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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


Your academic interests – represented

SSLCs – I’ve got a hunch that most students at Exeter wouldn’t be able to tell you what the acronym stands for, let alone what the bodies are actually responsible for. Yet, Student-Staff Liaison Committees are one of the cornerstones to ensuring that the student experience at Exeter is continuously enhanced and improved wherever necessary.

So, who are they, and what do they actually do? Student-Staff Liaison Committees are made up of a handful of student Academic Representatives, a Subject Chair, and a discipline’s Director of Education. Meeting at least once a term, Academic Representatives are charged with putting forward praise and/or concerns from their peers about their academic experiences. The aim is simple: to reach a positive outcome for all students. Admittedly, whilst that may sound a little opaque, SSLCs work tirelessly to ensure that students’ concerns are addressed and remedied wherever possible; often by seeking clarifications on methods of assessment, suggesting improvements to specific modules, or highlighting areas in which a department could improve in its engagement with students.

To delve a little deeper, I recently sat down with Filipa Torres, a third-year International Relations student who currently serves as Subject Chair to the Politics SSLC. Initially answering “what don’t we do?!” in response to a question about what the role entails, she provided the following summary of a Subject Chair’s responsibilities.

“A Subject Chair is the contact point between the student reps, the student population as a whole, and the department. I attend meetings, write agendas, keep up with the feedback that student reps are reporting, and engage with lecturers.”

Filipa’s duties are primarily carried out during meetings of the SSLC. From my experience as an Academic Representative, these meetings are thoroughly productive and worthwhile. On chatting to Max Jablonowski, a second-year International Relations Representative, he too described the meetings in a similar fashion.

“The meetings are very chilled. We discuss any questions, the Director of Education comes along, and there’s no pressure whatsoever; you can speak whenever you like, and you won’t be limited in what you do say.”

It’s important to remember that these meetings aren’t a forum for simply expressing negativity, but instead, they provide a unique opportunity to propose creative and innovative solutions to the issues that are raised.

One example of this is the recent creation of a Peer to Peer Mentoring Scheme within the Politics Department. Having received feedback from first-year students that they feel ill-prepared for January exams, the SSLC, in conjunction with the Politics Society and various members of staff, set about recruiting volunteer second and third years to lead workshops on exam technique. The scheme will begin piloting two sessions this December. This is just one case that highlights the positive change that can arise as a result of SSLC action.

So, if you’re not convinced of the good that SSLCs do on your behalf; get involved and stand for election to one when the next cohort is recruited. Or, take it from Max, who reflects that being on an SSLC has provided him with opportunities to “meet plenty of new people, allowing you to build greater relationships with staff and students”, Filipa, who stated that a lot of the satisfaction she draws from being in her position is that “you’re representing a lot of students, and that keeps you going”, or me, in that I wholeheartedly believe that they’re the best way to go about affecting academic change at Exeter.

In the meantime, be sure to reach out to one of your Academic Representatives if you have any concerns about your academic experiences at Exeter; we’re always willing to listen.

Alfie Dewdney

President, Exeter Politics Society  |  International Relations Academic Representative, Politics SSLC  |  Student Representative, Exeter Grand Challenges

   December 5th, 2019    Exams and Assessment, Lectures and Seminars, Miscellaneous, Studying, Undergraduate


The Christmas act

One of the hardest things about the Christmas period is that whilst there are so many deadlines and January exams to study for, this is also the time of year with the most festivities. It seems impossible to get it right; on the one hand, staying in and studying means you are doing your best in your degree. However, on the other hand, knowing friends will be getting mulled wine from the Christmas market while you sit inside on a dark, cold evening is enough to make you lose interest in working completely. With seasonal changes in light affecting mental health and overworking meaning you can be at risk of burnout or anxiety, getting the balance right is vital.

Here are some tips which I’ve found helpful in keeping on the right track.

1. Make sure that when you are studying, you are doing it effectively, and right
Understand the way that you work best. For me, waking up at a regular time and working in the morning is easiest – it’s when I have the greatest amount of energy, clarity and focus.

2. Establish a routine at the beginning of each week
Use a weekly planner – free online with a quick google search – and decide when you are going to work, what you are going to work on, and when you are going to stop and relax.

