23 Underrated Entertainment Industry Organizations You're Missing Out On

Are you a solopreneur or freelancer in the entertainment industry?

I’m sure you’ve had moments when you feel your entrepreneurial journey is seemingly lonely, taxing, and errant, primarily because you’re surrounded by friends and family members with normal jobs, or perhaps surrounded by other starving young entrepreneurs like yourself.

But is the journey really that bad? Does it have to be?

No, it doesn’t.

There’s a simple solution for those three ugly feelings above: join industry associations and professional networks.

These groups quicken your quest for success in three keen ways you wouldn’t effectively score on your own: 

·   they expand your knowledge base and professional circle

·   connect you with prospective clients and collaborators

·   and most importantly, they introduce you to potential mentors that will propel you to success faster.

Now mind you, there are hundreds of them out there, so it makes no sense for me to cover the super-obvious ones like the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, or the WGA and DGA, SAG, or even ASCAP. Even non-treps know about those.

What I’ve got for you is a list of organizations that are less known, but equally important for you to research and consider joining.

If you’re short on time, click the “Print/PDF” button below or bookmark the article for later reference.

Entertainment Media and Communications Organizations

1. Media Communications Association - International (MCA-I): a network for media professionals in corporate media production, television, and a small contingent of filmmakers. Check their local chapters to find the one nearest you.

2. Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE): for filmmakers and TV professionals who wish to stay on the razor edge of motion imaging technology. 

3. International Radio and Television Society (IRTS): an organization that unites and seeks to empower veterans, present industry leaders, and newcomers through access, education, and diversity. It’s based in New York, but holds events and seminars around the country.

4. National Association of Mobile Entertainers (N.A.M.E.): a pseudo-union for entertainers that has also teamed with Willis North America to provide liability and equipment insurance coverage. Pretty handy for DJs, magicians, and other performers.

If you want to narrow your search a bit, check out the other categories below (please note that some groups overlap).

Film, Television, and Radio Organizations

1. Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP): be careful here – members are commercial production companies (not individuals), and associate members are “knowledgeable, reliable suppliers”, so if you have a production company, this is for you.

AICP’s audience includes the advertising and business communities, and government offices, and it aims to educate and provide standards for the $5 billion-plus commercial industry. 

Even if you can’t join, mine this organization for contacts and mentors. The site provides a seminar schedule if you sign up for the email list. Find out the date and venue for the next one and go.

2. Independent Film and Television Alliance (IFTA): its members are independent production and distribution companies, and IFTA’s goal is to finance and distribute independent film and television projects.

Some of its recent Oscar-winning projects include The Artist, The Hurt Locker, The King’s Speech, and Slumdog Millionaire.

The California-based union’s annual motion picture trade event, American Film Market, seals more than $800 million in deals each year, according to the site. With 8,000+ industry leaders and financiers, this is one event you don’t want to pass up.  

3. Scriptwriters Network (SWN): an organization for filmmakers, screenwriters, television scriptwriters, novelists, video game and comic book writers, and others. If you write like I do, add this group to your list.

4. Music Video Production Association (MVPA): with chapters in LA and New York, this organization accepts production and post-production companies as well as individuals (makeup artists, editors, directors, choreographers, script supervisors, cinematographers, computer animators, and the list goes on). The site also provides great resources for further research.

Get into this network and start getting more gigs.

5. Broadcast Education Association (BEA): if you’re interested in the scholarly side of broadcasting, the BEA is for you. It links educators and grad students with industry professionals, providing a forum for research on the industry’s history and current trends.

Organizations for Women

1. The Association for Women in Communications (AWC): a professional network that strives to establish connections with women across all forms of media: television, radio, film, advertising, marketing, PR, graphic design, multimedia design, and photography.

2. Women in Film (WIF): per the organization’s website, their mission is to “[help] women achieve their highest potential within the global entertainment, communications, and media industries, and [preserve] the legacy of women in those industries.”

