When I first moved to LA I was told over and over again “Go to film festivals, meet other filmmakers!” Which is a GREAT idea. IF you have the money to purchase tickets or a badge to a festival. Which I didn’t.
One day we all want to be SCREENING at big festivals and have people want to come and cheer us on and ask for our autographs. (We’ve all got an Ellen interview prepped, right?)
I had to find another way to go to festivals and meet people. I decided to try volunteering.
Volunteering at film festivals is a FANTASTIC way to meet filmmakers, because nearly all of the volunteers are also filmmakers and most are looking to build their careers too. Through festival volunteering I met so many people who have gone on to shape my career and life in amazing ways.
To volunteer you don’t often need a ton of time, a few 4-6 hour blocks over a week long period is typically all you’re asked for--though doing more means you meet more people.
Look up festivals in your area and see if they need volunteers (spoiler, they do!) Get on their email list and sign up as soon as you can.
Go to the orientation, listen carefully to the guidelines, and sign up for what posts interest you. I loved working in the box office and become very close with that staff. They eventually gave me a pass to the after party for the closing night screening, so you never know what benefits a certain area might bring you.
When you are volunteering be a LINCHPIN.
Be the person that knows the answers, helps with a smile, and works hard even if no one is watching (because someone is always watching)
When you have downtime talk to your fellow volunteers about what they do or what they are working on, and share your story with them. Become friends. The very first friend I ever made in LA I met while volunteering.
Often as a thank you for volunteering, the festival will let you attend screenings when you aren’t on duty. You get to see some incredible films and may even meet those filmmakers!
You’ll also get an inside view of the festival world and know what to expect when your film is finally screening at one.
What’s your favorite festival to attend or volunteer at?