Looking to start networking in the film industry? Here are six tips on how to connect with other filmmakers!
By: Sophia Lin
A career in film can be kickstarted from a multitude of places, in a multitude of ways. However, nearly every one of those possibilities involves one key ingredient: a network. And not simply any network will do. If you’re looking to have a shot at those golden opportunities that’ll get your foot in the door, you’ll need a network that’s well-developed, expansive, and diverse.
But how do you network? Whether it’s building a community or expanding one, it’s an age-old question that can often stump creatives who’d rather focus on their craft. The good news is, we’re here to break it down. From keeping your portfolio at the ready to simply using social media to reach out, networking is far less intimidating than it seems. For many, it turns out to be one of the most enjoyable and fulfilling aspects of their career and, not to mention, a wonderful way to find your people.
So, to get to know the exact science of networking in the film industry, look no further. Take one well-informed step at a time and you’ll find yourself with an invaluable community of trusted collaborators and fellow artists.
1. Take Advantage of Events & Structured Spaces
When it comes to events, feel free to start small — local filmmaker gatherings, panels or Q&As at the theatre around the corner, and the like. Go to places and spaces that interest you, hang around, and naturally, you’ll find people who share your passions and ambitions. From there, striking up a casual conversation and following up with an email a few days later establishes the beginnings of a well-built relationship.
Structured spaces like film schools, fellowships, or film festivals are one of the most sure-fire ways to meet budding filmmakers like yourself. The folks who have made it there are already those at the top of their game, so leveraging these opportunities is a must — both for exponentially expanding your network and getting to know some future key players in the industry.
2. Keep Your Portfolio Handy
Preparation is key, and this applies to any facet of your work. Portfolios, samples, reels, and previous work should be constantly up-to-date and at your fingertips, should any producer, executive, or agent ask you for them. These are too often spur-of-the-moment chances, so be ready and seize them when they come!
In a similar vein, have an elevator pitch ready to go. Whatever you’re working on or soon to be working on, knowing a 2-3 minute summary will come in more than handy. Whether it’s at events or interviews, this will quickly pique the interest of those around you, and almost always, a solid idea rather than an abstract concept will attract far more potential collaborators.
3. Leverage Social Media
While Instagram is one of the most frequented social media platforms, when it comes to networking in the film industry, don’t discount the power of LinkedIn and Facebook. Make connections with filmmakers you’re interested in, or simply those in the area, and you’ll get a direct channel to any work or life updates they have. Then use that chance to jump in on the conversation.
Similarly, Facebook groups are an excellent way to meet new peers. Search your specific line of work within your locale and there’s bound to be an existing group you can join. With that, you’ll also be getting the low-down on the jobs, fellowships, and internships near you — all promising opportunities to partake in to expand your network and hone your skills.
4. Connect Beyond Your Peer Group
It may seem like a no-brainer to only network with those in your field: editors getting to know editors, animators reaching out to animators. But resist the urge! This might feel like a cliche but it really is beneficial to extend your network far and wide.
Say you’re a cinematographer — get to know casting directors, actors, and even non-film people! Not only will they expand your reach, but they’ll have projects and ideas unlike anyone else you know. And in terms of your professional growth, it’s greatly rewarding to understand various facets of the film industry, enriching what you bring to your own craft. Not to mention, you might be the only cinematographer they know, so you’ll be a go-to when they’re looking for anything related to your discipline.
5. Add Value & Give Back
You’ve probably heard the saying that networking is a two-way street. But how exactly do you give back? The first and most doable is to simply check in. Set a reminder on your calendar, and every 3 to 4 months or so, email your connections to ask how they’re doing. Be sure to include some of your own updates as well. This keeps a conversation naturally flowing, and shows that you’re genuinely interested in creating a meaningful relationship.
A second way is to make introductions and stay proactive when networking in the film industry. Don’t only be on the lookout for opportunities that fit you. If you catch wind of a great gig that just isn’t in your field, actively reach out to your network to see if anyone’s interested. Better yet, stay on top of everyone’s interests, and make an intro personally to, say, a director in need of an assistant producer.
6. Take Initiative for Networking in the Film Industry
It’s easy to forget in all the hubbub of attending various events and opportunities that you can organize your own get-togethers too. Have a group of friends from film school? Set up a weekly lunch date! Want to get to know your colleagues better? Suggest a dinner after the shoot! Sometimes, if you’re having trouble finding the right spaces to network, take the first step forward instead.
This applies to the micro-moments of networking as well. Be the first to say hi, ask a question, or offer your contact info. If you have work you’d love to show, don’t wait for someone to ask — bring it up instead. With a proactive approach, you’ll significantly expedite the growth of your network. Soon, people will know and trust you as the one who makes things happen.
These following opportunities are excellent launching pads for networking in the film industry and building your film and TV network:
CREATE Vancouver in Vancouver, BC
6IXCONNECTED Networking Event in Toronto, ON
CAFÉ (Conference, Animation, FX, and Expertise) Conference in Montreal, QC
Canadian International Comedy Film Festival in Winnipeg, MB
Vancouver International Film Festival in Vancouver, BC
Lavazza IncluCity Press Conference in Toronto, ON
Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto, ON