Success Stories: DEC'18 A Milestone Moment: My First Paid Offer

CJ Walley

A Milestone Moment: My First Paid Offer

I wanted to share that yesterday, via Stage 32, I got my first offer of paid screenwriting work. We're not talking Craigslist minimum wage or jam tomorrow stuff either, we're talking a healthy firm up front deal that exceeded my expectations and came through organically via good old fashioned networking. A significant milestone in my own career indeed, but I wanted to post about it in the hope it keeps others feeling positive and assured they are part of something that genuinely works. I know times can be very tough but we're all part of something really special here at Stage 32. I'm actually passing on the offer as it's not the kind of work I'm looking for, although I'm still hoping to help bring the project to light without compensation as a believe strongly in the person behind it. Like many of you, it's not about the money but it's sure nice to feel of value. Anyway, it's only a week to Christmas, someone pass over the brandy :)

Spike Thurbon

Hey, CJ, many congratulations! If anyone on here deserves to see the results of tireless and consistently positive networking, it's you! Accept or pass, an offer is an offer! Very happy for you mate, now stop hogging that brandy! ;)

CJ Walley

Thanks buddy :) Hope all is going well with the Blitz Witches.

Kira George

Congratulations! !! This is a joy to hear!

Shawn Speake

My man! I'm so happy for you, dude! What an awesome Christmas it's going to be for you. Keep us posted, brother!

Shawn Speake

That is freaking fantastic!

Richard "RB" Botto

Man, I just couldn't be more thrilled for you. Couldn't have happened to a nicer, more passionate guy. Entirely well earned and deserved.

Amanda Toney

This is so amazing and exciting! Me and my brown hair are wishing you all the best!!

Emma J Steele

Congratulations, here's to it being the first of many more… (not that you pass up of course!)

Laurie Ashbourne

You know I'm happy for you -- you are a fantastic testament to how networking works -- but also good on you for recognizing the fit was right even if they offer was. No crap hands in your corner! Have a wonderful holiday and tip a brandy for me.

K Kalyanaraman

Your story is testimony that solid networking still works. And quality works as well. May you lead life on the fast screenwriting lane.

CJ Walley

Thanks for all the kind words from you all. Knowing that people (and even their incorrectly but magnificently coloured hair) are genuinely happy for you makes these moments so much more special. And you're right, Laurie, no crap on these hands.

Richard "RB" Botto

Craphands remains one of the top 2-3 posts of 2014 around these offices. Phenomenal.

Emma J Steele

I'm intrigued by this 'crap hands' you speak of…

Chanel Ashley

You've had enough congratulations, CJ, so I'll just say pass the brandy and Merry Christmas.

CJ Walley

Emma, a short while back a member on here posted a diatribe about Stage 32 complaining the site had failed to get them any work while their only contribution was to publicly criticise and deeply offend the people around them. All I did was explain to them that it was the equivalent of having the privilege of being at a sophisticated meet and greet but restorting to crapping in ones hands just to get attention. And thus that individual was awarded the monkier Craphands.

Phil Parker

Congrats CJ. It's so rewarding and motivating to get that kind of affirmation for your skills. Well played and play on!

Varun Prabhu

Congratulations, CJ :) It feels great when talent is recognized

Emma J Steele

Wow CJ, that's hilarious. What a fantastic come back. I hope you use that in a script one day, it's gold!

Varun Prabhu

Actually, there remains no doubt...CJ is highly talented...He will make it through...I have every confidence in him after reading the many meaningful exchanges he engages in :)

Sydney Jamesson

Many congratulations! Christmas has come early for you, CJ.

Wendy Kay

Congratulations! Happy holidays!

Mark LaFever

Great news CJ! Congratulations & Merry Christmas.

Sy Shanti

Congrats CJ, your Badassery knows no bounds!

Cali Gilbert

HUGE Congrats CJ! Happy Holidays and all the best for 2015!

Jeanne Young

Yes! Inspiration at it's best:) :) :)

Stage 32 Staff - Julie

I'm so happy for you CJ, congratulations!

Sylvia Marie Llewellyn

Hey CJ.... just want to wish you a very Happy, Healthy and Safe Holiday Season and a huge Prosperous year in 2015. It's been a real pleasure knowing you here and always love your comments. Very Inspiring. Thank you CJ.

