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Join a Group

Like every industry, the film industry has its own organizations and associations, and joining one or more of them is an extremely effective way of meeting people who may ultimately want to hire you. You need to make it your business to know about the most important groups, and join at least one that appears to offer a way to network with appropriate contacts in the industry.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences are obvious choices, and both are very good groups to join because they offer numerous benefits and opportunities. You might also, for example, be interested in Women In Film or the Independent Feature Project. The American Film Institute is an excellent organization, as is the International Documentary Association, which is home to many nonfiction film and television producers. You might even want to join the guild or union that represents people in your field of interest.

No matter what group you decide to be a part of, simply joining isn't enough. The important thing is to get involved. You should become active on a committee, work on a project, or run for office. Remember that the boards of directors and staffs or these organizations are important, respected, well-connected people in the film community, and getting to know them as working colleagues can be of inestimable value to your career.

Once you have targeted a few organizations that interest you, call and ask for membership information and a current calendar. Then, if you like what you read, you should attend an event. If membership fees are out of your reach at the moment, you can sometimes attend expensive fund-raisers or seminars for free if you're willing to work at the event, or you can volunteer to help in the office or on a committee.

There are also many seminars and classes given on various aspects of the industry. Just about every guild and association holds seminars, and many educational institutions offer them as well. Most are presented in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, and virtually all of them are open to the public.

In addition to the obvious learning opportunities offered by seminars and classes, there are other ways you can benefit from attending them. They give you the opportunity to network and to get to know people who normally might not return your calls. Many top industry players speak at these meetings, and it's possible for you to approach them during breaks or after classes. This is a relaxed atmosphere in which it's sometimes easier to make a contact, which you can follow up later with calls or letters.

You can also use these meetings to create your own networking group. You might, for example, take an industry seminar in your area of interest -- such as writing, make-up, or editing. At the meeting you can pass around a notepad and collect names and addresses of fellow students. Afterwards, pick a bar or restaurant and send out invitations to a no-host networking party, so people can keep in touch and share information about jobs.

Alternatively, you could start your own group with selected industry friends. Lew Hunter, a screenwriter and teacher of screenwriting at UCLA, and his wife formed such a group, which they call Writer's Block. Lew and his wife hold a party periodically at their house, which is attended by students and former students who pay a nominal fee or bring their own food and drink. Lew and his wife love it because it enables them to stay in touch with his students, and provides the students with a great opportunity to network with top industry players.

Finally, there are a number of animation festivals and conventions you can attend, such as The 32nd Annual WorldFest-Houston, Texas, Ann Arbor Film Festival in Michigan or The New York Animation Festival, New York City. A great place to meet people and network, particularly because they offer amore relaxed, informal setting than the usual frenetic Hollywood venues. People who don't call you back in Hollywood will be happy to talk to you after a presentation or seminar.

Attending seminars, conventions, and animation festivals is another way of networking, so when you go, be sure to bring plenty of business cards, put on your best face, and wear clothes that are cleaned and pressed. Not only will you have a great time, you'll also be expand your network in a way that you can't do every day.

Here is a short list of groups to start your journey, but you may be surprised to find a group in your hometown. Before you start looking all across the world for a good group to join, ask around your city and you may be surprised to find a perfect group.

Animha http://www.awn.com/animha/index.html

Animha is a unique, non-profit, association of artists, writers, animators, and filmmakers located in the North of England. Animha is dedicated to independent film production and Animation Workshops for all.


ASIFA Hollywood http://www.awn.com/asifa_hollywood/index.html

ASIFA Hollywood is a California nonprofit organization established over twenty years ago to promote and encourage the art and craft of animation.

Quickdraw Animation Society http://www.awn.com/qas/index.html

Quickdraw Animation Society ( QAS ) is a non-profit, artist-run film production co-op located in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. QAS is dedicated to the production of independent animation and the appreciation of all types of animation. To this end, QAS offers Free Film Nights, Animation Workshops, and Courses!

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