Building our Creative Networks
By Samantha Sloan
My L.A experience has been wonderful, simply because I am fortunate enough to spend my days surrounded by intelligent, creative, people who are passionate about film and television. I came into this semester with the perception that I would learn about the film industry, and how to make myself competitive in this atmosphere through the classes we take at SULA and the internships we have. While this is true, I have come to realize that my my experience has been enriched by all of the people I have met, the valuable conversations I have had, and all important lessons and advice these people have shared with me.
What I love about the film industry is that almost everyone started at the bottom, and worked their way to the top. Everyone began their professional lives as an intern to the assistant, but by building relationships, having original creative thought, and working hard, so many people have worked their way to the top of the industry. Simply, everyone in the industry is a product of the connections they have made, and all of the kind people who have helped them along the way. For this reason, almost everyone who is higher up on the ladder is empathetic to those below them, and enthusiastically help these people when possible. People willingly share their experiences with others, and eagerly consult their creative networks in order to help these passionate, young, professionals like ourselves along their journey.
One of my favorite moments this semester was being able to connect with Academy Award Nominated Documentary Directors during a documentary awards ceremony in the Director’s Guild Theatre. After watching segments from the nominated films, there was a panel with the filmmakers, and then a reception in which attendees were able to meet with the nominees. Most of the people attending the reception were directors or people with considerable merit, and we were very intimidated when we walked into the reception. We nervously navigated our way around the food tables until we came face to face with Joshua Oppenheimer, who was nominated for the film, “The Act of Killing”. We began speaking with him, and to our surprise, he enthusiastically spoke with us for a considerable length of time, sharing his own advice and insights, and also graciously listening to our own experiences.
Similarly, I had the opportunity to be a Production Assistant for a Grandmother’s House Productions Television Pilot. When I first began the gig, I assumed that this opportunity would be like many other P.A opportunities, in which direct interactions with the producer and director were somewhat limited, and the weekend is consumed with smaller tasks around set. However, my experience with Grandmother’s House Productions far outweighed my expectation. Although we may have been fulfilling many typical P.A responsibilities, they consistently encouraged us to challenge ourselves with larger roles on the production, and included us whenever possible. Similarly, they talked to us about our goals in the industry, and offered any advice they could. At the end of the weekend, they assured us that they would be willing to write us any recommendation letter we would need, and help our careers in whatever way they were able. Their unprecedented kindness, like that of so many others, has been incredible, and has set an example for students like myself as we continue to pursue our future careers in the entertainment industry.
This concept of a community has been my favorite part of my L.A experience. I am thrilled to have had the opportunity to dive head first into this collaborative atmosphere, and I am thrilled to move to L.A when I graduate from Syracuse, and eagerly await the opportunity to work with some of these filmmakers. Essentially, I hope to continue to build my own creative network, and when I gain more experience in the entertainment industry, to help students like myself make these valuable connections.