Finding Your Tribe Offline

Finding Your Tribe Offline

Ok, we're going to continue our search for potential tribe members out in the real world.

I know, I know. The real world is scary, and it'd be much easier and more comfortable if we could do all of this from behind the safety of our keyboard.

But I'll tell you from personal experience on this one, getting out into the world and talking directly people will yield the best results. Even if you're a socially awkward introvert as I am.

Also, it's worth noting that much like the online lesson, the strategies for each offline place are a bit different. And some of them have multiple strategies. So I'll be giving you some ideas as for how to approach it, but as always, be creative and use your best judgement.

Anyhow, here are a few of the places you can start looking, and the strategies you can use to make connections.

Let’s dig in.

Film Festivals

I know of no better place to find and network with filmmakers than festivals. The right festival can be a goldmine, and take you from having no connections and no tribe, to getting most of the way there. But I'll tell you up front, in my experience, you're better off targeting a lot of the smaller, more niche festivals.

Yes, the larger, more prestigious festivals often have important people at them, and yes, sometimes you can create a bit of serendipity and make some good connections at after-parties and things like that. It’s been known to happen.

But if you’re serious about finding likeminded filmmakers and forming relationships, the smaller, more niche festivals are where it’s at.

Key Strategy: Attend a few screenings, pay attention to the Q&A sessions, and strike up some genuine conversations afterwards. Easy peasy.

Creative Workshops

In almost every city I've been to (large, small, and every size in between), there have been workshops aimed at filmmakers and creatives of all types.

Sometimes they're free, but most often they're paid. Sometimes they're put on by local production companies and film collectives. Sometimes they're done through colleges. Sometimes they come from big name filmmakers who travel the country with their workshops.

Point is, there's a lot of live, in-person filmmaking education these days, and it generally attracts ambitious, growth oriented people. Just the kind of folks you want in your tribe.

Key Strategy: Don't squander the lunch break! Go introduce yourself to people, strike up conversations, and get them into your CRM.

Meetups and Happy Hours

Most cities, and even some mid-sized towns have meetups and happy hours for filmmakers. These are great, particularly because they’re smaller, more intimate versions of the “networking events” that everyone hates. This is the best way to work your way into existing groups of filmmakers in your city.

In order to find these, dive into the depths of and similar sites, or just do a quick search on google and facebook for “[your city] filmmaker meetup/happy hour.”

You should also look into events for actors, theater workers, musicians, writers, or any other types of creatives that might one day contribute to a project you’re working on. Again though, it’s about building sustainable relationships, so be sure to offer these folks value. With actors in particular, you can build great relationships by doing head shots and screen tests for them.

Key Strategy: Attend, mingle, and listen far more than you speak. Ask people what they're working on and ask how you can help. This'll set you apart from all the sleazy networkers who show up and ask for things without building rapport or trust.

Indie Movie Theaters

In my experience, a decent percentage of the people who work at indie movie theaters are interested in being a filmmaker, or are actively a filmmaker. It’s even more likely when you get into the super indie theaters (not the ones that are a national chain like Landmark).

Key Strategy 1: Ask the folks who work there if they're filmmakers, or if any of their coworkers are filmmakers. Get them into your CRM, then follow up when they're not working a shift at the theater.

Key Strategy 2: Ask if they have know of any screenings of local filmmakers coming up. Oftentimes the small indie theaters will make it easy/cheap for local filmmakers to rent a screen, and if you can get into those screenings, they're often a goldmine of local talent.

Indie Theatres

Small theatres—the type that puts on plays and musicals, not movie theaters—are one of the best places to meet not just actors, but various types of technicians. Lighting designers, set and prop builders, costumer designers, etc.

And while some thespians are very much cemented in the theatre world and don't want anything to do with film, a solid majority of them play for both teams. So get in there and make some theatre friends!

Key strategy: Go to plays frequently, especially the preview shows. These are your best shot at mingling and talking with the cast and crew for long periods of time.

Open Screen Nights

Many cities have some sort of “open screen night” where any filmmaker can drop by and show their work. Sometimes it’s a competition. Sometimes the whole point of it is getting constructive feedback. The dynamics vary from venue to venue.

Even if you can’t find something like that, search for independent theaters, coffee shops, breweries, bookstores, and any other places that might screen the work of local filmmakers.

Key Strategy: Show up and watch the films that people are screening. Even better, screen something you made to build your filmmaking cred with the people there. As always, mingle and give compliments freely.


Almost every college and university has some kind of film/video/media program, even if they're not a "film school." And the people who go through those programs are often some of the most willing collaborators when it comes to low-budget projects.

Also, don't overlook the theatre programs at colleges either. Back when I was in school at the University of Denver, most of the actors for our films came straight from the DU theatre department. And those relationships we built with the theatre people lasted well beyond the end of school.

Key Strategy 1: Put together a project you'd like some help with, then reach out to the professors and ask if they'll share the opportunity with their students.

Key Strategy 2: When the school does a screening of student work (usually happens at the end of every semester), show up and mingle. Treat it like a film festival.

Film Societies

Film societies are most often about screening independent work in a certain city. So they're not necessarily geared towards filmmakers as much as they are film audiences.

But back when I lived in Denver, the local film society there put on all sorts of screenings and events based around local filmmakers, and they were a great chance to network. So you'll have to do your research on this one to see if your local film society does something similar.

And even if they don't, it's often still worth being a member so that you can see some rad movies and support indie film in your city.

Key Strategy: Search for screenings and events that revolve around local filmmakers. Then show up and mingle!

Production Companies

This one is probably one of the least effective on the list, because running a production company is damn hard and it eats up a majority of your time. That said, I've seen it work for a handful of people, so I'm including it.

For starters, at established production companies, it's difficult to get anyone to pay attention to you, let alone care about being in a "tribe." But at the smaller, up and coming production companies, you'll often meet people who are finding that balance between building a business, and making lots of cool work. These are the folks you'll want to go after.

Key Strategy: Reach out through email or social messages to some of the smaller production companies in your area. Offer to help them out as a PA, grip, or whatever. Even better if you have a marketing background and can help them find clients, etc. Build these relationships by giving of your time and energy, and if they’re a good fit for your tribe, you’ll then have access to the resources of that company. It’s a huge win.

Rental Houses

I'll be honest, I have no experience with this one. I've always used my own gear, or rented from my old film school, so the amount of time I've spent in rental houses is negligible

But I've heard from a few friends of mine that they've made really valuable connections at their local rental houses.

Key Strategy: Chat with the employees of your rental house and see if they're filmmakers. If there are other filmmakers there picking up or dropping off equipment, chat 'em up.

Keep Your Eyes Open

Alright my friend, that's all I've got for you in terms of finding potential tribe members offline. Hope you found it useful and that it sparked some ideas.

That said, there are probably a bunch more offline places to look. You can find creative, talented, awesome people anywhere.

Just keep your eyes open, and make a habit of talking to strangers and asking them about their passions. You never know when you'll come across a perfect fit for your tribe.

And when you meet people, make sure to get them into your CRM! That way you can take full advantage of what we’re talking about in the next lesson.

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