You’ve likely heard the famous saying: “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”
Although many experienced filmmakers argue it’s more about what you know, it is no lie how important film networking is to aspiring and hopeful filmmakers looking to get their foot in the door.
Filmmaking is very much a collaborative effort. It requires the synergy of many creative minds working as one. For this reason, you must have a strong, close-knit network of filmmakers at your side when you need them.
However, your film network should extend far beyond that of your trusted film crew. Your network should act as the gateway to new opportunities and getting ahead in the film industry.
The sad truth about this industry is that you can have a filmmaking gift as great as Christopher Nolen’s or Quentin Tarantino’s, but if you don’t know anyone in an industry about knowing the right people, you will very likely end up unsuccessful and unnoticed.
We don’t want that for you. Much like the goal of our one-sentence pitch competition, we want to see our film community, and filmmakers around the globe, get the opportunities they deserve and excel in this competitive film industry.
So, we’ve prepared a few tips on film networking for filmmakers eager to build connections with like-minded filmmakers and industry professionals capable of furthering their careers.
Quality Over Quantity
Take a moment and think about some of your best friends. Ask yourself why those people are some of your closest friends. What are the elements that make up those great friendships?
It’s important to think about this because networking is all about forming and maintaining strong relationships. Building quality relationships with others aren’t easy — it takes a great sum of time and energy.
However, forming strong relationships with a few people instead of forming small, short term, and shallow relationships with large amounts of people, will be of greater benefit to you.
Genuine film networking is far more than going to large events and handing out handfuls of business cards. Film networking — similar to film production — should be about building trust and forming real relationships with others.
The friendships, trust, and value that you receive from others — as well as give to others — will be what furthers your film career and social life in the industry.
Bring Value To Your Network
Film networking should never be a one-way street. If you would like to have real, genuine connections, you must be prepared to put in the effort and make sacrifices.
Film networking is about giving and receiving — not one or the other. Getting hired to produce or direct a film by someone you connected with at a festival or online is fantastic, but it shouldn’t end there.
You should always be searching for ways to add value to your network. Sometimes offering to help first can be a great way to show your connections that you’re interested in helping them, and this can make them more likely to want to return the favor.
Be creative with ways to help them. Of course, this will all depend on the network, experience, and value you may already have, but you should always try and reach out to others so they can see that you’re a valuable connection.
Perhaps you’re a screenwriter and you know a thing or two about writing scripts. Offer to proofread their scripts and offer feedback and suggestions. Or maybe you’re an aspiring director — offer to be their 1st assistant director or camera assistant for their film production.
Attend Local Film Events
A lot of film networking takes place at local film-related events. These events can be either your local film festivals, film screenings, and social meetups.
Arguably, small festivals can be more beneficial than bigger ones. Generally, the larger festivals are viewed as more prestigious and favorable to all filmmakers. However, your small local film festivals will take place in smaller settings with many hopeful and like-minded filmmakers in your area. This can make networking much easier for both parties as you will likely be able to converse and find more things to connect with.
Larger film festivals, however, can also be a great networking opportunity. Check out our previous blog to learn more about the worth of major film festivals.
Film screenings, or “open screen nights,” can be a great opportunity to meet and network with filmmakers in your area. Some screening events also have Q&A sessions with the cast and crew members — this can be a great way to ask questions, learn about different filmmaking processes, and potentially connect with passionate filmmakers.
Depending on your city or town you live in, you can also explore social events and meetups hosted by local filmmakers and creatives. These social events are great for filmmakers looking for smaller and more personal film networking events. It can be a great way to either join existing peer groups or form some of your own.
Work On As Many Independent Film Productions As Possible
Working on small independent film projects can broaden your film network. If you go to film school, this can be a great opportunity to help student filmmakers with their film projects, as it can potentially turn a connection into a life-long friendship.
Check out our previous blog to learn more about networking opportunities at film schools
If you aren’t a film student, find out if there are any film communities or groups in your hometown area — whether through entertainment websites, social media, etc — and reach out to those people. Offer to help out with any they need — whether it be to PA, grip, or hold the boom mic. This can open doors to making real connections with filmmakers in your community.
Check out our previous blog if you’d like to learn more about finding and hiring a film crew.
Utilize Social Media
Similar to marketing and promoting a film, filmmakers should utilize social media to market themselves, display work, and connect with others.
Social media can be a great way to stand out and gain exposure for yourself. Social media sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram, can allow you to connect with people, join film communities, and showcase your work to others. Likeminded filmmakers can potentially venture to your account and find about more about themselves.
Using social media platforms can be great for showing interest in other filmmakers and their work. You can follow or subscribe to filmmakers and keep up with what they’re up to. You can also like their pictures or posts to display your interest.
It can also give you the opportunity to reach out and follow up with your connections.
Keep In Touch And Be Consistent
The key to maintaining any real connection is following up — and not only when you need something. You should try to keep in touch regularly so that your film network remains strong and current.
Try creating a system or plan for keeping in touch with your network. You can prioritize those higher up on your film network scale and set reminders each week or month for reaching out to those individuals.
Find out what they’re up to. Congratulate them for getting a promotion, obtaining an award, or releasing a film. Ask them out to lunch, coffee, film events, etc. This will keep the relationship fresh and you will be able to build a stronger relationship by getting to know them a little more as time goes on.
Networking is a crucial component of the film industry. It’s almost impossible to build a career in film — or any business, really — by yourself.
Opportunities aside, having a strong network of filmmakers — even if it’s just a few people — can benefit you greatly. They can act as your support group when you’re feeling discouraged or worried. They can offer writing tips or advice on location scouting. The list is endless.
Every filmmaker should build a strong network as best they can. And don’t forget to follow up consistently and offer to help those in your network. Film networking is never a one-way street. It goes both ways.
If you or someone in your film network needs funding for their film, check out our funding opportunities for the chance to win up to $10,000 in funding.