Photo credit: Griffspix
Networking is a major component of success in the film (or any) industry. We often hear people say “it’s not what you know, but who you know”. There is a bit of truth in this. In order to gain traction an actor must develop and expand their network. The Internet provides us with opportunities to network in a way that wasn’t possible a few years ago.
I recommend setting a goal of a minimum of 2 new connections per month. The goal is to have ongoing dialogue with your new business contact. This is a small goal, but results in 24 new contacts a year at even the lowest effort.
Use search engines to find content and contact info of people in the industry. Don’t limit your search, but try to find people that are actually involved in the types of projects you’d like to involve yourself in. Search for things you’re passionate about. That makes this whole process fun.
Do not bother people about matters that are inappropriate to contact them about. (read that sentence again) Do bring value. Do bring a willingness to learn. Show gratitude for even the smallest of gestures.
Some of the types of content you’ll search for:
After you find content you enjoy, look for the email addresses of the people involved.
For a moment let’s just pretend you’re a huge science fiction fan. There’s lots of indie science fiction shorts, webseries and features on the internet. Let’s say you stumble across a great sci fi short film on YouTube and it just so happens that the filmmakers have left an email address. Reach out to them. I’d start the email off something like….
I really enjoyed your (work/film/portrayal) in the short film (film title). I admire what you were able to accomplish. I know that you place tremendous value on your time, so I’ll be brief.
During the process of making (movie title) did you find that (thing you’re curious about)? I’ve been asking this to a small handful of filmmakers/actors that I truly admire in order to gain a stronger understanding of (curiosity you have). I understand you’re probably busy and don’t have time to answer this question with too much detail, but any tidbits of wisdom would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks in advance
When they reply-
“Thank you so much. I will apply (info/action) at the first opportunity. I’m in your debt. Would you mind if, sometime down the line, I emailed you other questions that I may have? I’ll be sure to limit them to only the most important. Your expertise on (filmmaking subject) is invaluable. Thanks in advance.”
Naturally, you’ll want to use your own words, but the point of this is to strike up a conversation. Keep them talking about themselves over time. Find out what you have in common. Eventually you’ll have a person that’s willing to help you along and perhaps you may even be able to help them. This also makes your name more familiar in the industry. You will gain pertinent information that you can take action on. Some will contact you back, some won’t. Some reply fast, some reply slow. Just hit “send” and don’t worry about it.
One of my students, that used this strategy, was able to start a conversation with someone at a major studio.