Filmmaking / Directing : Networking - what good is it? by Doug Nelson

Doug Nelson

Networking - what good is it?

I’m just wondering what you see is the value of networking. I ask from the perspective of an old retired Writer/Producer and sometimes Director who’s driven by the desire to help, guide and promote career starters in the film industry. I can only do that by providing hands-on, on-set experience which means that my network participants must be within reasonable driving distance. I receive network requests nearly every day – I automatically reject requests from beyond that radius. So if you’re in Africa, India, Brazil, over on the East Coast or anyplace remote from me; I can’t do you any good. Now that’s the POV of an old retired guy with no intention of going back to work for a living and no intention of relocating. I have a couple of award winning short scripts that I’ll give away to some serious Producers – so I suppose there is some value in those few connections. My basic question is: What are you seeking from your network?

Doug Nelson

Brandi, I’m aware of the global networking opportunities available and I commend Stage 32 as one of the best. I particularly like exchanging scripts with other screenwriters around the country to our mutual benefit but my question remains: Of what value to you is your connection with a Director in India and what benefit does s/he gain from you. I’m an old timer and I like working with others eye ball to eye ball; I don’t think I can change my spots at this point – but I am at least trying to understand. Can you or someone else help me understand it?

Parker Scoggins

Hi Doug, I came across your comment and maybe this perspective will help shed some light on virtual/non-physical networking. At the moment, I'm working from the ground up. Like rock bottom ground up. I'm currently located in Arkansas so the amount of chances that I have to collaborate with established or at least proficiently involved people in the film industry are less abundant than in other markets. The process of networking with people over the internet is a huge help to someone who simply doesn't yet have the means to access these markets. It's a way that helps people in my predicament have a better avenue by which we can reach out to people offering a helping hand. It makes "eye ball to eye ball" interactions possible, whereas they would normally be physically impossible. The main thing that I would like to say is how much I appreciate the nature of your comment. Seeing someone who has achieved their life's work and is now returning back to help others seeking the same thing is extremely uplifting. Although I can't work with you due to location restraints, the fact that you desire to help others get started on their path is downright awesome. I sincerely hope to be in those same shoes some day.

Doug Nelson

Well Parker, it’s interesting to note that you’re a young ‘un starting your career while I’m an old foggy trying hard not to go back to work – we view this networking issue from opposite poles. But we are similar in that we both are located in areas with little/no hands-on filmmaking talent available. What I find so very discouraging is that the little bit of local filmmaking desire is not backed up by enthusiasm toward the education or the hard work it takes to become successful (no matter how you define success) at filmmaking. Maybe I’m a little simplistic but I’m rapidly discovering that’s it’s very hard to help people who just don’t want to be helped. I’ll keep on keepin’ on. Perhaps the value of all this internet networking comes from the exchange of ideas rather than logistical support and opportunity. Maybe I should return to my cave and stop ranting on – I’m starting to sound like my Grandfather (but he was right.)

Terri Viani

Doug, interesting question. I think for me because I'm in rural New England the networking I do here is for both information and experience exchange, and also just to spend time with those who share my goals and interests. I also think in a shrinking world those connections could very well translate into an actual working relationship at some point. That's not my primary goal at Stage 32 though.

Andre Hunt

Well, meeting you on Stage 32 was a good idea...Andre....

Doug Nelson

Andre - glad to hear it, thanx.

Ashley Miller

Hi Doug! I think networking is a valuable tool. Without it projects cannot develop! I am a student at AAU in the bay area and working towards breaking into the industry. I am currently a freelance photographer, animal rescuer, independent film maker and I am studying towards having a degree in film editing as I think it has the greatest job outlook. :) I am pretty familiar with Adobe Premiere and am taking the dreaded AVID courses right now! I'm actually in editing 3, but it is definitely not my favorite program. I think Premiere is so much more user friendly and takes much less time to complete a project.

Doug Nelson

Ashley, I certainly agree that networking is a valuable tool, especially when developing your career. But remember that it is just a tool – to be used wisely. You must be careful to network only with those who can and will help you and you must be willing to offer something in return. (That’s why I keep my network close to home.) You must learn to be ruthless. As a retired old Producer, let me assure you that editing is a very fine career choice as there are very few good, knowledgeable and creative Editors out there. Premiere is a fine program but you’ll also need to master After Effects and have a solid understanding of Lightwave. Just remember to keep your creativity with you at all times. Best wishes to you.

Ashley Miller

thanks Doug! I plan to learn all that I can :)

Doug Nelson

Hey Ashley - remember too that it ain't gonna be easy; as a matter of fact, it's gonna be da*m hard - probably the hardest thing you'll do. But keep the faith - it's worth it in the end.

Andrew Bee

Hi Doug. That is an excellent question. It took me probably three years to accept that the world has moved on and in order to make it as an actor, I had to embrace social media. The value of networking for me is twofold: I am establishing relationships all over the world for no other reason than to offer support when needed and, the second thing is that for me as an actor, I can audition online and send it anywhere. The greater my presence, the more chance I have of finding an opportunity anywhere in the world. Because of this site, I have been offered two major roles in independent movies. I have not yet met in person any of the people involved in the decision making process. They have simply researched me. I, like you, am old school, and much prefer face to face, but even in Toronto where I live, my agent won't even represent people who are not heavily online.

Royce Allen Dudley

I find networking at work to have value. In cyberspace or in industry mixers it usually leads to time wasted. The rare solid new connection may be worth the effort... hard to say. People who do, do, those who don't often just meet and talk about it. Over, and over...

Doug Nelson

An astute observation Royce and it’s why I only network with those I can meet eye-to-eye and see them work on a set. I’ve been burned way too many times by non-performing talkers. You ain’t on my set unless I’ve gotten to know you and if you are on my set, I’ll promote you to the fullest. That’s what networking is all about to me. I had four network request this morning - from Tennessee to Malta - it's obvious that they didn't read my profile.

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