How To Network In Hollywood (Or anywhere, really)

The other night, I was at some party. I didn’t know a lot of people, but this is nothing new.

Learning how to network in Hollywood, or anywhere really is one of  the most important skills you can refine. Besides, meeting new people is fun. It leads to new ideas and new opportunties.

But every so often, you will meet a jerk or two .

That is exactly what happened when I walked into a conversation where this guy was bragging about his shoes. Something about Italian leather or some crap.

Anyway, as the conversation shifted from shoes to the movie industry, I started to chime in about video on demand distribution.

And do you know what?

This guy…

He totally looked down at my shoes. He noticed my low top Converse and literally cut me off mid-sentence.

WTF?

(I promise this is not a segue into a fashion blog…)

But here’s the fun part. Later in the evening, I guess somebody tells this guy that I’m connected… That I know people. That maybe I can introduce him to people who could help him in his career.

So this filmmaker comes up to me and actually starts talking about a movie idea.

Pretty silly. No thanks.

I don’t think him and I will ever do business together.

Why?

Frankly, because I don’t like him. He made a poor judgement on how to treat me.

This is an example of BAD NETWORKING

Here is a video on how I thought about Hollywood before I got into the game.

A lot of filmmakers visit LA, wondering how to network in Hollywood. Before I get too far into some awesome networking tips, let me clarify something.

You don’t have to be in Hollywood to make movies!

But if your goal is to make movies, you are going to need a way to raise money. And unless you have a rich uncle or an awesome hookup, you’re going to have to do what most unknown filmmakers do… They get out there and they hustle!

Which begs the question:

“How do filmmakers meet and network with rich people?”

Good question.

You will meet rich people through your ever expanding network of awesomeness. In other words, you’re going to make lots of cold calls, take lots of lunches and network!

The following principals will reveal how to network in everyday life. But importantly, they will show you how to network in Hollywood.

Here is the reason you need to learn how to network in Hollywood:

Odds are good that if you make movies, sooner or later you’re going to end up in Hollywood.

Makes sense right?

how to network in Hollywood with Jason Brubaker

How To Network In Hollywood

As you can probably guess, the guy in our previous example needs to learn how to network in Hollywood. (Or anywhere, for that matter.)

And maybe you’ve experienced this type of crap too.

It happens all the time. I mostly see it at film festivals. Somebody approaches you and immediately asks what you do.

As soon as you tell the other person, there is a beat – A moment or two when the person decides if you are worth his time.

If not, then the other person will feign a polite interest in you, look over your shoulder for someone more important to talk to and leave the scene, tossing you a business card on his way out.

Whenever someone mentions the word “networking” the mental picture that comes into focus, often involves an overly energetic schmoozer who hands out business cards like candy.

These people typically have their own agenda in mind and could care less about you – unless they could potentially USE you.

While this strategy may be utilized by many up-and-coming filmmakers, it won’t be ours.

Avoid becoming a walking business card dispensary”

In order to avoid becoming a walking business card dispensary,  every time you think about networking, I want you to focus on one thing – and one thing only.

Focus on the other person!

If you like the other person and think they are a nice human being, I want you to always focus on finding ways to help. By helping other people reach their goals, all the lessons we spoke about (rapport, reputation and building relationships) will work in your favor.

Here is what I learned. Help enough people, and enough people will help you.

Simple, right?

Action Steps

  1. Build a network of like minded individuals.
  2. If you live in a small town like I did, try to find a local art scene and other local filmmakers.If your area is limited, then contact people through social networking websites.
  3. Consider taking weekend trips to film festivals and screenings within your proximity. Strike up conversations.
  4. Consider helping as PA for movies in your area.
  5. Once you make friends. Go to their screenings. Get business cards. Follow up. Always ask yourself: “What can I do to help this person succeed?”

Get Movie MoneyOne of the best parts about working in the movie industry is meeting other like-minded, creative people. If you go out of your way to help other people as much as you can (without allowing other people to take advantage of you), then you’ll be in very good shape when it comes time to create your own projects.

If you’re still trying to find out how to network in Hollywood, or if you are looking for strategies on how to meet and mingle with prospective investors or Hollywood Heavyweights – I recommend you check out my guide focused on: “How To Meet Rich People So You Can Fund Your Movie.”


