Alright my friend, it's time to start the networking piece of this course. This is where the rubber meets the road and we start making things happen.
And we're going to start with the easiest way to meet lots of new people... the interwebs!
Let's dig into the strategy.
How to approach your online outreach
The first time you work through this process, you're going to find A LOT of people you want to reach out to. And frankly, it can be overwhelming trying to keep track of it all without a system.
That’s why I’m a fan of "batching" research and outreach tasks. So I do all of my initial research first, making a big list of all filmmakers and potential tribe members I found. (There's an outreach tab in the Film Tribe CRM from last lesson that's designed just for this.)
Then, send a big batch of outreach messages to all the people on that list. A few days later, Send a batch of follow-up messages to the people who didn't reply to the initial message.
For me, this makes it way easier to tackle a big project like this without it constantly draining my time or distracting me. Plus it makes it easy to keep track of who responded, who didn't, and keep notes on people that I can later add to my CRM.
But if you want to come up with your own system (or no system at all) more power to you!
Also, two quick notes here.
First, I'd recommend NOT adding these folks to your CRM until they respond and engage. The CRM is a tool for building relationships with future collaborators, potential tribe members, etc. And if you fill it with too many unresponsive people, there's a good chance it'll get bogged down and you'll lose your most important relationships amongst the masses of people in there. So only add them when they respond and it becomes clear they might be a good collaborator or tribe member.
Second, each online platform has its own rules and its own way to get in touch with people. Use your best judgement here. I tend to lean towards email or facebook messages being the best way to reach out initially (honestly can't remember the last time I responded to a message on twitter or Linkedin or Stage32 or whatever).
At the same time, you need to be able to reach out in the places where people are most likely to see your message. So if they're super active on twitter or LinkedIn or Stage32, then reach out to them there. It's situational and contextual, and you'll have to use your best judgement when determining how to reach out.
So with all of that out of the way, let's dive into some online platforms!
We might as well start with Stage32 as it's easily the biggest and most accessible database of filmmakers online.
You can go in, view all the filmmakers in your city, and sort them by their roles, which is super duper useful, especially if you're looking for people with specific skillsets.
And even in smaller cities and towns, you can still generally get a decent number of search results. Hell, when I looked for filmmakers in Tucson (where I live now), there were a solid 10 pages of results.
Unfortunately, one of the obnoxious things about this platform is that a large portion of the users aren't active anymore.
I remember when Stage32 launched like six years ago, and they did this massive marketing push to get people in the door. At the time, a ton of people signed up and used the service for awhile. It was great. But as with many a web platform, people stopped using it for one reason or another.
Personally, I ignored the platform for years because it got pretty spammy in terms of selling you an endless stream of webinars and such.
Anyhow, point is that a lot of the people you find on Stage32 won't use the site anymore. And even if you were to send them a message through the site, there's a good chance they wouldn't see it.
So that's something to look for when searching through Stage32. Check out people's profiles to see if they've been active in the last few months, or even a year. If so, you'll likely be able to contact them directly through the platform. If not, you'll have to keep digging.
However, just because someone hasn't been active on Stage32 in awhile, doesn't mean you've hit a dead end. In fact, you've got a valuable lead. You know this person is a filmmaker, you know where they are, and you know their name. This is more than enough information to go over to facebook and twitter and LinkedIn and google and find them elsewhere.
This is exactly why the Film Tribe CRM in Airtable has a "People to Research" tab. When you find old, dead accounts on platforms like Stage32 or Twitter or LinkedIn or Vimeo, add that person to that list so that you can look them up as you search the other platforms.
So that's the process I would use here.
Find people who are active on Stage32 and add them to your outreach list.
Find people who are inactive, and add them to your "People to Research" list in the CRM. Then you can look for them on one of the other online platforms.
Alright, that's a wrap on Stage32. Let's move on to perhaps the most ubiquitous platform ever... facebook!
The All-Powerful Facebook Search
Facebook is far and away the most powerful search engine anywhere when it comes to finding people with shared interests.
