Sunday, April 18, 2010

FILMMAKING: Networking and Making Connections

This business is so much about who you know you have got to find out what your networking opportunities are. Though I've only started this pursuit in recent years I've learned there are many places, in "Regulartown USA," where you can make connections.

I live outside of Cleveland, Ohio and I am relatively new to the idea of making movies. So where the heck can a "regular guy" find connections so far from California? Right in my backyard. Chances are if you do some looking around near your major city you will find similar recources.

1. There is the Greater Cleveland Film Commission. It is here as a resource for filmmakers. They have a library of locations where you can shoot your film. You can browse or ask for help and they will provide a list, and photos, of locations that fit your bill. You can list yourself in their "Crew" section under whatever title you are qualified for, where others in need of your services can find you. They post the latest happenings in the area. One of the most significant opportunities that they have are "Media Industry Mixers" where people from all aspects of filmmaking and entertainment come together to meet and exchange names, abilities, and talk about projects. What a great way to network!

2. The Ohio Film Office was just recently established in Columbus to help filmmakers with similar information as the GCFC above. They also assist with the Motion Picture Tax Credit program that the State has. It's nice to get to know people at both of these establishments.

3. Craigslist. Yeah, craigslist. I found a composer that lives in the town I work in, Cal McCarthy. He graduated from college where he took film courses. He understands what I understand; until we are getting paid we need each other to get noticed. Because of this I have an amazing composer (his true love) to score my works and make them even better, and he has a medium for people to hear his musical talents so he can be noticed as well. He will also be assisting me with lighting, working a second camera, and a few other small duties in my short film. Together we are helping our careers along.

4. Skip Press has a number of books out on the subject of screenwriting and selling what you write. He also has a Yahoo group he mentions in his books where you can meet and talk with other aspiring writers as well as some that have had success. You will also find Skip in there regularly to provide some insight and to bring information on trends in the business. What a great place to network and meet a variety of people with the same interests and experience in the areas you are delving into. Their insight and help can be invaluable.

5. I called our local International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees union to see about joining as a Prop Maker. I was given a list of people; Line Producers, Set Decorators, people that make commercials locally, and more to email and/or call. I have contacted some of these people and they have been forthcoming with the local business situation. We also talked about the movie industry in general and learned about each other. These are more contacts in my networks and I also have the possibility of getting some work through them.

6. Social Networks. This one should be a no brainer. I have a Facebook account and I have made some gains by having it. I've been recruited as a Director of Photography for Ghostwalk Productions, LLC.; eventually to be a 3 book, 3 movie project with internet and live events planned as well. Here again, everyone is a volunteer looking to make something special in order to get our names out there, be associate with something significant, and make more connections. I've also made connections with an author and several others whom can provide advice or insight with my career as I go.

7. Youtube. Remember "Flight 405," the video about the plane landing on a highway, and the nose lands on an SUV. After the plane finally comes to a stop an old lady in an old car goes by giving the finger. What a great little 3 minute video, and the guy that made it, Bruce Branit, went on to make films and open his own special effects company that has done work for major films we all know. Make something that goes viral and you can be a houshold name around the world in days.

8. Local film festivals are another place where you can rub elbows and meet people in the industry. We have several in the Cleveland area every year. It might be the best kept secret where you live too.

So there are just some opportunities that are waiting for you, if you didn't know where to start. Chances are these kinds of resources are near you as well. Of course the internet is full of resources too, but I am just making this post to illustrate what might be in your backyard.

- Steve Olander
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  1. Way to work it Steve! I think a lot of people have this notion that in order to "make it" you need to live in Hollywood or NY - but it's just not true. As you stated - there are tons of options when you live out of state - it all comes down to how bad you want it! It's great of you to share this info and help inform people of some options!

  2. Yes Nikki, it was quite surprising to find out what has been going on in my backyard in regards to the film industry. Before getting into this I had no idea all this was available and happening.

  3. Good to hear about opportunities in your "own back yard". We all hear you must live in Los Angeles to make it in the movies and its scary not to believe it. On the other hand, its hard everywhere, and when you consider the multitudes who are in CA, maybe local starts would be better. Best wishes for success to all the hard workers who have chosen this profession!

  4. I think it's the same in any art field - for art it's always been - can you do it not living in New York/Santa Fe/La - movies in LA and theater not in New York/Chi-town/La - it's a question that will always be debated - pro(s) and con(s) on both sides of the question. The only thing that I truly feel is true - the internet has opened the field for a larger debate on the question itself ;-)

  5. I am sure there is a great advantage to being in Hollywood or NY that can't be beat anywhere else, but when you've gotta make do with what you've got, I was surprised to find what I did in my area. And I have had to make do with what I've got for the most part of my life.

    Hey, Steven Speilberg is from Cincinatti, Ohio. ;)

  6. Agreed Steve - it's do what you ca - where you can - you'll love the Q and A with Filmmaker of the Month - we ask him this specific question ;-)