Raindance: Stage 32’s Richard Botto on Social Media, Education Site’s Short Film Competition

Stage 32’s Richard Botto on Social
Courtesy of Stage 32

LONDON — In the first of what is planned to be an ongoing series of collaborations with the Raindance Film Festival, L.A.-based multi-media creative website Stage 32 used this year’s event as a launch-pad for their first-ever shorts competition. The result of a meeting with Raindance founder Elliot Grove in Cannes earlier this year, the program is intended as an annual platform for new and low-budget filmmakers.

“Elliot and I had known each other for years,” says Stage 32 CEO Richard Botto, “but we finally met face to face in Cannes, and I presented this idea to him. I said, ‘Look, we have some incredibly talented filmmakers on Stage 32, and what I’d love to do is put together a short film program. Yes, I want to put it online, globally, to our 500,000 members, and whoever else wants to watch it, but I’d love to bring it to a festival as well.’ Elliot was all about it, and so we set up a shorts contest. We brought in executives from The Weinstein Company, Circle of Confusion, Benderspink — we essentially brought in a who’s-who panel of experts — and we received over 1,000 entries.”

The winner was Toronto-born, New York-based Matt Kazman’s “Killer,” a deadpan tale of puberty reminiscent of the work of a young Noah Baumbach. By chance, Kazman had read about the competition, on U.S. website Indiewire, just as he was finishing up the movie. “I had just picture-locked my short,” Kazman recalls, “so I went on their website, made an account and submitted it. Then a few weeks later Richard emailed me and said, ‘I just wanted to let you know that you’re one of the six that’s gonna be screening, and on top that, you’ve won the grand prize.’” He laughs. “I didn’t even know there was a grand prize.”

Founded by Botto in 2011, Stage 32 was started as a reaction to the limits of existing social network sites. “I’m a filmmaker, producer, actor and screenwriter,” he explains, “and I found that most broad-based social media sites weren’t giving me any sort of advantage and the contacts I needed, so I decided to start a niche social network for people working in film, television and theater. The way we launched is, I went to 100 of my industry colleagues and asked them if they would be interested. I showed them the platform and I said, ‘If you like it, invite five fellow creatives, and if you don’t, give me three reasons why.’ I chased all 100 of them down, which took about a month, 97 of them signed up, three of them gave me the three reasons why — they eventually became members — and we continued to build the audience. About a month and a half later we had 10,000 people, and at the end of our first year we had 50,000. Today we have over half a million worldwide.”

Although the site’s primary aim is connectivity, Stage 32 is equally proud of its role in offering education for creative with all levels of experience. Botto says, “With most broad-based media sites you’re dealing with your friends, your family, whoever — you’re not getting targeted marketing or targeted connections. The best way I’ve hear our platform described was in Forbes — Forbes wrote an article about us and they called us ‘LinkedIn meets Lynda for the entertainment industry.’ We really liked that, because LinkedIn does have that element of connecting people, and then, of course, Lynda is the world’s largest education site. So we were very pleased to be compared to them. Even more pleased when LinkedIn bought Lynda for $1.5 billion three months after the article came out! I think we have more of a social component than LinkedIn does, but it does have the same idea of connecting creatives, helping them find work and collaborate.”

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  1. Jorge J Prieto says:

    Stage 32 has been a great place for me as a screenwriter and actor. I’ve received great advice from other members, as it pertains to writing, plus the Stage 32 happy writers is constantly offering free webinars, with guest speakers from the film industry and members can ask questions. Richard Botto, also conducts mostly webinars where he covers everything in screenwriting and acting. This pass summer I booked an acting job on a film, thanks to Stage 32 job posting section. I just entered the yearly New Blood horror, thriller contest. Stage 32 is a great community of artist, created for artists, it’s the only one of it’s kind. Great things are happening at Stage 32 every day, thanks to the great team that supports this one of a kind platform. Thanks, RB, for all that you do.

  2. I’m a happy Stage 32 member, happy because I joined this stellar social network and found it truly is what it says. I found a needed cameraman in Amsterdam, thanks to Stage 32. We were both members, and that was the first “hello” for us. Like all of the Stage 32 creatives, we just want to work at our craft, connect with other creatives, get some education, and do well as professionals and with professionals. RB Botto deserves a lifetime achievement award for giving us this vital “stage”!

  3. cc lindh says:

    PS. I was so excited thinking about Variety & Stage 32 that I left the little word “to” out in my last sentence posted below. You guys do give me chills! Have fun, cc

  4. cc lindh says:

    Thank you Variety for showcasing Stage 32 and its founder RB. Stage 32 provides a platform for creatives to come together to share their work, learn, and prosper. Joey Tuccio, President of Stage 32 Happy Writers, also augments Stage 32 with classes and pitching forums for writers. Our world is better, more interesting, and more beautiful because of creatives. Thank you Variety and Stage 32 for all that you do bring new talent and work to light! Cheers, cc lindh

  5. Ryan Canty says:

    Stage 32 is such a wonderful community! I feel like I’ve found a “home” of likeminded people who are fellow creatives who support and celebrate each other and the accomplishments we make in the fields we are in.

