Seven Reasons Why SF is a Great Place to Make a Movie


Now that festival season is officially in full swing, every weekend the theaters, halls and parking lots of San Francisco will become a battleground for your filmic attention, until you either attain mystic transcendance, stop caring, or simply drop dead from seeing too many films. For those of us with a fidgety disposition, the Disposable Film Festival, which opens today, is a uniquely appealing option--and probably the best odds most of us will ever have to see our own films shine down on the Castro Theatre's 1,407 seats (that's 2,814 eyeballs).

Carlton Evans, the executive director of the DFF and a filmmaker in his own right, told me seven things he loves about making film in San Francisco:

1. The San Francisco Film Society. Few other organizations are so equally dedicated to supporting filmmakers in every sense--not just in terms of grants for every phase of production, but also incredible educational programs, and a million other kinds of support.

2. The San Francisco Film Commission. The Film Commission is incredibly passionate about bringing production to the streets of San Francisco. They offer huge incentives to producers and a great residency program to filmmakers, The SF Film Collective.

3. San Francisco is a surprisingly varied place to shoot. Of course there is no shortage of dramatic vistas and gorgeous old Victorians, but look around the city--there's a lot more here, too. From the Richmond to the Bayview, there are settings for a million stories.

4. An emerging and talented fiction film community. As a city, we tend to be known for our documentaries. But in recent years we've seen some amazing narrative films come out of the Bay Area, and lots more are currently in production.

5. It's the city of 100 film festivals. Whatever kind of film you're making, chances are there's a local festival that will be just perfect for it.

6. The Castro Theater. Nothing else needs to be said about this one.

7. It's not LA. Don't get me wrong, I love LA, but it's also a rat race. If you're resourceful, you can get something done here with a whole lot less hustling.

Okay, one more...ahem

8. The best audiences anywhere. San Francisco film fans are steeped in film culture and history, always open to new experiences, and incredibly appreciative. 

The DFF opens on Thursday at The Castro Theatre and continues with a series of free talks, films and workshops all weekend. Except for opening night, all the programs are free, but make sure they save you a spot by RSVPing here.

One the programs I'm looking forward to is an appearance by iPhone animator Sascha Ciezata. Check out his cheeky, befuddling account of how a complaint by an overzealous copyright holder made his most "famous" film, "When Lynch Met Lucas," disappear here.  

Though you'd be forgiven for spending your entire weekend partying, err, learning at DFF, there are some other great films playing around town as well:

Sound of Noise, a relentlessly inventive tale about a group of "guerrilla percussionists" who transform a city into a symphony, was arguably the most exciting clamor raised at last year's SFIFF, and you'd be cheating yourself if you missed this concert-as-a-film on the big screen. Plays 3/23–29 at SFFS-New People Cinema, 1746 Post St. @ Webster, 415-525-8600.

Centaur could be the next cult classic murder mystery or it could be… something else. Filmed in SF with a cast of local actors by local filmmaker JP Allen, the screening is followed by an appearance by folk/blues duet McCabe and Mrs. Miller and a Q&A with director and cast. Plays 3/23 and 3/24 at Lumiere Theatre, 1572 California St. @ Polk, 415-885-3201.

Napoleon, Abel Gance’s silent epic, deservingly described as "the greatest film ever made" by the biggest and brightest of the film world, will be shown in a restored 5 1/2 hour version with a live score played by the Oakland East Bay Symphony at Oakland's Art Deco gem the Paramount. I know, I know: "I have to go to Oakland?" Rest your mind, it's probably the the most opulent, elegant film experience you'll have the chance to attend in the next fifteen years. Plays 3/24, 3/25, 3/31 & 4/1 at Paramount Theatre, 2025 Broadway @ 20th, Oakland, 510-763-7308.

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