How To Meet Rich People So You Can Get Movie Money

So you want to know how to meet rich people (so you can get movie money.)

The process of raising money is simple. All you have to do is build a trusting business relationship with a few rich people, present the necessary legal paperwork and ask for the money. Once you get the check, you can make your movie.

[Quick note. Would you kindly click here to tweet this filmmaking article?]

Of course, we both know that raising movie money is easy in theory. But it can be a real challenge for filmmakers.

For many filmmakers, the biggest missing skill is knowing how to meet rich people.

Maybe you don’t know where to start. I get that.

I grew up in a rural community. I didn’t know any rich people. I didn’t know where to start or where to find them. To learn how to meet rich people, I moved to New York City and started work as a producer’s assistant. This helped me figure things out.

What I found was, most rich people are experienced business professionals. They are successful in businesses outside of indie filmmaking. They are experienced investors. And as such, they are seeking interesting investment opportunities.

And more than that, rich people are all around you – And unless you know what to look for, you might just miss them…

What You Need To Know About Investors

Most prospective investors are looking for you to describe the similarities between your indie filmmaking project and their businesses. So if you want to find out how to meet rich people, before you make your pitch –  You first need to understand how to describe your filmmaking in the context of general business.

I put together the following graphics to help you.

1. Filmmakers and Entrepreneurs (Prospective Investors) Start With a Blueprint

Your screenplay is the blueprint to your movie. Entrepreneurs are similar. Like you, these business professionals go into each venture with a blueprint for their product. From there, they create a full business plan for how their product will be manufactured, marketed and distributed. This process if similar to making a movie.

How To Meet Rich People

2. Entrepreneurs and Filmmakers Seek OPM

One secret of the rich is OPM (Other People’s Money). Even though many rich people could fund their own business ideas, this represents too much of a risk. So most rich people go into their network and raise money for their projects. This is the same for indie filmmakers. It is too risky to invest all of your money in a movie project. Always leverage OPM.

find rich people so you can fund your movie

3. Entrepreneurs and Filmmakers Utilize Money To Create a Company

When creating a product, most business professionals establish a physical location for their business. From there, these entrepreneurs utilize the investment money to manufacture their product. When it comes to your indie film, your business will require that you utilize many locations to film your movie. And your product is your movie.

fund your movie

4. Entrepreneurs and Filmmakers Manufacture a Product

After months and months of planning and production, the results for both the business professional and filmmaker are similar. Assuming you worked with an awesome team, you will make your movie. As a filmmaker, your product IS your movie.

get movie money

5. Entrepreneurs and Filmmakers Distribute Their Product

After production you will have a product ready for the marketplace. Both the filmmaker and the entrepreneur will market, distribute and sell their product to (hopefully) a rabid marketplace of fans who can’t wait to partake in the experience.

distribute your movie

Here’s the deal. Rich and successful people are not any different than you and me. Except they have some very specific business experience and a pretty robust bank account.

What You Need To Know About Rich People

For the most part, rich people are not mean, dirty or greedy. In fact, many wealthy people are generous. They are excellent networkers. And when you meet them, (assuming they like you) most successful people will always think in terms of: “How can I help this person get closer to their goals?”

This is important. Because if you want to find out how to meet rich people, you need to understand that the way you think about wealth can either help you or hinder your efforts.

A quick story about a filmmaker I know:

So picture this. The other day I was in a popular Los Angeles diner eating breakfast with my buddy. Like a lot of filmmakers, he is trying to raise money for a movie. He just can’t get any traction.

At one point we get to the topic of  how to meet rich people. And my buddy mentions this one guy he knows. And here is what he said:

“That guy is FILTHY rich.”

Can you see the problem with this statement?

My filmmaker friend is trying to figure out how to meet rich people, but he’s having difficulty getting traction.

The reason?

At some core level, he thinks rich people are filthy. He thinks that anybody with money is unclean… Dirty…

Can you imagine going into any social situation where you think the people you’re about to meet are unsanitary?

It gets worse. Here are some of the beliefs you probably have about money and rich people:

  1. Money is the root of all evil.
  2. I’d rather be happy than rich.
  3. I am no good with money.
  4. It takes money to make money.
  5. Money is dirty.

If you are looking to find out how to meet rich people (and attract these people into your life) you need to get honest about your limited beliefs about money, and find ways to shed them.

