The Film Business

Skip the Gym and Head to a User Group Meeting

One of the best ways for us to feel a sense of purpose in our professional lives is to share our experiences with others. So whether you’re a wallflower or the life of the party you will certainly get something valuable from your local user group. Here are 5 reasons to skip the gym at least one weeknight a month and spend time with others who share your same interests and passions.

1.Top-notch Expert Advice & Demos

Many user groups bring in leading pros to share tips, tricks and tools that will help you improve your own toolset. In addition to seeing how these pros work, being able to ask questions and get answers in person is worth its weight in gold. Some meetings members leave with pages of notes trying to get every morsel of information to assist them when they get into the editing room.

2. Getting a Firsthand Look at the Latest Technologies

So who doesn’t like to see the latest and greatest or even better, get a peek at what’s on the horizon? Over the past few years it has become very clear to companies large and small that the marketing and advertising paradigm has shifted. Coming up close and personally to a group of potential consumers inspires enthusiasm, word of mouth and sales.

Field Marketing Manager for AJA Video, Shea Byrnes explains, “AJA is proud to support our customers around the world, and user groups provide a nice forum for them to build communities. We benefit from our involvement with these communities as forums to demonstrate and showcase our newest products and also in the opportunities they provide to connect directly with customers.”

Our group had a chance to hold a meeting with a plug-in developer who was interested in what features we wanted to see in his upcoming releases and what products we felt were missing in the marketplace. It was a great knowing that maybe we had a small part in helping develop something to move our industry forward!

Because of the large number of members of various user groups, companies are likely to offer great deals and discounts on their products and services, which are always a great bonus!focal press

3. Get Hired

It won’t happen every time, in fact it may never happen, but in our business it’s word of mouth and personal connections that get you hired. As the owner of a post audio studio for over 10 years, I spent a lot if time looking through resumes but there is simply no substitute for meeting someone in person, getting to know them and meeting others who have worked with them. User groups are incredible places for this. We actually hired two engineers we met through our meetings over the past year.

In fact, a young, hardworking woman volunteered to help at one of our meetings a few months ago. She came early to help set up and by the end of the meeting she walked away with a full time job as an assistant editor at a local post house. (Sadly for us we lost our hardworking volunteer that night.)focal press

4. The Chance to Network

Getting hired is a lot like farming. You need to plant a lot of seeds and hopefully, with care and time good things grow. The opportunity to network is key at most user group meetings. At the LAPPG we always set aside time between presentations to make sure people have ample time to network. User groups present valuable opportunities for you to learn, get involved and know what’s going on in the world in which you are working.

5. Opportunity for Socializing

Many of us sit in dark windowless rooms, editing, day after day with limited opportunities for interaction with others. Even those of us filmmakers who are on set live very stressful lives with deadlines to hit and producers to please. Socializing is important to our wellbeing. It’s in our nature as humans.

When I started the Los Angeles Post Production Group over 3 years ago I wondered what it would be like to put a bunch of editors in a room together to socialize? Would anyone talk to each other, would anyone even look up? I was pleasantly surprised at what a nice, supportive and social experience it ended up being. Because we see each other every month there is a sense of camaraderie, community and respect for the work we do.

Oh yeah…. I guess there is one more major benefit of joining user group to add to the list. How could I forget this one? I think some people may find this the most important reason of all…

6. Great Giveaways!

focal press Because companies now understand the value of face-to-face, hands-on experiences with their customers and potential customers, most user groups have a very generous stockpile of goodies from sponsors or partners to be given away each month. One of the best things about having your lucky number pulled is that you never know what doors will open and where this lucky prize might take you.

Two months after a member won a book on color grading at one of our meetings, he told me that the book fascinated him as well as the idea of using his artistic eye more and he signed up for a color class next semester. You just never know what inspiration and connection you will walk home with after attending a user group meeting, but I invite you to go and find out.user group meeting

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   Keith Larsen said on August 18, 2011 at 6:02 pm

Looks like you guys have built quite the community! Congrats! Nice blog post Wendy!


   Areya said on November 30, 2011 at 1:17 am

It’s awesome that you have these meetings. I think every field should have them. It definitely allows more open and informal conversation about the things that are most important to us in our respective industries. I’m a Film and Sound Design student at SCAD and my peers and I always look forward to the Savannah Film Festival because of the very open panel discussions and Coffee Talks. That’s where we learn the most useful information, along with what we learn in the classroom. Thanks for posting!

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MasteringFilm, powered by bestselling Routledge authors and industry experts, features tips, advice, articles, video tutorials, interviews, and other resources for aspiring and current filmmakers. No matter what your filmmaking interest is, including directing, screenwriting, postproduction, cinematography, producing, or the film business, MasteringFilm has you covered. You’ll learn from professionals at the forefront of filmmaking, allowing you to take your skills to the next level.