    I’m thankful for Stage 32 and I am happy to be a member!

  6. Ruby Kleinschmidt says:

    I am so happy to see Stage 32 gaining recognition. Stage 32 is a wonderful place to connect not only to talented people around the world but to connect to people locally. Being able to connect locally I am able to expand my experience and learn from others

  7. I was so glad that someone turned me on to Stage 32. I’m a screenwriter and artist and even though I’ve entered competitions and didn’t do too shabby, I never knew how to get to the next level. Then came Stage 32! I was connected to one of their webinars during the summer, soaked it all in and got to ask two questions that RB answered. He gave me great advice and encouragement to continue on my goal to get my screenplays out there. Plus I’ve been able to connect with a wide variety (see the pun I made?) of people in the media that have skills that we can share to help each other. RB, you’re the best thing that happened for us. Thanks!

  8. Dan Corley says:

    Stage 32 is the ONLY web site that I know of whose CEO (RB) will personally reply to you if he thinks he can actually help. I am both a screenwriter and an actor and RB has been both a help and an inspiration to me.

  9. Stage 32 is the best place for industry hopefuls. This site not only connects screenwriters with industry executives, it provides all the tools for industry success to include but not limited to a tutelage program, coverage , consultation, sourcing. When I discovered S32, I disconnected from a couple sites that don’t offer half of their benefits.

  10. Jonathan Kramer says:

    Whether seasoned creative professional or rookie, Stage 32 has set a precedent as a multifaceted resource for the film, TV and theater community in all ways imaginable. And for someone like myself who’s committed to developing next generation content, it’s a place to build a network and find other potential innovative minds that are like minded.

    A famous quote reads “If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more then you are an excellent leader”

    Rich Botto embodies this operating from a place of integrity and purpose. As a result the community and it’s success are a direct reflection of his commitment to achieving the goals set forth. Without Stage 32, there’s really NO social resource to grow, collaborate, create and move ahead as a storyteller.

  11. J. Reid says:

    Stage 32 is an enormously rich resource for the little guy, male and female, with an interest in creating movies. I am an actor and beginning producer with considerable experience in the former category and none in the latter. Stage 32 is the go-to resource for people like me.

  12. Stage 32 is a great site. I am glad I joined it when I received an invite a little over a year ago. With the S32 Education I either learned something new or it confirmed what I already knew. The Happy Writers div. gave me the opportunity to streamline and improve my pitch and get feedback from producers and studio execs regarding my work. The President of Happy Writers, Joey Tuccio is amazing, supportive and proactive. I know that I will never miss an opportunity because he is looking out for us.

    Karynne Summars
    Author/Screenwriter/ Executive Producer of Disturbed (2016)
    Free Lance Journalist for PopImpressKA Journal

  13. scottyhuff says:

    Thank you for writing this article. I’ve only recently learned about Stage 32, but in my short time as a member, I have connected with dozens of creatives all over the world. Better yet, the educational tools and webinars have taught me a great deal in a short amount of time. I’m a film composer and I was pleasantly surprised to see opportunities for ALL creatives in the industry, not just film makers.

  14. Michael Funce-Brown says:

    Richard Botto’s Stage 32 provides a huge variety of advice for budding Film Makers, it is a job to know which webinar to follow next. For anyone who is thinking of writing screenplays, here is the place to start, thus saving years of frustration.

  15. Great Article. I just wanted to say as one of the Film-makers who was lucky enough to be part of the special Stage 32 Programe at Raindance, the thing I have come away the most with that I am most proud is getting to meet RB and Amanda and also fully REALIZING their passion for Stage 32. It’s a great community and one I will always champion until the day i die!

  16. Devon Rodriguez says:

    It’s amazing – Stage 32 continues to bring access and opportunities to filmmakers from around the world that literally would not exist if it weren’t for the passion RB has. I recommend this site to any and all film and TV creatives!

  17. Clare K says:

    Besides education and job sections, I love the lounge topics on Stage 32. I enjoy the discussions with other creatives. They are so helpful and inspiring.😄👍

  18. Jimmy Reyes says:

    Now this is too cool. As someone who has known Rich for a long time and has worked with him on a couple of film projects, I can tell you no one cares more about helping people succeed. It’s evident in everything he does with Stage 32.

    He deserves every accolade.

  19. Sebastian Parowa says:

    I registered for Stage 32 a while back and it’s been an amazing ride. Within days I’ve connected with hundreds of users, and many of them reached back out to me asking if I need anything, if they can help. It’s the kindest, most relevant type of networking website out there! The forum is always filled with people ready to answer any related questions and the opportunities for contests and education roll in faster than one could hope for. I <3 32

  20. Andrea Thompson says:

    Oh my goodness, I am so thrilled Variety has covered Stage 32!! I was one of the first members back in 2011 and I have found the site invaluable. I deleted my Facebook and my LinkedIn after I found Stage 32 and I haven’t looked back. Congrats to RB and the Stage 32 filmmakers – I hope great things happen for you!

  21. Joseph C. says:

    The best networking site period. No more Facebook or LinkedIn for this filmmaker. Been a proud member and participant in their webinars for 2+ years. No better resource.

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