If you hold the general belief that rich people are in some way greedy and unwilling to help anyone, think again. Aside from a few rotten apples, the statistics show that wealthy people are also some of the most generous.

Why is having a positive attitude towards the affluent important for a filmmaker?

Because until your movies are financed and distributed by a studio, you’ll need to learn how to raise money for your projects. You’ll need to know what potential investors look for in a project. And when it comes time to shake the money tree, it would be helpful to have a few rich people just a phone call away.

How To Meet Rich People (So you can get movie money.)

Finding out how to meet rich people is easier than you think. But before we go there, it is important to note that whenever you go out to raise money, you will most likely meet a bunch of posers, frauds and idiots.

To help you distinguish the BS, I reached out to Tom Malloy for advice. If you haven’t heard of Tom Malloy, you should know he’s a indie film finance expert. So far in his career, he has raised over 25 million dollars to produce his movies.

Here are Tom Malloy’s five tips for finding out if your rich person is “real.”

In trying to land an HNI (High Net Worth Individual) for your film, one of the main obstacles film makers face is qualifying if an investor is “Real.”  Real means that he or she CAN actually fund your film.

Real investors are not guys who know other guys. 

Real investors are the guys that can actually put in the money.  I present to you 5 tips for you to know in your quest to find who’s real and who’s not!

1.   Google him.  It sounds simple, and it is.  Do your research on the guy.  It’s easy to find out information if you just take the time and search for it.

2.   Take into account what he’s wearing and what he’s driving.  Sometimes relying solely on image is a mistake.  The guy with the 3 piece suit is the phony and the guy in shorts and a t-shirt is the eccentric millionaire.  But where does he live?  What does he drive?  Many HNIs enjoy the comforts their money brings.  This method is not foolproof, but it does work 90% of the time.  I had a meeting with a potential investor and he was missing some teeth.  His teeth were Real, but he wasn’t.

3.   Does he pick up the check?  I say it over and over again.  If you are eating dinner/lunch with a potential investor and he/she doesn’t pick up the check, I can 99% guarantee that you will never get a penny out of them.  If they care so little about you that they cannot invest $50 for a meal, you ain’t getting their money.

4.   If he starts talking about “money coming in”, he’s not real.  Had this happen many times.  Someone talks about some bank deals or commissions that will be upcoming.  Walk away.  Don’t get your hopes up… it never closes.

5.   Is it too easy?  This is an interesting one.  If things seem to be going too easy, a red flag should pop up.  Closing money is not easy.  And if the guy doesn’t really look at your business plan or do his homework, chances are he doesn’t have the money to fund your project and he’s just pretending.

Here’s the key… You must research your prospective investor!

Tom Malloy goes on to say that he starts every meeting asking a prospective investor questions about himself or herself. He will never take a meeting without first taking time do the research. This means that he Googles his HNI and tries to find everything about the person he can.

Analyze all the information you’re given and your ratio of closing will increase dramatically!

The following action steps are designed to get you thinking about what’s possible.

How To Meet Rich People

  • While you’re on the networking kick, ask around your town and find out if anyone knows rich people. (Every town in America seems to have someone a little better off than the rest.)
  • Get a phone number and call them. Tell them you are a first time entrepreneur. See if they will meet for a few minutes so you can ask for advice. (Just ask for advice, not money!) Then as the months go by, try to cultivate a friendship.
  • Many busy business professionals will reject the initial meeting. If this happens try again. Be persistent without being annoying. After eight attempts, you can move on.

As long as you apply a little persistence, finding out how to meet rich people gets easier. You’ll be surprised who you can meet and what you’ll accomplish. As your relationships with successful people mature, these folks may someday introduce you to friends willing to get involved in your next project.

film finance guideBecause getting money for movies is a little more complicated than just asking for it, (we will discuss the Securities and Exchange Commission as well as Private Placement Memorandums in another lesson) — For now, let’s just set the business aside and simply focus on getting advice from a few new friends.

If you would like more information on how to meet rich people so you can finance your movie, check out Tom Malloy’s Film Fiance Guide.

How To Start (and keep) A Career In Film

If you’re looking for a career in film, you’re not alone. Each year, thousands of ambitious Hollywood hopefuls arrive in Los Angeles, eager to climb the entertainment ladder.

