Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Q & A with Stage 32 owner Curt Blakeney

Every day, there are thousands of talented individuals searching for like minded souls with which they can collaborate. They join writing or acting classes, theater groups, and on line forums. They act in student films, direct and submit short subject films to festivals, and enter screenplay contests. They take the first step and fight for the second. They search for answers to the never ending "hows" and "whys." Some take pride in bucking the relentless frustrations and challenges, many more succumb to them. Almost all wonder: "How can I make my dream a reality? How can I increase my odds and give myself the greatest chance to succeed?"

Welcome to Stage 32 – a community for people working in or with a desire to work in film or theater. It’s a place to gather, to discuss and develop projects, to join actor with director, director with producer, producer with cast and crew. As the saying goes, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.

Let's get to know Curt Blakeney, the co-founder of Stage 32

Q: Curt, you're a well-known sports personality in Phoenix, tell me about your love for cinema as a kid?

CB: I’ve always been a film buff. I really enjoyed watching movies as a kid; especially summer matinees. Nothing like the thrill of a movie doubleheader with a tub of popcorn and a box of M&Ms. I was also a fan of the drive-in … many good memories there. My awareness of film was heightened by my brother Eric, who is a writer and director in Hollywood.

Q: Who were some of your favorite actors, directors and movies?

CB: I’ve always been a big fan of Spielberg movies: Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark, ET, Saving Private Ryan. He’s one of the great storytellers in the business. As far as actors, certainly on my top 10 list all-time are Paul Newman, Gene Hackman, Tom Hanks, Morgan Freeman, Daniel Day-Lewis. There are so many…too many to list. More recently, I think Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert Downey Jr. and Brad Pitt are exceptional.

Q: Your family is no stranger to Hollywood success. Your brother wrote the screenplay for Gunshy, a successful feature film starring Liam Neeson and was a producer/show runner for "21 Jump Street, the TV series that put Johnny Depp on the map.What did you learn about the movie industry through his eyes?

CB: Just how important it is to work tirelessly and network, network, network. It’s so important to build those relationships in the industry. It’s no industry to be shy.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for Stage 32?
CB: Two years ago, my business partner, Richard Botto, and I were in Los Angeles for the American Film Market (AFM). At the time, we had our own film production company, Fair Warning Productions, and had a few projects in development. AFM is a gathering place for filmmakers, sales reps, distributors, financiers and others from around the globe. Everyone is in town for one week pitching their projects, pitching their craft, trying to find funding, etc. The most vibrant place was the bar at the Loews Santa Monica Hotel. There we witnessed so many projects being discussed and so many filmmakers with completed films begging to be heard. And once AFM was over, those people went back to their respective cities and waited another 12 months for the next AFM. On the flight back from LA, a light bulb went off. We thought it would be great to create a virtual meeting place so that people could discuss film projects and connect year round, anywhere in the world.

Q: What are some of the success stories that have emerged from Stage 32?

CB: There are so many examples of success stories, that we created a forum for it: http://www.stage32.com/lounge/stage_32_success_stories But a couple that stand out. Matt E. Hudson, a director, producer and screenwriter from London, became the first of several to shoot a film (called “Reduction”) using crew found entirely from Stage 32. And Persephone Vandegrift, a screenwriter from Seattle who has been tirelessly networking through Stage 32 since she joined, was hired to write the pilot for a historical miniseries “The Vanquished.” The numbers keep growing as directors find actors, filmmakers find screen writers, producers find crew.  

Q: What is your goal for yourself and the participants who network on Stage 32?

CB: The goal of the site is to bring together like-minded individuals who collaborate to promote creative growth in film… and television and theater as well. So members can upload their projects, resumes, loglines, scripts, photos and videos – anything that shows off their skills and talents. People can private message other members, post on their walls, chat live or post on our message board – called the Stage 32 Lounge. It’s a very open and friendly community. Film students can get advice from seasoned professionals, screenwriters can get tips from other screenwriters, people can share their experiences. We’ve also had guest blogs from award-winning writers such as Danny Rubin (Groundhog Day), Rex Pickett (Sideways) and Doug Richardson (Bad Boys), whose “tales from the trenches” have really resonated with Stage 32 members.
It’s a social network to not only communicate with others, but learn, teach, share and foster.

We have a saying, that sums ups the site. Stage 32 is the social network uniquely populated with the most creative people on Earth. That’s our mantra…we’re trying to build this amazing global network of incredibly talented people and let the sparks fly.

For more information, visit www.stage32.com


4 comments:

LynetteCarrington said...

Stage 32 is empowering creatives to take it to the next level. Curt is a visionary and I think we can all look for some great things in the upcoming years from Stage 32.

Unknown said...

Marshall,
Thanks for writing a great piece about Stage 32. It's been a very rewarding project because of the incredibly talented and gracious people in our community. Actors, directors, screenwriters, filmmakers and crew members will boost their careers by networking with other film, TV and theater creatives.

Best, Curt Blakeney, President and Co-Founder of Stage 32

Curt Blakeney said...

Marshall,
Thanks for writing a great piece about Stage 32. It's been a very rewarding project because of the incredibly talented and gracious people in our community. Actors, directors, screenwriters, filmmakers and crew members will boost their careers by networking with other film, TV and theater creatives.

Best, Curt Blakeney, President and Co-Founder of Stage 32

Curt Blakeney said...

Marshall,
Thanks for writing a great piece about Stage 32. It's been a rewarding project because of the incredibly talented and gracious people on Stage 32. Actors, directors, screen writers, filmmakers and crew members can all benefit and boost their careers by networking with other film, TV and theater creatives.

Best,
Curt Blakeney
Stage 32 President and Co-Founder