Sunday, January 12, 2014

Welcome to BayAreaFilm

This mini-site represents an initial effort to create a list of movie and filmmaking resources in the San Francisco Bay Area, with an emphasis on resources useful for the hobbyist and small-budget professional.  I started this site out of frustration with my inability to find a unified source of information about the various short film production groups that operate in northern California.

This site will maintain one page for each resource type, with an index here on this main page.

Individual resource pages (planned or written):
- Filmmaking groups in the San Francisco Bay Area
- Single-subject or non-production groups
- Training and classes
- Meta: Other resource pages

I don't presently have plans to create resource pages for these categories:
- Commercial production service firms (see reeldirectory instead).
- Film festivals (too many to list, though SFmission has tried ; also see the San Jose Short Film Festival).

Filmmaking groups - San Francisco Bay Area

1. Scarycow

Their self-description:
"Scary Cow is a film co-op in the San Francisco Bay Area. Open to everyone of any skill level, Scary Cow’s mission is to build a film community that actively learns to make better films by making films. Scary Cow is run by its members and any revenue Scary Cow receives goes back out to its members in the form of screenings, budgets, classes, and more. We’ve made over 200 films and have given out well over $150,000 in budgets since we started in 2007."
Scarycow members make short films which are then shown at a recurring screening event at a San Francisco theater.  Scarycow charges an annual membership fee of approximately $600, which it uses primarily to feed back into awards given to participating filmmakers.  The organization maintains a talent pool database.  Most Scarycow events take place in San Francisco.

Web site:
Related sites: , 

2. Movie Making Throughout the Bay (MMTB)

Their self-description:
"MMTB is a community that meets every second Saturday once a month except during the winter months November & December.  Locations can vary throughout the Bay Area.  We are randomly placed into groups/teams which consist of a Director, Actors, Writer and Production Assistants.  Each group is given at least 5 hours to collaborate on an ideal/story and complete filming on the same day.  After filming Directors or Editors have at least a month and a half to submit a finish product for screening in a bay area theater hosted by MMTB."
MMTB's core events are their monthly second-Saturday one-day film creation events ("director's challenge") which skip preproduction, jump directly into production, and create short films which are later shown in a theater in Berkeley.  They also organize "producer's challenges", in which short film producers have 3 months to build a filmmaking team and go from concept to finished film.  Participation fees are nominal, and no experience is required to show up and act in a short film at second-Saturday event.

Web site:
Related sites: , ,

3. The Film Clubs: San Jose, San Franciso, Santa Cruz, Berkeley, Carmel, Monterey

Their self-description:

"The goal of The Film Clubs is to set up an environment that helps filmmakers finish their projects by going through all the necessary stages from Development to Pre-Production, Production, Post-Production, and finally Marketing & Distribution.

We also have R&R Nights to go to the movies and have a good time as well as field trips to practice shooting in unique locations."
The Film Clubs is a multi-city collective.  Each local group holds regular meetings and plans, or collaborates on, short film projects according to the availability of individual members.  Short film project teams often draw from members in multiple city groups.  Meeting attendance is free.

Umbrella web site:
Related sites: ,
City-specific sites:
  - San Jose:

  - San Francisco:
  - Santa Cruz:
  - Berkeley:
  - Carmel (does this count as "Bay Area"?):
  - Monterey:

4. Silicon Valley LA Film Collective

Their self-description:
"The Silicon Valley LA Film Collective is a group of volunteer filmmakers who produce short films (3-5 minutes each) on an ongoing basis, with the goal of perfecting skills, sharing cross-functional knowledge and producing quality final projects. The group is modeled after Dawn Fields’ LA Film Collective and was created by members of that original organization. As such, an additional goal of the collective is share people and knowledge between LA and Silicon Valley, to grow a strong and lasting core of film makers, writers, actors, production personnel and ultimately indie investors from both regions."
This is a new group starting up as of January 2014.

Web site:

5. Movie Makers Unite

Their self-description of a meeting:
Create fun and exciting short films.  Pitch Your Idea. Build A team. Set the deadlines.
  30 minutes Networking and MMU Plans and intro.
  60 minutes Go around the table:
  Any one with a 'completed script' will pitch first and get first priority.
  1-2 hours Group or Team discussions.
  Then open for networking.
As of January 2014, it's unclear if this group is still functioning, although some Meetup events do appear to be scheduled for early 2014.  The Meetup page content appears to have been most recently updated in 2012, the web site was most recently updated in 2011, and the Facebook link from the Meetup page is broken.

Web site:
Related sites: ,

Other resource pages

- Bay Area Women in Film and Media, resources page:

- Reel Directory, a directory of professional film production services in northern California.

Single-subject or non-production groups

These San Francisco Bay Area groups focus on a single subject, or on a portion of the filmmaking process other than production.

- Producer Foundry is an organization which, as of April 2014, is organizing monthly networking and speaker events in San Francisco.

What they say:
We are a hub for filmmakers who think like entrepreneurs (or who WANT to think like entrepreneurs), creating projects that make money. We are a place to gather and talk about the challenges of living and working in independent film, and to meet people who can help you overcome those challenges.

And here's their description of their monthly "Entreproducers" meetings:
A monthly gathering of Entrepreneurial filmmakers in the Bay Area. The Townhall is all about getting Filmmakers, Marketers, and Business people talking and networking... The Townhalls are for sharing useful information, and meeting useful people to grow your team and your company to the next level.

Web site:

- SFcutters is a San Francisco Bay Area editing (NLE) group, originally focused on Final Cut Pro, but now including Adobe Premiere as well.  The group has been in existence for over 10 years, and holds regular meetings.
Web site:
Related sites: (not the same content)

- Bay Area HSDLR meets periodically in San Francisco.  Their description: "This group discusses techniques and equipment related to HDSLR photo and video production. Anyone who is interested in the latest and greatest technology should join. We can learn from each other, swap stories and even equipment."
Web site:

- The (Adobe) Creative Cloud User Group of San Jose "was established to provide professionals in San Jose and surrounding areas a venue for networking and learning about the latest in Adobe Software."
Web site:
Related sites: ,

Training and classes

- Bay Area Video Coalition in San Francisco offers a variety of classes.

- KMVT Mountain View community access TV offers classes, with a focus on the skills necessary to run their TV studio equipment.

- Berkeley Digital Film Institute offers a wide variety of classes.

- Documentary filmmaker Bob Elfstrom occasionally offers a 3-day workshop: "Shooting and Lighting for Documentary Films"

- The UCLA Extension program offers some of its Entertainment Studies classes in an online-only format, so you don't need to be in the Los Angeles area to take the classes.  You can download the full Entertainment Studies section of their catalog and look for the online classes.