I cannot stress this enough: one of the best things you can do for yourself is to get out there and network, network, network. Introduce yourself to actors, directors, producers, cinematographers, anyone and everyone who is working in your industry, in your city, or in your town.
Surrounding yourself with like-minded people who are as ambitious and hardworking as you are is the fastest way of reaching your goals. Other people can teach you a lot and give you access to their genius and resources.
You’ll find that you get to meet a lot of the same people during festival circuits. Don’t be afraid to ask them out for a drink and see if they’re open to collaboration. You can also meet other filmmakers by searching for networking groups in your city or town, as well as by attending acting classes, writing classes, improv classes, and cinematography classes.