Lessons Learned in L.A.

My recent trip to Shriekfest was supposed to be about networking with other filmmakers, producers and potential investors. While I did do some networking (and gnoshing) with fellow filmmakers Paul Yoo, William Lu and David Shin, I felt like a fish out of water at the two Shriekfest screenings I attended. After some reflection, I’ve come to these conclusions to make my next outing more productive:

  1. Plan ahead – what are you trying to accomplish on this trip? Have you done your research and legwork to make sure you connect with the people who can help you?
  2. Be prepared – a variation on #1. Do you have your pitch ready? If you have 2 minutes of a producer’s time, will your glorious script grab their attention or will they wish you luck and move on?
  3. Choose the right festivals – if a festival is focused on a specific genre – do you work in that genre? Are you enthusiastic about it? When you watch the films at a particular festival, how would you feel about your work in juxtaposition to the other films you are seeing?
  4. Be open to speaking to people who may not be in a position to help now. I’ve learned so much from other people who are also starting out. We’re dealing with the same issues – commiserate, encourage and stay in touch. When you have a time when you are feeling a little overwhelmed or discouraged, these are the people who can help you understand that it is not you it is just the way this highly competitive business works.
  5. Be honest with yourself about your work – if you are having trouble explaining a script to someone else, is there a problem with the script? We get close to the work we do and can turn a blind eye to glaring problems in the concept or execution. A great story should be easy for you to pitch enthusiastically.
  6. Have fun – you don’t do this for the money – at least not yet anyway. Enjoy the cast of characters you meet from writers to actors to producers to directors to film lovers.
  7. Celebrate your own victories – finishing a script is a major accomplishment. So many people out there are talking about being a writer or a filmmaker. Sitting down and DOING the work to get there is something to be proud of.
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One Response to “Lessons Learned in L.A.”

  1. Good Outline of Plan Of Action for Festivals Tom.

    LA, NYC and Toronto are tough towns for films fests and you DO have to find the right one that will give you time and acknowledgment for the work completed as well as any in progress.

    It’s all about, preparedness, attitude (an open one not a diva one), and networking. And networking really means talking to everyopne, not just the “ilk’ that others think you should be schmoozing.

    I loved your bus ride story in your other blog post. It’s a short filmwaiting to be written…

    Keep those spirits high!

    (ooops, I see I posted rather than previewed Tom Please post this one)

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