Building a supportive creative community

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In our cultural imagination, artists are often solitary. When we think of a creative person, we may picture a painter locking themselves away in their studio, or a writer typing away in the late hours of the night. But, as filmmakers, we know that’s not always the case; we picture a bustling film set, full of different departments working together to make movie magic. And, of course, other creatives work together too. Musicians collaborate in bands or on individual songs. Photographers work closely with their subjects to capture stunning images. I’ve written about creating lasting artistic partnerships, and I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing creatives who have creative collaborators who have stood the test of time. New 32 was born out of a long-standing creative partnership between two of our founders, and through our work here we’ve formed many more connections that make up our creative community.

The other artists we collaborate with are not the only people who populate our creative community. We also have our audience; the people who watch our films, who come to our art shows, who read our prose. While not every artist creates work for public consumption, for those of us who do, an engaged audience serves many roles. Their encouragement buoys us, making our hard work feel worth it. Their critical feedback allows us to shape our work, making it better every time we come back to it. For some working artists, their audience provides their livelihood, making everything they do possible.

Creative community doesn’t end there. The people in our lives–friends, family, mentors, and other loved ones–make up a network that, in a perfect world, would support your artistic goals as well. When I get good news about my writing, I call my mom, my best friends, my siblings… the people who, although we are not collaborators, support me at every turn. These are the people who listen to me vent when things aren’t going my way, who help me puzzle out plot problems when I’m stuck, who cheer for me when things are going well. 

I am lucky to have a vast, supportive creative community, but I know that’s not true for all artists. That’s why I wanted to provide some quick tips for finding your people.

Talk to your non-artistic friends and family

Maybe your work is a little too avantgarde for your dad. Maybe your friends aren’t really into movies. That doesn’t mean they can’t be part of your creative community. Someone doesn’t have to engage directly with your art in order to support you and your goals. When you need support, it’s okay to ask for exactly what you need. Give it a good think; how can your loved ones help you with your work? Here are some examples, but everyone is different. Carefully consider your needs, your community, and your resources before adjusting these to fit your specific context.

  1. Ask your best friend if you can be accountability buddies; they can check in on how your creative work is going, and in return, you will help hold them accountable for their own goals. This can be as simple as a weekly text, or as formal as a monthly coffee date to unpack what you’re working on.
  2. Talk to your parents about why your art is so important to you. Maybe they don’t totally get it–they think film school wasn’t a practical choice, or they don’t understand why you moved to LA when the cost of living is so high–so really spell it out for them. Talk about what about filmmaking feeds your soul, talk about the things you want to express in your art, share the impact you hope to make on this industry. This is vulnerable, and scary, but it gives the important people in your life the chance to know you on a deeper level, and that’s so worth it.
  3. Ask your group chat if they’d be interested in hearing more about your creative projects, or better yet, see if any other creatives want to have a group chat specifically to support each other in your artistic pursuits.

Make new connections

What if your loved ones aren’t a helpful part of your creative community? What if you wish you had more artists, maybe specifically filmmakers, in your life? Well, you’re not gonna like it, but the answer to that problem is that you have to make some new friends. Here are tips for finding the right kind of people to lift you up.

  1. Go to meetups in your area. This is an easy, low-commitment way to make some connections and add people to your creative community. Simply Google “filmmaker meetups in [your city]” and then go to that meetup! Don’t just go once and call it a day; go a few times and really make an effort to connect with folks. Support the people you meet in the way you want to be supported; go to their screenings, give them tech advice, check in when they’re having problems. This is a great way to contribute to your own local filmmaking community, as well as a strategy to find the type of support you’ve been looking for.
  2. Join an online community. I am a part of several writing discords and they are honestly vital parts of my creative process. They’re great when I need to vent, when I want to scream about good news, and they always understand what I’m going through when the industry gets me down. New 32 has a Discord, or you can search for other online communities that suit your needs, be it on Reddit, Facebook, Instagram… there are so many options out there that, with a little effort, can be a wonderful, supportive place for you.
  3. Put yourself out there. This is another scary one, but in my personal experience it really pays off. If there’s a producer whose vibe you like, or a DP whose work you admire, or a sound engineer you really want to learn from… reach out to them! Send them an email, slide into their DMs, give them a call, whatever it takes to make that connection. See if they’re up for a Zoom call and then just pick their brains. These people might not all be long-lasting connections, but you never know when you might click with someone, and in doing this you create a web of people who can all be a part of your creative community.

Ask for help

Recently, in my personal life, I was feeling a little sad and unsupported. I turned to a friend for advice, and she very wisely told me I can’t expect help if I don’t ask for it. Of course, everyone would love for the people in their lives to simply intuit what they need and then do it without asking… but that’s not always what happens. Your loved ones aren’t mind readers, and it’s possible for you to ask for the things you need. It’s then up to your community to decide if they can help, but hey, you’ll sleep better knowing that you clearly communicated your needs. Here are some examples.

  1. Start a crowdfunding campaign. These are a ton of work, and you don’t always meet your goals, but they’re a great way to get your community involved with your filmmaking, and of course it will help you finance your film. Here’s an interview with a filmmaker who successfully crowdfunded (twice) that might give you some inspo!
  2. Ask your friends to share your social media posts. Are you screening somewhere local? Are you up for an award at a film festival? Ask the people in your network to simply share an Instagram post to their story, or retweet a post about what’s going on in your creative life. This is a simple, low-stakes ask that helps spread the word about your work AND helps people get invested in what you’re doing.
  3. Check in with your friends and creative co-workers about the specific types of support you need. Remember, they can always say no if it doesn’t work for them!

What types of connections do you want to have within your creative community? Send us an email or a DM and tell us what you’d add to this list!

Molly Stein-Seroussi

Molly Stein-Seroussi

Author

Molly is an author, screenwriter, blogger, and brand manager for New 32 Productions. They are passionate about sharing content that helps filmmakers live a more productive, informed, and well-balanced life. They live in North Carolina with their spouse and way too many dogs.

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