Can you find success as a filmmaker outside of LA? That was the theme of the DC Shorts Film Festival, based upon conversations I had with directors attending the festival.
Now in its tenth year, DC Shorts featured 153 films from 23 nations. The festival is known as a “filmmakers festival,” where directors are given VIP treatment. Get your film into the festival and housing, food and parties are provided. This is in contrast to other festivals, where directors sometimes have to buy tickets to watch their own film being screened.
I talked to filmmakers from DC, New York, Ireland, Russia and elsewhere. Again and again, the same question came up – can you make it as a filmmaker outside LA?
For example, Shenanigans screened in the festival. This won the DC Shorts Screenplay Competition (full disclosure: I was one of the judges). It was written and produced by a bunch of young AU grads – who now live in New York. They had experience looking for actors in DC and NYC and said that in DC, they might get one good actor for each part while in New York, they found four. That’s the advantage of working in the theater capital of the world. If you are a serious young actor, you’re going to LA or NYC. The same holds true if you’re looking for a producer, editor or screenwriter – LA has thousands of people available in every category of moviemaking
But does that mean that aspiring directors, writers or actors should move there? Not necessarily.
A brilliant little film in the festival was Uisce Beatha (Whiskey/Water of Life). It’s a bit of an Irish joke, moving and funny all at once. Beautifully shot, it was made for just a few hundred dollars over three days. Uisce Beatha won the Filmmaker’s Choice Award at DC Shorts and is certain to play in festivals around the world. It’s a simple little film that works perfectly.
Another example is Pishto Goes Away, a Russian film that was voted one of the best of DC Shorts. The director spent three years working on the animation. Funny and fatalistic, it defines the Russian soul.
A way outside of LA effort was Mile High Pie, a sweetly moving documentary about towering meringue pies. Winner of the best food film at DC Shorts, it’s the kind of heartland story that you’re not going to see on the Kardashian Channel.
So, can you find success as a filmmaker outside of LA? With award-winning films from around the world, DC Shorts answers positively, “YES!” If you want to make movies, then make movies, no matter where you are.