And there are several different paths through the search data that can be useful to us as we build our tribes. So here's the lowdown on how to find filmmakers on facebook.
Ahhh facebook groups. As annoying as most of them have become, they sure are a powerful way to find and engage people with shared interests.
First things first, you'll want to add yourself to as many filmmaking/video production/acting groups as you can possibly find for wherever you live.
Use FB's search function and try a few different combinations like [Your City] Filmmakers, [Your City] Video Production, [Your City] Actors, or even [Your City] Creatives.
However, you shouldn't have to search individually for these groups, because FB does a good job at showing related groups and pages. So jump through and request invites to all of the ones that look promising.
The first time you get into a new group, scroll through the feed and see what it's all about. Get a feel for the types of posts people make, and the types of people that do the bulk of posting in the group.
Ideally what you're looking for are signs that there are active filmmakers in the group. A lot of groups are full of film fans or people who've never made a film but like talking about it. I've got no beef with these folks, but they're probably not the best fit for your tribe. So that's why we want to look for active filmmakers.
So see if people are posting cast and crew calls, looking for or selling gear, inquiring about locations or props, or promoting a film they've made. Really you're just looking for evidence of filmmaking activity.
When you find people who meet that criteria, add them to your outreach list.
Another tactic for finding these posts and people is using the search function in the group. Look up key phrases that'll point towards evidence of filmmaking activity. Phrases like, "Casting Call" or "Casting Notice." Or "Crew Needed" or anything along those lines. Facebook's group search isn't the greatest, so be sure to try a bunch of different combinations and see what comes up.
If no one has posted in awhile and the group feels a bit dead, you can post something to revive it. Polls are great for this, as are open-ended questions that spur engagement. But again, it's best to try and suss out the active filmmakers in the group, so I'd post something like this to see who's actually doing stuff.
What's everybody working on right now? Any cool projects coming up?
Or you could run a poll asking something like: Do you plan on making a film in the next six months? If so, I wanna hear about it down in the comments!
By using these tactics in just a few groups, you should absolutely be able to find dozens of active filmmakers.
Again, I'd advise just getting them on your outreach list first instead of contacting them right away, but do what works best for you.
While groups are the most reliable way to find active filmmakers on facebook, there are some other search tricks you can do to find more.
First and foremost, you'll want to look at pages. Use those same searches from the previous section, but this time click on "Pages" in the search results.
Sometimes you'll be able to find filmmakers who have set up artist pages for themselves. Other times you'll find production companies or films that are actively being worked on.
As a general rule of thumb, facebook pages aren't much use in finding individuals to reach out to.
However, there’s an upcoming lesson about finding your tribe offline, and facebook pages can be a very useful tool for this. You'll be able to find out about film-related organizations and events in your city, which you can then attend to meet people in person.
With that in mind, here are some of the types of pages you'll want to follow.
Local film festivals
Film societies/indie screening organizers
Film related non-profits
Production companies (especially smaller ones)
Films that are currently being produced in your town
Finished films that were produced in your town (these can point you towards active filmmakers)
Indie movie theaters (especially if they have "open screen nights")
College and university film programs
For each of these pages you like, you'll want to use facebook's "See First" function to make sure you actually see the content and events posted from these pages in your newsfeed. (Otherwise, you never know if they’ll show up in your newsfeed or not, thanks to FB’s algorithm).
Another great trick here is to dive into all of the related pages that facebook recommends. They make
The last way to search facebook is probably the least effective of the bunch, but it's still worth mentioning. Every now and again, you'll find people and organizations who are actively doing film stuff in your city that you hadn't found in the previous searches.
Use some of the same searches as before. So..
[Your City] Filmmaking, [Your City] Filmmakers, [Your City] Making Movies, [Your City] Video Production, [Your City] Actors, or even [Your City] Creatives. Etc.
And then click into the "Posts" tab in FB's search.
