Networking is essential to building a successful career in the film industry. Whether you're a filmmaker, actor, writer, or any other type of creative professional, making connections and building relationships are crucial for advancing your career. The film industry is highly competitive, and having a solid network of colleagues, mentors, and collaborators can help you stand out from the crowd and open doors to new opportunities. However, networking can be intimidating, especially if you're just starting out. In this blog, I'll share my top five tips and strategies for effective networking in the film industry, so you can maximize your opportunities as you advance in your career.
Attend industry events: One of the best ways to network in the film industry is to attend industry events, such as film festivals, conferences, and screenings. These events provide an excellent opportunity to meet and connect with people in the industry. Some of these cost money to go to but there are also many free meet and greets you can attend.
Use social media: Social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter can also be useful for networking in the film industry. Follow people in your field and engage with their posts to start building relationships. It is also very beneficial to connect with people online after meeting them in person. It provides both people with future opportunities to collaborate and support each other. Spend a little bit of time interacting with the industry connections you've made by commenting on their posts, tagging each other, or reposting other people's work and catching up with the people you haven’t seen in a while. I’ve been on projects where the director asks me if I know anyone good for the other roles and I can instantly think of a list of different people I have in my network to recommend.
Attend film schools: Film schools are a great place to meet other aspiring filmmakers and industry professionals. You can also take advantage of the resources and networking opportunities provided by the school. A few good places to go to in Albuquerque are Story Quest Studios, Act Up, and The Box. You can follow them on social media as well to stay on the lookout for any events they may be hosting.
Join industry organizations: Joining industry organizations, such as the Producers Guild of America, the Directors Guild of America, or the Screen Actors Guild, can help you meet other professionals in your field. Facebook also has a lot of great industry groups that would be good to join including the Talent Managers for Actors group by Wendy Alane Wright, or the Focus on New Mexico Film and TV Network by Stephanie Piché, and the Southwest Film Collaborative by Tom Hobbs. If you really want to take networking seriously, join the overflow list for the IASTE 480 union and start working on film sets. You may have a specific department you prefer but when you first start it's good to get experience from a couple of different ones so you can meet all sorts of different people on set. You never know who you might run into that would be a great addition to your next project, or vice versa!
Volunteer: Volunteering on film sets or for film festivals is another way to network and gain experience in the industry. This can lead to connections and opportunities down the road. I’ve booked acting roles in many different student capstone shorts which don't pay, but it's a great way to get more acting experience, footage for your reel, and meet a whole crew of aspiring artists who will be running the industry tomorrow. No matter where you go, you are setting an example of yourself and how you will behave on set. Show people you are diligent and reliable so they remember you the next time they need to hire someone for that big dream job.
Remember, networking takes time and effort, so be patient and persistent. Also, be sure to have business cards and a demo reel to showcase your work and skills. I always keep a box of business cards in my car so that I can grab some before going anywhere and connect with anyone I might meet out in the world. The film industry is not just about who you know that can get you that next big job, it's about how we can help support each other and get there together.
In conclusion, networking is an essential component of success in the film industry. By following these five steps, you can meet and connect with other professionals in your field, gain valuable experience, and open doors to new opportunities. However, networking is a continuous effort that takes time and persistence. Remember that networking is not just about getting ahead in your career, it's about supporting each other and building a community of creatives that can help each other succeed. You are your own brand, and your social media should reflect that, along with the way you behave and interact with anyone you come across in public.
Daniel Ward is an actor, writer, and contestant of Broadway Bound Live Season 2 and can be contacted on Twitter @wordsofward34 or Instagram @wardledorp