4 Reasons Community is the Most Important thing in Independent Film

Producer Foundry Meetup @ SFSDF

I’ve been running Producer Foundry for a bit over a year now, and I’ve learned quite a lot. By far, the most vital thing I’ve learned is that the most important asset any independent filmmaker has is their filmmaking community. One filmmaker is generally nothing to write home about, there are about 12,500 who graduate from film school every year in the US alone. But when we band together, that’s when amazing pieces of art happen. There are many reasons that your community can and will make or break your career, four of which I’ve listed below.

1.Your Community will help you get your film made

If you show up to one event expecting to get your entire crew and have them work for free, you’re probably out of luck. However, if you take the time to become a real part of your filmmaking community. But if you take the time to be a real, tangible fixture in your community then people are far more likely to jump on and crew your project.

I’ve said before that this industry relies heavily on social capital. If you build a strong community and know as many people as you can, then you’re more likely to get to the people you need to know through connections you’ve made within the community.

2. Your Community will help you find work.

Many working filmmakers and distributors will go to people they know first because they know they can get the job done. Having been VP of Biz Dev for a startup in the recruiting space, I can tell firsthand how hard it is for people in all industries to find the staff they need. In any industry, finding talent is a full time job. Many top companies pay as much as 2 months salary to a recruiter for finding a good staff member.

Being an active part of your film community will mean you have more connections so that when there’s work to be had, you’re more likely to get a call. If Debbie needs an AD, she’s going to call someone she’s worked with before. If that person is busy, they’ll recommend someone else they know. If you know both of those people from your networking within the film industry, then you might be the person getting that call.

3.Your Community will make your film better

Collaboration is necessary to make quality independent films. Not only will becoming an active part of your film community allow you to network with the best crew in your area, it will also give you people you can show your script to, get critique on your cuts, and generally make your project better. Constructive criticism and feedback greatly improve the quality of any project, and being an active part of your film community will give you a network of people you can go to and get that feedback. Which brings me to my next point.

4.Your Community will make you a better filmmaker.

As you critique other filmmaker’s work and learn to understand the style of others in your community, it will help you develop your style. Artists learn from each other and are influenced by each other. This has been true for all the best artists throughout the ages.

In fact, the entire Impressionist movement was started from a small community of artists including Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, Sisley, Cézanne, Berthe Morisot, andEdgar Degas. The group would meet and discuss their work, politics, and the art of the day at Café Guerbois in Paris. At the time, the group was misunderstood and widely considered untalented. Tired of being rejected from Paris’ famed Salon, the group of intrepid artists formed Société Anonyme Coopérative des Artistes Peintres, Sculpteurs, Graveurs(“Cooperative and Anonymous Association of Painters, Sculptors, and Engravers”) to exhibit their artworks independently. This action gave birth to one of the most influential styles of art the world has yet known.

I’m not saying every community will give birth to a new movement, but if you help your friends and community members with their projects, you may see solutions to their ideas that they never would have thought of. They’ll do the same for you, which will help to define, refine, and develop the style of the entire community.

If you want to be more active in your film community, check out Producer Foundry on Facebook, Meetup, YouTube, Twitter, and On The Web. If you’re in the Bay Area, learn to budget from the UPM of Blue Jasmine and Big Eyes at the Build A Better Film Budget – Primer Workshop, and Check out our February Townhallfeaturing Entertainment Attorney Daniel Riviera.

If you like my writing, Follow me on Twitter, or buy my book The Guerrilla Rep: American Film Market Distribution Success on No Budget on Amazon!