Networking

How to Network in the Film Production World

In reference to leaving his day job and surrounding himself with other filmmakers to perfect his craft, the great Tarantino once said, “if you run the hundred-yard dash with people much faster than you, yeah you might come last, but your time will be better than winning against slower competition.” Producing a film is far from a solitary feat and the ability to learn from others is a basic, albeit critical, part of improvement. So, what better way to increase your chances of success in an industry that practically invented the saying “it’s all about who you know”, than networking?

Here are a few tips on how to get started:

Social Media

Just as instinctive as it may be to utilize a dance studio to learn how to dance, one should similarly consider social networking sites for – as the name suggests – networking. When even the most introverted of all introverts is merely a click, swipe, and/or double-tap away from deep-diving into the biggest room full of people: otherwise known as the Internet, ‘tis indeed a great time to be alive.

Sites like LinkedIn are a sure-fire way to get connected to those who share your professional interests, but there are some other lesser-known networking sites specifically catered to professionals in film and media. Sites like Shooting People share similarities with LinkedIn, whereby users’ profiles are more like extensive portfolios; but unlike the latter, they have a strong emphasis on collaboration and allow users to work on one another’s projects. Similarly, Movidiam and Mandy.com cater specifically to those in film and media and also provide a great platform for finding work.

That said, don’t underestimate the connective power of mainstream sites like Facebook. Joining industry-specific groups is key. Not only will these groups give you access to a supportive community of fellow producers and filmmakers to learn from, but once you turn your event notifications on, it’s on!

Events

Social media might allow for reach and immediacy, but there’s a real gravitas in the connection between human beings in the flesh that cannot possibly be translated or outweighed by virtual alternatives. However, using social media to get you these face-to-face meetings is crucial. Once you’re following key industry people and are part of several online communities, invitations to industry events are going to be commonplace. Use this! Do as successful producer Jane Applegate does and “…attend as many mixers and workshops as possible” – something she swears by when prompted on the value of networking.

Intern, Volunteer, and Gain Experience

Find production companies, film festivals, and film shoots that will accept interns or volunteers. Do what you can — run errands, grab coffee, anything. Exposing yourself to every bit of the filmmaking process in live action will only increase your knowledge on producing films in the real world; whilst offering valuable industry connections and great career prospects.

Make Friends

Networking differs from the act of making friends in that its main purpose is to increase your arsenal for career advancement. The act of making friends, however, has a genuine intention behind it and something rarely synonymous with the entertainment industry – longevity. Authentic connections between likeminded people can stand the test of time and be of great benefit to all parties involved. Take advantage of being a student at NYFA where you’re constantly surrounded by others who share your passion for film and reach out to classmates. You never know, the friends you make in class may just be the same ones standing beside you on the stage as you give your Oscars speech.

Listen. Be Humble. Be Kind.

None of the aforementioned strategies will ever be of use to you without practicing these throughout:

Listen – people are most susceptible to giving their best if they feel they’re being heard. Listening to others will only ever open your mind up to more opportunities.

Be humble – as Socrates says, “the only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” Everyone can teach you something if you’re open to it.

Be kind – positivity breeds positivity and people react accordingly. The best way to create an atmosphere you can prosper in is to give what you wish to receive. Plus, it just feels good to be kind!

So, go forth with these in mind and you’re bound for success. Happy networking!

8 Tips for Getting 1K Instagram Followers in One Month

From ambitious models and actors to small businesses across the globe, everyone is discovering Instagram’s tremendous usefulness in today’s competitive world. The popular social media platform boasts millions of active monthly users and has numerous features that benefit marketers, including the ability to show off your brand and talk to your audience.

There are tried-and-true tips all over the net that can help you find more success on Instagram. If your goal is to earn at least 1,000 more followers in a month, give this a try:

  1. Follow and study the competition.

There’s nothing wrong with checking out other accounts in your industry to see what they’re doing. This includes looking at how often they post, the hashtags they use, what kind of content they post, etc. The goal isn’t to completely copy their strategy, but to jot down what’s working for them and apply the best of it to your own plans.

  1. Become a hashtag master.

A great way to catch people’s attention is by being fun and creative with your hashtag use. You’ll also get more people to see you if you join in on trending hashtags that are receiving tons of attention at the time.

But most important of all, make sure you use hashtags that apply to you and what you’re about. If musical theater is your thing, make sure videos of you singing have hashtags that will draw others interested in the same things.

  1. Network, Instagram style.

Although things like college degrees and experience are important, a lot of people believe there’s nothing like a good connection to land a job. In a way, this idea can also apply when going for more Instagram followers quickly.