Some state and international chapters have slightly different names (including television and media), so check their site for chapters near you.

Media Activism Organizations for Women

3. International Women’s Media Foundation (IMWF): a network dedicated to advancing journalistic freedom for women across the world.

4. Alliance for Women in Media (AWM): a socially responsible organization (of both women and men, actually) that seeks to empower its members and youth, and positively influence society through media.

Organizations for Minorities

1. National Association of Black Female Executives in Music and Entertainment (NABFEME): started by 30-year music industry veteran Johnnie Walker, the name pretty much explains it all. It’s based in New York, but has national chapters as well, so check the site and shoot the ladies an email for more information.

2. Organization of Black Screenwriters (OBS): though based in California with no other chapters, it’s still a worthwhile association to join – its members have written for popular television series including Private Practice, ER, That’s So Raven, and House of Payne.

3. National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications (NAMIC): empowers and promotes diversity in the industry across many disciplines: cable telecommunications, broadcast, digital, film and print media.


Internet Organizations

1. International Webmasters Association (IWA): sets the standard for web certifications, working in global partnership with

·   the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium),

·   the International Organization for Standardization (ISO),

·   the European Committee for Standardization (CEN), and

·   United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The site offers over 60 online courses, and 4 Web certificates. A great way to sharpen yourself.

2. Online Publishers Association (OPA): technically this one isn’t lesser known to you – at least it shouldn’t be.

OPA is more a union than an industry network. Its site says it represents “high-quality online content providers before the advertising community, the press, the government, and the public.”

(It’s still worth checking out, if you ask me.)

The site boasts a jaw-dropping list of corporate members, including:

·      Disney

·      NBCUniversal Digital Media

·      NPR

·      The New York Times

·      The Wall Street Journal Digital Network

·      Thomson Reuters…

You get the idea.

However, be careful here, as members and supporters must be “organizations”, so if you wish to join or support OPA, you can only do so through your business.

3. Open Mobile Alliance (OMA) (Wireless Application Protocol): OMA works in the same way IWA does: as a global standard for mobile service/app designers worldwide. If you’re an app programmer, check it out.

4. International Academy of Web Television (IAWTV): as the name states, this network encompasses everything related to the growing web TV industry and digital entertainment. Pay close attention to this network as it grows and check out its blog.

If you’re a filmmaker, actor, composer, agent, or content developer (the site invites even more disciplines), then join. A growing industry is always the better place to showcase your skills; webisodes are typically shorter than traditional TV episodes and are therefore more cost effective to produce.

Media Marketing Organizations

1. eMarketing Association (eMA): this one also isn’t lesser known by any means, but if you’re new to the Internet marketing game, pay close attention. eMA is one of the primary sources of IM, email marketing, and social media marketing certifications, and is a great credential to add to your skill set.

eMA’s offices are in Rhode Island and California, but its platform is online (including all of its certification courses), so it’s accessible anytime. It also offers two conferences each year; the eM12 conference takes place October 23-24, 2012 in Providence, RI.

However, read eMA’s About page carefully, because certain countries are excluded from its membership.

2. American Marketing Association (AMA): another network that welcomes companies/organizations as well as individuals. Use this network to grow your knowledge in marketing and build new relationships in that niche.

3. International Association of Business Communicators (IABC): a business network of over 15,000 professionals in over 80 countries that encompasses marketing, PR, research, writing, graphic design, HR, and even teaching disciplines, as well as many others.

Per the site, it’s a great place for freelancers to find clients and “the hidden job market”; and of course, to sharpen your skills (not beating a dead horse there, the site actually says that).

I promise I didn’t pull these sites from my rear, by the way. They’re credible.

Here are my sources:


The Directors Guild of America (DGA)

The Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) 

I Want Media


Your mission this week: choose the association from this list that catches your eye the most, research it, and leave a comment here with your findings. Would you join? Did you join? Let me know.

Image: craigCloutier


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