3. Don’t be overambitious
Be realistic about what you can actually get done in a day.

4. Pomodoro your way to greater focus
Human beings are incapable of focusing for large lengths of time without breaks, so try the Pomodoro technique. Set a timer for 25-40 minutes and work solidly. Take 5-10 minute breaks in between these chunks and step away from your laptop, make some tea, put up some decorations or do something else you enjoy.

5. Start your assignment today! 
We’ve all been there; a deadline feels like months away but before you know it there is only a week to go! Don’t be the person stuck indoors over Christmas because of deadline procrastination, get going now!

6. Eat that Frog! 
I use Brian Tracey’s Eat That Frog ABCD method to prioritise my work starting with the most important, scary tasks – the ‘A’s’, things you absolutely have to get done – all the way down to the ‘D’s’, bits which you could leave until later. You tackle the most horrible things at the beginning of the day when you have the most energy, and then that spurs you on to do the others. It also means if you don’t get the D, C, or even B tasks done, there is no guilt sucking your motivation the next day, and when you stop to enjoy coffee with a friend, you aren’t stressing about work.

7. 10 minute time trick
Struggling to get started? Just put on a timer for ten minutes and tell yourself that you will work steadily for just that tiny amount of time, no matter how terrible what you achieve is. Switch your phone off, close your door and do it. Telling yourself you just have ten minutes removes all the pressure of perfectionism, and before you know it, you’ll be pressing repeat on the timer and getting stuck in.

8. Don’t overwork

No matter what you might think, as long as you are doing your best that is enough. We are only human. Don’t completely cut out downtime just to get your deadlines in. Your mental health and wellbeing comes first…

If you need support now or over the holidays, speak to your lecturers or reach out to the Wellbeing team.

Written by Evanna Kappos, studying English Literature.

   December 5th, 2019    Exams and Assessment, Life on Campus, Miscellaneous, Studying, Undergraduate


Tips for International students coming to University of Exeter: MAIFB

It can be really scary and exciting at the same time, to go away from home and study in a new country. It is overwhelming to experience different cultures and people from all around the world. The MAIFB course is one such course where you would have a mix of students from different parts of the world. It helps broaden your knowledge about how people differ in different regions and parts of the world. Coming from a country like India, I made friends from the Caribbean, China, America and different parts of Europe. From my experience I can tell you that it is the most enriching experience of my life. But even before I got here, I had a lot of unanswered questions in my mind. Even though I found my way through, I wish I had known a few things before I landed in UK. So here are some tips: (more…)

   August 8th, 2019    Freshers Week, International, MA International Film Business, Miscellaneous, Preparing for University, Studying, Studying abroad, Year Abroad


My top tips for Clearing

Tip 1: Plan ahead

I hadn’t really thought about studying abroad before the release of my public exam results but I still applied to several UK universities as a back-up plan. Once I got my results, I knew I was not able to meet the entry requirements of local universities and I changed my mind about my previous UCAS applications. That was when I turned to Clearing for more options. (more…)

   July 1st, 2019    Clearing, International, Studying


My guide to wellbeing and taking care of your mental health

It is that time of the year again – assignment deadlines are stacking up and exams are just around the corner…There is a lot to do, you have got essays to write, exams to revise for and it feels like you’re always busy. However, this blog post is here to tell you that your work and revision can wait, but your health, especially your mental health, should be your top priority.

It is normal to feel stressed, that just means you care about what you do and that is a great thing. Just remember you need breaks and a clear mindset in order to work well, so you need to allow yourself to take breaks. Here are some of my personal tips on what to do when you are starting to feel overwhelmed by everything in life.

  1. (more…)

   May 13th, 2019    Exams and Assessment, International, Lectures and Seminars, Life in the South West, Life on Campus, Preparing for University, Studying     , , ,


Balancing Your Breaks

I’m sitting in the train, and it suddenly hit me. “How did half of my Easter break fly by? My exams are in less than 3 weeks and my essays are due in a week!”

Being at the University of Exeter, you might’ve realised that we get pretty long Easter breaks and we often finish all our lectures and seminars beforehand. With about 5 weeks of holiday or more (depending on when your exams start), how do you organise it to get the balance of both work and down time?

This is something I’m still figuring out as I go along this Easter break but I think I’ve gotten a pretty good idea of how I probably should’ve spent the earlier weeks and how to make the best out of the remaining weeks. (more…)

   April 30th, 2019    International, Miscellaneous, Studying, Undergraduate


BSc Business in Penryn – New York City Field Trip

One of the really cool things about studying BSc Business at the Penryn Campus is the field trips!

