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Advice Sessions: Finding Resources and Utilising Social Media

One of the great benefits to a hybrid festival in 2021 was that we were able to stay in touch online, even as pandemic restrictions ease. This year we caught up with 30 of our filmmakers with Instagram live interviews to talk about their films, their process, and advice they’ve received while starting their careers. Over the next 4 installments, we’ll be sharing their advice with all of you to get you on your way to making your next short film.

Use social media to avoid paywalls and build a sense of community

Christopher Deakin, the director of Beast of Burden (@christopherdeakin) explained that, in his experience, “it doesn’t have to cost anything to make a film. Get people around you and ask for help. I’m a big promoter of using social media to help find that. A great thing for me when I started was using loads of groups in Manchester for filmmakers, and I’d be like, ‘I need some help, because I’m doing this thing’, and the amount of interest is unbelievable, so there’s always positive people around.”

We know filmmaking can be expensive. There are, however, plenty of communities and individuals in the same boat wanting to be found as much as you want to find them. Connecting with filmmakers or actors over social media avoids paying for casting services and disrupts the idea that networks can only be found through film schools. Join Facebook groups, follow indie filmmakers on Instagram and Twitter and introduce yourself in a DM.

Deakin reinforces this idea; “I try to avoid anything that a creative has to pay for. I try to put my castings out on social media [...] I believe that those opportunities should be there for everyone, whether they pay for a service or not.”

Instagram is your business card

In a conversation with Pretty Loud Productions, Celia and Amaya describe Instagram as a business card and say social media is “the first place you can start and from there, you can begin to create your own network of people, follow people you admire, follow other short film makers, other filmmakers, actors, anyone in that world, get in touch with all of those people, make those connections.”

Lead with humility and gratitude... Nobody owes you anything.

Little Wing Festival Director Mariah Mathew says, “Social media has been an invaluable pathway to breaking down the barriers to small networks and it being “all about who you know”. Most industry leaders, jury, and sponsors we’ve brought on board have been through messaging them on Instagram or Twitter and pleading our case.”

“For every response I got from someone, I’d have 10 that I didn’t hear back from - and that has to be okay. Rejections or messages left on read usually aren’t personal, people’s priorities are changing and most of us are just doing what we need to do to stay afloat, and so much of it is getting lucky with timing. I’ve had people I’ve connected with every year when things haven’t aligned, and then get lucky in a window where they do. So stay connected and be grateful for the time people give you.”

“I’d say it’s a numbers game, and to an extent it is, but your messages need to be directed at that person and their interests specifically, not a cold callout. I’m still waiting for replies from Hugh Jackman and Glen Close’s dog. Also, when you’re writing to someone new and asking them for advice or to be involved in your project, lead with humility and gratitude every time. No body owes you anything, you can be confident and proud of what you’ve done without making it out to be like they should be grateful for the opportunity, and really reinforce why this is a good thing for them to be doing.”

As a resource, social media is free, accessible, and already something most of us engage with daily. But there is also a wealth of free resources, education, and software that can be found easily online, and we’ll be putting together a page or resources for you to flick through and will update this page when it’s ready to launch.

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