• Daphnee McMaster

How to Find Friends and Make Art

Look, I’m no expert at much of anything. I know a bit about a lot of things and a lot about bitty things. But one thing I know for sure is how to rub shoulders. I’ve learned in the Arts and Entertainment industry, it’s very much about who you know, how you know them, where you met them, why you know them, and when the hell are you going to make me famous?

I’ve laid out this not-too-elaborate list for your convenience in getting you to make stronger and more useful connections. Now, seeing as I don’t want to get lawyers involved I offer this disclaimer: Results May Vary.

Don’t Be The One Man Show

I think it’s safe to say that anyone who has worked on almost any project has met their fair share of the one man show. This person eagerly tells you they wrote, directed, produced, filmed, acted, danced, baked, remodeled, ran for President of the United States all before they ever tell you the art they love to make. And that’s all fine and good, I guess. But I’m here to tell you that that approach leads to burnout and a lot of regurgitated ideas.

Think About Who Aligns with Your Goals

Art is about connection. If you want to elevate your work and dig deeper into your current and future knowledge, you have to find some partners. I’m sure you’re not going to be the only person invested in your project. Never forget, many people came together to make "Sharknado" a possibility. And if that doesn’t prove that collaboration brings forth art, I don’t know what will.

Share Your Work. Learn to Trust.

When I started my journey into writing and filmmaking, I personally thought no one wanted to work with me. I didn’t go to film school (praise God for saving me thousands of dollars). I didn’t have a cool rich relative that had connections. I was writing on my old Dell laptop in Microsoft Word and embarrassingly sharing treatments with friends and relatives who would listen. So, I figured it was best not to annoy anyone with “real” knowledge about my want of inclusion and lack of experience. But then, I got invited into a writing room because someone saw my work and liked it. From there, I saw all the nuances of my skill that I was not only neglecting but fully unaware of. Don’t be afraid of sharing. People are going to elevate you and your work, especially if they have your passion, but you have to trust them.

Don’t Only Reach Up, Reach Out!

Now, sometimes when I tell people to go get connected, they don’t know where to begin. Or they aim to only work with people much more established than themselves. Be honest. Would you want to work from Point A when you’re already at Point M? Probably not. Aim to build a mixed network from a wide range of knowledgeability. Work to find people who match your drive and ambition and will push you the way you can push them.

Join Organizations and Internet Groups

I started my efforts on Facebook. Yes, I know, the app of the ancients. There are TONS of groups for screenwriters, directors, binders (writers), actors, you name it. There are even niche ones for Black and Indigenous people to find each other and connect. Shout out to my Black Sci-Fi/Fantasy Writers group! Go snoop around and join those groups.

Get in the room. You know how you do that? You collaborate. Send some cold emails sharing your skills (even if it’s something as simple as “I know how to organize a bookshelf”). Trust me, that’s a Production Assistant resume waiting to happen. In addition, if you’re into theatre or film, scout audition pages. You may not want to be an actor but asking the people holding the audition how you can be involved in other ways never hurts.

If you have a passion for something, do it with friends. Let other people share in your joy and fun. Work with likeminded people. Expand your group! Look around and reach out left, right, up, and down. For the love of art, don’t become fixated on doing it all alone. Become motivated on building a team and finding partners that not only can grow but can also grow you.

Daphnee McMaster is a writer, podcaster, and professional wanderer. She loves writing about art, literature, and understanding social justice issues. If you need a good M&M cookie recipe, she's got you covered!

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