You're going to see a ton of stuff here, and most of it will be irrelevant. However, this is a good to find films that are currently being shot in your city, people who are talking about various filmmaking topics, and organizations who are putting on filmmaking related events.
Like before, work your way through a good deal of these posts, and when you find pages worth following, do it. And when you find filmmakers you'd like to contact, add them to your outreach list.
And that, my friends, is a wrap on the facebook part of this lesson. Still many more online places to search!
Like facebook and the other platforms here, twitter is a damn powerful search engine, and a lot of people use it to share their interests and thoughts.
At the same time, twitter is also what you might call a clusterf@#$.
There's so much activity, and so many people tweeting about random irrelevant stuff, that finding what you're looking for can be a bit like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack.
That said, there are two strategies here that can help you find people to add to your outreach list, or organizations to follow that will point you in the direction of filmmaking events.
Search for people and organizations
This first strategy is the easiest and most straightforward.
Quite simply, you're going to use twitter's search function, click over to the "People" tab, and then try a bunch of different searches.
I'd start with [Your City] Filmmaker. Then proceed with anything and everything you can think of. So [Your City] Film, Screenwriter, Director, Producer, Movie, Editor, Production, Actor, VFX, and so on and so on.
This will dig up individual and company profiles that are worth following.
You might even consider setting up a List on twitter for these people you find. That way, you can always see a feed of just filmmaking content and events instead of having to find it amongst everyone you follow.
Search for filmmaking-related tweets near you
This second strategy is a bit more tedious, but it's the best way to find people who are tweeting about filmmaking, but whose profiles don't reflect that they're a filmmaker.
So for this, we're going to jump back into twitter's search, and we're going to start by searching the word "filmmaker" or "filmmaking" or something along those lines.
If you're on the web version of twitter, the right side of the page should have a little section called "Search Filters" at the top. Open that up, then select "Near You" in the second dropdown.
This is the basic way of searching for filmmaking related tweets in your area. You could then just search different terms and hashtags and see what comes up.
But if we want, we can supercharge this process with twitter's advanced search function. I haven't used it much, so here's an in-depth guide to how it works.
The only thing I should warn you about with this strategy is that you're going to encounter a lot of results that aren't relevant. You're going to have to sort through a lot of crap to find people tweeting about projects they're working on and things like that.
But hang in there, keep searching, and when you find people, add them to your outreach list for later.
Next up is LinkedIn, which has one of the more straightforward search experiences around.
Simply click up in their search bar, click "People" and then you can search by location and industry. Here's a screenshot of how the search interface should be set up to get results.
Now, there are a few things to keep in mind with LinkedIn.
First, because it's a platform for professionals, a lot of the people on there use it solely to look for paid work. This isn't always the case, as I know tons of filmmakers in the indie realm who have LinkedIn profiles nonetheless.
But it's just good to keep the context of the platform in mind when you reach out to people. You should assume they're there for professional reasons, so keep your outreach professional.
Speaking of outreach, it's considered a best practice to send someone a nice message along with your invitation to connect. This is your chance to make a great first impression, which counts for a lot in this game of attracting tribe members. We'll get more in-depth on this later.
Lastly, just like with Stage32, if people don't respond to your initial messages or invitations, don't fear. Just add them to the "People to Research" list in the CRM. Then you can look for them in other platforms.
YouTube and Vimeo aren't ideal for finding people near you. They're technically not meant for that.
However, because these two platforms host the vast majority of publicly available film work out there, it's worth diving into them a bit to see what you can find.
Between searching YouTube and Vimeo, I'm a bigger fan of the latter. Partly because it's a more focused platform that attracts a higher proportion of creative work. But also because it has a more useful and refined search engine than YouTube.
That said, searching Vimeo for people near you isn't something that's possible by itself. You can still game the system a little bit and find some matches, though.
So my best recommendation for right now is to simply type the name of your city into Vimeo's search bar.
When you hit enter, you'll likely see an overwhelming amount of stuff. Luckily, on the lefthand side of the screen, there are loads of useful tools for filtering and sorting the content. Use them.
