As an independent filmmaker—or anyone hoping to advance in the entertainment industry—having access to networks, educational resources, and advancement opportunities is crucial.
For me, not initially coming from a filmmaking world, the industry mostly seemed intimidating, elusive, and magical. And yeah, it can be a bit of all of that. But like anything else there are also specific things to know and concrete steps to take to keep moving forward towards your goals. I’m endlessly seeking out such resources to keep learning, growing, and making stuff happen.
I care so deeply about this topic, that I once co-founded an app with entertainment industry networking in mind. It didn’t work out. Oh well. At least we can talk here. And more importantly take advantage of all the organizations listed below.
These organizations offer things like classes, mentorship, career advancement programs, and general networking opportunities, making them great communities for independent filmmakers.
The Filmmakers Alliance is an L.A. based community that has been around for 30 years. Hundreds of films have been produced through the alliance with peer to peer support. The Filmmakers Alliance members share time, energy, expertise, resources, and creative support on each others projects.
This includes access to production related stuff like insurance forms and distribution plans, but also creative support, and even being able to find team members to work on your projects. You can also find opportunities to work on other people’s projects. Membership is $20 a month or $100 a year.
Black Magic Collective
The Black Magic Collective hosts live events, free classes, and shares all kinds of opportunities that are offered through their own organization, as well as others. One of their missions is to “help underrepresented filmmakers get hired.”
Their year-long programs include the Emerging Filmmakers Initiative and Future Women of Television, both of which offer meetings and mentorship to filmmakers and directors who are ready to break into the studio system.
Other courses include things like learning Davinci Resolve, a Directing Actors Lab, etc. (All free!)
Women in Film
The Women in Film organization has chapters all over the place—Los Angeles, of course, being a large one. Being a member gives you access to live and online events and workshops, mentee and mentorship opportunities, and the opportunity to apply to various fellowships and initiatives.
The WIF fellowships include the Sundance Institute Financing Intensive, WIF Producer Fellowships, WIF Business Fellowship, and WIF Artisan/Below the Line/Crew Fellowships.
Their virtual events include things like the Laptop Cinema Club, Conversations & Connections, and the WIF Speaker Series.
The membership fees vary by chapters. In L.A., WIF is free for students, and anywhere from $60-1450 a year depending on what you want to get out of it. Many of the membership options include waivers or discounts when applying to their career advancement programs.
NewFilmmakers Los Angeles
This is technically a monthly film festival, but part of the intention behind it is to help filmmakers connect with industry professionals for insight on distribution, production, acquisition and representation.
They offer various series, such as the InFocus Series, which aims to combat the lack of diversity in the film industry by giving underrepresented groups of filmmakers more opportunities to screen their work.
Filmmakers from anywhere in the world can submit shorts, documentaries and feature films. Films screen monthly at the South Park Center in L.A., with filmmaker Q&A’s.
Membership is $75 a year, which includes tickets to and drinks at each screening, and access to other programs.
Austin Entertainment Business
While Austin Entertainment Business is based in Texas, they host virtual events that connect Texas Entertainment Companies with Hollywood, and mentors with mentees. I’ve attended one of their online events and there were people attending from all over the place.
AEB emphasizes the business of creative, and reminds us that 80% of jobs come from relationships and referrals. They also recently started rolling out an app for more ways of connecting.
Their main events are held monthly and feature TV/Film producer Jennifer Hutchins offering insider entertainment industry advice, a guest speaker, and then open mic time for attendees to introduce themselves, pitch their skills, or offer jobs.
Fees are per event. (I think it’s $10.)
You might see me attending one of above. Do you know of any other great communities for independent and upcoming filmmakers? Let me know!