Sunday, September 14, 2014

Where is the Move Scene these days? Where is the best place to work in film

The other day a friend of mine told me that I make better films on zero budget than Peter Jackson made before he found fame.  "Thanks! I needed that" was my reply.  He told me the cinematography, coloring and most everything else was just better.  As I let my ego absorb the comment I began to think about what he said and why, if this is true (which it is), am I not making something else besides commercials?  
There was only one distinct answer to this question.  I am living in the wrong place.  You see, I live in North West Arkansas.  Until about five years ago there was no movie scene.  Yes, there were films being made here by a handful of people but there was no "scene".  The advent of affordable DSLR cameras, and the like, have given birth to the area's film scene, for what there is of it. To say that it is burgeoning or becoming something to admire would be an overstatement.  There are still only a few of us around here that actually work at making films of any kind.  What's worse is the fact that many of us don't know each other nor do we talk very often.  Why this is, I really do not know.  We have a local Film Festival and some 48 hour film stuff going on, which is neat.  We do have a couple of film schools as well.  The Springdale High School has a film program that is rather large as well as two Colleges that offer programs, John Brown University and North West Arkansas Community College.  John Brown has a full on film studies where the students are required to make films of their own while NWACC is just getting off the ground.  Even if we did have a larger group of filmmakers, we would have no place to show the films.  There are no art houses or small boutique theaters to place a film.  You either have to have a party at your house or rely on the internets.  

So, since I am living in the wrong place I decided to narrow down places to move too.  This is where it starts to scare me a little.  You see, film has been struggling the past few years resulting in lower pay and fewer jobs.  In fact, Paramount just laid off 5% of their staff and that makes anyone wonder about moving to L.A. for a film job.  Even more scary is the fact that many Hollywood big budget movies insist on the VFX (Visual Effects) companies they work with do the job at prices that leave the VFX guys in a negative balance at the end, even if the movie makes money.  Top that off with the plan to move more and more VFX work to China and you have a recipe for disaster.


Of my choices I have narrowed it down to five; L.A., N.Y., Georgia, Vancouver and Texas.  The obvious reasons for going to L.A. we already know, Sun, Sand and Movies.  However, there have been less and less films made in L.A. every year.  Add to that the fact that I know virtually no one in L.A. that deals in the film business.  This makes moving to L.A. something of a pipe dream.  In fact these reasons could apply to N.Y. as well.  The subtle difference for me that keeps me thinking about moving to L.A. or N.Y. is the talent pool.  No where else are you going to find people that want to be in the film business more than life itself than in these two towns.  I have heard rumors of people quitting their jobs to work on a film that has zero pay.  Hell yeah, where can I find that sort of dedication here?!  The other choices are far more nuanced than the arguments for or against L.A. or N.Y.  With the exception of Vancouver, I can bet that I would be able to find work making commercials, just as I am here, in Georgia and Texas.  The reason I leave Vancouver out is because it is another country and I have never left the continental US, so I really don't know the process or the area.  Texas has a thriving film and art community in Cities like Austin and Ft. Worth.  The amount of people living in those areas dictates that you can find talent and like minded folks.  Georgia is where the hot action is.  Or at least where it is rumored to be.  The state gives tax credits to folks that make films in the state and the state actually pays the money.  Louisiana tried that but somehow they forgot that eventually you will need to write a check to keep the films coming.  Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that Georgia will not do the exact same thing next month forcing all the jobs back to L.A.


So you see, I do not want to put my cart before my horse and move to a place where I will end up being right back in the same situation I am in now.  I want to make the best decision I can with as much info as possible.  The last thing I want to do is fall for Hollywood-itis and move out there with no job, no prospects for a job and low cash reserves.  

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