I don’t care if you want to make documentaries about cleft palates in Sierra Leon, or B-rated horror movies, you still have to have a business demeanor when talking to people in your industry. The superficiality of Hollywood is applicable across the board. Without beating around the bush, the ultimate goal of all this networking is money. Whether it is a personal check to reward your hard work, a grant to cover movie making expenses or free labor and donations that are saving you money (a penny saved is a penny earned! Keep that in mind when making budgets), movie making runs on money. More than usual it is someone else’s money. And people with money will usually not give it out to people that don’t look like they know what to do with money.
There are a few things you can do to make a better impression when meeting important people. These are small investments on your part that can convey the message that you are yourself well put together and therefore your film or your work is more likely to also be well put together.
You know what the first part of a first impression is? Appearance. Before you can say anything or give anything out, you will have to be seen by the people you are trying to talk to. So this is where I bring in
Investment # 1- business casual clothing.
If you are wearing threadbare jeans and a band t-shirt with your high-school sneakers, it doesn’t look like you know what to do with money because it looks like you have never had more than $200 at once in your whole independent life. If you wear your very fashionable snakeskin jumpsuit, it will look like you have some money, which is good for you, but you obviously squander it on things like that.
So now we tread a fine line. You want to stand out, you want to look good, but you don’t want to spend a lot of money because we all know you aren’t supposed to have much, right? Get some basics like black dress pants and a button shirt. You can then make them more “you” by still wearing those Converse All-Stars, or your Williamsburg earrings or keeping in your blue streaks. Just don’t let your eccentricities overshadow you.
Here, check out this article by EHow on "How to Dress Business Casual"!
Ok so now they important people saw you and s poke to you at this event, but how are they going to remember you? You have to leave them with a little bit of you to keep.
Investment 2 -GET BUSINESSCARDS.
The most commonplace form of self-promotion. Your business card is the way to leave the Big Guys with a little bit of you when you are no longer there to say who you are. They are a quick and easy way to make all of your information readily available to these people. In most occasions, they will hardly look at it and put it in the huge stack of cards they receive from everyone at every event, but that is why when you say, “here is my card”, you follow it with “do you have a card?” And since, like I said, appearances are a big deal, they will follow social pressure and proper etiquette and BINGO! You have their contact information.
There are innumerable places to get your business cards done. I get mine done at
Vistaprint.com. If you're really in a money crunch, they offer free business cards as long as they have a small Vistaprint logo on the back, which is much better than nothing. And for a bit more you can customize them to your liking. The good thing about Vistaprint is that once you order one thing, they always send you emails with offers for free products. Take advantage!
Keep in mind, you can make the appearance of your business cards matter. Those two seconds that this important person will look at your card (thanks to the human reflex of looking at what has just been thrust into your hand can be expanded if your card is worth looking at.
Just please, please, please keep this in mind: If you can’t resist putting tacky things on your card, then don’t put anything on it at all.
Try cool or fun fonts as long as they’re legible, or different colors as long as they’re legible, or maybe a picture behind or beside the text as long as the text is still legible. Most cards are horizontal- make yours vertical. Make it thin. Make it have metallic borders. Whatever. It is not a must, but if you get a mildly impressed “Huh!” from Big Guy, it is worth it.
Now remember- all these accouterments are just that. They are add-ons to the main product: you. They are there to facilitate your ideas and potential from getting the attention they deserve. No matter how much icing you put on the cake and how pretty it looks, people will be able to tell in one bite if it’s stale. So please, while all of this is important it will not get your movies made. Only YOU can get your movies made, so make sure that is where the majority of your energy is going.