Among the can’t-miss events of the 2015 Film Independent Forum are two sessions of Indielink, where participants get to sit down and meet one-on-one with industry leaders. Companies represented at this year’s Indielink sessions include the Warner Bros. Television Workshop, Cinetic Media, CBS Films, Broad Green Pictures and the Sundance Film Festival. The sessions will also include representatives from professions that are crucial to a successful production like casting directors, unit publicists and music supervisors.
We spoke with some of our Indielink hosts about what advice they have for filmmakers looking to make the most of their Indielink sessions. Here are four things networking filmmakers should do… and four they shouldn’t.
Indielink veteran Mia Bruno, Producer of Marketing and Distribution at Seed & Spark, said those who have done their research and have questions prepared have the best chance of success.
“The Indielink sessions tend to be very short, and in a precious ten minutes, do you really want me to dominate the conversation by explaining what my company does, rather than being able to work with you on very specific questions that pertain directly to your project?” said Bruno.
Film Independent Artist Development Manager Angela Lee, producer of the Sundance 2015 premiere Songs My Brothers Taught Me, said that just because your time is limited, doesn’t mean you can’t be relaxed and confident. “Approach each meeting as if it is a conversation and not a rushed 10-minute meeting,” said Lee, “Even if it is a quick 10-minute meeting.”
Do: Introduce Yourself
Lee said that in addition to questions you might want to ask, it’s helpful to work on a quick and clear introduction to yourself and what you’re hoping to learn from the meeting.
Don’t: Bring Handouts
“You can reference lookbooks and images during your conversation but don’t bog down anyone with any papers,” said Lee.
Director Stu Pollard of Lunacy Unlimited echoed Lee’s thoughts (don’t bring your screenplay!), but said business cards are good to have. “Don’t force them into the hands of people you meet,” Pollard said, “but have them ready if asked.”
Pollard also stressed that you shouldn’t ask someone for their card just because you see them giving it to someone else. Instead, wait until you’ve formed a meaningful connection.
Do: Open yourself up to the possibilities
Lee said most of the best results of general meetings like Indielink are not immediate. “Not everyone you meet with will be able to help you directly, but by making a strong and positive impression, you never know how they might be able to help you indirectly or be helpful for another project down the road.”
Pollard advised that participants not overlook their peers. “The most important connection you make might be the least obvious,” he said. “Don’t just focus on the folks with the credits. Your peers, or fellow up-and-comers, might be the ones you end up collaborating with.”
Don’t: Assume You’re Getting a Distribution Deal
“These sessions are intended to be informative and a way to meet people that may have ideas or ways to help; It’s not necessarily a straight pitch,” said Bruno. “I much prefer listening to people who tell me what they have been trying, things they want to try, and ask my advice for new directions to go, rather than, ‘Buy my movie.’”
Do: Remember to Follow Up
Pollard said a good follow-up email should be sent one to five days after meeting. It should be brief and should build on the great first impression you’ve made. Pollard said offering to help the person (spreading the word about their film or company, for example), is often better than asking for help.
Don’t: Forget About the Lost Art of Handwritten Notes
“I am huge fan of the handwritten note,” said Pollard. “It’s a lost art in the digital age.”
Indielink is open to Film Independent Forum passholders. Early registration is now open for early Forum registrants and Film Independent Members. Regular registration begins at noon on Wednesday, October 14. Reserve your seat at the Indielink table today.
Tom Sveen / Film Independent Blogger