How Not to Suck at Networking

Festies! (film festival besties) At the Nashville Film Festival.

Film is a collaborative medium. You need other people to help you make your movie. From actors to crew, and the better your collaborators are the better your movie can become.

But networking sucks. It’s kinda like online dating … a numbers game and can feel largely like a waste of time. And all those Netflix shows aren’t going to watch themselves…

But let’s say you’re going to a screening, or a mixer, or a film festival … how do you network and actually advance your movie-making career?

First, let’s change your goal. It’s not about getting a stranger to read your script, or to hire you, or to magically change your life. These are all unrealistic goals anyways.

No, your goal is: to make friends.

Instead of going in, ready to push YOUR project — be THEIR supporter. Ask them about their process, their movie. And don’t bullshit it, ask because you want to get to know them. This person might be a new friend. You want to see if they’re doing cool stuff (and they’re not a weirdo).

And, if they’re a decent human being, they’ll eventually ask you about your project. Making movies is so hard, when you find other like-minded people in the trenches you want to support each other. It happens all the time at film festivals … You end up going to each others screenings, and you find your self becoming their advocates.

You’re trying to find your people. Your tribe. And it will take time. 

Our short film, The Lords of Dragonhoth, had a crew of three (including myself), and no one really knew what they were doing (including myself). Flash-forward three years to Zombie Team Building, where we had a crew of 15 and a cast of 25 (mostly zombies). Everyone on the film was a friend we’d made in the last three years of shooting short films.

I hear this over and over again, but the people who will change your lives in this business are not the people way above you … it’s the people on your own level, your friends, and as opportunities present themselves you all help raise each other up.

So slow your roll on handing out the business cards, don’t stress about pitching the Vice President of Production at the Mega-Awesome Studio, you’ve got to change your mindset.

This is one of those blog posts where I’m preaching to myself as much as I am you. It’s tough, especially for us introverts, but the more I do it the more rewarding it becomes. Be the most social version of yourself, maybe bring a “wing man” who’s a little more chatty, and get out there and make some new friends.

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