BIPOC Community Page - - How to approach a stranger:
NETWORKING 201 -
Look at my profile pic. LOOK AT IT> that's me with my childhood hero, Ricki Lake who I met at a Filmmaker's luncheon. When I saw her I fangirl'd immediately and froze in my spot, but I knew that if I didn't talk to her I would regret it for the rest of my life.
That's how you approach a stranger. With all the awe and reverence that you would have from being a gigantic fan - but remember the part where I mentioned I met her at a filmmaker's luncheon? We met as equals, both of us with a film in the same fest. Awe. Reverence. EQUALS.
We don't do a very good job of reminding each other that we got into this business because we have something to say and that if we've been invited to the party we have a right to be there and parties are places where you meet people. Those same people have made mistakes and sometimes fart and want to know that they have made an impact in the world as much as you do. So do it.
That's your permission to approach your heroes - BUT HERE ARE THE RULES:
Wait your turn: Can you read body language? When your hero is laughing and touching the person they're talking to, stand back, wait till they are in a conversation with their arms crossed and their eyes are dodging around the room - trust they will be happy to meet you if you get them out of a conversation with a ding dong.
Have something to say: they already know their resume, you're talking to them so they get that you're glad to meet them, and once you get through that quick gush of gratitude - have something to say. Plan it before you get to talk - What/who do you have in common? Why did you want to say hi? How have they inspired you and how did you apply that to your own work -- DO NOT PITCH THEM, Don't give them your card/screener etc. unless they ask -- but you're allowed to tell them who you are.
Offers you CAN make:
- How can you help the project they are promoting? What hashtags to use?
- If their work is community-based, you can ask if they are going to be doing any screenings for discounts or free in the GTA, and if they need a point person and you are in a position to help - offer your services. (Reach out to BIPOC if their answer is yes)
- Tell them about your film if you're having a screening, if you have a postcard, hand it over.
-- Be aware that the world tends to flock to the fanciest, so ask them if they've had a chance to go to the bar or the buffet and if they haven't - offer to go over with them - you can chat and eat and your new friend will remember you as someone who saw them as Human.
Finally, Know when it's time to leave: Shifty eyes? Arms crossed - take the hint, thank them, make an exit. Try not to stress. Find a friend and unload that you just did a thing. Do not expect anything in return.
TRIGGER WARNING - Special Note about Predatory Behaviour: I'm not telling you anything you don't already know: Eyes Open, Ears Open, Listen to your Gut. If it's too good to be true, it probably is. When someone asks you to a hotel room for a meeting 9 times out of 10 it's legit - but you are ALLOWED TO SAY NO - you want to meet in public - if they say no, they aren't the cool ones. You will never only have one shot at success, you will never have to do anything that feels wrong just to have an opportunity.
And if you WANT to go back to someone's place, go for it, you only live once, baby! Just don't do anything Auntie G wouldn't do. ;)
And to finish my story about my new bestie Ricki Lake? A week later, at the end of the festival, I saw her again at the awards gala when I approached this time we chatted like old friends who wanted to share our experiences. Equals.
(ohmygaw, ohmygaw - I'm talking to Ricki Lake)