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:
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.