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What is Stage 32, Anyway?

What is Stage 32, Anyway?

I’m sure I’m not the only who has been wondering exactly what website Stage 32 is all about. 
Described by Forbes as “Lynda.com meets LinkedIn for anyone working in (or with a desire to work in) film, television or theater,” it’s essentially a free social network for people working in the entertainment industry. There they can search for things they need, from jobs and best practices to talent, vendors and service providers.
After Stage 32 founder and CEO Richard Botto attended the American Film Market in Santa Monica, he saw that many would-be entrants into the movie industry would show up once a year and have to start all over again from scratch the next. How could they stay in better touch with their contacts via social media and push their projects forward? There had to be a way this big audience could connect 24/7, 365 days a year. 
In April, 2011, Botto started out sending a link to the beta Stage 32 site (named after the Paramount–once RKO–soundstage where young Orson Welles filmed “Citizen Kane”) to 100 friends, asking each of them to send it to five more, and give him three ways to improve the site. Stage 32 burgeoned exponentially from there, launching officially in September, 2011. They’re now tracking some 400,000 active members around the world, and recently attended the Cannes Film Festival at the invitation of the Marche du Film’s convergence of entertainment and tech
Having launched the site organically without investors, New Yorker Botto is now financing it, Mediabistro-style, by offering online educational classes and webinars; they recently acquired screenwriting education site The Happy Writers. Botto, who dabbled in theater and novel writing, has a sales and marketing background–always useful online skills–and consulted with his brother partner in a dot.com consultancy firm in the 90s. In 2000 he launched lifestyle magazine Razor, which lasted six years. He then tried his hand at producing (Sundance entry “Another Happy Day”) and screenwriting. 

Read: Stage 32 and PGA Women’s Impact Network Launch Pitching Event for Female-Centric Scripts

At Cannes, Stage 32 managing director Amanda Toney told me, Stage 32 hosted a panel in the Marche du Film NEXT Pavilion on crowdsourcing and social media, attended by over 200 Stage 32 members from 20 countries including Australia, Belgium, England, France, Germany, Finland, Netherlands, India, Italy, United States of America, Malaysia, Monaco, Romania, Spain, Switzerland, South Africa, Argentina and Brazil. 
Nineteen Stage 32 members had films at Cannes, including Monaco producer Michel Merkt, who screened four of his films at the Marche, from Director’s Fortnight opener “In the Shadow of Women” directed by Philippe Garrel to Miguel Gomes’s three-film triptych “Arabian Nights.”
London-based Stage 32 member Saranne Bensusan, a director, producer, editor and animator, screened her first solo-directed stop-animation feature film “The Hunting of the Snark.” And Stage 32 members Joe Orlandino, an American producer, Italian producer/director Davide Cincis, Canadian composer Enzo De Rosa, American actor Danny McCarthy and Italian actor Vincent Papa, came to Cannes to screen short film “In My Brother’s Shoes” in the Shorts Corner, before showing it at the Vatican.

Next up: Stage 32 CEO Botto is writing a book on crowdsourcing for film for Focal Press under the American Film Market imprint.

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