The experience of attending a film festival is one that can be exciting for both new and seasoned filmmakers. However, networking is the main reason most people go. In order to make the most of it, read on to find out how to network at a film festival.

Do your research

Before you even arrive, you should know who’s going to be there and what you want out of the festival. There will be a schedule. Study it and find out what films will be shown, who’s in them, and who worked on them. Book tickets for screenings ahead of time. If you want to speak to a particular director, find out where they will be. Even events like panels are good because the presenter may be one of your targets.

Don’t be shy

Let go of any inhibitions you have about speaking to strangers. After all, most people are there to do exactly what you are doing: connect. If it’s really too difficult for you, bring along more outgoing friends and industry associates. If you’re looking for financing, a lead actor, or a producer, say so. You never know who can connect you to someone useful. Introduce yourself to people after screenings. Ask them questions about what they thought about the film to break the ice. If you like a particular aspect of the film then say that. Everyone likes to be appreciated.

Attend everything

Go for the opening weekend of a festival and take a few days to make sure you attend everything. Once you have done your research, you should have a list of screenings, panels, and sessions that you want to attend. The more you attend, the more chances you get to meet people. There’s plenty of attendees, so you want to maximize your exposure. If you realize a conversation is going nowhere, excuse yourself for something better. A simple “Wonderful to meet you” will not cause offense to most attendees. Festival goers know that it’s different to a regular party and that you’re there to find people who are useful to you.

Get your elevator pitch down

For the best film festival experience, get ready to introduce yourself to anyone at a moment’s notice. Think about who you are, what you want to portray, and how you can say that in one or two sentences. People are looking to make an instant judgment on your connection to the industry. Don’t start to waffle on about your background and future plans because you will lose their interest. Your pitch and the confidence it’s delivered with are what people will remember long after the whirlwind of the festival is over, so make it good.

Follow up

Once the festival is over, it’s time to make the appropriate follow-up. Depending on the contact, adding them to social media, email, or setting up a meeting are appropriate. Don’t be too over enthusiastic about collecting cards either. Only connect with people who you can form meaningful connections with.