There’s that dirty, overused word again: networking.
When we filmmakers think of “networking,” it often conjures up images of snippy socialites giving backhanded compliments and kissing the butts of wealthy patrons. It’s a despicable and soul-crushing game, one that only rewards people who are already “in” with the right crowd.
Real filmmakers don’t need to network–their art speaks for itself.
Maybe that works for Banksy.
Breaking relationships down to their basics, we will always find the same fundamental set of instructions no matter who is under the microscope. Humans want to be noticed, appreciated and last but not least want to be challenged… not revered. Stroking someone’s ego can only get you so far, but practicing sincerity can take you even further.
The film industry is often times mysterious and monolithic, but taking a genuine interest in your fellow filmmaker can do wonders for melting away that illusion. Becoming and remaining aware of the people one step ahead, one step behind and/or one step to the left or right from you is key: it keeps your spidey senses tingling, gives you creative context and can make your career path feel less intimidating.
When you think of networking, instead of imagining some stuffy cocktail party full of hob nobbery and butt kissery, just imagine what your peers (or even your idols) are up to and think of all the hard work they must be putting in to get themselves to where they want to be. Humanize them for gosh sake!
Remember these basic tenets on your way to the top:
- Focus on the work. Try not to be distracted by imagining an audience booing or applauding you, just get it done! Creativity is a process of evolution, not a black & white dinner party.
- Enjoy the challenge. You must, above all else, grow and change. Never fall victim to an inflated ego after accomplishing something you are proud of, or to a deflated ego after failure. Keep on moving!
- Your peers are not your enemies. Do not be fooled into thinking others must fail for you to succeed, because holding others down and wishing for their destruction will only certainly hurt you in the end.
True networking begins by cultivating a positive and encouraging state of mind toward those around you. If you see someone doing something awesome and being rewarded for it, you should think “hooray!” instead of “boo hiss, they can go jump off a cliff for all I care,” because when you do finally start meeting “the right people”… you’re going to need something to talk about other than how great you are and how terrible someone else is.
Remember that success is not about waiting for someone to hand you a golden ticket so you can laugh at the loser next to you who didn’t get one, because to be a winner… you cannot be surrounded by losers.