The trick is to frequently interact with the most popular influencers in your industry in hopes that you become one of their favorite followers. Make sure to activate your “Turn On Post Notifications” feature so you’re always among the first to post.

  1. Cross-promote on other platforms.

From Facebook and Pinterest to Twitter and YouTube, perhaps there’s a chance you already have another social media account with a few or more follows. Drive traffic from those accounts to your Instagram by frequently sharing your best posts in order to catch their attention. Chances are the people who follow you on other platforms also have an Instagram account as well.

  1. Go viral via Instagram Stories.

The Explore page on Instagram is an awesome feature that can earn you an unexpected level of likes and follows. This is because your stories have the possibility of being show on other accounts based on what kinds of posts and accounts you like/follow. For this to happen you have to create fun, engaging Stories that usually target a specific space.

  1. Make your profile stand out.

Recognition is all about infusing your Instagram with your own personality and visual style. Your profile theme and bio should be unique enough to stand out from the crowd while also doing a good job of representing who you are and what kind of content you like sharing. Although short, your bio will give readers a clear impression of what you’re about and hopefully convince them to follow you.

  1. Run contests and giveaways.

If there’s one thing everyone looks to get, it’s free goodies. Running a giveaway that lasts a few days and requires interacting with your account is a solid way to gain exposure and earn more followers.

A popular strategy is to run a contest in partnership with another influencer, setting up the rules so that people need to follow both accounts in order to be entered to win. It also helps if the gifts are related to your industry, such as giving away a free game or Gamestop gift card if you’re trying to create hype for your own upcoming title.

  1. Don’t skip out on videos.

Photo posts are a powerful tool when it comes to growing your Instagram following — actors should definitely post new headshots or production photos often, and with the right hashtags.

However, it’s hard to argue with all the stats out there pointing to videos as being the best type of content for earning more followers. This makes sense considering that a static image will rarely be as attention-grabbing as moving video with sound and voice, so make sure to mix up your images with videos.

What’s your best advice for growing your Instagram followers? Let us know in the comments below! And learn more about the visual and performing arts at the New York Film Academy.

5 Steps to a Better TIFF Experience

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Now that we’ve closed the Toronto International Film Festival 2016, it’s a great time to pause and reflect on what we’ve learned and how we can apply that to future film festivals and industry events. Attending TIFF, by day three I was seeing attendees with dark circled eyes from lack of sleep, humpbacked from the weight of all their gear, and pausing on the street to rub at their sore feet. With so much to see, not just at the festival but throughout Toronto, it can be difficult to convince oneself to invest in self-care. But with a 10 day long festival, ignoring your body could mean you miss out.

Try our 10 steps to a better TIFF next year — and try these out at any other festivals, industry mixers, and special events this season!

Get Good Walking Shoes

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Toronto International Film Festival is spread over about six miles. And, yes, public transportation is great. It’s fast, reliable, and inexpensive. But after about 10:30 a.m. the busses start to fill up. If you’re attending the festival as a film buff this won’t be a problem. But if you’re showing a film, photographing an event, or attending an event promoting your film, you’ll be hauling gear or wearing fancy clothes — and you might want to skip the bus.  You could order a taxi or an Uber, but that cost will climb quickly.

So, what are you to do?

Strap on your best shoes and get ready to walk. For TIFF, I recommend arriving a day before the festival. Pick up a map at the convention center. Then hit every theater on the map. Learn the shortcuts through parks, which streets will be blocked off, and where the rush lines will be formed. This information will make the next 10 days a breeze and your FitBit will think you’ve transformed into a tri-athlete.

The universally applicable takeaway? For any industry event, make sure you know where you’re going, how to get there, and a backup plan of how to get there — then allow plenty of extra time.

Make a Plan But Don’t Marry It

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As previously stated, there’s a lot to do once you get to TIFF. Do yourself a favor and make a plan.

TIFF provides a color coded calendar on their website labeling each event. There are little descriptions in the calendar. Circle every event you hope to attend. Then place every event in a Google Calendar or a travel calendar you can have on you at all times. I prefer Google Calendar because it can send you an alert 10, 15, or 20 minutes before the event. If you place the location of the screening or event in the calendar you can also use Google Maps to navigate instantly, if you skipped step number one.

Now that you’ve cured your fear of missing out, be prepared to chuck the entire plan. Listen, when you’re walking around the Toronto International Film Festival you’re going to find so much to do. This year Express set up a pop up clothing store, Lindor released a new candy and were giving out bags for free, McDonald’s gave out free coffee accompanied by a live DJ performance, and Pure Leaf gave out thousands of samples of their tea. There were free concerts and red carpets and local street performers. Downtown Toronto is lined with the mouthwatering smells spilling out of restaurants.

