Pick up a camera. Shoot something. No matter how small, no matter how cheesy, no matter whether your friends and your sister star in it. Put your name on it as director. Now you’re a director. Everything after that you’re just negotiating your budget and your fee. – Director James Cameron
Across The Pond, UK, 2009
Is it really that simple? I hear you ask.
Well, yes I suppose it is, and absolutely yes it is that simple in the world of very, very independent filmmaking.
But, and this is a very important “but,” when you do make a film you will need help, and to find people to help you make your film you will sometimes need to perform that most dreaded of tasks for the creative person, you will need to “network”.
I know, I know, “Networking” is sooo “Hollywood,” and you would be absolutely right, but there’s a reason for that.
Seeking out like minded, creative filmmaking types can only help you towards your goal, and in LA certainly, there are many, many filmmaking types just gagging to be networked…
Just recently I have, in point of fact, joined one such networking circle of trust which I happened upon through the last project I DP’d on, “Breaking Hollywood”.
What seems to happen when you collaborate on any creative venture, but especially in film which you truly cannot do alone, is that while you are working and getting to know each other as humans as well as titles, like “Grip, MU, DP, PA” etc, you are making potential networking and ‘supporting of your stuff’ connections as well as future work connections. Also, and this is important to remember since we need other people to help on our projects, If you behave well, smile and don’t complain too much about the food or anything else, then you could quite possibly make a connection with another filmmaker who will think of you for a future collaboration.
Collaboration, a very important word in filmmaking, particularly very, very independent filmmaking….with little to no money.
Clearly it doesnt take a genius to work out that if you are a prat, no one will like you or want to work with you again, especially in such a big pond as LA where there are hundreds of people happy to do whatever you are doing, and probably better.
But, It’s also good to remember that while these people around you may not have anything right now to include you in, they might eventually, or you might get together with them and create something spectacular, as a ” collaboration”.
Collaboration really is the magic word here and to be in a collaborative situation you have to network…..
It needn’t be as painful as it sounds, and it can, actually, if you surrender to it a bit, be fun!
My networking group, or what we really should refer to now as our development group, since we don’t just stand around sipping wine coolers and trying to look cool, began as an Irish Actors group, strangely.
But, it has since then welcomed into its midst many other nationalities, mostly because they had all told each other the same jokes too many times I think, but no matter.
It’s good to embrace the fact that you need a good turn over of new blood, or everyone will either agree with everyone else, or argue with everyone else, and as Daryl F Zanuck once said –
If two men on a job agree all the time, then one is useless. If they disagree all the time, then both are useless.
You will find networking groups in the strangest of places.
Check the notice boards in your local Gym, Starbucks, AA meeting or Church.
Every social media website has a million of them, and you could even start one of your own, which is a great idea if you want to make something and you have it ready to go. That way you can form a filmmaking collective and be all “Borg” like. As in Star Trek, not Bjorn.
But however you go about it, you must network.
Don’t call it that if it makes you squirm, it makes my husband squirm I can tell you!
So when you “meet up” with people and have table reads, or pitch-fests, or creative mind melds, just pretend you’re accidentally bumping into other filmmakers in a house you just randomly came across in a neighbourhood you have never heard of.
If it makes you feel better.
But do it, inspire others, be inspired, re-inspire. All that talk will come to something, all that “sharing” actually works and even the criticism that doesn’t feel as constructive, can be, if you decide it is. The hardest part of sharing our work or ideas is the thought that someone might not think it’s any good. But even if that does happen, its all objective. How many people do you know who all like the same movie? Most people disagree on what toilet paper works the best, so coming to a unanimous agreement on what film is better than an other or which camera is best or light or close up or medium, or blue dress or green dress or Clooney or Pitt….
Its all relative, its all personal and its all going to change in the edit.
No one’s opinion is more important than your own, but, you can learn a lot about your opinion by listening to other peoples.
And disagreeing with them…
So talk, and share and reach out, and Network. You will find wonderful people to help you on your quest, and you will be inspired to help them on theirs!
Worse case scenario, you get to stand about drinking wine coolers and feeling cool.