Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Importance of Giving in Order to Receive

I wanted to talk about the importance of giving to your fellow filmmakers. There will be many times that your colleagues will come to you and say, hey, can you help me out? Can you do this schedule for free or offer up ideas for cast for free or manage a little short, again, for free?

At first you may think, I don't have time for this. And you may be right. You may not have time for it. But you should really try to make the time.

You may also be thinking, I don't want to give my efforts away for free. They are worth something. Of course they are worth something and you will need to decide when you feasibly can do things for free for your colleagues. But definitely try to help whenever you possibly can.

We have all received a hand or a bit of kindness in our careers. Give it back. It helps them and you.

Why? Because, more often than not, you will get back what you have given and then some. You may get a future job referral from that person you helped. Or that person may be able to hire you the next time around. Or that person may work for free for you in turn. There are so many ways you can gain from giving a helping hand. It's just good karma. What goes around, comes around. And that's the truth!

Case in point, a friend of mine was in dire need of help in post on her film. I didn't even have to think about it. I said when and where do I need to be to help? I didn't care if I had to work for free because this friend had helped me out so many times that it was my turn. And because of that friendship, I have landed many paid gigs and I have a friend for life that I can bounce things off of with no concern that I am bothering her.

I have a number of people like my friend above I know I can call on and they will help me for no money. And in turn, they know I will be there for them when they need me. Plus we are all on the look out for spreading the wealth when the money is available. I have earned countless gigs from friends I have helped in the past and I have referred many jobs to those have worked hard for me -- and those who have gone above and beyond are in first position for my help. And that's why I go above and beyond so I can be in someone else's first position. See the pattern?

I bring this up because it's a reality in filmmaking that we are often required to do a million things without resources. And it's inevitable that you will be called upon by your colleagues to help out. And I'm saying, do it. Help them when you can. And don't be afraid to call on your colleagues for help. If they want to be in your first position, they will be there for you.

Of course, you should protect yourself from those who are moochers and takers (who never give back to you). And many times you may not be able to help. And that's okay. Just carry that spirit of giving and soon you will find you are receiving from the unlikeliest of places. And you will just feel good. Isn't that important as well?


Anonymous said...

Fantastic post! I recently heard about Cassavetes calling upon favors well into his career... Oh how I would have loved to help him :)

Ian Agard said...


Excellent article. I totally agree that we as filmmakers must help each other when the opportunity presents it's self. It's all about karma!

Success in the film industry(and in life) is all about building and nurturing positive relationships with other people...and there's no better way to do that then helping someone else achieve your goals.


1979 said...

Thats great, but what if you don't have any friends? Can't get your foot in the door? Can't get a word in edgewise with anyone who you know would be interested in your talents if they just opened their ears...?

Great post, and yes I've often told myself if I ever do finish directing a feature and something comes out of it, I'm not going to forget how I got there.
Only problem is, I have no friends.

Jane Kelly Kosek said...

1979 -- Do you have the ability to intern for free on films? That's the best way to get your foot in the door and meet new people and make friends. Are there listings where you live of filmmakers needing help on their films? If not, what about volunteering for local organizations in order to meet new people and join online film communities. Perhaps you need to just feel out some new arenas for networking and put yourself in a new setting.

1979 said...

Thanks for the advice, I appreciate it.
There are listings, I live in Los Angeles, check numerous sites daily, send my resume to nearly every job I think I'm qualified for and over-qualified for, free or paid-- I get no response. I'm not entirely sure of which organizations I would be able to join without paying for, or frankly, being able to join and not being a minority. I have hit the pavement, gone out on the street, gone to posts-houses, production companies, spoke with everyone I could manage to get through to, but no-avail.
I've been doing this for 3 years. The only thing really keeping me from packing it in is my writing, and the rare chance some freelance work becomes available for god knows what.
It's literally gotten to the point where it's saddening. I have problems networking because I don't drink, I don't party, all those types of things are long past me. This doesn't mean I don't want to meet knew people, not at all. But more or less I want to meet people at my eye-level, if that's coherent.
I've directed shorts, commercials, experimental, music-videos-- I'm seriously at the point where I know what I want to do, always have, but getting the opportunity to even see the ladder is proving difficult, let alone climbing it.
I'll look into some organizations, interning hasn't worked out in the past due to the school/credit requirement (I'm 30 and not in school), but I'll try some different areas.
Thanks again.

Unknown said...

I´ve been in that difficult position... when you have a great idea but no budget to make a film... Thanks God there are always some people that are willing to help!

Let us always remember, that life is a rollercoaster, you will need help from someone at some point in your carrer.

By the way, I would like to share this with you. There are some images of some shortfilms we did with no budget but with a LOT of help from a lot of people!
It was a great experience.