Our group on the first day at the Statue of Liberty

I am currently in my third year, and have just come back from an incredible field trip to NYC for my BEP3090 Research Module.  The premise of the module was to perform a mainly ethnographic study on an independently proposed research topic.

The idea was to give students the opportunity to observe business operation and internal dynamics in real life, in a national or an international context. On the trip, we were given access to international organisations and institutions through visits, guided tours, networking and informal interactions.

For my topic, I chose to observe the ways in which different organisations brand themselves to be ‘sustainable’ and whether or not these brand images held true in reality.

Read below to see a bit more of what we got up to throughout the week. (more…)

   April 11th, 2019    Cornwall, Higher Education, International, Lectures and Seminars, Life on Campus, Miscellaneous, Penryn Campus, Studying, Studying abroad, Undergraduate


Field trips on the BSc Business programme

One of my favourite things about being on BSc Business is the wealth of fun field trips we get to go on throughout the three years.

To give you a better picture of some of the cool places you could be visiting if you go on the course, I’ve decided to compile a list of my highlights from the past three years so far. (more…)

   April 7th, 2019    Cornwall, Higher Education, International, Lectures and Seminars, Life on Campus, Miscellaneous, Penryn Campus, Studying, Undergraduate


Why Exeter? My reasons behind coming to Exeter

Whenever I meet someone new here from the UK, the first five minutes of conversation inevitably involves the question: “Why did you come to Exeter?” To be frank, I always need a moment to pause and think back to the time when I sat in front of my laptop making my UCAS choices.

(more…)

   February 27th, 2019    International, Lectures and Seminars, Preparing for University, Studying, Studying abroad, Undergraduate     


Why I chose Exeter for my degree (BSc Economics and Politics)

At the end of Year 12, applications for universities were creeping up on us. Unlike many of my friends, I was still clueless about the degree I wanted to pursue, let alone which university. The panic was starting to set in and I decided to look up the ranking tables for Economics which was the A-level subject I really enjoyed. Universities like Warwick, Durham, St. Andrews and Exeter popped up and after all the train journeys, brochures and getting lost at Open Days – I put the University of Exeter down as my firm choice in UCAS.

(more…)

   February 27th, 2019    International, Miscellaneous, Preparing for University, Studying, Undergraduate


Why I chose to study Psychology at the University of Exeter

I know that deciding what university to attend is an incredibly important and difficult decision – I’ve done it. That’s why I’m here to tell you some of the reason why I chose the University of Exeter. (more…)

   February 12th, 2019    Exploring Devon and Cornwall, International, Life on Campus, Miscellaneous, Preparing for University, Studying, Studying abroad, The city of Exeter, Undergraduate


5 study tips for university exams

Through the midst of Christmas and New Year celebrations, perhaps some of you try to avoid the question “how is revision going?” Yet, exams are right around the corner, so I hope to help at least some of you out there who are struggling to revise and probably googling the least amount of marks you have to attain to pass the year.

Before I came to University of Exeter, I personally took a long time to figure out what revision techniques suited me best. In school, my teachers would always say “revise how you study best.” Some of my friends would study in groups, use flash cards or even say their thoughts out loud. It took me a while ’till I figured what revision methods work best for me. Below is some advice I hope you can implement to your revision. (more…)

   January 4th, 2019    Exams and Assessment, International, Lectures and Seminars, Studying


Where is Exeter? What’s student life like in Exeter? Here are the answers to some FAQs from international students

I worked at several education fairs last summer on behalf of the University of Exeter and there were a few questions that were popular from prospective students and their parents. I have compiled a list of questions and answered them here, hopefully it is helpful to all international students who may be wondering some of the same things.

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   December 18th, 2018    Clearing, Exams and Assessment, Food and eating, Freshers Week, International, Lectures and Seminars, Life in the South West, Life on Campus, Preparing for University, Studying, The city of Exeter, Undergraduate


Some tips and advice for the new students (Cornwall Campus)

Starting your new life at university might be scary but here you can find a little bit of information about what to do first when you’re on campus, where to get more information about Freshers events as well as get some tips from the current students. (more…)

   September 18th, 2018    Cornwall, Freshers Week, International, Life in the South West, Life on Campus, Penryn Campus, Preparing for University, Studying, Undergraduate


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