Don’t miss an amazing opportunity to explore something new.  The universal takeaway for any industry event: plan ahead, but be open to surprises.

Hydrate and Eat

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This may sound like common sense advice, but it’s so easy to forget that each day at a festival is like two days in your normal life. With concerts, free food, speakers, conferences, and, of course, film, there’s something to do from sun up to sundown. The fear of missing out is real.

If you decide to follow our first rule, you’ll be walking back and forth all day.

Dehydration leads to fatigue, which means you’ll be moving slower and thinking slower — not a good look if you’re trying to present your work. A good rule of thumb is to keep a bottle of water in your bag. Before you leave the theater, fill up at the water fountain. Try to drink two bottles of water a day and you’ll be ahead of the crowd.

With so much to do it’s likely your adrenalin will get pumping. It’s difficult at times to slow down to eat, but luckily there are so many restaurants around town. King Street is littered with cuisine from around the world. Money won’t be an issue. There are street carts selling everything from hot dogs to falafel. Restaurants range from Canadian favorite Tim Horton’s to Starbucks to McDonald’s on the cheaper side to high end seafood restaurants and everything in between.

Universal takeaway for any industry event: hydrate and eat. You’ll want to be at your best, and you need fuel.

Do More Than The Festival – Meet the Locals

 

Toronto is an amazing city. Apparent in their architecture, they’ve managed to fuse the old with the new. Pockets of communities surround the downtown area. The Entertainment district is right downtown. Here you’ll find film financiers, publishers, and distributors. Head over to Kensington Market to explore vintage clothes shopping, classic coffee houses, and beautiful street art.

If there’s one stereotype that’s true about Canada, it’s that the people here are incredibly friendly. Even in the financial district it’s not uncommon to stop and strike up a conversation with curious locals. By sitting down with citizens, you can learn about hole in the wall dining, shortcuts, and, best of all, local events. Just because TIFF is in full swing doesn’t mean Toronto is slowing down. The Blue Jays are in the middle of an amazing series, the World Beach Volleyball Tournament is taking place, and soon the World Hockey Games will be kicking off. Locals can give you insight into the secret world behind TIFF.  

Universal takeaway for any industry event: focus on the people and chat with the locals, and you’ll likely discover something incredible.

NETWORK!

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Everyone who is anyone attends these festivals. You never know to whom you’re talking, so be sure to ask. As I stood in the rush line for Netflix’s new show, “ARQ,” I struck up a conversation with a woman in line. We talked about the films we saw and which were our favorites, and then we began to talk about what we do. She said she was industry but when I pried a little further, it turned out she was a huge producer. She was At TIFF trying to make deals with Netflix, supporting friends, and locking in actors. We had such a good time she invited me, and a guest, to an industry event the same night. All this came because I turned around in a rush line to ask a question.

Universal takeaway for any industry event: you never know who you might meet. Really.

That’s it. Those are the essential rules to a better TIFF. If you weren’t at TIFF try applying these tips to other industry events. If you’re attending a play don’t be afraid to explore the area around the theater. Turn to the person next to you in line and ask them about their day. Come with a plan, but be ready to embrace the moment. You never know what you might find.

The Best Places For Actors To Be Seen In LA

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Paparazzi, autograph hounds, and Hollywood socialites flock to the busy, over-priced clubs and bars on the Sunset Strip in hopes of meeting a famous face but that’s not what this article is about. In the film industry, networking is an important part of advancing one’s career, especially if you are an actor. Now, for the actor, networking means to build relationships with working industry professionals with whom you may work in the future. Simply put, the more people you know, the more friendships you can create, the wider your net becomes, and the more likely you are to land work.

Where to Network in LA

Here are some ideas of places to meet other artists, filmmakers, writers, and maybe even a future studio chief.

Acting Classes and Workshops

At an acting class, actors have the chance to meet and work with other actors while improving at the craft of acting. Many agents, casting directors and acting teachers offer classes workshops regularly. Enrolling in a good acting class is one of the first things that all LA actors should do. Be sure to do your research before committing to any course because scams abound in Hollywood. Reputable institutions like the New York Film Academy and teachers with proven track records are good places to start in your search for the right arena of study.

Auditions and Casting Calls

What better place to network than in the casting room with a director or CD? It seems so obvious, but many actors forget that one of the best places to be seen is at film and theater auditions because you have the opportunity to converse and show what you can do. Attending auditions regularly keeps the skills fresh, gets your name and face out into the industry, and is the only proven way to get more acting jobs.

