create / 2014

NewFilmmakers LA

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by NewFilmmakers Los Angeles

NFMLA accomplishes these goals with 3 programs: The NFMLA Monthly Screening Series, Stage 5 Interviews & On Location: The LA Video Project.


Please describe yourself.

Solo actor (just us on this project!)

In one sentence, please describe your idea or project.

NFMLA accomplishes these goals with 3 programs: The NFMLA Monthly Screening Series, Stage 5 Interviews & On Location: The LA Video Project.

Does your project impact Los Angeles County?

Yes (benefits a region of LA County)

Which area(s) of LA does your project benefit?

  • Central LA
  • East LA
  • South LA
  • San Gabriel Valley
  • San Fernando Valley
  • South Bay
  • Westside

What is your idea/project in more detail?

The NFMLA Monthly Screening Series highlights the irreplaceable cultural contributions of filmmakers local and international, while providing an ongoing collaborative forum to encourage independent local film industry and community audience engagement. Each month NFMLA presents red carpet screenings of documentaries, shorts and features from beginning filmmakers followed by a Q&A with each director. The programs also include networking events before and after screenings so the audience can meet the showcased filmmakers and incredible talent involved, and Stage 5: On Camera Filmmaker Interviews for each film that are distributed by MovieMaker Magazine.

What will you do to implement this idea/project?

NewFilmmakers Los Angeles is requesting funds to aid us in expanding our core programming—NFMLA’s Monthly Screening Series, and On Location: the Los Angeles Video Project—and in doing so help us to greater promote cultural exchange by using film to ignite critical dialogue, promote global understanding and create film jobs and events in the Los Angeles area.

Currently, NewFilmmakers LA manages to accomplish everything it does with a staff of only five—four of whom are part-time employees or on retainer, and only one of whom is full-time. The additional support provided by an expansion grant will allow us more resources, manpower and energy to continue the steady path of growth that NFMLA has maintained throughout the years. In expanding On Location, the NFMLA Monthly Screening Series and the rest of our core programming, we can provide important cultural and career opportunities to a wider net of communities in Los Angeles.

How will your idea/project help make LA the best place to CREATE today? In 2050?

Since its inception, NewFilmmakers Los Angeles has dedicated itself towards making Los Angeles the best possible place to create films and experience film culture. NFMLA’s core programs were designed to promote cultural exchange in LA by exposing the powerful, young talent behind important local and global cinema to a hungry audience—and vice versa.

Our other core program aside from the Monthly Screening Series, On Location: The Los Angeles Video Project is about to celebrate its fourth anniversary as the first community outreach multimedia program that celebrates LA by enlisting its remarkable pool of filmmakers to make films about the city. On Location was largely founded as a means of helping to fight the current massive production exodus in California. The program serves LA not only by providing an outlet for its filmmakers to share their insider perspectives of this diverse cosmopolitan environment, but also by creating production opportunities for local residents on these shoots, and yielding a vibrant crop of short films that maintain and further Hollywood’s status as the world’s filmmaking capital.

The Monthly Screening Series also achieves these goals by reserving half of each program for local films and offering a large discount to submitting local filmmakers if their movie was filmed in the area. NFMLA further encourages local film production by co-planning the California Locations Conference with the California Film Commission, presenting a Filming in LA Panel with FilmLA and LAPPG, and hosting the PGA’s Weekend Shorts Filmmaking Program.

Whom will your project benefit?

Over twenty local films are made through the On Location program each year and premier to an audience of 500. Our other screenings serve 25,000+ patrons annually in the greater Los Angeles area, and we additionally reach 55,920 subscribers on our email list and 9,555 via Facebook and other social media. Inexpensive ticket pricing ($5 for a single program) allows us to serve a vast array of socioeconomic groups, and our culturally rich programming draws a racially diverse audience, with 41% of our constituents Caucasian, 15% Black, 18% Latino, 8% Asian, 3% Middle Eastern and 13% other.

With the funds for outreach that a grant of this magnitude can provide, the amount of Angelinos we can benefit is potentially limitless.

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.

NFMLA has a longstanding history of collaborating with other organizations to achieve our shared goal of advancing LA arts and culture. Such collaborations include co-presentations of: two yearly panels with Women in Film, one yearly panel with AFCI Locations Show, the LA Student Media Film Festival with Paul Krekorian, the 57th Assembly District Student Digital Media Competition with Ian Calderon, an LA Harbor International Film Festival shorts showcase, four short film Summer Poolside Screening Series events at the Standard, and respective separate feature film screenings with the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles, LA EigaFest, AFI Film Fest, and LA Film Festival. Other partners include: the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, Film Independent, We Make Movies, FilmBreak, Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, Free Arts for Abused Children, the National Hispanic Media Convention, Japan Film Society, and the Consulates of Finland, Hungary and New Zealand. Most recently, we collaborated with NUVOtv to debut three stunning Latino-driven film programs before presenting them to an audience of millions on NUVOtv’s Nu Point of View program—a magnificent opportunity for any up-and-coming independent filmmaker.

Between so many global partnerships and the fact that we bring and showcase international filmmakers to the city on a monthly basis, NewFilmmakers has made promoting a diverse, international presence in LA a top priority. It is for these reasons that the Hollywood Arts Council is honoring us with a Cinema Arts Award this year to celebrate outstanding contributions of merit to Hollywood and its arts.