Unlike you, most of these people come unprepared to face the competitive landscape. Many never take time to create a plan. And many Hollywood hopefuls simply don’t understand the golden rule of Hollywood Success.

The Best Advice For A Career In Film

A few years back, I sat down with Nina Jacobson. She’s a well respected studio producer and a great person. During our meeting, she provided some essential advice that I’ve been rolling around in my mind ever since. She said that the most important asset you have is your reputation. And for this reason, your credibility is more important than money.

The reason for this is simple. Nobody makes movies alone. Having a successful career in film is dependent on how other people view you. In your quest to make a living making movies, people will either hinder you or help you. Relationships are everything.

This isn’t just true for the movie industry. It’s true for all aspects of your life.

Zig Ziglar - A career in film following Zig's advice

Zig Ziglar – Photo from Wikipedia.

“You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.”

Quote by Zig Ziglar

One easy way to build credibility is to help GOOD people reach their goals. Approach each new person with a caring intention. Ask yourself: “How can I help this filmmaker get closer to his or her goals?”

When you come up when an answer, do what you say you’re going to do. And do it fast. Nothing will help you gain success faster than delivering value to other people. Relationships are everything!

How To Start (and keep) A Career In Film

If you need some additional help with your networking, you might benefit from the Indie Producer’s Guide to film fiance. In it, there are major sections devoted to helping you build beneficial relationships with hard to reach, prospective investors and Hollywood heavy-weights. You can learn more about the guide here.

Why Do Filmmakers Need A List?

Like it or not, many social networking sites run the risk of going out of vogue. So as a filmmaker, if you are working to build a relationship with your audience – From day one, you will want to migrate your fans off the social networking sites and get them into your own email, mailing list.

For this, I recommend using a reputable third-party email marketing service such as www.AudienceList.com.

In full disclosure, the company does pay me to promote, but it is the company I utilize for my own business.

With this tool, as soon as you sign up for one of their inexpensive accounts, you can easily create ways for your movie fans to connect with you. For an example of how this works, STOP: If you would like over $47 dollars in useful filmmaking tools for FREE, sign up below:

 

If you just clicked that link, you probably got an email asking you to confirm your subscription. Assuming you clicked, you were then redirected to a “Thank You Page.” And on that page you were able to download all sorts of premium filmmaking tools, for free. This is what legitimate email marketers call the “double-opt-in” process.

While I am obviously utilizing list-building to create a more meaningful relationship with filmmakers (and YOU), this model can be (and should be) applied to your own movie business.

The major difference between email marketing and traditional movie marketing methods is that members of your target audience find you, and give YOU permission to email them. This is important, because unlike traditional movie marketing methods, with email marketing, you will only communicate with people actually interested in your movie.

To make this easy, your audience list is simply a collection of email addresses. Most filmmakers will also collect the person’s first name with the email address so that they can personalize the email. So instead of saying “Hello Zombie Movie Lover”, you can say “Hey, Jason!”

While I usually stick to just collecting a name and email address, www.AudienceList.com also makes it easy to collect information such as the address and phone number of your site visitor. While this extra information may help refine your  marketing strategy – the truth is, most of your movie website visitors will not take time to fill out an extensive opt-in form.

An opt-in form is a little box that asks visitors to provide you with their name and email address. Here is an example:

 

With services like www.AudienceList.com, as soon as your visitor opts-in, the contact information is added to your database and managed for you, automatically! These subscribers are now part of your “list,” and you can email them with updates, deals and movie festival screening times – to name a few examples.

The other week I gave a talk at the UCLA film school. And someone asked me why I emphasize audience list building so much – So this is important. Given the disruption to traditional distribution sales channels, building an audience list for your movie and your career might be one of the most important decisions you ever make. Why? Because regardless of how the independent movie industry changes, one constant will always hold true. YOU will need to get people to sit down and watch your movie, and hopefully pay you for this privilege. www.AudienceList.com can help you get started.

Should You Go To Film School?

If you’re just starting out as a filmmaker, deciding if you should attend a traditional film school is something you need to decide. And it’s a costly decision – some of my friends here in Los Angeles are over fifty-thousand dollars in debt.

While most of my friends value having a college education, all agree that having a  film school degree will not guarantee success in Hollywood. Like any industry, becoming successful requires passion, commitment and hard work.

