Networking tips for Filmmakers
Wendy Mitchell Head of Screen International and Christine Hartland director of Mosaic Networking shared their insider secrets with filmmakers at Met Film School’s recent masterclass. Filmmaking is about teamwork, so meeting like-minded individuals to make your project happen is key.
Wendy Mitchell and Christine Hartland speaking at Met Film School
Wendy Mitchell, Head of Screen International and Christine Hartland, Director of Mosaic Networking provided students at Met Film School with a masterclass on the art of networking and here are their top tips:
- Try attending networking events aimed at filmmakers. Mosaic Networking for example, runs networking events a few times a year during key festivals such as the London Short Film Festival, the East End Film Festival and the Soho Rushes Film Festival. Making face-to-face connections is key even in today’s digital world. Both Wendy and Christine feel online networking via platforms such as Twitter can help you put yourself out there, but meeting people in person allows you to the opportunity to make more of an impact.
- Making a first impression is important. If you meet someone who for example, could commission your script, don’t push your material on them the minute you meet the, you probably won’t get the best response from this approach! Listen to conversations and find a natural opening for you to join into a conversation. Watch other people’s behaviour and remember people are out because they do want to meet other people. It’s often not worth focusing on speaking to the most important person in the room, who everyone is trying to, but to network more generally. However, don’t think you need to talk to everyone. If you spend an hour talking to one person, that could be someone who becomes a great friend in the future. If you’re shy, it’s worth speaking to the host to help you get introduced to people, or considering going with a friend to an event for moral support.
- Film Festivals provide great networking opportunities for filmmakers generally. It’s easy to speak to someone before or after a film screening at the London Film Festival, for example. You have the opportunity to speak about the film providing a natural conversation opening. It’s worth starting networking at smaller festivals, Encounters in Bristol is a very intimate friendly festival and Sheffield Documentary Festival has an amazing social element. Edinburgh Film Festival also has a good vibe. The larger festivals can be harder and they would not suggest you start networking initially at Cannes. It’s better to go there with some initial contacts. In addition, don’t dismiss junior people you meet at festivals. Volunteers at the festival can provide you with useful info and you don’t know where someone will be next. Also don’t get hung up on the opening night party, the whole festival provides networking opportunities. For example, at Sundance Film Festival, people most often than not meet and become friends on the event shuttle buses.
- Try to follow up with people when you say you will. Try to make notes, for example on your phone to remind yourself to follow up. Often you meet so many people at festivals there’s no way you’ll remember everyone. If you make notes about people it will help you follow up effectively If you’re forgetful, but you do want to speak to someone again, ask others to follow up with you too.
- The key thing is not to just contact people, you meet when you need something!Networking is it’s about building relationships. When you get someone’s card, keep in touch with them, let them know what you’re doing and find out what they’re doing. Ask for their advice and provide advice too. Build a two-way relationship rather than provide a contact with a “hard sell”. Ultimately look to build friendships not just professional relationships.
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