CHECK OUT: The Compass Network

I’ve written about how I’d like to expand the script series model so that more training screenwriters can give it a shot. I’ve also been pretty clear that I love being part of a creative community, networking and learning from brilliant folks out there in the global Internet space.

This summer, I have, with the help of a pair of friends and colleagues, taken a big step towards all of these goals.

Check out The Compass Network, the online community we launched last month.

The culmination of a lot of years thinking about writer development, script series, networking and promotion for writers who aren’t in a place to prove themselves to Hollywood bigshots – or, alternately, aren’t in a place where training is easily accessed. I know MZPtv made me into the writer I am now, as much as Ryerson University did, and I’ve been thinking about how to pay that forward for ages. This is how I’m going to do it.

What is The Compass Network? Taking a cue from the virtual series community while not technically counting ourselves among their ranks (more of an ally and friend), it’s an artistic community that allows screenwriters, podcasters, writers and other independent artists to band together to signal boost each other and develop an audience together. Compass aims to develop and promote creators and entertain an indie-minded audience.

It does so by:

  • Empowering screenwriters to participate in the script series process: I believe this format is an amazing training tool, and via Compass am promoting it to folks who either didn’t know about it, or weren’t part of the communities that currently do them, which can often feel either inaccessible. Many virtual series communities, though friendly and welcoming, have trouble drawing in new members because they feel like everybody already knows each other. Compass, by being separate from the virtual series community and yet connected to it, seems to have been a great entry point for new script series writers. In the month or so that the site’s been open, a few members not previously connected to the VS world have either joined script series projects or stated their intention of being involved in them.
  • Connecting members to interesting and insightful content about the industry: Compass’ Reading Materials section gives members the chance to read up on, and discuss, important issues in the media industries.
  • Promoting scripts as storytelling over blueprint: I believe there is an elegance about the screenplay as a medium for storytelling, having been reading script series at MZP and its ilk for years. Writing in scripts tends to be sharp, starkly visual, focused and intense, without any opportunity for loose tangents or overindulgence. I’ve read fun scripts, profound scripts, hilarious scripts, heartbreaking scripts. Easier to digest and yet often as capable of landing an emotional punch to the gut as their fellow media. I believe screenwriters deserve the chance to have their work be appreciated before it even goes before the camera – and that the craft deserves notice and exploration.
  • Merging online and offline worlds: In micro, Compass has allowed me to merge my two lives and personas – university student and freelance screenwriter Bob Lackie and longtime virtual series staffer Alden Caele – into the single, unified penname of RJ Alden Lackie. Compass has brought together my virtual series colleagues and my university colleagues, merging my two worlds and allowing both to make new friends. Like this but in macro, Compass merges the professional, offline world of screenwriting (where concerns of portfolio development, networking and getting a job rule the day) with the fun, open online world of virtual series (where people can write Buffy spinoffs and spend all day arguing over which was their favourite Batman movie). It loosens up the professional a bit while tightening up the informal world, bridging the gap a bit. At a time where some VS writers are considering their next steps to making a career out of their deeply-developed screenwriting skills, while budding screenwriters seek opportunities to write for fun to develop portfolio pieces, it seems Compass might be the magic spot bridging these worlds just enough.

So, I feel pretty passionately about building this community into something great. I don’t exactly have money to put where my mouth is, but I’m devoting a lot of something more valuable to me: time. Between maintaining the community, keeping the Reading Materials stocked, manning the social media and being in charge of Script Series (including proposals, commissions, and ongoing maintenance), Compass is something I happily devote a chunk of my week to. Not to mention I plan to run a script series (or two!) of my own there over the next few years.

So join us over at Compass! Lots of exciting things on the horizon.

Also go ahead and ‘like’ Compass on Facebook and follow us on Twitter, both of which offer news and updates on the site’s goings-on.

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One response to “CHECK OUT: The Compass Network

  1. Pingback: ABOUT THE BLOG: An Update and a Few Thoughts | The Diversionist

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