the circular runner

I Suck at Networking & Other Things…

In humor, Uncategorized, writing on March 31, 2012 at 8:31 am

A week ago I went to a talk that was supposed to be about funding independent movie projects with Silicon Valley money.  These kind of talks always make me uneasy.  As you can imagine, if getting funding were as easy as paying 40 bucks and hearing someone talk, there would be a lot more indie flicks being made–scary thought!  But there is no magic bullet.  There is only persistence and turning over rocks and waiting and re-thinking and begging and some other gerunds I can’t come up right now.

But what about my lack of ease.  What’s that about?  In the case of last week, I’d say that there was the itchiness of desperation, which was at work.  I don’t know how to put this lightly, but there is a certain type of person who shows up at these events, and the best way to describe them is to say they are not winners.  OK, there’s a better way to say it.  They’re losers.  Now, before you start judging me being judgmental, let me explain what I mean and let me also say I am aware that I might fit into that category myself.

As is the case with any social label, there are many kinds of losers at these events.  There are the dreamers who like to talk about their projects but don’t put in the time with their projects to make them happen.  These people might have talent, but it’s hard to know for sure since they are always talking and never producing much.  Then there are the disconnected types.  I spoke with one such person at an event like the one I mentioned above.  She told me that the bank was foreclosing her house but she wasn’t worried because it would take four months for the sheriffs to come and kick her out, which meant she would have four months rent-free, which for her meant, four months’ worth of mortgage moneys that could be reinvested in her film.

The film, by the way,  is about a guy whose home was being taken away from him.

I won’t say more about this.  You decide.  I mean, history is written by the victor.  So maybe what seems completely daft and loser-like to me will become next year’s underground film Cinderella story.  It’s possible, though an editor friend of mine showed me some of her clips, and I gotta say, I don’t see it.

Back to my unease: I realize that there is a thin line between risk and stupidity, between winning and losing, between unique talent and bat-shit-craziness.  If you are a Spielberg or a Faulkner or a (FILL IN THE BLANK OF YOUR STORYTELLER OF CHOICE), then you know you rock.  But for the rest of us artists in the creative pool, there is only hope that we are not bat-shit-crazy like the woman above.  But how can you know?  Really? And it is this lack of security that makes me uneasy and that is heightened at events like the one last week.  In fact, my lack of ease makes me crazy.  It makes me do stupid things like….wait for it….

After two hours of listening to people talk about their projects, BUT NOT ABOUT HOW THEY FUNDED THEM, which is why I went to begin with, I wanted to get up and scream.  But I decided to hold on and wait things out.  Sure enough, the last speaker on stage, mentioned some of his “tricks” which were really just common sense points, like telling everyone you know, being confident when you talk about your project, etc.  Still, it was good to hear what he had to say, and he was able to make a pretty movie and sell it to Nickelodean, which is saying something.  (The movie, in case you’re wondering, had something to do with a spy force made up of dogs–I’m not commenting.  I’m just saying.)

So, back again to my craziness: after the 3.5 hours of useless information, it was time to network.  There were like ten people in the audience, but hey, it only takes one connection, right?  This was my chance to at least get something for my money and time.  Yeah.  You’d think this.  But what do I do?  I stay in my seat and watch others laugh and talk up their projects.  I start judging them, of course.  Doggie-spy movies?  Santa v. Aliens?  (Another project that had sold.)  I looked on from the corner like some ugly pimpled kid at a school dance and seethed at the socializing that for some reason I was keeping myself from.

At one point, an older woman approached me and asked if I had a project.  She was with dog-spy dude, I think. Not that mattered.  This was a chance, a lifeline.  Someone was trying to help me out.  But of course, I’m feeling like a loser, so what do I do?  I say.  Oh, I’m just here out of curiosity.  She lingered thinking I was warming up to my project, but I didn’t give her another word.  I didn’t even ask her what her project was, which is networking 101.  We just stood, looking at each other, nodding until she walked away.

WHY?  Why you ask do I act like a dumb-dumb?  Insecurity is the most obvious source of my dunder-headed ways.  Insecurity makes people seem like dicks, douches and dumb-asses, which hopefully I am not.  I need to fake confidence better, but just I have a problem with that.  If I feel great about a project, then I can talk it up.  But the truth is that with me, there are no projects I’m 100% about.  Why?  Because I am insecure.  See the loop?

In a world in which doggie-spy movies sell to national networks, there has to be room for my quirky shit. I say this but I realize that there is a problem even in that formulation: room is created; it doesn’t just exist in a vacuum.  Which leads me back to the drawing board and to future talks in which I, hopefully, take the stupid out of my person and share my projects with others.  It’s either that, or I’ll be making my next flick about a dumb writer who stays at home watching silly movies about animal espionage, too scared to make his own projects.

I know.  I know. It’s not that great.  It’s already been done.  I’m sure you could find something better to watch.

See.  This is why I don’t share.

  1. G.,
    I’ll still watch your movie, even if it’s been made 100 times before.
    It could always be made better, no?
    Le Clown

  2. Yeah, exactly why I am very careful about which writers conferences and events I attend. I don’t go to anything that uses advertising vague enough so it allows you to imagine more than is promised. (Which is almost everything.)

    And as I’ve learned, there are no secrets–only experience. Believe me, it took a long time to learn.

  3. Plus, think how you would feel if you DID share your project ideas and someone took them and made their own damn project out of it… just sayin’
    I’d watch yours too!!!
    Maybe it is OK to work on your own and be seen/discovered at the right time by the right person/group/networking. Honestly, I think there was some wisdom behind your reticence.

  4. Ha. I’m laughing/crying with you and thinking I might just hire someone to do the talking for me. Someone confident and articulate. A girl with a short skirt and a long jacket and teeth like a shark. (Oh. That’s what an agent is for, right? So I need to hire someone to play me to get me an agent to represent me some more.)

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