How will your project impact the LA2050 “Create” metrics?

  • Employment in creative industries
  • Arts establishments per capita
  • Jobs per capita
  • Minority- and women-owned firms
  • Measures of cultural and global economic influence (“soft power”) (Dream Metric)

Please elaborate on how your project will impact the above metrics.

See above.

Please explain how you will evaluate your project.

The best way to measure success for an organization like ours is by looking at how well we’re able to serve the people our organization is dedicated to. As such, three simple metrics will allow us to measure our successes in growing our core programming.

The first is how well we’re able to serve our audience. The most obvious way to measure success here is by numbers–if we can consistently grow our audience, then it means that expose more Angelinos to arts and cultural content. With support of this magnitude, I believe it could be possible for us to double the amount of people we serve.

However, it’s not only important for us to merely increase quantity of patrons we serve, but also the quality of what we’re serving to them. To best serve our audience, it’s imperative that we show an even greater selection of international films so that we can expose them to more global culture and to better assess and meet their needs in terms of types of content to engage with.

This brings us to our second metric: communities supported. This year, NewFilmmakers Los Angeles set two goals: to better support the Latino Film community of LA and the female-identified filmmakers of LA. We’re proud to say that we have already met the first by partnering with NUVOtv to regularly provide three excellent Latino film programs and distribute them on global television and that we are well on our way to accomplishing the second by partnering with Women in Film.

With more funding, we could better support even more minority film communities: the Black film community, the Indigenous Peoples’ film community, the Asian film community, the GLBTQ film community, etc. As such, the second metric by which we would measure success will be in amount of additional events, workshops, and outreach that we are able to provide for audiences and filmmakers of these communities.

The final–and perhaps most obvious–way that we can measure success as we grow as an organization is in terms of opportunities for our filmmakers. How many opportunities are we able to provide to our filmmakers? Can we provide better opportunities for them? Can we get more people to see their films? How can we better highlight their accomplishments? Can we plan more workshops to help filmmakers build their skillsets? If we can better serve our filmmakers by further improving in these areas, then we will have accomplished our third goal.

What two lessons have informed your solution or project?

The two major lessons that informed our project is the importance of audience and press/publicity for a filmmaker.

Regarding audience, the NFMLA Monthly Screening Series was created to help provide exposure for the kind of insightful new voices in independent cinema that weren’t being well served by other outlets. These films would often premiere at prestigious festivals, but struggle to gain an audience there due to being programmed simultaneously to larger studio films with big marketing budgets and name talent. Our monthly screening series circumvents this by avoiding concurrent programming, and inexpensive all-night tickets means that the bigger films we screen instead help the smaller films by drawing more of an audience to a larger event with films of all sizes.

After each month’s screening, filmmakers are given the opportunity to participate in Stage 5: On-Camera Filmmaker Interviews. Stage 5 showcases their films through MovieMaker magazine and a vast online distribution network so that viewers around the world can access their interviews on new episodes each month and gain valuable insight and education into the creative process of filmmaking.

Explain how implementing your project within the next twelve months is an achievable goal.

Implementing our project within the next twelve months is absolutely an achievable goal because we’re already doing it–just on a smaller scale than we’d like to be.

In the seven years since its formation, The NewFilmmakers Los Angeles Monthly Screening Series viewership and budget has consistently increased by nearly 30 percent annually. NFMLA has screened over 750 films from 43 countries, highlighting local and international films that have won awards at Sundance, the Oscars, the Student Oscars, and been picked up for distribution by companies like Focus Features, PBS, Showtime, MTV, and more.

Unlike many nonprofits, we’ve consistently adapted very well to major growth spurts and have built ourselves to never become entirely reliant on any single source of funding.

Please list at least two major barriers/challenges you anticipate. What is your strategy for ensuring a successful implementation?

One major barrier that we always face in trying to screen films that come from directors and writers from a diverse array of backgrounds is the unfortunate fact that most minority groups are drastically underrepresented in the film industry right now. As such, the vast majority of submissions that we receive are from heterosexual, white, cisgendered male filmmakers. Even though we’ve made a huge priority of providing more opportunities and representation for minority filmmakers (via our partnerships and by making a habit of consistently showing a much larger portion of films from minority directors than any other festival our size), we would love to receive more film submissions from minority directors.

Fortunately, this grant would allow us to do more targeted outreach in these communities, provide workshops for them, and grant more low-income film submission fee waivers and yearly memberships to the Monthly Screening Series. We plan to keep doing everything in our power in this arena until the pool of filmmakers in LA is as diverse as the populace at large.

Another challenge comes in the form of travel. Screening international films is a huge priority of ours, and we pride ourselves as having shown movies from over 43 countries all over the globe. However, this can be very difficult for us in terms of attendance. Because of travel costs, only about half of our international directors are currently able to travel to our monthly screening events and rarely other cast or crewmembers. We’ve courted airline sponsors to assist with this but nothing has panned out yet. This is a big problem because it limits the amount of intercultural exchange we’re able to provide both our audience and filmmakers. However, with a grant of this magnitude, we would be able to set aside $10,000 as a fund to fly low-income filmmakers out to our events.

What resources does your project need?

  • Network/relationship support
  • Money (financial capital)
  • Volunteers/staff (human capital)
  • Publicity/awareness (social capital)
  • Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles, etc.)
  • Technical infrastructure (computers, etc.)
  • Community outreach