Agents do some of the work for more established actors, but part of the responsibility still falls on the actor. Scour audition callboards like LA Actors Circle Facebook page and Backstage to find applicable roles, apply, and audition. You never know who you might meet in the room!

Networking Events

You aren’t the only LA actor looking for networking opportunities, and that hasn’t gone unnoticed. There are tons of pre-scheduled networking events put on by various organizations that are meant to connect industry professionals with others who work in entertainment. The trick is to find the events that suit your needs.

Ideas of places to learn about networking events are local Facebook groups, alumni groups, and union web pages including SAG and AEA. These are more formal events and everyone goes for the purposes of meeting people, but act professionally and seek friendships rather than being a rapid-fire resume-handing machine.

The Theater

“I regard the theater as the greatest of all the art forms.” – Oscar Wilde

Mr. Wilde was perhaps the most prolific English writer of his time and his plays are still produced the world around and his quotes are famous for their quips of wisdom. In terms of networking, the theater is an excellent place to meet actors and directors because there is so many crossovers between the theater and film communities. Additionally, the theater can be more accessible to aspiring actors because of the many ways to get involved.

Most theaters have volunteer ushers who receive free tickets in exchange for help with seating patrons. As mentioned above, acting and auditioning in the theater is a great way to meet new artists, but just attending and talking with other audience members can lead to new industry relationships.

Los Angeles is a big city but don’t let the daunting size and stop you from networking as an actor. Start small, build a core group of friends and co-workers, and expand from there. Eventually, as you advance in your career, networking will become much easier and a natural part of life as an actor.

Learn more about the School of Acting at the New York Film Academy by clicking here.

How To Break Into The Game Industry In Three Basic Steps

Author: Chris Swain, Chair, Game Design Department, New York Film Academy

Break Into the Game Industry

First, the good news: the game industry continues to grow as more and more people turn to interactive entertainment on their phones, tablets, handhelds, consoles, and PCs. The top grossing category in the Apple App Store and Google App Store is games. All this means that demand for talented and passionate game designers is as high as ever.

Now the not so good news: Lots of people want those dream jobs. There are a handful of best practices that differentiate the people who break in and those who don’t.

Best Practice: Portfolio

The number one thing that will help you break into the game industry is proof that you can build good games. To do that, first make a personal website at yourname.com. Next, start posting your projects to your site.

With portfolio sites ‘more is more’. That means post your pictures of your paper prototypes, links to your mods, design notes, concept art, and anything else that shows that you are a real builder.

Pro tip 1: Playable games count much more than concepts. If you can make your game play in the browser (versus as an EXE) more people will actually play it. Likewise, providing game play videos of your projects will make it easy for prospective hires to see your work.

Pro tip 2: The people who want to hire you are really busy and won’t play more than a few minutes of any one of your games. That means it is better to make a variety of short games than one long game.

Best Practice: Network

Starting right after you read this post start a LinkedIn profile. Then, add your portfolio site to it. It’s okay if you don’t have much work in it at first. Networking takes time.

Next, join a number of LinkedIn game groups and become an active participant.

Finally, go to Meetups, IGDA events, game conferences, and any other events where game developers congregate. If those things don’t exist in your town then start your own Meetup. If you can’t afford to get into a conference then a) contact the organizers about being a volunteer conference associate and/or b) lobby crash.

Even getting a gig as a volunteer takes time and is competitive, so look at the calendar of events for the coming year and start contacting people now. “Lobby crash” means hanging out in the lobby and talking to people. You will find out about parties and events.

Pro tip 1: Get business cards printed that include the URL to your portfolio site. Do not get cheap paper. High quality cards are available at low cost these days from online printers. It’s economical to order small runs of cards – e.g. a box of 100 at a time. Check out Moo.com, 4over4.com, and Overnightprints.com for prices and design templates.

Pro tip 2: Every time you meet a game developer give her a business card and follow up with a LinkedIn request. I mean every single time. In short order you will have a legit network that you can call on for job recommendations, informational interviews, internships, etc.

Best Practice: Hard Skills

The fact is people with hard computer skills have an easier time getting jobs than those who don’t. Examples of hard skills are Adobe Tools, programming languages, SCRUM master certifications, etc.

The reason is that when companies are hiring for entry level jobs they want you to help them execute on their vision for a game. Much later – once you are established in a company – you can be the one that comes up with the vision. In the meantime, being able to show that you have hard skills – on your portfolio site – will differentiate you from the competition.

 

Image Source: H.Adam