Screenwriting Blog
Posted on by Courtney Meznarich

How Do Screenwriters Network? Take This Advice from Filmmaker Leon Chambers

Networking. The word alone makes me cringe and shrink back into whatever curtains or bushes are closest behind me. In my past life, my career depended on it. And you know what? No matter how often I “networked,” it never got easier for me. It was always awkward, forced, and for lack of a better buzzword, inauthentic. I can’t speak for all of us, but I’d bet there are a lot of writers in this same boat.

With one click

Export a perfectly formatted traditional script.

Try SoCreate for free!

Write Like This...
...Export To This!

It wasn’t until I heard similar advice to the sentiment filmmaker Leon Chambers shares below that I felt the pressure start to ease in networking situations. I learned that I didn’t need to sell myself; I only needed to be myself. That alone would be useful to someone, or would create organic conversation, or would make others open up to me. Don’t get me wrong – I still don’t go out of my way to go to networking events. But, my definition of networking has changed. Networking is friend-finding. And now and then, a friend might open a door for you, or maybe, you’ll open a door for someone else.  

You’d think Chambers, who’s currently on the film festival circuit with his movie ‘Above the Clouds,’ had this networking thing all figured out. He has nine director credits to his name, seven producer credits, six writer credits, and several festival selections. But even he admits it’s a struggle.

“Making connections with people is tricky,” he said. “I find it really hard, and I think it’s because I’m British.”

Joking, Chambers said a friend once told him he needed to be “less British,” stop apologizing for what he’s done, ask others about what films they’re working on, and just be himself. “I think what you don’t want to do is be totally in someone’s face saying, “I want this,” he added.

“The best bit of advice I ever got for making films and trying to get someone to help you is never ask for what you want. Ask for advice. And if you go to someone and say, “Look, I’m trying to do this, have you got any advice?” If it’s the right person and you put it in the right way, then they’ll give you that advice, then by the end of it they’ll say “why don’t I just help you,” which is what you wanted in the first place,” he explained. “But if you actually ask for it, they’re very likely just to shut you down and say no.”

And if I heard a “no,” I was very likely to leave the room humiliated, and vow to never go back to a networking event again! But if you don’t make those direct asks, and instead come from a place of genuine interest, you’re less likely to encounter those ego-blowing conversations. Being well-networked doesn’t happen overnight, just like making friends doesn’t either.

Are you wondering where to start? Screenwriter networking events help set the expectations that people are there to connect, so it helps break the ice at least a little bit. Some screenwriter networking events include meetups (check, conferences, expos, film festivals, and labs. I posted some top picks below. 

Screenwriter Networking Events

Let’s be friends,

You may also be interested in...

Screenwriters, Novelists, Game Writers: Michael Stackpole Tells You How to Get an Agent

“Finding an agent is one of those questions that a lot of people ask. Everybody wants one,” Michael Stackpole explained during an interview with us at the Central Coast Writers Conference. A writer, game designer, podcaster, and regular conference speaker, Stackpole had an answer at the ready. “Once you’ve completed something, farm it out to some friends. Get them to write down two or three authors that they think you write like. Research those authors. Find out who their agents are. Perhaps meet them at a conference. Talk to them and see if their agents are taking on any new clients...
Screenwriting books

The Screenwriting Community’s Favorite Books for Scribes

I recently conducted a survey of screenwriters to learn more about what makes them tick: when do they write? Where do they write? What type of content do they find most useful? And where did they LEARN to write a screenplay? The last question was revealing: So many screenwriters never went to film school. They learned the craft by reading a ton of screenplays and the top screenwriting books. And you can, too. We asked the screenwriting community to name what they believe are the best screenwriting books for screenplay how-to’s, and here’s what they said, in no particular order. Save the Cat, by Blake...

5 Things Professional Screenwriters Would Say to Up and Comers

Most writers who’ve “made it” won’t sugarcoat the facts: earning a living as a screenwriter is hard. It takes talent. It takes work. And maybe most importantly, it takes standing up when you’ve been knocked down … over, and over, and over again. But the reward? It’s oh-so-worth it to be able to do what you love for a living. Today, we’re dishing up some screenwriting advice from a pro. We had the pleasure of meeting screenwriter, playwright, producer and director Dale Griffiths Stamos at the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival. She’s also a dramatic writing teacher, so she sees students aspiring to live their passion every day. She has some sound screenwriting advice for them ...