It’s that time of year–as wedding seasons wind down across the country and commercial work ramps up for smaller studios, many filmmaking companies are evaluating how to improve their businesses for next year. Attendees to our educational conference for filmmakers and videographers can expect to be both inspired and encouraged with new ideas–not only from the presenters on stage, but from the community of filmmakers surrounding them at the gathering.
Gearing up for our 2015 conference in Charleston is a familiar and exciting process for returning attendees. With all of the new faces that are signed up for this year’s gathering, we thought it might be a good idea to share a sort of “orientation” with all of our attendees. Lead by Chris P. Jones on spreecast.com, this conversation had a few goals– to allow veteran attendees to chime in with their own experiences and advice, to fill in the veterans with what’s new this year, and to give the newer filmmakers a better understanding of how to get the most out of their first experience at the Gathering.
Announcements you’ll want to know:
Many attendees enjoy the social aspect of spending time together in the evenings eating dinner, going for drinks, and talking business/tech issues. However, a welcome addition to last year’s conference included impromptu “drum circle” meetings where attendees came back to the conference hall after dinner break to encourage each other and have in-depth conversation panels about what they were dealing with in their businesses. It was a fantastic time to dig in to deep issues and explore what it means to not only be a better filmmaker, but a better person, a better leader, and how to realign their businesses to get them to their own personal goals. This year’s conference will usher in a return of these kinds of conversations, and we are excited to have the highly-respected business coach Adrian Koehler on board to facilitate these conversations.
HELPFUL FILM EVALUATIONS:
Another addition to this year’s event will be the inclusion of an anonymous & encouraging film evaluation session where filmmakers can bring a 3-7 minute film, and attendees of that session will spend time evaluating each other’s strengths and offering advice to aid in a film’s improvement. A large percentage of some our most valuable community members are also members of POSH, an organized retreat for female filmmakers only, and they facilitated a similar panel on their cruise just this past month. It was such a welcome and valuable experience that their members have volunteered to facilitate a similar experience for our community at our own conference.
In the past, the Monday before the official beginning of the conference has always been an unofficially official first day of the conference. Oftentimes, presenters and sponsors have hosted in-depth, extended, hands-on technical workshops that range in separate cost. It is also often a day to check in and pick up your registration packet early. Oftentimes, even if attendees don’t participate in these workshops, they show up for Monday to spend time with other attendees, explore the city, and to eat dinner the night before the conference kicks off. This year, our sponsors will be organizing Monday’s workshops, so we will be announcing those workshops as soon as we can!
JOINING THE PRIVATE FACEBOOK COMMUNITY:
You may already be familiar with our public In[Focus] Facebook fan page, but we also have a private community group that is a safe place for attendees and presenters to interact on a daily basis throughout the year–where filmmakers in our community go with questions about their business, technical issues, to pass on referrals, to get encouragement and to be challenged all year long. During the conference, the group page is buzzing with open calls to lunch invites, open questions, and other social activities. In order to join the group, you must be signed up to attend. If you’re not already friends on Facebook with someone who is a member, make sure to locate Chris P. Jones, Kourtney Schopper, or anyone else on the In[Focus] team to get you connected with the most active, up-to-date form of our community on social media.
TIPS FOR THE CONFERENCE:
Jones was joined on camera by Brian Perry and Meg Simone, who both shared a few tips for getting the most out of attending the conference. Perry spoke specifically about learning experiences from last year that transformed the way that Perryfield Films does business this year. He and his business partner split up during much of the week in order to attend presentations that would help them to fully invest into learning things that they needed for their business–his business partner Ryan Satterfield spent a lot of time with the Adobe vendors and workshops learning improvements for their editing workflows, and Perry spent his time learning tips for what kinds of branding and business decisions would better align their company with their own ideal clients.
Simone also had several tips for attendees for how to get connected with the community while attending. As simple as it may sound, her favorite bit of advice was that doing something as simple as wearing your name tag at all times allows people to connect. For example, many filmmakers research and watch each other’s work online, and so seeing the name of someone whose work you admire can help break down the walls to start a conversation with someone who was previously a stranger. It helps attendees to learn your name, put a face to a name, and to strike up a conversation—even in the elevators in the lobby. You might end up eating a meal with someone whose films you have respected for years, but you’ve only known them for a few minutes.
Perry also encouraged attendee to get out of a “comfort zone” and to overcome introverted tendencies–he mentioned how his company plans to come to town a day or two early and stay a day late just to spend more time with the other attendees, and he recommends to others to do the same thing–even if it’s their first time to attend. Jones was quick to point out how these interactions can often lead to referrals throughout the year, and he even shared a substantial profit margin in referrals that his own filmmaking company received this past year from other attendees of the Gathering.