Film Networking, how to make it work for you.

Scent, 52 Films/52 Weeks 2011

My husband hates ‘networking’.

Or rather, to be fairer to him, he hates the term ‘networking’, and I can understand why.

It conjures up the image of a grubby party, with tired looking, desperate and perhaps equally grubby people, all standing around, looking uncomfortable with their complimentary chardonnay in one hand, a pringle in the other and hopeful pockets full of freshly printed business cards, bulging ominously…

Not a very pleasant image, and certainly not one that reeks of promise or success.

This whole networking thing really is a bit on the sad side…however…

There are some occasions where it can be less sad and more joyful, and that’s when you set it up yourself.

Now this might sound even sadder to some, but stay with me a little longer and I will endeavor to explain myself.

The truth is we all hate networking, or mixing with people we hardly or definitely do not, know.

The thought of actually going to a social occasion where the main purpose, the only real reason why anyone is in fact, there, is because we all want to hook up for work…not sex or love or golf even, but work.

Whether it’s a short film night or local festival or some ex neighbor’s indiegogo launch, there we all are, standing around, searching for a familiar face, or even an unfamiliar face that isn’t as uncomfortable as we are.

So how is this better if you arrange it all yourself I hear you wonder?

Because, if you decide to get together with your own tribe, it won’t be nearly as ghastly and you can do it in the privacy of your own home and avoid trying to find parking, which is always a hassle in LA, as we all know. Also, and this may not apply only to the ladies, you don’t have to wear heels, or even a bra, depending of course on how well you know those people you invited, or how small your place is.

My idea is simply this, after having actually gone to a few of these big, super-arranged events, most of which, with only a few exceptions, were horrid, at least for me, if you hold your own ‘get together’, with people you know, you’ll have more fun, and in the process relax and learn more.

Also, and this is the important bit, you will meet people you don’t know and get involved in their projects because simply by relying on the laws of of averages and accidents eventually someone will bring someone else with them, and in the safe, warm bosom of your home, magic will happen.

I have actual experience of this. The magic that is.

At my place and other people’s, getting together once a week or once a month even, bringing stuff you are working on, scripts, ideas, something you need to rehearse or block or crew or cast or find a location for, anything really, if you throw it all out there amongst like minded folk, wonderful things can happen and have happened.

I shot a web series, I wrote a screenplay with two other writers, I successfully pitched a film, I shared invaluable location secrets, and I bonded over tea and biscuits and felt renewed and full of filmmaking promise, merely by being in the room with the right energy. Forgive me for being too ‘LA’ all over you.

Start small, ask a few people you’ve worked with, and definitely don’t invite friends who have no interest in filmmaking…this isn’t a party after all and their eyes will glaze over and make everyone feel uncomfortable.

Make it a pot luck, keep the booze to a minimum and start the sharing process. Show each others films, or perhaps even have favorite film nights were you watch classics and pick them part afterwards. Or read amazing screenplays, just to know how a great screenplay is written.

Help each other without expectation of reward.

Someone might bring in a problem and together you can all fix it. This is a much more invigorating and potentially rewarding environment than any ‘event’ I have ever been to.

And yet, and here is the cunning part, you are actually networking.

You are mixing with filmmakers, writers, etc. who are all in the same place you are, wanting to make something happen.

It’s a rather glorious place to be if you think about it, at the beginning, with it all laid out before you in endless waves of possibilities.

Oh, and if you still want to try out those interminable ‘networking’ thingies….here are a few that are actually not horrid…

Now go through your rolodex and make some calls…

We Make Movies

The Ultimate Indie Film Networking Group

The North Hollywood Filmmaker Group

West Hollywood Gorilla Film Club

Mini Cinema

The LA Movie Lovers