Last year, I was introduced to filmmaker Seth Hymes. When he was in high school, he worked as Production Assistant, Sound Tech and an Editor. After high school, he went off to film school. In fact, he graduated from NYU with honors. From there, he was an editor for Fox News Channel and also managed to get two features into production.

So I sat down with Seth and asked him some questions about his experience.

Jason Brubaker
Seth. After visiting your website and chatting, you seem to have an interesting perspective on formal film school education. What are your thoughts? Is there any value in film school?

Seth Hymes
No, there isn’t. And it’s a great question. What does “value” mean? It means that something adds merit or worth to your life for a reasonable cost. A lot of people say things like “you learn the basics” and it’s a “good place to experiment”.

Jason Brubaker
So in your experience, you think film school is over priced?

Seth Hymes
Well, in film school, you write a check for $100,000. In return, they give you a $2,000 video camera and tell you how to push the on button. Are you going to learn something? Sure. Is it valuable? No. There is no value in learning basic technical concepts for an obscene mark up in cost.

Jason Brubaker
In the past, students enrolled in film school because held the promise of networking, as well as access to equipment. You’re saying this sort of stuff is no longer relevant?

Seth Hymes
The 3 main “values” of film school are no longer relevant. They are, access to equipment, lessons in filmmaking craft and connections. In the 60s, 70s, and 80s, when people like Lucas, Scorsese, and Spike Lee went to film school, it was probably a good investment. You couldn’t just pick up a high quality HD camera and start shooting. Filmmaking equipment cost a ton of money and was hard to find. You really couldn’t learn about things like continuity and storyboarding without either apprenticing with a filmmaker or going to school. And it was a good place to meet other creative professionals.

Jason Brubaker
But all of that has changed.

Seth Hymes
Yeah. If you look at today, High Definition filmmaking equipment costs less than a semester at most film schools. The craft of filmmaking, from lighting, editing, shot composition, writing – all of it is available to learn on websites like yours, as well as other sites all over the net. And these days, most connections happen through the net. And further, many new filmmakers find their agents because they produce a short and get some heat on youtube, rather than meeting them in school.

Jason Brubaker
Sort of a silly question. But would you recommend that anybody attends film school?

Seth Hymes
I do not recommend anybody attend film school. It is an unholy waste of money and time. And not only are the schools making a huge profit, they also neglect to teach their grads about anything of real value or importance when it comes to having a career in the business. Things like real networking, fundraising, or film distribution.

Jason Brubaker
So instead of film school, what suggestions do you have for any students who is considering a degree in filmmaking?

Seth Hymes
If you’re considering film school, here’s the litmus test. If it’s a community college or vocational school where classes are anywhere from $60 to $1000, go for it. If anyone is charging more than that, they are making an obscene profit and should be dismissed outright. You will be mocked within the film business for attending such an institution. Instead, I recommend that students save their money, buy their own equipment, and learn how to shoot their own movie.

These days, filmmakers can learn everything you need to know in a week or less.

Jason Brubaker
Reading your posts on other websites and the comments that follow, I can see why some filmmakers, especially the filmmakers sitting on film school debt can get a little emotional with your perspective.

Seth Hymes
Most film school grads and filmmakers agree with me, but there are a few haters. Some people hate hearing the truth. It’s hard for some people to admit they got hosed out of $100K, but the consensus everywhere is that film school is a waste.

Jason Brubaker
I took a look at your website. Tell us what you teach there.

Seth Hymes
I teach people first, exactly why places like NYU are a complete joke and secondly, what to do instead of film school. There’s a lot of pressure to go to college, and I understand that. My book “Film Fooled” is a powerful reality check, a class by class account of NYU’s film curriculum to help people realize that no, they are not missing out on anything by skipping film school.

Jason Brubaker
Sounds like you think film schools should improve their curriculum.

Seth Hymes
Yeah. I get into the stuff they should be teaching in schools. Mainly, how to be taken seriously as a director from day one, how to get on real film sets, meet real working filmmakers, write feature scripts, manage a set, hire film students, and get seen. Anyone taking my course will be 4 years ahead of any film school student in just a week.

Jason Brubaker
Ok. So tell us about your online film course.

Seth Hymes
Ok. To find out more about my courseware at Film School Secrets, prospective filmmakers can Click Here!

Jason Brubaker
Thanks for stopping by Seth.

Seth Hymes
Thanks for having me.

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