Speed Networking

As you might recall (assuming I’ve mentioned it in this blog – I know I’ve mentioned it somewhere), I have long harboured the wish to make a short film. I have written several scripts (or screenplays, as we film artistes call them), including a short one, and I considered that – with a little (or a lot of) help from my friends – I could probably afford to make that one myself. My friend Joe from Brisbane, a gifted filmmaker with a few buddies in the local filmmaking scene, was keen to help. It was all systems go!

Then he moved to San Francisco.

I shelved the project for a while, but of course, I still have a nagging feeling that I’d like to make this movie. So last week, while on a visit to Sydney, I attended a novel event for Australian filmmakers called a “speed networking” session.

As the name suggests, this is a bit like speed dating. I’ve never tried speed dating, of course, but I’ve seen it on a TV show. Not that I waste any time watching television! It was on the Internet. No, of course I don’t spend all my time surfing the Internet! I just…

Sorry, where were we? Ah yes, speed networking. To make my little film, I needed to find some people to help – technicians, actors, production crew, perhaps a director to replace Joe. Around 100 filmmakers of various types showed up. There were two rows of chairs, facing each other. (They were not straight rows, either. Due to the large number of filmmakers, they snaked around the room.)

To meet as many people as possible, we had three minutes to chat with each person. By the end of the night, I had introduced myself to about 30 people, they had introduced themselves to me, and we had quickly traded business cards and discussed ideas. Then (in a moment of heavy hinting) the lights were switched off for a few seconds, indicating that we had to move on to the next person.

It was the evening following a long day (I had been driving to Sydney before sunrise) and I was only kept awake by the adrenalin in the room, even as I gradually lost my voice, struggling to be heard over everyone else. I met with directors, cinematographers, composers, an on-set researcher… even a focus puller. (She explained to me what her job entails, which was very interesting – but this isn’t really the place to explain the work of a focus puller.) I found myself immediate “clicking” with some people, and could relate to their obvious surplus of dreams and ideas.

In the end, I had a few contacts, a few business cards. I have so far kept in email contact with a few of the 30 people I met (I emailed some of them; some of them emailed me), but it’s early days yet. Whatever happens, it was worth it for the rather unusual experience. Surely, everyone in the entire Australian film industry was in the room that night! (Unfortunately, I couldn’t see Hugh Jackman anywhere. Maybe his favourite TV show was on that night. A pity; I’m sure he’d love to do something with my scripts.) Whatever the merits of the films we want to make, there was a collective enthusiasm that was hard to fault.