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Getting into the Film Business: Networking 101

What is networking? Why is it so important?

I remember the first day we started the MAIFB courses, our programme director, Professor Will Higbee, stressed the importance of networking to us. I had no idea what networking was at that time.

According to Google, networking is the exchange of information and ideas among people with a common professional or special interest, usually in an informal social setting. Well, in film business, you will often come across networking in film screenings, festivals, film markets, and after-parties as well. On these occasions, the room is always filled with cinephiles, filmmakers or people working in other areas of the industry. If you’re interested in someone’s work or knowledge, it’s the chance for you to talk to them under these circumstances. Most of them would like to have this informal talk with you or exchange the information you want.

Networking is the common way people meet each other and expand their personal networks in film business. As a producer, that could be the way for you to find your investor and fund provider. Or as a film sales person, that could also be the way to find your next buyer. So as a film business student ourselves, it’s extremely important for us to know how to network with people. It’s the thing we need to face every day in our future professional career.

On-set photo from the filming of my latest short film

Where should I start?

So basically, networking is talking to a stranger in a certain environment. Sounds very scary, right? Although I love to talk to people, talking to strangers freaks me out. Especially when having English as my second language, it makes networking an even bigger challenge.

Luckily, the MAIFB programme arranges a series of courses and networking events for us to get used to this process. We had a networking dinner with MA Creativity students and some tutors during the induction, pushing us into this networking thing at the very beginning. To be honest, I was terrified confronting these many strangers at a dinner, since it was my first week in the UK and I was still getting used to the English-speaking environment. Although I’ve only met my classmates for two days, we just stuck with each other as they were the only people I was familiar with at that time. However, that was not what we were here for. We were forced to be separated and talk to the people we didn’t know. It was kind of uncomfortable for me from the beginning, but as soon as I started talking, I found it was not that hard. Everyone came from different cultural backgrounds, and some of them came from the countries I knew very little of. It was fun getting to know their stories. And it was good to know what other programmes are doing in order to have future cooperation. As for the language part, English is not the first language for most people in the room, so we were all listening to each other patiently. The native speakers also showed great support, which I really appreciated.

Later during the courses, we had industry tutors came in and taught us some useful skills in networking. Those were very practical courses to learn from. I’m glad that we have something like these to help us get the hang of networking.

Networking event during induction with MA Creativity students

Some tips for networking

As a beginner in networking, I’m going to share some personal tips that help me doing networking:

  • Be mentally prepared, don’t be afraid to talk.

Yes, it’s scary. And it makes me nervous. But as long as you’re mentally ready to talk, you’ll tell yourself to do it. You can start with complimenting others, which will easily move onto a conversation. Don’t have too much pressure on yourself. It’s just talking, what’s the worst thing that could happen?

  • If possible, prepare your business card in advance.

I had my business card ready before coming to the UK. As a student, I simply put in my course name and studying level (MA). I also included my LinkedIn and Instagram account, which display my past works.

It proves to be a useful conversation starter. I met one of my favorite directors Anthony Chen, who won Caméra d’Or with his debut feature Ilo Ilo, at a screening in London. He happened to be sitting right next to me and I decided to say hi and introduce myself. When I gave him my card, he was quite interested in my courses and asked me for some details. I met him again the other week after the screening of his new feature Wet Season. That time I was able to have a further discussion with him about his films.

  • Smile and listen.

Being polite to everyone is the most important thing. Good manner is always welcome and people like a good listener. It will help you give a good impression.

  • Get practice!

As the old saying goes, practice makes perfect. That’s true. The more networking you do, the more experienced you will become. Do the research and find out who will be attending the same event as you do, then try to grab them and have this casual conversation. You’ll find yourself gradually getting it as you go.

I’m totally new and was bad at networking before coming to the UK. But with the help and support from MAIFB courses, I feel like I’m not that stressed doing networking anymore. So, I hope these tips could give you some help. Good luck with your next networking event!

My friend and me at a networking event during FIRST International Film Festival

 

   December 17th, 2019    Careers, Lectures and Seminars, MA International Film Business, Miscellaneous, Postgraduate, Studying


A day in my daily life as a uni student of Exeter

By Feilin Liu, from China, studying MA Translation Studies

I have been a student at the University of Exeter for two months, and I’m gonna talk about my typical day here.

