Like it or not, filmmaking is a business. And if you really want to have a career making movies, you’ll need all the help you can get. One way to accelerate your career is by finding a film industry mentor.
With that said, I can’t overstate just how important a mentor can be to you. No matter if you’re working on your first project or your fifteenth, the guidance that a good mentor can provide will be instrumental in helping you take the next steps in your career.
Craig Spector Was My First Film Industry Mentor
Simply put, a mentor is someone who has already achieved the goals you want to achieve for yourself. But a mentor is different than a partner because he or she will not have a direct involvement in your projects. Instead, a mentor offers things like:
- Advice on your project or your career.
- Help understanding what pitfalls to avoid.
- Advice on how to succeed.
- An open ear to discuss issues with and get feedback.
Craig Spector is a screenwriter and New York Times best selling author. He was also my first Hollywood mentor. I met him because he was friends with my aunt. And he was nice enough to return my calls. More importantly, he continually reinforced the importance of a strong work ethic and helped me overcome some early career obstacles.
A little while back, I was able to interview Craig for an epic podcast series where he shares the ups and downs of breaking into the BIG TIME. If you haven’t listened to it, I think you’ll really enjoy it:
- Ep 183: Who Is Craig Spector? [Craig Spector – Part 1]
- Ep 184: Getting The Deal [Craig Spector – Part 2]
- Ep 185: Writing In Hollywood [Craig Spector – Part 3]
- Ep 186: This Is The Big Time [Craig Spector – Part 4]
- Ep 187: You Don’t Need Permission [Craig Spector – Part 5]
While a film industry mentor may not be directly involved with your projects, having someone who has “been there and done that,” can really help you navigate the industry landscape.
How To Find A Mentor (Like A Boss)
Even if your aunt doesn’t know a Hollywood heavyweight, there are plenty of people involved in the industry all around the world. And meeting up with these professionals is often the first step towards finding a mentor that can help you. Here are some steps you can take to find a mentor:
- Make up a basic list of the people that you think may be great mentors.
- Take that list and write each person a letter or email. You can then follow with a phone call.
- You’ll likely talk to an assistant. Be professional. Make a reference to your letter and then request a meeting.
- Repeat the process with each person on your list.
You may land a dozen meetings, and you may land none. The key is to keep trying until you eventually land some meetings and spark a relationship. Once you have a mentor, it’s important to show them that you’re serious. A film industry mentor is likely very busy. They’re donating their time to you, so do not take advantage. Here’s some things to remember:
- Always accept responsibility for your own mistakes.
- Be willing to work hard and do whatever is needed to succeed at each project.
- Always show up early and work with enthusiasm.
Go into each relationship with professionalism and seriousness. And remember, if you don’t ask, you don’t get.