How to Develop Relationships in the Entertainment Industry, With Veteran Producer Ross Brown

As an adult, I’ve learned it gets harder to make friends. And in Hollywood? Even harder. Without a playground and forced recess, where do you go to develop relationships, especially in a place as cliquey as the entertainment industry? The good news is that it’s getting easier. Hear me out …

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You no longer have to be in Los Angeles. Sure, it would make things easier for you on the relationship-building front, but it’s not a requirement in this remote era we’re now living in. And what’s more is that the entertainment industry has spread, and new screenwriting hubs are emerging around the world. You just need to know where to look and how to make friends. Enter veteran film and TV producer and screenwriter Ross Brown (“National Lampoon’s Vacation,” “The Cosby Show,” “Step by Step”), and his advice for networking. Ross came up through the entertainment industry before our lives went online, so he has some old school tricks for our new school networking channels. He agrees that “developing relationships is really important for aspiring writers” because entertainment is still a relationship business no matter your talent.

“If you live in New York or Los Angeles, you can have these relationships face to face, and you will develop them just by meeting other aspiring writers,” Ross began. “If you live outside of that part of the country, it’s a little tricker, but in the online era, there’s Facebook Groups and other groups you can join.”

Places to Find Screenwriting Connections

Some of the screenwriting groups and forums mentioned below require administrator approval to join. I’d also recommend searching for writing groups near you because I’ve found that many cities have their own online writing communities. The beauty in a local writing group is that you may just meet someone online that you can also meet in person!

Facebook Groups

Screenwriting Classes

Online Screenwriting Communities and Forums

“One of the other important things about meeting other people is to not always think of it as, ‘how will this benefit me,’” Ross explained. “If you see an aspiring writer [while] reading and you really like what you read, tell them that. They’d really like to hear that. If you see someone whose material you liked, write them a note and say I loved this screenplay, thanks for writing it.”

How to Make Screenwriting Connections:

Ask for Help

If you meet someone who has experience in the industry, treat this as a golden resource, but be selective about the questions you ask. You can find answers to most how-to screenwriting questions on the web, so don’t waste a pro’s time. Ask questions about how they approach certain things, why they wrote something the way they did, or their biggest challenges. Make it personal. You wouldn’t ask a friend how many acts should be in a movie or how to format a phone call in a traditional screenplay.

Offer Help

How can you help this person? For all you know, they could be trying to develop screenwriting relationships, too. What connections can you make for them? Who can you introduce them to? Can you help them out with name ideas for that character in their script? Come at the conversation as a resource.

Don’t Be Too Desperate

Disney writer Ricky Roxburgh once told us that the biggest mistake he sees screenwriters make is that they come in too hot or too desperate when meeting creative executives. Come prepared, but be yourself and avoid appearing over-eager.

Interact With Respect

Don’t be a troll. Don’t get into arguments in the comment section. Take any negative interactions offline to try for a less public solution. Anyone can see those conversations, and you should consider your reputation in every place in which you interact. Screenwriter Bryan Young surprised me when he told us that he sees writers act like jerks quite often, and word spreads fast in the entertainment industry. Don’t ruin your chances.

Slow and Steady

When you find a forum or group where you want to interact, dip your toes in the water first. Make sure you read the rules, get a lay of the land and the players in it, and have patience. You need to build up your reputation and credibility before these relationships start to develop, just like in real life.

“Try to be generous to other people who are aspiring writers,” Ross concluded.

We’re all in this together!




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