Catalina Lowe

Good for you, CJ - staying true to yourself, even when this offer looked very enticing because of the money. I agree: placing value on yourself and your work comes before money; money is the added bonus and will certainly follow. Keep writing, keep creating, keep expanding!

Melissa White

Congratulations CJ! Warm holiday wishes to you and yours!

Roman Grey

It's nice to hear that you didn't give in doing something you didn't want to just because of the money. I'm still relatively new to Stage32 but I do enjoy reading these post! Thanks for sharing buddy! :))

Cindy Roemer

Congratulations CJ. Great way to start a new year!

York Davis

Hearty congrats on your work offer CJ and a Merry Christmas. You're already set for a Successful New Year... way to go!

CK Steefel

Well done!

York Davis

I also like the fact CJ you'd like to work on the project unpaid. You're right... It's not always about the money.

Will Machin

Not every project is right for a writer and vice versa. Well done on your decision CJ..

Stephen Lincoln

You made a professional decision which is the sign of a professional. Some writers would convince themselves they identified with the story for the money...good call and I'm sure in the long run it will pay off.

Chanel Ashley

CJ, I don't want to spoil all the back-slapping you have received here, but what am I missing? You were offered SCREENWRITING work, not talking Craiglist minimum wage or jam tomorrow, but a healthy firm up front deal that EXCEEDED your expectations and a significant milestone in your career - YET, you passed on the offer! - I don't know all the facts, I don't know the scenario it placed you in, but I presumed one did what one had to do to enhance their way into the business, to establish themselves, to gain another credential - on the SURFACE it appears you may be a little too choosy, not prepared to make sacrifice now for a gain at a later point, BUT this seems out-of-character for the person I believe you are, I presume there are other factors at play that we are not privy, to - just wondered why you would turn this opportunity down, "it's not the kind of work I'm looking for" seems a surprise rationale to me - I'm not having a go, just curious as I suspect most would have taken that role.

Brian Edward Stead

God bless You CJ. That will lead to BIG things my friend and hopefully a Feature Film that debuts in Theaters and makes you rich overnight, or leads to the Screenplay that does, and I edited my post in that other discussion and took your name out of it. Sorry about that. : ) Merry Christmas!!!

CJ Walley

Chanel, basically it boils down to personal principles. I don't want to make money from those struggling to break in. It's all too easy in this industry to leverage any profile we're fortunate to have into cannibalizing our own kind. The sad truth is that, with my marketing skills, I could really spin something like this, along with technically being a produced writer with multiple options, into something it really isn't. I could call myself a professional writer, stick consultant after my name, and start pulling in an income. I've seen it happen. Thanks to Stage 32, I'm lucy enough to get offers to collaborate all the time. But, despite my dire financial situation at the moment, I'm a firm believer in not following the money. I feel that money dirties the waters. You take money out of the equation and it rewards you with a tremendous degree of freedom. I'd much rather compromise on my lifestyle now than compromise on my career prospects in the future. I believe the real opportunities out there are the potential friendships so that's why I do a lot for free, be it helping/motivating my peers, one-to-one mentoring with those I grow close to, or handing over my free to produce short scripts to aspiring filmmakers I want to see prosper. For example, the first director I optioned a script too was the daughter of a European media mogul. She works completely independently of her father's wealth and connections, determined to make her way into the business the hard way and prove herself. For us to work together as artists and nothing more brought something to the table that money would only have detracted from. It created a bond that was beyond a business relationship and stronger than any written contract. So do I like this project, yes. Do I want to work with this person, yes. Do I want to take their money, no - I can't. As for the backslapping, don't worry about detracting from that. That's not why I made my original post. I feel very uncomfortable posting success stories of my own as it can so easily look like bragging and my name floats around here too much as it is. I wanted to say something as is shows Stage 32 works and I was hoping it would keep people believing in that. The morning I got this offer, I felt really down in the dumps and pretty hopeless. I appreciate how often we all feel like that and wanted to put out some positive vibes. The backslapping is just testament to another amazing side of Stage 32, that it's full of great people who genuinely care about others and want to share the love. Again, to read the good wishes from so many people I can genuinely call friends means more than reaching the milestone. Anyway, what was quite amusing about this is, after I declined the paid offer and tried to negotiate something different, the person offering it humbly admitted she had accidentally added an extra zero into her calculations. Thus I have come to realise I'm actually worth ten times less than I led myself to believe and has certainly brought me back down a peg or two.

