feeling that I could never have a career doing what I loved but I could, at least, join in the conversation and pass what I'd learned on. Since then, with the help of this community, I've slowly rebuilt myself step-by-step and been lucky enough to be a part of so many wonderful things here from engaging in the Screenwriting Lounge to contributing articles for the blog to attending meets at a couple of events. I can't tell you how special it feels to wrap you arms around RB and Amanda and buy them a drink in London one year and sit down and share a cup of tea with them in LA the next, knowing you're all on your own journeys but spiritually in the same place.

Finding your tribe in this industry is one of the most powerful things you can do, not because it gets you ahead but because it gives you family, those who you support and those who support you. I know who my family are and I'm always looking to expand it.

Life's a real rollercoaster for me now with some huge ups and downs to both embrace and contend with. In this moment, I find myself in a very strange place, having lost pretty much everything and having gone through hell but also having had one of the most amazing experiences of my life - flying to Hollywood to watch a feature film I'd written get made.

If you told me this was how things would be a couple of years ago, I'd never have believed you. That's why you have to believe in yourself and maximise everything that's available to you here and elsewhere. You gotta keep hustling everyday because it all slowly adds up. You can do it.

Feel free to add me to your network and reach out to chat about screenwriting, filmmaking, and the black art of flying pickup trucks.

Donn Swaby

Beautiful post, bro. Thanks for sharing your Sage 32 experience. Question: Did you connect with other artists here and then take it to the next step of actually meeting up with them or beginning to talk concretely about helping each other with projects? Would love to know more about your networking experience here, thanks

Dash Riprock

Way to go, CJ!

Sunny King

Welcome CJ! I do follow your blog on Script Revolution. Following your journey has been quite inspiring. And I do believe in the ethos of building your tribe. So if your still in London, we can meet up and have a chat. The drinks is on the house :)

CJ Walley

Donn, Stage 32 was more about education than networking for me. Over the years there's been some remarkably insightful dialogue taking place in the Screenwriting Lounge as industry members have come and gone. The blog has also been an ongoing source of valuable information from those a little further up the mountain.

This is the unseen power of networking for friendship first and career goals second - the former actually empowers the latter. By surrounding yourself with experienced and knowledgable peers you respect and enjoy the company of, their shared experiences and reflections help guide you on your own journey.

I've learned so much as a result of my Stage 32 experience and that means I align with potential collaborators far better.

Donn Swaby

CJ, thanks for your thoughtful response. Yes, at 45, I have also come to learn that the "secret" is actually connecting to people on a human level and cultivating a genuine relationship. Personally, it's ideal for me if I am actually physically meeting and talking to another human being rather than using a computer as an interface. Yes, I agree, it's about education as well and I have learned quite a few things over the years from talking to people, again, mostly live and in person interactions. When I try to connect with people here, it seems to go no further than sharing current status of projects, genuinely offering to help each other (or anyone really) if we can, and that's it. Of course, I just thought I need to write down the names of the few people I seem to have a decent start of a conversation with and keep track of them, maybe checking in time to time to say what's up. To me, that it creating a relationship. I need to read more of the blogs, as they are a great free resource. Not too thrilled that everything else on this site is for a price/purchase, which, after spending quite a bit of money on pitches, etc, I had to stop, as I could not afford it and I admit, I developed a negative perspective about that specific aspect of this site. But overall, it is still a great resource and I hope to develop true connections with people like you. Thanks again!

Amanda Toney

CJ!!! Hello!

Donn Swaby

CJ, thanks for sending me the link to sign up for Script Revolution! Also, thanks for following my film project! It looks like a great site and I am happy to also be a Patron. I've also been thinking about your advice. I will make it a point to go on Stage 32 and communicate with other writers. I see a guy, for example, named Clint Adams who has found one or two people that are doing what he's doing (historical material w. humor) and that's what I'd like to do. The people I have thus communicated with are not doing what I'm doing per se (I am actually in the middle of a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for a proof-of-concept short based on my feature to then use as a tool to market the feature to potential investors). I put up a post asking if anyone else was doing a crowdfunding campaign so we could talk about it, but no one responded. I'll try another post though to see if someone may respond. I wish there were more in-person meetup events though, as I still like to physically meet other artists and talk to them. But I understand I will need to do the online thing first, as that seems to be the main way of communicating, so all good. But thanks again for reaching out to me and I would love to know about what you're doing.

CJ Walley

Cool Donn. Catching people at the right time in their career is essential and the nature of that connection critical. The mistake most people make is reaching out to someone who's seen a lot of relative success and asking for something from them (favours, advice, money, etc). What they tend not to realise is that individual can be too busy and exhausted to find the time and energy needed. This is why in-person networking can be more effective since you're engaging with someone who's chosen to find them to chat and socialise during some downtime and are, at least, probably being plied with drinks as compensation.

Online it's a very different beast and those who want to share are often already doing so publicly. There are some very big players who've been blogging for years and, since they aren't superstars, have very small audiences.

Apathy is something we have to get used to. Believe me, I've met my fair share approaching people as CJ Walley the screenwriter and CJ Walley founder of Script Revolution.

You might want to check out the book Never Eat Alone which has some good tips on how to network effectively.

As for Stage 32, there's a lot here for free such as the very facility we're using now. I recently wrote an article on budgeting which you've probably seen on Script Revolution. It's tough. There's no right or wrong answers.

Lev Huahua

Hi CJ! it is very nice to come about your post. I am a newcomer here in Stage 32 and totally relate to your quest. Reading your story surely made me feel motivated, and I take note on your insights about networking. Thank you. I wish you more success and happiness with filmmaking, and I hope to roll with you sometime!, although I don´t have a big swanky pickup truck... yet.

Feel free to connect and reach out as well.

Bill Costantini

Your journey is an inspiring one to many, CJ. Keep up the great work, and much continued great fortune in your creative endeavors!

Donn Swaby

CJ: I haven't read your blog on budgeting, but I've made a note to do so, thanks for that. It'll be helpful, considering my plan to shoot a proof-of-concept if my current crowdfunding campaign is successful. Thanks also for the book recommend, will check it out. Yeah, in person is best and I agree, I've learned as I got older the art of cultivating a relationship is offering service/help to others first, finding common ground not necessarily related to the business. And like dating, attempts to connect with people we meet, whether in person or online can be hit or miss. I just need to not get disappointed when it's a miss and just keep moving. Thanks again for your response brother. Much appreciated.

CJ Walley

Indeed, never blame the world for failing to meet our own expectations. Patience and perseverance is key and putting your personality out there for all to see is powerful.

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