Social media isn't just for promotion. It's a way to connect with fellow filmmakers and potential collaborators.
If you're someone involved or even interested in the arts, there's a good chance you're active on social media. Why shouldn't you be? When it comes to the filmmaking community, the ways you can engage are endless. Whether following your favorite filmmakers, movie news sites, festival deadlines, local arthouses, camera companies, or even One Perfect Shot, the endless cycle of announcements (and occasional distractions) stream endlessly through the daily newsfeeds of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more.
You may wonder how this can help you, career-wise. While the paths are numerous—be social on social media!—Matt Workman of Cinematography Database recently teamed with KitSplit to break down the simplest ways to establish a real human interaction with the filmmaking community. Always remember that attempting to get your work seen and, in the process, establishing relationships with fellow collaborators, should be a sincere and positive effort. Here are some ways to accomplish this.
1. Find your community online
While the ways of finding the community you best fit in with have morphed over social media's brief history—Workman references Myspace as once being the place to find fellow artists—it would appear that Twitter and Instagram are the two that filmmakers are most consistently plugged into. It makes sense, as Twitter is a source of constant, text-heavy news, while Instagram is a more personal, visual-dependent medium. The two serve different sides of the same coin.
Avoid using social media to be your own passive, digital billboard that's championing no one other than yourself.
2. Share your work natively
While Workman encourages you to use several social media platforms, recognize the strengths of each. It's best not to just "recycle" what you post on one directly onto the other. For example, Instagram can be a really productive outlet for cinematographers and still photographers looking to gain a following for their creative output. People come to Instagram for images specifically, much less so for news, and the reverse is true of Twitter (Facebook is just a mishmash of the two). Syncing up your Instagram account to your Twitter account can appear lazy, as if you're using social media to be your own passive, digital billboard that's championing no one other than yourself. Use both for their strengths (and yours).
3. Interact genuinely
To further drive home the above point, social media provides the platform that bridges the gap between you and a fellow person. No matter where they're located in the world, a working internet connection can have you chatting with a filmmaker from halfway around the globe in a matter of seconds. With this in mind, don't force your work onto others in mid-conversation. If you'd like to "connect" with them, be authentic. You're not selling them something. You're not reminding yourself to "Always Be Closing." You're not stressing over when to share a digital business card.
Remember the scene in The Silence of the Lambs where Clarice Starling tries to subtly push Hannibal Lecter to take her clinical survey, and Lecter responds by calling her out for her inauthenticity? Don't do what Clarice Starling did.
4. Connect with those you get along with (DM them!)
Connect with the person rather than audition for them. If they follow you, follow them back and send a direct message (DM) so that further conversations can happen privately. If you wish to share Vimeo links to your work or other information pertaining to various production struggles you may have faced, it's always best to go into the details "within the DMs." Most conversations will begin publicly—it's the global village of social media, after all. But after a while, make it more-one-on-one by private messaging them or even outright via email. If you're looking for feedback or career advice, you will want to be honest about the issues you're facing, and the person you're asking should feel safe to respond just as honestly.
Nothing gets more personal than actually....meeting in person.
5. Meet in real life (IRL), attend meet-ups and conferences, etc.
Social media introductions and the subsequent interactions that spring off as a result are great. However, nothing gets more personal than actually....meeting in person. Depending on where you reside, this may prove slightly difficult. If there isn't a local arthouse movie theater or nonprofit filmmaking organization close by, it's not easy running into those with shared interests. Luckily, film festivals take place worldwide 365 days a year, and we guarantee that there's at least one not too far from you. If that doesn't suit you, planning a vacation around one of the more prominent festivals—get a little skiing done before hitting up Sundance perhaps—could also prove beneficial to you meeting with colleagues face-to-face.
Workman includes a surprise sixth tip, which is to learn the economics of the industry. The best way to do this is via your peers, as they can tell you how (and definitely how not to) sustain a career pursuing what you love.
Does social media help in some small way to get you there? Has it worked for you? Let us know in the comments below.