As a postgraduate student working on MA Translation Studies, in general, I mostly have classes on Wednesday and Thursday in the first term. Therefore, I have plenty of time to arrange myself. But if you think this means I have lots of time to hang out with my friends or even travel around, you are totally wrong. That’s because we have non-stop readings and assignments to finish. It is really busy for me as an international student studying abroad for the first time. Therefore, I’ve spent most of my time in the library (I’ll tell you how much I love the library in St Luke’s library in my next blog maybe) in my spare time.

My to-do list in 1st term

Now, I’ll show you my timetable on a normal day with no lectures and workshops.

My breakfast

 

7:00-8:00 a.m.: Get up and prepare my breakfast (usually a cup of milky tea and a sandwich both made by myself).

8:00-8:30 (sometimes 9:00) a.m.: Have breakfast, browse Weibo (Chinese equivalence of Twitter) and WeChat (main Chinese social media) moments, etc. I like to get to know what’s happening in the world and around you know.

the booth in St Luke’s library

9:00-12:30 a.m.: Start studying. Work on my readings and assignments (this always makes me crazy .) I like to use the Forest app to help me concentrate.

a screenshot of Forest

12:30-14:00 p.m.: Have lunch. Sometimes a sandwich, sometimes go back home and make a quick lunch. Have a short rest.

14:00-18:00 p.m.: Continue studying…

18:00 p.m.-00:00 a.m.: Have dinner. I always have some Chinese food at home (maybe there will be a blog about this too). Binge watching on Bilibili (video sharing website popular among the young), talk with my friends, etc. This is my happiest time of day. BUT! Sometimes when there is an assignment due around the corner, I have to go back to the library again. I then go back home at around 10 p.m.).

00:00 a.m.: Go to bed. I’m wondering if I should go to sleep a little earlier…

 

 

That’s my whole day here most of the time. Maybe it sounds a little boring, but I really enjoy it (except for the deadline time).

   December 15th, 2019    International, Life on Campus, Postgraduate, Studying abroad


Berlinale Film Festival 2019: impressions of a first-time attendee

        

European Film Market
Business cards – packed, flyers for Green Days by the River (my last film) – packed, smart dress code – packed, passport and most importantly good vibes – packed. I am as ready as I ever will be for my very first Berlinale Film Festival. I have been to festivals such as TIFF, Tribeca and LA Film Festival and found that the bigger the festival, the harder it is to network, get access to panels and see films while the smaller festivals make it easier to get access to people, and have an experience. I wanted to be sure to meet as many people as possible and learn as much about the European Film Market (EFM) and understand the role and importance of this market to the industry and for filmmakers. I made sure to book my flight to arrive on the 6th Feb so that I could get a full day in at the EFM as our accreditation as students was limited.

Walking up to the Gropius Bau I was filled with excitement to enter the EFM and any opportunity that might present itself inside. First through the door, a massive variety sign and magazines everywhere and a guy giving out screen international bags. The place was massive, buzzing with activity, I really had no idea this was happening in the world of film. I had heard of it, but it was one of those things you needed to see to understand it. I walked into the huge lobby area with thousands of companies’ signage everywhere. As a filmmaker it was really exciting to be in a space so focused on selling films. I walked past the stalls with great intrigue, picking up leaflets and sales booklets. Companies from around the world had come to sell their country as a location or try to find distributors for their films. I had never been to a place that had so many movies for sale. It was also overwhelming to think about the competition to have your film sold.

After investigating the stands for a few hours, I realized it was really only sales companies selling movies, I didn’t know why I had the perception that buyers would have stands there also. I really thought I would see HBO, Netflix, Paramount, Lionsgate etc. It was a learning experience to realize all those companies were at the festival, but they were in ninja mode and only seeing the sales companies they were interested in. They were there on a mission to purchase films that made sense to them. The movies that could be their next breakout hit. The EFM represents a meeting place for film business, both formal and informal. It is a time of the year for industry people to meet face to face. I think, I will come back to the EFM better prepared next time.

Berlinale Film Festival
Next on to the Film Festival, which attracts so much talent from producers, directors, actors and crew members. Most screenings have Q&A’s in the main competition and there are special press and market screenings that you can line up and get access to once the cinema isn’t full. A really great place for networking. Just strike up a conversation and make new film industry friends. I saw some really amazing experimental films that I don’t think I would be able to see anywhere else. I prefer to see those types of films over films that will get a theatrical release as  you can catch them anytime.

