5 Tips for Networking With Filmmakers at Festivals in Dubai

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As actors you always want to have as many opportunities to act as possible. You want to be cast in projects and work with great people. You have loads of passion and you want to share your craft.

This is a beautiful thing, but it can also be a great weakness when meeting people who can book you in those projects, because it can come off as desperation and pushiness. As an organisation that hires talents and hook them with jobs, we are experts in the field of networking. We’ve witnessed far too many actors ruin potential relationships with filmmakers by coming on too strong. Lucky for you, we are talking today about how you can network well during festivals and events such as the Dubai International Film Festival for example.

Meeting new cool people that you can jam with is not so easy but let’s break the word into two parts. It’s simply about making your “net”…“work.” Get it? It is so much like fishing; you are casting a net in a very specific and purposeful way, and holding on to what ends up staying inside that net.

So how do you cast the “net” without being obvious and desperate for a catch?

Here are top five tips for networking with filmmakers. These tips can be used in the digital world and the physical world, but film festivals are a great place to meet filmmakers in real life, so it is like bringing your fish into one place where you can start hunting producers, directors, and writers. As fortunate as you think, Dubai brings to your very own hands a bunch of the greatest filmmakers in history during the Dubai International Film Festival DIFF, so use the opportunity as wisely as follows:

Dubai Film Festival

  1. Praise them. They are artists first and foremost. The producers, directors, and writers that you are meeting are at the festival with their artistic babies. Go up to them and congratulate them on their achievement. A wonderful thing to get into the practice of is taking note of a specific moment in their films and praise them for it
  2. Research.  There is nothing more awesome to filmmakers than when a viewer has really taken notice of the details that they put into making a film or a series. So watchthings, research the team, pay attention. Build a mental and physical or virtual spreadsheet of the filmmakers that you want to be working with. Then go to the festivals that they are at, watch their films in the theatres.
  3. Follow them on social media. Whether you meet someone at a film festival, before it, or after, make sure to follow them on social media. There is so much that you can learn about someone as a person and as an artist by what they post online. And not only follow them, but engage with them. Not in a creepy stalker way where you retweet every single thing; instead find the fine line where you are giving them a virtual high five instead of clinging to their arm. But definitely follow them, and if they have a blog, absolutely subscribe!
  4. Think of the people you are meeting as future collaborators, instead of employers. While there might be an awesome role in the next film the director you just met is working on, don’t lead with that. Start by simply creating an authentic relationship with them. What are your skills? What can you offer them? Think of this “catch in your net” as developing a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship.
  5. And most importantly: Leave them alone. Don’t shove your business card in their face unless they ask you for it. After all, flew to have some fun and take some credit for their work.

Dubai International Film Festival

So back to the fisherman: All of these things bring them into your net. As you meet more and more filmmakers, national or international, your network of people will start to grow, and over time it will start working to your advantage. Try these things out, and let us know how your catches are! And just remember, catching and building these authentic relationships takes time. It’s a long-term commitment. After all, fishermen (and fisherwomen), are patient people.

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