From Coummunity/Audiece Creation

7 Ways to become a Leader in Your Filmmaking (Or Any) community

Photo copyright Producer Foundry 2014, taken by Evan Pleger
Photo copyright Producer Foundry 2014, taken by Evan Pleger

In any community, there are members who get more done than others. Some people rise to the top of the pile, while others tread water and don’t move their projects forward. Some people are only tolerated in their community, while others become leaders. It’s not random, the people who become community leaders do certain things to set themselves apart from the pack.

Successful entrepreneurs and filmmakers have a way of becoming leaders in their communities. The qualities required for both are remarkably similar. What are those qualities you ask? Fear not my intrepid reader, what follows is a list of the 7 ways to become a leader in your filmmaking (or any) community.

1. Show up.

The old adage of half the battle being showing up is very true. If you always show up, then the community will begin to know you. After a while, you’ll become a face. You’ll get to know the other members of the community. If you’re always there then the organizers will eventually trust you with more responsibility. As you become more ingrained in the community, you will naturally figure out how the community functions. Once you know how the community functions, you can begin to become a leader within it.

2. Learn People’s Names

I’ll admit that I’m kind of bad at this one, but it really does make a difference. When you can greet a person by their name, then you’re going to forge a much better connection and business relationship with them. It can be hard to remember everyone’s names when you meet a lot of people at a networking event, but it really is worth the time and mental energy.

3. Actively participate

If you want to become a leader, you need to be noticed. It’s been said that only about 1 in 10 members of a community actively create content for it. If you sit in a corner and mess around on your phone, no one is going to notice you. If you ask intelligent questions, you become a part of the conversation. Take the time to actively participate, and you’ll be amazed what it will do for your career.

4. Connect Both Online and Offline

If you only see members of your community once a month at whatever event you all frequent, your ties to them won’t be that strong. Assuming we’re talking about a professional community, connecting on linkedin will be the best place to do this. Google Plus and Twitter can also be good. Once you’ve known someone for a while, facebook might not be a bad idea but you might want to add them to different lists in order to keep your personal and professional lives separate.

5. Don’t make it all about you.

The essence of community is being a part of something larger than yourself. Unfortunately, many people only take part in communities because they feel like they can get something out of it for their own personal projects. If you focus not only on your needs, but the needs of others, then you’re going to be able to get a lot farther in your community. Successful people never forget the ones who helped them get there. Not everyone you help will be successful, but if you help enough people then some of them will.

6. Help others before you ask for help.

If you have the resources and ability to help someone, you should. Time is one of those resources, so I’m not saying let your own projects or health fall by the wayside. However, helping people is key to building social capital. As I mentioned in my last blog on community, social capital is necessary to getting things done. This is especially true in the Film Industry.

7. Celebrate the successes of your community

If something good happens to someone in your community, celebrate it. Be happy for your community members who find success. Being envious of people for their achievements will prevent you from furthering your own goals. Negativity only creates more negativity. Luckily, the same can be said for positivity. If something big happens within the community, then share it. Revel in it. Take pride that you’re part of a community that is making things happen.

People remember how others respond to their success. Having found some level of success myself, I can tell you far too many respond with envy. They respond by tearing you down because they feel threatened by your success. Those people are toxic, and you need to associate yourself with people who will celebrate your successes. The only way to surround yourself with those types of people is to be one yourself.

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!

Film Insight Season 2 Episode 5: Maya Zuckerman on Transmedia

Maya TransmediaRandy and Ben welcome Maya Zuckerman, co-founder of TransmediaSF, to answer the question, “what is transmedia?” and why every filmmaker needs to pay attention to this way of thinking about their projects.

Hosted and Produced by Ben Yennie and Randy Hall

Edited by Alex Nigro

Heads Up!
Producer Foundry has a workshop with Maya Zuckerman coming up fast on May 9! Sign up for the San Francisco workshop and order the replay of the workshop!

Film Insight Season 2 Episode 1: Making Waves With Your Web Series 1

web-seriesFilm Insight is back with the first of a 4 part Web Series Panel. The audio is recorded from an event that took place in August as a partnership between the Bay Area Women in Film and Media and Producer Foundry.

The first part is all about story, and how storytelling is crucial when marketing your media.  Subscribe on iTunes to get all four parts!

Panelists include:

Maya Zuckerman
Co-Founder of TransmediaSF

For Bios please check out the original event on eventbrite

Come back in two weeks for the second part of the series, and in the meantime, check out the Producer Foundry Page and Group on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Join Our Mailing List!

Film Insight Episode 2: Prasenjit (Pras) Chaudhuri, Digital Marketing Strategist

Pras ChaudhuriBen and Randy talk briefly on the wildly popular first Producer Foundry meetup in San Francisco before turning to talk to Pras Chaudhuri, digital marketing and monetization strategist for Reliance Entertainment, as your hosts seek to discover how current or emerging filmmakers can identify and target their audience, even before they have a film!


Also, look for special film festival coverage coming soon from both the Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival from last month, and the imminent Sonoma International Film Festival! Randy is going to be talking with anyone he can stick a mic in their face!