San Francisco Is The New Capital For Indie Film

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Alfred Hitchcock 's Vertigo, 1958

Alfred Hitchcock ‘s Vertigo, 1958

San Francisco has always been a location for movies. Without trying too hard, everyone can name at least three movies they’ve seen that took place in San Francisco: The Conversation, So I Married an Ax Murderer, The Rock, Vertigo, and of course the ever famous and oh so brilliant Tommy Wiseau masterpiece The Room.

It’s pretty obvious why basing stories in such an aesthetically pleasing and unusually laid out city has such an appeal, but recently San Francisco has seen an increase in movies being filmed within its city limits as well as production houses springing up all over the place. The new indie film scene is in San Francisco and it’s taking off like crazy.

The land of many movie theaters, San Francisco, hosts a score of festivals that cater just to the DIY movie world. There’s Indie Fest and Doc Fest, nationally renowned events with internationally renowned movies.

There’s also a very special and marvelous festival put on every year by the Roxie Theater “Another Hole in the Head.” This month-long festival usually taking place in December and brings out some of the best genre specific filmmakers around. All varieties of horror movies are screened, some are god awful and some are so strikingly brilliant they prompt this journalist to write full articles about how amazing horror movies can be.

The Roxie regularly screens movies that are pretty far off the beaten path, but not all of them are based out of San Francisco or made by SF production houses. The Scary Cow Film Festival is a quarterly film fest that features shorts and full-length films all done by people who belong to The Scary Cow Film Co-op, a worker-funded collective that provides networking, classes, and funding to emerging filmmakers. It’s like film school in many ways, and it brings people together who otherwise may not have ever met.

Because film is becoming a cheaper and more accessible medium, smaller houses are able to produce more and the very strange stories that might not always be green-lit by more mainstream producers can finally have their day.

Ted Hope, the new head of SF Film Society, believes San Francisco is the place where the indie film scene should be centered. In an interview with the monthly magazine San Francisco, Hope seemed optimistic about the film scene in the city. He acknowledged all the fantastic work of other areas but claimed San Francisco had “a filmmaking community that clearly sees things differently than they do in L.A. or New York, thank God.”

21 Grams, 2003

21 Grams, 2003

Hope has produced some of the most memorable movies of the recent past such as American Splendor and 21 Grams. He and his wife founded the production company Double Hope in 2010.

Like anything, some indie movies are god awful. Some are overly ambitious for their meager budgets and some lack that certain something that make people suspend disbelief and get sucked into another world.

It’s hard to make indie films because big budgets and highly paid stars can distract people away from clunky dialogue or poorly written scripts, but indie movies don’t have that luxury. Everything’s out in the open and it can be very hard to cover up mistakes or lack of funds.

What keeps people coming back to the indie film world is the originality and the bravado to do whatever the writer or director pleases. Filmmaking has become easier and faster and indie movies are certainly not going anywhere, no matter how much money is being pumped into the next Michael Bay disaster. Smaller and more modest movies bring out creativity and talent like no others and with so many venues and so large of an audience, a new day of indie filmmaking is coming along.