5 Ways Top Freelance Filmmakers Grow Their Network

KitStudio Team
July 15, 2021

    It seems like these days everyone is a ‘filmmaker’. Most people have smartphones that can achieve a better result than a professional camera could 10 years ago. For freelancers, this means it’s harder than ever to stand out and catch that big break.

    This in turn means that if you want to ensure a steady line of work, you need to think beyond building your creative talent, and think about building your network. The more people who know you and your work, the more likely you are to hear about relevant opportunities.

    Simply getting on with people and producing good work can take you a good part of the way there. But there are extra steps you can take to proactively grow a network that takes you places.

    Make an effort to meet more people

    Ok, this is going to sound kind of obvious, but if you want to grow your network then you have to get out there and meet more people. If you’re interested in commercial work, traditional business networking and platforms like LinkedIn are great. But don’t stop there.

    When it comes to industry networking, you can start online with forums like cinematography.com and ShootingPeople. These are great for connecting you to people who’ve been there before and can give you advice as well as opportunities.

    Face to face networking might feel harder to do, but be creative. Renting kit through a peer-to-peer lending community like KitStudio, for example, can help connect you to other professionals in your area.

    When you meet those filmmakers – especially those that are more experienced – don’t just vaguely hope that they might recommend you for a job. Learn as much as you can from them. Get their take on what slides you should have in your pitch deck, on what should go in your showreel, and on what aspect ratios you should focus on.

    Use commercial creativity

    There are two sides to developing your connections with potential employers as a filmmaker. If you’re looking to connect with people making TV, films, documentaries or shorts, there’s no shortage of festivals, industry events or meetup groups.

    But on the commercial side of things, there isn’t quite the same sense of community. Often once you leave film school your connections are limited to the people you meet on the job, and getting more work can be a slow process.

    So it’s up to you to be creative and make those opportunities. When you can’t see an opening, consider cutting a hole in a wall.

    One filmmaker who had taken a holiday reel with a drone while staying at a Hilton Hotel saw an opportunity to turn it to his commercial advantage. He reached out to the brand on Instagram and ended up being flown across the world to create more footage on a contract.

    Don’t give up your passion project

    Many filmmakers split their time between commercial work that pays the bills and a personal venture – music videos, documentaries or short films.

    When you fill your time with paid work, it’s easy to lose sight of that passion project. But don’t let yourself get discouraged. It’s important to give time to the kind of filmmaking you love, even if it feels like a grind trying to get anything off the ground. Even if what you make doesn’t directly get you hard cash, showcasing your non-commercial films can pull in more commercial work.

    It’s the kind of calling card that gets people’s attention, so stick at it. If you only stay in the boundaries of paid work, you could end up capping your potential to excel.

    Find the right places to pitch

    Agencies are a useful source of work for many filmmakers. If you do a good job, you could find yourself in fairly regular work. Which is no bad thing. But is that the limit to your ambition? While an agency job could lead to your big break, don’t rely on it.

    Top freelance filmmakers will also be checking out the global production companies who will notify you of open briefs and let you pitch for them. Genero and Wooshii are two of the big players when it comes to this. Their reputation attracts some significant opportunities you might not find elsewhere.

    To pitch for the more advanced briefs, you’ll often need to write a commercial treatment that details your vision for how you will fulfil it. Writing these 5-12 page documents can be time-consuming, but the more you write, the better you get and the more chance you have of pulling in major work.

    Learn to be fearless

    Getting rejected is a theme in most creative industries. The quicker you get used to it, the better. Once you’re not worried about what the responses will be, every pitch becomes an opportunity to hone the way you showcase your ideas.

    Our advice is this: throw yourself into everything and anything. You never know what seed will reap results later on. The more opportunities you take to meet people and show your talents, the more chance you have of being chosen when you least expect it.

    Looking for inventive ways to shoot a film on a budget? Check out how you can be clever with cash without compromising quality.