Wendy Kay

It's people like you, who motivate us to keep our dreams alive. Thanks!

Chanel Ashley

CJ, I feel most of us know you well enough to not perceive your comments as boastful, you are held in high esteem here by myself and most members - I found it surprising that no one asked the question, you were congratulated, deservedly so, but no one asked why you would pass up an opportunity such as this - financial consideration weighs heavily upon most of us and I couldn't discern why you would throw that away, not to mention the experience and credential - I believe we are all tested and before you were aware the offer would be diluted by 10, you stuck to your principles and declined, that says a lot about, you and your resolve - no one here doubts you will succeed, it's just a mystery it hasn't happened already - re the backslapping, it's more than acknowledging your talent, it also shows the respect and care factor people have for you - well done…I probably would have taken the money, LOL, cheers, trust Christmas went well.

Lisa Brave

Congratulations and thank you for the positivity. Happy Holidays!

Will Machin

About you final post CJ - Quote WC Fields - Bovine Scatology.

Jeanne Young

CJ... you are just...awesome :) What you wrote really touched my heart. Thank goodness for people like you:)

Suzanne Lutas

Fantastic CJ! I'll raise a glass of champagne to your success!

Suzanne Lutas

... Even if you pass on the offer, I'll pass over the brandy to you and Happy Holidays!

David Brown

Sweet! Congratulations!

Ellen Schoeters

Congrats CJ!!! Enjoy the creative process! xxx

Kerry Douglas Dye

Turning down money is crazy hard, even when you're sure it's the right thing to do. Belated congratulations on the career milestone.

Mary Winborn

I apologize for the above posting twice. I couldn't delete one.

CJ Walley

Thanks again for all the lovely messages. It's been a weird Christmas. I actually got another offer to quote for some work yesterday. This is on top of three offers of collaboration, two script requests, and the opportunity to package one of my shorts into a feature release. All via Stage 32 in some fashion over the past two weeks. There's a part of me that really just wants to break down and cry because there's such an enormous load of anxiety, self doubt, and anguish which is gradually lifting from me month by month.

Sylvia Marie Llewellyn

CJ, oh yes, it can be overwhelming... it's understandable... especially the self doubting... I lived there until the day RB wrote "Sylvia, it's time to step out into the light". So I did.... I pitched... and received FIVE script requests.... omg... Only YOU can write the stories you write... your VOICE is unique... the requests you've received VALIDATE you as a writer... go for it CJ... you can do it. You do have choices to make. You can't take on all of them, all at once... the script requests... send those in... then decide which of the other offers you'd love to take on next. This is such an exciting time for you. Congratulations. I'm thrilled for you. I know you'll make the best decisions. Tomorrow, January 1st, 2015 is the start of an amazing journey.... new hopes and dreams... believe.... You've got this CJ.

Sylvia Marie Llewellyn

Hey Kerry... haven't seen you in a while. Happy New Year .... xoxo

Jeanne Young

Wow CJ! You are just on FIRE! So very happy for you. What a fabulous way to bring in the New Year! Just never, ever forget that you deserve all of this. Well, I hope to have the chance to act in one of your projects :) :)

Sai Pillay

C J..Good Job...

Alan Wood

AWESOME! Way to go!

Christine Berry


Michael J Smyth

sorry CJ, only catching up on this now. Sounds like a fantastic few weeks for you so congrats on the opportunities that have arisen. Good luck and happy new year.

Sandra Campbell


CJ Walley

Since there was no way I was going to be able to find time for the original project anytime soon, I suggested to the individual offering it that they post an add on here to at least see what their options were. I'm delighted to say that a very talented female writer from Stage 32 has been sourced :)

Gameela Wright


Jenna Magee

Wow, that's great, CJ! Whether or not you passed on the project, it's fantastic that you got the offer!

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