Q: How important is it for writers to learn how to network and develop relationships within the film industry?

Allison Burnett (Resurrecting the Champ, Autumn in New York, Red Meat, Perfect Romance): I don’t know if you can learn it, but being gregarious and having a winning personality really helps.

Mylo Carbia (Statute of Limitations, Totally Lipstick) :  The sad truth is that networking and developing relationships within the film industry is an absolute must. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched a producer with a stack of scripts on his desk read the one that was just hand delivered to him because someone he knows asked him to read it. I mean, L.A. waiters with connections get read more often than screenwriting scholars who mail their stuff in from somewhere else.

Rolfe Kanefsky (There’s Nothing Out There, Tomorrow By Midnight, Shattered Lies, Pretty Cool, Corpses,  Rod Steele 0014, Jacqueline Hyde, The Hazing): Probably the most important thing. This business is all about networking and who you know and building relationships. The film I’m about to start shooting this year, a remake of a slasher film from the ‘80s, came from a Production Assistant who worked on There’s Nothing Out There fifteen years ago. I stayed in touch with him and he introduced me to some independent producers who were trying to get a horror project off the ground. That didn’t happen, but I’ve stayed in contact with them for the last three years and they introduced me to another producer friend who knows the producer of this horror remake. He got me in the door and it looks like it will happen. So, you never know where you might get your next job, but it usually comes from long-term relationships with people in the business. It helps to have a network group of friends that you can trust, and hopefully they will help you and you can help them. That's one of the reasons I really like the horror genre. People who work in this arena tend to be very supportive. Fans and filmmakers alike want to see you succeed. There seems to be more honesty in this genre because horror has always been looked down upon. One small step above pornography is the way many in Hollywood treat horror. They keep making them because they gross too much money to ignore. Paramount was also ashamed of the Friday the 13th films but kept producing them because the profits were too high.  So, people who work in the horror genre really like the genre and tend to help one another. At least, that’s what I’ve found over the years.  Horror allows you to experiment and plot points don’t always have to resolve themselves. There can be questions left unanswered.

Steve Latshaw (Invisible Dad, Crash Point Zero, U.S. Seals: Dead or Alive):  Critical.  Most deals I’ve made have been in restaurants, in bars, over lunch...in social settings.

Brent Maddock (Batteries Not Included, Tremors, The Wild Wild West):  Networking is very helpful.  This is why any job (office assistant, production assistant, driver) can be a way to establish relationships with the people who get things done.  Of course, if they’re going to like your script, you have to have some talent.  But, if you’ve shown them you’re a good, smart, likeable person, they’ll be far more likely to take a look at what you’ve got.  Meeting them socially (at screenings, film festivals, lectures) can also be helpful, but those situations tend to be group gropes and it’s hard for them to tell whether you’re a serious and talented person or just one of the numerous delusional whack-jobs who are convinced they’ve written the next Chinatown, only better.

John Rogers (Rush Hour 3, Catwoman, The Core, American Outlaws): Very.  The fact that I'm not the wallflower writer, that I'm confident in the room and can be amusing at lunch, has certainly helped me.  But again, the script wins.

Neal Marshall Stevens (Thirteen Ghosts, Hellraiser: Deader): This is actually a small business—and it's one that's based upon relationships. I know everybody hears that, but it's actually true. People like to hire people that they know, that they've worked with before, that they know can deliver, whose work they like, and who they can trust.  So you need to establish those kinds of relationships.

Stephen Susco (The Grudge, The Grudge 2): It’s one of the most important things a writer can do.  It is a very small neighborhood out here, and people like to work with people they like.  Face time is critical in an industry where creative collaboration is key.  

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