The Tremendous Power of Virtual Networking

The Tremendous Power of Virtual Networking
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The pandemic has brought much uncertainty to our lives and careers in the past several months.  Jobs being indefinitely postponed and unfamiliar new health and safety regulations on set are just two of the many unsettling situations that some of us have had to deal with recently.  But there’s one proactive step we can take to re-focus our careers: virtual networking.

If you’ve worked as a freelancer in the entertainment industry, you already know how important it is to keep in touch with existing contacts, as well as connect with new people.  It’s often difficult to do when the industry is busy and you’re constantly working.  While many people may be prepping shows right now, few shows are actually filming.  If the virtual meetings I've been attending are any indication, there are plenty of people longing to interact with their colleagues again.

The virtual networking universe is also a godsend for anyone who feels shy and overwhelmed at in-person networking events.  There’s no such thing as being the awkward person standing alone at a virtual event.  Quietly listening in and using the chat feature is fine.

Zoom and social media are buzzing with virtual meetings and people sharing information.  I’ve been taking full advantage of industry-focused Zoom meetings and so should you.  You’ll feel more in control by gaining new knowledge and keeping up with others in the industry.  You’ll also be able to keep these difficult times in perspective by connecting with a wide range of people in the film community.

It’s definitely advantageous that industry groups are no longer limited to in-person meetings taking place in Los Angeles or New York.  I attend a weekly virtual meeting for DGA members that has had over 525 members attending at once from all over the world.  I’ve increased my knowledge at these meetings by learning about new technologies, health and safety protocols, and other film industry-related topics.  The dozens of live events I’ve attended at the DGA over the years never had anywhere near that level of participation.  I rarely had the benefit of networking with members from outside the Los Angeles area at live events.  In the virtual world, we’ve all become global, interacting with colleagues in Canada, Great Britain and the Czech Republic.

The Arizona Production Association has been having monthly Zoom panel discussions about how COVID-19 is affecting the film industry.  These virtual meetings are open to everyone and questions can be submitted for the panelists.  I’ll be one of the panelists at the July meeting.  Excellent information about the current state of our industry is being shared at these meetings and I encourage you to participate.  The next panel chat event will be held on August 25th.

It’s also much easier now to volunteer to serve on industry boards that you otherwise would not have time for, since meetings are virtual.  I’m currently on 2 boards that have moved their meetings to Zoom.  No more spending 40-60 minutes commuting.  Not surprisingly, participation is up.

If you can’t find a virtual meeting for your industry niche, you can always start a group and invite others to join in.  Even a short half-hour get together via a free Zoom account is worthwhile.  Our industry is in the midst of some dramatic changes, and it’s crucial to have accurate information and support from colleagues moving forward.

The film industry we’re returning to will be very different from the one that shut down four months ago.  It hasn’t been determined exactly how productions will implement all the new health and safety guidelines moving forward.  We do know that work on set will now include COVID-19 tests, temperature checks and masks.  However, film production has always been a communal process, involving many people with a wide variety of skills.  The manner in which production happens may change, but there will still be an industry.  Virtual networking can help you remain a vital part of it.


Click here for updated information on Arizona Production Association virtual networking events.

For DGA members only:

Republic of Zoon DGA AD/UPM coffee meetings, Tuesdays at noon

Email John Mattingly at to receive the link.

IATSE local 728 has also started having Zoom meetings for members every Friday afternoon.  The local sends out emails with the link.

Also, some IATSE locals are issuing their own craft-specific COVID-19 safety guidelines, in addition to the Safe Way Forward industry document.  Click here for the specific 147-page COVID-19 Prevention Guidelines document for IATSE local 728 set lighting technicians.



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