The 5 Year Plan

5-year-plan.jpgEvery freelance cinema artist is looking 5 years ahead. By 30, you’re here. 35, you’re there. 40, here, 45, there.

Now how about leveraging your real-world social network to get there?

Last week, over drinks and grub, I met up with a fellow filmmaker, on one “five year plan” ahead of me. I’ve worked with him twice now, but this meeting need not be about business. We were just kickin’ it. Just this month, he tells me about his work on Michael Mann’s new Nike Football commercial. I’d like to be where he is, at least, in five years time.

There seems to be a tendency to only use your gut feeling, or tried-and-true close-to-home methods (because they pay the bills). But try meeting up with people outside your own social network, and you can consider a few more options.

So, what’s required? Action. Trial and error. Think: what have I done this month?

My collaborator and I both come from very different backgrounds but both actively hustle in putting yourself out there. We both call and e-mail our regular leads, but he’s had luck with cold calling whereas I’ve had luck with show up with my portfolio. We’re both aligning ourselves to get ahead, a better-fit course for the next five years. It may never feel like enough, but that might be a curse of the creative.

6 social networking options for filmmakers, from easiest to hardest:

  • Calling or e-mailing everyone you know
    Pro: you and your friends hire one another and their direct recommendations
    Con: bounded group
  • Writing ads or responding to them
    Pro: plenty of options, like Craigslist, Mandy.com along with web and design gig/job boards
    Con: less-bounded social group, trust/credibility issues
  • Market yourself and your site or pay someone to
    Pro: control in defining yourself and plenty of options, like trade magazines and newspapers
    Con: wide net to be cast unless you’ve got a niche market in mind
  • Networking at gatherings or festivals
    Pro: like-minded individuals, either by profession or industry
    Con: not job-centric, but could lead there with perseverance or luck
  • Show up, with or without your portfolio
    Pro: boldness can impress, like offering to mop the floors, for free
    Con: vulnerable position, so don’t work for peanuts for too long
  • D.I.Y.
    Pro: you’re in charge
    Con: you’re in charge

Which methods do you use?


Aaron Proctor
Founder, FWD:labs
Director of Photography site

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