By Dimitris Tzoytzoyrakos
Though he probably wasn’t the first to think so, filmmaker Woody Allen is known to have said “Showing up is 80 percent of life.” Others since have gone on to say “90% of success is just showing up” and other variations of the same idea. My brother and I found this out to be true when we created a short film together and submitted it to an LA film festival, even though neither of us had any experience in the field. A couple weeks after doing so, we receive a phone call notifying us that our short was accepted to premiere at the film festival. Being the naive filmmakers we were, we thought getting accepted would get our foot in the door of the film industry but, as it turned out, getting a film to premiere at the festival only played a minor role in our exposure to the industry. Getting “our foot through the door” was actually much simpler than we had ever thought.
The first day at the film festival was absolutely packed. You had to squeeze your way through a tight crowd of strangers, and occasionally a celebrity, just to get a cup of water. Soon enough, my brother and I began to chat with other filmmakers and fill up our contact lists in our phones. Just on the first day, my brother and I made a vast network of connections with very hard working artists who carried the same love and passion for cinema as we did, all while not having seen a single film yet at the festival.
This having just been the first day, we were so eager to see what would become of the rest of the week. Oddly enough, every single day between opening and closing night had a only a minuscule fraction of the attendees show up. This puzzled me at first because the in between days were when all the films were screening. I had thought that the entire point of a film festival was to watch films and network with people whose work you admired and vice versa. It turned out that one didn’t even need to have a film screen at the event, so long as one was present and engaging with the people around them. There were, in fact, many people at the festival who hadn’t worked on any projects; they just came to increase their network.
By the end of the festival, the people I chose to stay in touch with were not the ones that had showcased a spectacular film. Rather, the ones with whom I chose to stay in touch were the ones with whom I felt a true friendship, shared mutual interests, and/or formed a trustworthy bond. Whether they had made a great film made no difference to me. All that mattered was that they were great people, and those are the people with whom I want to make films. It was a great lesson; even if you don’t have a spectacular film to show for yourself or you don’t feel good enough to rub elbows with people holding aspirational roles, just show up. You never know what will happen or who you will meet.
Featured image by Krists Luhaers on Unsplash
Dimitris is an English major with an emphasis in Creative Writing at USC. On the side, he indulges in film production, music composition, piano performance, and directing theatre. Dimitri has acquired a diverse teaching background, which includes two years of teaching K-12 Music and Theatre at Adelphia Classical Academy, private piano lessons, Greek school, Greek immersion camp, and acting lessons. His highest values are in great conversation, friendship, and family.