Experiencing the EFM first hand is something I would highly recommend to Master’s in International Film Business Students. The knowledge gained has been perspective shifting as it allowed for a greater understanding of what happens to films that have been made or are in pre-production and how they are sold. It is a true marketplace for movies and networking. The EFM is only one aspect of the Berlinale Film Festival and totally worth spending time at, along with the rest of the festival. This event is definitely worth attending, whether your interest is watching films, networking or trying to find a sales agent or producer, you can do it all at the Berlinale. As a first-time attendee of the EFM, it is the place to be for the business of film-making. Five stars!!! Also, if you get time checkout the Berlin Zoo!!!

   June 26th, 2019    Careers, MA International Film Business, Miscellaneous, Postgraduate     , , ,


Why I chose to study MA Theatre Practice at the University of Exeter

It is that time of year, the time where the questions about your next step become more imminent and the pressure seems to be slightly on as the possibility to apply to a number of universities opens again. Thinking about the future, how this one decision seems to have much more weight than the others in shaping what your life will turn out to be. And to be quite honest the fact that there is a huge variety of options for “what to study?” “where to study?” “why there and not here?”, makes the whole process even more daunting. Now to that added stress factor in that you might be considering moving away from your country to study abroad.

If you are indeed thinking about doing your undergrad or your postgraduate studies abroad, I am not going to deny that it can be harder to make this decision. This is mainly because most of us cannot visit campus on open days and are essentially missing out on the one to one information and the vibe that you can get from the university during these events. As a result, we must rely heavily on the information we find online about accommodation, studies, social life, academic style: literally every aspect of what “uni life” means.

Taking this into account allow me to help you (even in the slightest) by telling you how I came to the decision of choosing Exeter. And why, even though is not technically a “drama academy”, I stand by my choice of studying theatre in a university as opposed to any other option. (more…)

   April 30th, 2019    International, Life on Campus, Miscellaneous, Postgraduate, Preparing for University


A day in the life: MA Theatre Practice edition

Coming to Exeter, for me, not only meant studying something that I’m truly passionate about, but also it meant moving away from home for the first time. During my undergraduate degree, logistically and practically it was better if I stayed at home. My university was just fifteen minutes away (when the traffic was not a nightmare) and it really did not make any sense for me to move away and add an extra cost to things. So even though I managed my on schedule and my own things, we all know what living with your parents is like. You can only manage so much.

Clearly my routine and the way I handle things needed to change when I moved here, and to be honest with you I was looking forward to it. So I’m taking this time to reflect how my day to day is and hopefully give you an idea of how life can go by in Exeter as a MA student. Just bear in mind that this is how I chose to organize my time and it doesn’t mean that you should do it exactly like this. (more…)

   April 3rd, 2019    International, Lectures and Seminars, Miscellaneous, Postgraduate


Me, myself and my EXEperience

Standing on the Piazza, I see the same view I saw a year ago. The gently swaying of the trees blazing red and orange outside the Forum, the students and staff milling around, enjoying the day and the feeling of intense energy and joy in the air. But a year on, the person watching the view is different. The past year has brought some big changes in me –  from my postgraduate degree, to my job and my experiences at Exeter. All have had a tremendous impact on shaping me! Today, I stand here more confident, self-assured, knowledgeable (and just a tad older!) than I was last year. How did this happen, you ask? Well… (more…)

   December 18th, 2018    International, Life in the South West, Miscellaneous, Postgraduate


Spending an Autumn’s Day in Exeter

 

A blush spreads across the trees. Gremlins, ghouls and freshmen anticipate All Hallows’ Eve and pumpkin spice lattes. It is autumn in England! As a Pakistani who grew up in Multan’s desert heat, autumn was always a briefly snatched season, with the trees barely changing colour before winter arrived. In Exeter, autumn paints trees and vines red and yellow and burns them orange, in a brief little cheer before winter. Drawing on from how I spent a day recently, here’s a guide to an autumn’s day in Exeter. (more…)

   October 19th, 2018    Food and eating, International, Life in the South West, Life on Campus, Miscellaneous, Postgraduate, The city of Exeter


