How To Get Scoring Projects (and Connect With Filmmakers)
What's This All About?
The precursor to this is The Pitching Process, which is something we'd used for 6 years to find work. You don't need to check that article out if you wanna get into finding a project right away, but it will offer a well-rounded perspective on all this.
I successfully filled up my work schedule with that strategy, among other things. Then, after I knew it could work for others, our teammates started to fill their schedules with ideas from it.
It's been at least a year since I've used that pitch. There was no longer a need - I was getting work thanks to the relationships we'd built and the major effort our teammates at Score a Score, who have acted as my agents, put into my career.
That said, being active in building relationships is important, even when we're busy.
When I finally got back to pitching, I didn't feel the urgency to earn money ASAP. There was no rush. Because of that, the following write-up is a more minimal - but still very active - way of "pitching."
So here's my new process for getting scoring jobs and, more importantly, connecting with filmmakers...
Taking the Time to Genuinely Connect
1. LOOK FOR GIGS (from anywhere in the world)
I really like finding filmmakers on sites like Vimeo and Kickstarter; I've noticed that the production quality there tends to be significantly higher than other places. You could also search through YouTube, Reddit, IndieGoGo, Facebook, or anywhere else filmmakers upload their content.
I've covered how to look through YouTube, Vimeo, Kickstarter, and other places on The Pitching Process article.
Here's what wasn't covered:
REDDIT - Looking through r/filmmaking, r/cinematography, r/gamedev, or r/gameDevClassifieds would be great places to start when looking for filmmakers or game devs whose work you enjoy. It's important to offer value when entering these communities (rather than pitching everyone we find), so spend time engaging with and learning about the people there before pitching.
FACEBOOK - Going through FB pages focused on filmmaking might yield great results. Those pages are always looking to share insightful content, so many of them will highlight recent award winners or films they've personally connected with.
While following the page of Filmmaker Freedom, a website dedicated to helping upcoming filmmakers, I saw that they'd posted about a film that'd just won a few awards. After looking the filmmakers up and loving all the work they'd done, I went through these same 6 steps and we ended up working together.
INSTAGRAM - This can be a great way to learn about films in production. If you're already following filmmakers you've worked with, go to their profiles and follow the people they're following. On top of that - or if you're starting from nothing - use hashtags like #filmmaking or #indiefilm to look for filmmakers.
Here are some hashtags I've assembled based on popularity and post frequency (how quickly the "Most Recent" posts change):
#filmmaking #filmphotooftheday #filmfestival #filmfeed #filmmakerlife #filmmakinglife #filmfestivals #filmmakers #filmdirectors #filmdirecting #moviestill #moviestills #filmdirector #filmproducer #filmproducers #filmproduction #indiefilm #independentfilms #independentfilm #independentfilmmaker #independentfilmmaking #directorofphotography #cinematographer #makingmovies #moviemaking #shortfilms #featurefilms #featurefilm
Instagram, like Reddit, is another place where it'll be helpful to be engaged in the community we're looking to work with before pitching. Offer a ton of value - more than you think you need to offer - before making the "ask." Or, don't make the ask and just contribute... maybe people will come to you.
2. DO YOUR RESEARCH
After discovering a film you've really enjoyed, look up the filmmaker and watch the rest of their available work. If what they're making is exciting to you, find 'em on FB or Instagram and let them know you love what they're doing.
I like this casual social media approach. We're not pitching, we're connecting.
3. BE GENUINE
This is also a perfect time to get into what you specifically like about their films - great storytelling, compelling cinematography, amazing use of colors... even music, if you enjoyed it!
4. BUILD A CONNECTION
Explore each others interests and talk about your philosophies on great filmmaking. As an example, I think films driven by people-focused drama (rather than action-focused drama) are way more compelling most times.
But we don't always have to talk about work...
Recently, a director and I were talking about how we both love to cook food from our different cultures.
...I mean, we ended up talking about work anyway; cooking is so similar to the filmmaking process.
5. DON'T SPOTLIGHT YOUR MUSIC OR ACHIEVEMENTS
The one thing I never do is talk about my music. It's not that I'm keeping it from them, it's just that talking about storytelling is more exciting for me (and generally more fun for them too).
Plus, there's something special about connecting for the sake of being friendly and learning more about someone, rather than selling ourselves.
6. Spotlight Their Achievements
A really fun thing I love about our Instagram is the #filmmakerappreciation series (we're the only ones using that hashtag right now!), where we post about our favorite films.
It's best to do this when a filmmaker's project has recently premiered so we can help with its "awareness" momentum, but we've done this with year-old projects before too. The point is to highlight the types of films we love, support and encourage the creators whose work we admire, and continue building on our new friendships within the community. People really appreciate the gesture.
Here are some we've done in the past - click through to Instagram to see how the captions are structured:
Friends Love Working With Friends
Once you two get going, there's a good chance they'll remember you for your interesting ideas. Keep up with what they're working on and continue being a genuine fan of their work.
In time, your new friend will discover - sometimes all on their own - that you're pretty good at writing music for films. And they'll want to see you succeed just as you do for them.
Ultimately - just as great people enjoy connecting with great people - friends love working with friends.