How to find local companies or individuals for collaboration on independent film projects

Woody Allen summed up film making when he said that as director his job was to assemble the best cast and crew that he could and then to stand back and let everybody do their job. Film making is fairly unique among the arts in terms of its dependence upon collaboration, it is impossible to succeed on your own, and as a result the first step when departing on a project must be to surround yourself with the best team that you can.

Fortunately, this is something that becomes easier with time. As you progress on your career you will develop a greater understanding of yourself, your creative process and what others can bring to it. Along with this, your phonebook will expand after each project and you will be able to draw upon your own pool of possible collaborators. In an industry governed by connections, being able to draw on this resource is invaluable. The relationship benefits both of you, knowing that it can lead to more work and furthermore there is a bond of trust and a creative shorthand which only develops with time.

Whilst these bonds accumulate quickly over time, it can be daunting and difficult when first setting out. When seeking a crew for an independent film, it is a balancing act between the professional and the personal. It may often be necessary to look for diamonds in the rough, when your budget will not support proven talent. This means that you’ll often need to meet a lot of different people before finding someone that you are comfortable working with. Independent film is also a good learning environment, with less pressure than high budget productions, which means you can afford to hire someone who will learn on the job, and will pay back your faith with loyalty.

As a result, you shouldn’t treat it so much as looking for a crew as finding a friend. You want to find a personality that will work well on your set, someone that will be fun to have around and a person that you want to spend time with. A good way of doing this is by attending film network nights. Most cities will have various creative networking events, if you go along with nothing more than a vague pitch or an idea, you can often find yourself returning with a horde of eager collaborators.

In a similar vein, things like the 48 Hour Film Project can be a great way of meeting people. Whilst many teams are pre-formed, it is possible to sign up as an individual and get assigned to a team. Whilst also being a very fun activity, this has the benefit of actually allowing you to see how people function in a production environment under the pressures of producing a film in 48 hours.

Another option to consider is looking at local colleges or universities, which can be a hive of creativity with plenty of students looking to get experience of working in film.

As well as seeking out individuals, any large city will have a plethora of production companies, normally willing to at least hear out your idea. A bit of research and a well-prepared pitch and you may find all of your crew in one place.

The internet is a tremendous resource for collaboration and connection, message boards and forums make it incredibly easy to place calls for cast and crew, and now it is even possible to get a sense of what someone is capable of through showreels and cvs.

Finding collaborators is really quite simple, as long as you create the kind of environment that someone would want to be a part of, or have an idea that they can believe in, you just need to put yourself out there and soon enough you will have a loyal cast and crew for this project and many to come.