Getting to Know the New Film Makers of Los Angeles

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Upon entering the building, a rolled out red carpet and velvet red ropes encompassing large white backdrop canvases immediately come into sight, the kind that are often seen behind actors and other celebrities in the photographs of large premiers. Adjacent to the velvet and canvases is a staircase that goes one level upwards to the main lobby where a number of fashionably dressed individuals, many of them with drinks in hand, are seen chatting one another up. To the left of the lobby there is an outdoor balcony that houses a small bar and provides additional real estate for mingling and a view of downtown Los Angeles. And to the right of the lobby there is the place where all of the magic happens, inside the theater. Welcome to the New Film Makers of Los Angeles.

The New Film Makers of Los Angeles is a nonprofit independent film organization that serves as a platform for networking in the film industry by allowing audiences and filmmakers to interact with one another. It hosts film festivals monthly, each with a succession of short or feature films that are put together to showcase a designated theme. Additionally, each festival consists of three separate programs that are comprised of their own smaller collection of shorts or single features, allowing for intermissions in between.

NFMLA was founded in 2007 by Executive Director Larry Laboe and Artistic Director Suzy Kim.

“Venues like the NFMLA are crucial for building networks in the film industry,” said 29-year-old Co-founder Laboe. “We get to help people who want to advance their careers and share their voices by empowering them and connecting them with audiences.”

Films can be submitted all year long at no cost to the filmmaker, and on average the NFMLA receives 150 films per month. From those monthly submissions roughly 10-15 films are selected and showcased at each of their monthly festivals. In total the organization screens roughly 180 films each year. Outreach Director Alex Diantgikis, who plays a major role in the film selection process, called the festivals her favorite part of her job.

“It’s meeting the filmmakers, the day they show up, and seeing all of their hard work put up on screen that I really love,” said Diantgikis.

One of their goals is to make it as easy as possible for people to experience and explore independent film by affording maximum accessibility for both filmmakers and audience members. As a filmmaker the NFMLA presents the opportunity to screen films they showcase for free, and if there are any additional costs, they try to keep them as minimal as possible. As an audience member, single programs consisting of the first tier of a given showcase can be viewed for only $5, and $15 will provide access to all three collections, in addition to access to an open bar. There are also annual memberships available; standard for $75 and $35 for students.

If there is one place to open the door to world of independent film, as a filmmaker or simply as a lover of cinema, the NFMLA is not a bad place to start. An article published in November of 2014 on IndieWire.com called the NFMLA “a unique vehicle for artists to launch their careers, connect with crucial support, and exchange ideas with each other and with audiences.”

At best the NFMLA can be the bridge to endless opportunities for the aspiring filmmaker and a place to view raw, independent film at its finest for the zealous moviegoer. At worst, at least there is the open bar.

NFMLA is located at 1139 Hill St., Los Angeles. For more information, visit the website at https://www.newfilmmakersla.com/