The film industry is a freelance business. A wider, stronger network will speed up your career progression. If you get stuck in a scarcity mentality, your career becomes dependent on one or a small number of professionals. You might feel secure because you put so much time and effort into these few relationships, as though you could damage them to look elsewhere too, when in actuality this both holds you back and puts your long term career in jeopardy.
Here’s an example: You work for the same production company for a long time because it feels safe and you have a good relationship with the person who does the hiring. They get you enough work. Then, they move up into another position, maybe even to a different market. They are replaced, but this new person already has their own list of professionals they offer work to. Now you’re out of the job, and worse, you’ll realize you slowed down your career by limiting the size of your network.
You won’t have developed the connections you need to ensure job stability. This is a freelance business and people change jobs all the time. The last thing you want to do is get complacent and comfortable with where you’re at.
You want to be constantly in demand. If you network the right way, gigs will come to you, so cast a wide net when you’re working on set. Connect with people who can teach you your craft as well as people who can send you work in the near future. As you move into your speciality, you’ll have more and more opportunities to meet the people you admire and you’ll have a big network of people who trust and respect you— the people who will send you work.
Make sure you don’t look at people only as tools to get you what you want, though. Industry professionals can tell when they’re being taken advantage of because for them, it’s a common experience. Be authentically interested in the work they’re doing and what you can learn. They want to pass their knowledge and experience onto other people, they just don’t want to be treated like a stepping stone. The industry thrives on friendships, so make friends!