Healthcare in the UK – A Guide for International Students

If you are an international student on a Tier 4 student visa like I am, there’s no need to panic about what to do if you get ill during your stay in the UK. Read on for my guide to healthcare in the UK and what to do if you get ill at university. (more…)

   August 28th, 2018    International, Life in the South West, Life on Campus, Postgraduate, Preparing for University, Undergraduate     , , , ,


That’s a surprise! 6 things that surprised me about the University of Exeter

Exeter is a charming, lovely place, full of beauty, history and welcoming people. It is definitely a wonderful experience being able to live here for a year and it’s not one I will ever forget. But having lived in the UAE for a while, there are some things about Exeter that surprised me! So, here are some of the things that I personally found really different from where I’ve lived before.

(more…)

   July 13th, 2018    International, Life in the South West, Life on Campus, Miscellaneous, Postgraduate


True beauty lies within…the University of Exeter

Coming to university in the UK means having a plethora of new experiences. But for me, as an Indian who had been living in Abu Dhabi for several years before coming here, one of the most exciting things has been the lovely scenic views in Exeter, especially at the Streatham Campus, where I’m based. My first thought on seeing the Streatham campus was ‘It’s beautiful!”. It wasn’t just the lovely green spaces around campus. It is the whole atmosphere of vibrancy and liveliness that’s always present. While meeting loads of people, learning the ropes and grappling with homesickness was exhilarating, it felt liberating to get away from the bustle once in a while. It was in those instances that I discovered the true beauty of the Streatham Campus.

 

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   June 13th, 2018    International, Life on Campus, Miscellaneous, Postgraduate     , , ,


What is it like to work for the University?

Last week’s theme on our @exeterunilife Instagram account was WORKING FOR THE UNI. I asked students who work for the University or the Guild to talk about their experiences and shared their stories on Instagram. In case you missed it, here are the highlights of the week along with some general information about working on campus. (more…)

   April 5th, 2018    Careers, Higher Education, International, Life on Campus, Postgraduate, Undergraduate


10 ways my postgraduate degree is different from undergrad

It can be difficult to differentiate between a postgraduate taught course (PGT) and an undergraduate degree. After all, both are taught! But a Masters degree is quite different from an undergraduate degree. I’m doing MSc in Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture, which is very different from my undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences.

So here are my top 10 differences between an undergraduate and a taught Masters… (more…)

   February 27th, 2018    International, Lectures and Seminars, Postgraduate, Studying     , , ,


Day in my life as a postgraduate student at the University of Exeter

The best thing about university is that every day is unique, bringing with it new opportunities and events! But of course, life is more organized when you’ve got a routine you can follow. I’ve got my own routine, that I try to follow on most days.

So a normal day in my life goes something like this…

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   February 27th, 2018    Lectures and Seminars, Life on Campus, Postgraduate


A Guide to the annual FXU Student Elections on Cornwall campuses

So, it’s a chilly day in February and you’re walking towards the Exchange with your friends to head to your next lecture but the moment you step into the building, BAM…you’re suddenly bombarded with lots of students, several dressed up in coloured shirts with catchy slogans – there’s a lot of very smiley people coming up to you with manifestos and flyers are being waved in your face. What’s up with that?

At the moment as I’m writing this, we’re at the end of elections week for the 2018/2019 FXU Student Presidents! So, I’ve decided to do a quick post about the annual elections so that you know what’s on around campus if you do decide to study at the University of Exeter on the Cornwall campuses (or maybe you’re a prospective Falmouth student who has sneakily hopped over onto our Exeter student blogs to have a look at what’s going on…) and not get overwhelmed when elections week rolls by in your time at university.

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   February 26th, 2018    Cornwall, Life on Campus, Penryn Campus, Postgraduate, Undergraduate


Day out at Taunton

As a postgraduate student, days off are rare and precious! While I love my course, the occasional break is always welcome! So on my day off, I went to Taunton for a visit. It’s a quaint little town, barely a half hour train ride away from Exeter.  I took the train from Exeter St. Davids and arrived at Taunton 25 minutes later. Read on to find out how my Taunton adventure went.
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   February 24th, 2018    Exploring Devon and Cornwall, Life in the South West, Postgraduate     , , ,


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