Thank you to the Austin Film Festival for showing Stage 32 such a great time! It was also so exciting to meet so many Stage 32 members and introduce more writers to our community. It’s absolutely clear that Stage 32 has the most gracious and down to earth writers on the planet. So many of you stood out from the crowds by being prepared, primed and polished.
After digesting the whirlwind 4 days Stage 32 had at the Austin Film Festival, I wanted to share 5 things I observed that could help you at the next festival you attend:
- ALWAYS have a business card on you. A business card is NOT a one pager. At one event, a writer and I were exchanging information. I handed him a business card. He dug through his backpack, tore out a crumpled 1 page pitch and proceeded to pitch me his project. The main thing I always tell writers is that you are a human being first and a writer second. If there’s one thing I hope a writer will learn from me, it’s that. When you go into networking events, don’t be the wolf who will pitch their project anytime somebody extends a hand. Let it happen naturally. Often, if not always, after a few minutes of normal conversation the question of “What are you working on?” will come up. Let it happen organically. And always have a business card on you so others can easily store your information for a later time.
- Keep your negative opinions to yourself. Festivals are crowded and you never know who is in earshot or who you will end up talking to. I overhead one writer strike up a conversation with somebody at a party and proceeded to talk negatively about a movie they just saw. Little did they know they were talking to the producer of the project. Three words: foot in mouth. You don’t have to love everything, but you don’t want to burn bridges and I can’t imagine how many times that writer awkwardly crossed paths with that producer at the festival after encounter. The most common time somebody could put their foot in their mouth is when they are waiting on line for an event. You are not only surrounded by people, but you are tired and hungry and thirsty and just want to get to your next event. This is one of the most common times one can slip and let their guard down. You should watch what you are saying until you are alone in your Uber on your way home.
- Do your research! Before you even get to the festival, look at their site and see which execs are going, what movies are playing and who is speaking on panels. You WILL end up running into these attendees often. Do your research. See who produced what projects, who is speaking at the different roundtables and who is being honored at the festival. Remember, it’s exponentially more memorable when a writer finds a way to make the other person feel special.
- Let’s be real. The main reason you are going to a festival is because you want to network. Unless you have a movie in the festival, your main goal should be to get as many cards as possible. Don’t add the stress to yourself that you have to get a producer attached to your project at the festival and once you get back on the plane your mission ends. When you get home, take a couple of days and then email each of those contacts and keep the conversation going. Networking isn’t a quick “hi and buy my script” It’s about cultivating a relationship. It takes work to build an ally. That’s why it’s called networking.
- Be careful who you bring to the festival. It’s easy to bring your best friend because you know you can find a safe corner and talk to your BFF. But that’s not why you’re there. You’re there to mingle. Bring somebody that is on a similar mission as you. Bring somebody that is there to get names. Bringing the person you feel the most comfortable with to a film festival could be the worst thing you can do if you don’t make it clear why you both are there.
I hope to meet more of you at the next festival we attend!
About Joey Tuccio
Joey Tuccio is the President of the Stage 32 Happy Writers. After coming to Los Angeles over a decade ago to pursue acting, he soon segued into reading for production companies including Smokehouse Pictures, Night and Day Pictures, Future Films and Gilbert Films. Joey was soon hired at Bold Films (DRIVE, WHIPLASH, NIGHTCRAWLER) working in the development department. Every day he saw talented writers trying to solicit their work but could not get through due to the standard unsolicited restrictions. After Bold Films, he transitioned into working for a few coverage companies before starting his own. Enforcing the Happy Writers' mandate of continuously helping writers from around the world open doors, The Happy Writers continued to grow. Two years into business, Stage 32 acquired the company turning it into the Stage 32 Happy Writers, which now works with over 400 executives in every major territory around the world and boasts over 200 success stories of helping writers and filmmakers get sold, optioned or in development.
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