6 Ways To Network With Producers, Directors, and Other Collaborators

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by Joel Mendoza (Fresh Voices)

 

WHAT IS THE NUMBER ONE THING, YOU CAN DO RIGHT NOW, TO SELL YOUR SCREENPLAY?

The end! You’ve done it. You’ve completed your script and you are ready to finally see it get made. From here you send the script to a few people you know and from there it’s in God’s hands. You’re not a producer, you don’t know the business end of the industry, you just don’t have the connections.

Networking is the key to business – not just the film business – any business. No one can sell anything without a potential buyer. Common sense, right? This is where your network and your ability to network are essential.  Your network is your power cord. It’s your rolodex, your family, your Facebook friends. Its whoever you reach out to when you have news. The value of your network is directly correlated to the extent of its reach.

But beyond networking your family, friends and neighbors, how do you proactively expand your network to meet the right people who can help get your script over the finish line? Afterall, film is one of the few forms of storytelling that require a multitude of people to all work towards the same vision, every step of the way. You cannot do this on your own. You must meet people from all walks of life, be able to develop relationships with all different types of personalities, and work closely with many of these individuals along the way.

6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon is no joke. The more you network the more your network will intersect, and the world will suddenly feel ridiculously small. At the end of the day the industry seems large and impenetrable from the outside, but once within its walls, you will quickly realize how small and malleable it really is.

Here are a few ways to network and meet the right people when you’re just getting started, that are all but free.

  • Mixers

Industry mixers are a great way to meet people. Even if it’s just other writers at first, it’s good to get out, socialize, and share stories with like-minded individuals. Groups such as the International Screenwriters Association hold mixers across country and even internationally, and often invite guest speakers and well known talent to participate.

 

  • Meet-Ups and Online Communities

Virtual and in-person meet-ups are a thing. Random connections with people who share a particular interest. It is a great way to socialize and share ideas with other writers and aspiring producers and directors. Check out www.meetup.com for more information on screenwriting groups in your area. But don’t stop there, check out and participate in the groups for young film producers or film directors too while you’re at it! Can find one you like? Don’t be afraid to start one yourself.

Also check out, subscribe, and participate in social sites for filmmakers. Check out www.stage32.com in the US and Shooting People (www.shootingpeople.org) if you are in the UK.

 

  • Work Shops

Sure, sometimes a workshop of value is going to cost a little bit of money, but consider the opportunity to discuss your script, and the work of other people, in depth. To analyze story, character, and structure together in a way that when you meet people who share your philosophy on certain things, beautiful relationships are developed. When exploring certain workshops, do your research on who is holding the workshop and what kind of interaction there is, and what will be expected of you by way of participation. Can you share your thoughts on other people’s material, and will you have a chance to receive feedback from others on your own work?

 

  • Film Schools

Film Schools too can be a fantastic way to see your work get made, and I am not talking about paying thousands of dollars to attend some courses on film production or film theory. Film schools often hold public events to screen student films or hold casting calls for upcoming student productions and they are a great place to mingle with aspiring young producers, directors, and other talent looking for scripts they can get involved with and cut their teeth on. Sure, some maybe aspiring writers themselves, and others may have yet to discover their true talent, but they all need good content and they often have access to cameras and lighting equipment through their school office. Getting in touch with your local film school or establishing your own network/ meet-up of Film School students is a great way to expand your network and maybe even see your script get made.

 

  • Film Festivals, Markets & Conferences

Film Festivals are a great way to meet and schmooze with potential collaborators as well as executives, agents and managers that can make your screenplay happen. True, a good festival where you are likely to meet these kinds of people are going to cost a little money, as well as the associated travel costs if you don’t happen to live in Park City, Austin or the South of France, but there are plenty of smaller festivals where you can meet and network with good people, and even the larger festivals have a certain number of special passes, discounts and waivers for those who want to participate in seminars, workshops, mixers and film screenings. You can also offer to work at a festival as a volunteer or chaperone, guiding attendees and VIPs to specific theaters and venues. It’s a great way to meet people who are there to meet people themselves!

 

  • Volunteer

Volunteering can take many shapes, but it is a great way to get in front of people that matter and to leave a positive impression.  Here are several ways you can volunteer in the entertainment industry that just might put you in front of people that can make a difference to your career.

You can volunteer for an Entertainment based charity such as the Entertainment Industry Foundation (www.eifoundation.org) or FilmAid International (www.filmaid.rg) or you can volunteer to be an aide or chaperon at a Film Festival, Conference, Expo, Pitch Fest or even read scripts for a Screenplay Contest.

Lastly, there is one more way to volunteer that requires the real grit and determination of a truly successful screenwriter. Some may gag at the very mention and some may leap at the thought. Brace yourself for it – You could volunteer to write for free! Yes, that’s right… Work for free!! Let that sink in for a second and be sure you are ok with it.

Set in advance the level of punishment you can take and let yourself be taken advantage up to that level but no further. You may even get the expertise of a friend to judge how badly you are being taken advantage of as its sometimes not all apparent to someone in pursuit of their goals, but ultimately, there is no better way to learn the hard but necessary lessons, to earn the battle scars required of the most successful screenwriters, than to offer to write for free.


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