Funding from the ARAD Microgrant helped Allason Leitz, ARAD ’19 attend South by Southwest, an annual film and music festival. Allason shares highlights from her experiences and the importance of inspiration, networking, and pushing forward!
Reflection written by Allason Leitz
I went for 10 days to participate in the film, music and interactive festival South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, TX this past March. As an aspiring film producer, current film festival programmer, and administrator at both film venues and festivals it was an important step in pursuing and expanding my career opportunities especially with graduation right around the corner!
I joked while I was there that it felt like I was at my dream adult summer camp (ironic side-note here is that I hated camps as a kid!): networking, amazing shows, networking, films, networking, sessions and all of it available at every corner at any hour of the day for ten days straight for free (with a pass)! To say it was an overwhelming and phenomenal experience would be a gross understatement.
To highlight one of my many highlights I had, on day three of South by Southwest
(SXSW) a meet-up for women in film was organized by Film Fatales, a network for
female filmmakers which I attended expecting it to be interesting, but not being
prepared for the overwhelming rush of inspiration and excitement I would feel being in a room full of women working in film. People were coming from as far away as New Zealand and others from as close to home as NYC and had all had the audacity to push their way into this industry and tell stories as a career.
Working in the arts, (as we discuss in the ARAD program regularly), is all about who you know, but being at SXSW it was inspiring to see my network begin to expand very quickly as I was fortunate enough to be able to connect with so many filmmakers and artists of all disciplines through meetups, attending screenings with filmmakers and sessions. Some of those I met who I connected instantly with became festival friends who I went to various shows and events with, while with others we exchanged contact info and followed up with one another once the madness of the festival had passed. I realized again how important being present in these spaces is in being able to grow your own networks not just in organic ways from friends and deeper connections you form with work contacts, but as a chance to break out of the people I met through ARAD and my various jobs throughout NYC.
But the experience didn’t end at SXSW, since returning to NYC I’ve been able to meet with many of the people I met at SXSW who live in NYC. Going to SXSW made it possible to initially connect with so many of these people and upon my return connect more meaningfully and individually with them over coffee, at their respective offices or at a show. As I’m in the home-stretch toward graduation, ARAD enabling me to have this experience which I had craved for years, was the push in the direction I needed to continue to push forward doing what I love and am passionate about and build my networks in the city I now call home and around the world.
We are so happy you enjoyed your experiences and had the opportunity to build your networks, Allason! Congrats on graduation and wishing you all the best!