Networking With Film Makers… how do you do it?

‘It’s not what you know, it’s WHO you know’ goes the cliché.

I know this is true and I kind of hate that fact. Surely talent trumps everything? I wish.

Consequently, a large part of the The Guerilla Film Makers Masterclass was about networking. About confronting fear, embarrassment and generally being British when it comes to mingling with strangers.

For me, I have seen so much talent held back over the years. By film makers who were not fully engaged with the concept of networking, or people who were at a geographic disadvantage.

So on the Guerilla Film Makers Masterclass I concocted a series of cunning plans to connect film makers, build community and spark creativity.

And so far it looks like it has worked extremely well. The first big thing we did was build a private delegate network, kind of our own private Facebook where we can share, connect and discuss. Since the weekend there is routinely 20 – 30 film makers in the network, chattering away and collaborating.

The next thing I did, over the duration of the course, was to actively encourage people to change their seats in every break. Then consider the person next to them as a possible collaborator, financier, perhaps even a mentor. This worked extremely well too, and before we knew it, entire new groups were springing up and heading out for dinner to discuss exciting new collaborations.

During the two days I shared many of my own life experiences on stage, some of which were painful to recount, others joyous, but all delivered hard won truths that I hoped our delegates would ‘get’.(Ben Jacobson emailed me ‘the story re meeting your girlfriend (that I heard in Leicester 2 months ago) helped me walk up to and speak to 50+ people over the weekend – which would have been unheard of a year ago. Thank you.’) To this end, one delegate, David Fisher,  emailed me this short story about his own fear of networking…

TighterheadshotcopyI thought you might be interested in the first lesson I learned this weekend, which came before my backside even landed on a Tuke Hall chair.

I’ve always been a bit reserved and British when it comes to networking and had resolved to change that this weekend. On Friday evening on the way to the pre workshop event I was walking through Regents Park and noticed two men trying to get into the college the back way, only to be directed by a member of staff to the front. I thought “I think they are going to the event, perhaps I should engage them in conversation as we walk around”, but my inner coward (treacherous little bastard that he is) piped up “well, it hasn’t started yet, my networking resolution doesn’t kick in until tomorrow” and I walked around to the gates in silence, conscious of them walking behind me.

After collecting my delegate card I was walking over to Tuke Hall and now found myself behind the same guys. I followed them as the person they were now with seemed to know where to go. As we walked into the corridor you were there and greeted them very warmly, while Judy (having now spotted me as a stray) directed me gently towards the other entrance.

I had just missed the chance to meet and chat with Gareth and David! By listening to that inner coward and not my instinct I had just passed up the opportunity to spend five or ten minutes in friendly conversation with the very two Oscar winners that we had turned up to see.

Great story David, and a reminder to us all to get out of our comfort zones and engage! Don’t EVER listen to that inner voice, it always has bad things to say.

Onwards and upwards!
Chris Jones
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