For me, I look for anything in the Narrative, Documentary, Experimental, Animation, and Comedy categories that's been uploaded in the last year or two.
A lot of this stuff won't be relevant, or it won't even be shot in your city. But some of them will be, and these are people that should go on your outreach list.
While you're searching, you should also look in the People, Channels, and Groups modifiers in the sidebar. Sometimes you can find film organizations, production companies, and film collectives that way.
YouTube makes it far more difficult to find filmmakers and creators near you than Vimeo. This is largely because its search engine is designed to surface the most relevant content, and not much else.
However, you can still get lucky with YouTube searches every now again.
I'd go with [Your City] + Short Film, Feature Film, Demo Reel, Acting Reel, Timelapse, Music Video, Student Film, or any other modifier you think would work for you.
Just be prepared to scroll through a whole lot of results, many of which will be not helpful in the least.
But the day might just be saved by...
This is something I came across while researching this course, and it adds a very useful functionality for those of us looking for collaborators.
Essentially, you tell the tool where you want to search, what keywords to use, and then it'll show you anything uploaded in that area with those keywords.
For instance, I asked it to search for short films uploaded in Tucson, and it came back with two results I never would have found otherwise.
You can also use other keywords here like: feature film, timelapse, music video, montage, student film, demo reel, acting reel, etc.
Now go forth, search YouTube, and try not to get sucked down a rabbit hole of recommended videos where you come out 5 hours later wondering where all the time went. Godspeed.
Ah, the Google. You didn't think we'd leave you out, did you?
Here's the thing about Google. It's not going to be useful for finding filmmakers near you randomly like a lot of these other options. It is, however, going to be insanely useful for finding things like Meetups, non-profits, film festivals, production companies, etc.
We're going to talk about all of these things in more depth in the "Find Your Tribe Offline" lesson.
So for now, just do some googling like:
[Your City] Filmmakers
Filmmaker Happy Hour
There are a ton of different combinations you can use, but in my experience, a lot of them will turn up the same results.
When you find organizations that put on events and meetups or anything that brings together filmmakers physically, sign up. Follow them on social media, subscribe to the newsletter, get those annoying web push notifications. Do whatever you have to do to not miss important film-related events.
And on the off chance you do find individual filmmakers through a Google search, add them to your outreach list!
People to Research
Throughout this research process, you've probably found a lot of "dead" profiles—places online that people once inhabited, but left long ago for greener pastures. Or something like that.
If you've been following along, you've noticed that I recommend keeping a running list of these dead profiles inside the "People to Research" tab inside of the Film Tribe CRM.
That's because even though their online presence in one area is outdated, there's a fairly decent chance these people are still making films and living in the same area (not always, of course, but the chances are good).
So there are a couple of ways that you can handle these profiles that need more research.
Research them all at once, in a big batch.
Research people individually as you search on a new platform.
Personally, I recommend the first option because I'm a fan of batching similar tasks. But if you find a bunch of dead profiles on twitter, and you plan on searching facebook next, there's no reason not to search for those people while you're there.
Anyhow, when it comes to searching for these folks, the best place to start is obviously google, because it can round up a bunch of their social media profiles, portfolio sites, websites, etc. And through all of this, you can generally build a more accurate picture of who this person is, which'll help you send more personalized messages once it's time to start the outreach phase of this.
Anyhow, just search for some combination of their name + filmmaker or city. And that should get you accurate results.
You can also do this on individual platforms, like I mentioned before. Facebook is easily the most powerful of the bunch, so if you're going to keep your search to one of them besides google, that's where I'd start.
Now go forth and build your Outreach List!
Whew! That was a whole lot of content and a whole lot of ways to find people online.
Obviously you don't have to use all of these to find the filmmakers near you (especially if you're in a larger city). But I do recommend doing at least 2-3 of them, and building up your outreach list to 20 or so names.
Once you've done that, then you're ready for the next lesson. Onwards!
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