Made in SF: A Simple Intro to the SF Film Commission

One of my favorite professors while in school spent an  a lot of energy informing his students on ways to make shooting in the city affordable. From stealing shots while on BART and the makeshift “you’re on camera” signs that release liability we learned how to make films in a flash and off the grid.

However, I’d like to take a look at the legitimate incentives being created to elevate San Francisco professional filmmaking that HBO shows shouldn’t be the only ones taking advantage of.

Filming in San Francisco is a big choice and one that many elite Bay Area-based filmmakers choose to abandon when it comes to their chosen projects. Of course, many of these are set outside of the bay and I don’t want to suggest that creative license should be abandoned to satisfy city patriotism. I understand that Spider Man needs to be made in NYC while anything involving invasion of Apes includes CGI San Francisco and then runs over to Pasadena for pretty house shots.

There are many facets of filming within the city “walls” that so many seem to be unaware of.  From all phases of filmmaking there are vast resources in this city if you’re interested and willing to put the work in to familiarize yourself and learn its language.

Without further ado I introduce my first Made in SF beat:

A Simple Introduction to the SF Film Commission


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Lunchboxes, Clay, and Dinner

Over the past decades technology and globalization have increasingly leveled the playing field in terms of the cinematic quality of films across the globe. In turn, many foreign films, previously unique in form, have begun to gain an increasingly Hollywood aesthetic. This “Hollywood-ization” of foreign cinema is nowhere more evident in films like Italy’s The Double Hour, or France’s  Heartbreaker. This year India shows it too has joined the global 1D aesthetic with The Lunchbox, an endearing film so local in story yet universal in theme.

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Vermeers, renovations and tomato soup

Last night I took the M Line over to Embarcadero and found myself at the Embarcadero Center Cinema, owned by Landmark Theatres. If you’re not familiar with this smaller venue do yourself a favor and check it out. They’ve recently made some important renovations to improve seating, lounging, and drinking. I’ve been coming here for 4+ years and although I really miss seeing the Woody Allen and Kieslowski posters I have to admit it’s looking good in there. I could be a purest and say I miss the days when I’d go there on a Tuesday afternoon and be one of 3 people in the room but that’d just be rude. I’m really happy to see that this smaller chain is doing well and that more people are taking the time to check it out. Didn’t they always know about the sweet validated parking?

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the oscars are coming

Knee deep in the playoffs is where we find ourselves this month in the film world. Every film site you visit is ripe with “for your consideration” and promo ads reminding you just how many nominations American Hustle has received. However I think its important to take a step back from one’s cynicism and look at what the awards represent and mean in the larger scheme of things. Think about this clearly; Bad Grandpa is now going to be released on dvd with the title “Academy Award nominated film”. American Hustle ticket sales are as high as they are in part due to its release in the heat of the season. Sure Benh Zeitlin’s nominations were a total oversight in the past (hope I didn’t hit a nerve but I’ve said it since the day it premiered at Sundance and I’m sticking to my guns here) if you think about how the superior Fruitvale Station didn’t get any dues but does this mean that the Academy Awards are a joke? I don’t think you could argue that the makeup on Johnny Knoxville wasn’t impressive and that 12 Years a Slave is an unimportant tribute to the horrors of real history  so I’d like to take a moment to sum up what the Oscars mean to me. Maybe they mean the same or something completely different to you.

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Numero Uno

Hello and welcome to my blog. After graduating from film school a few years back I took a jump and moved to LA. That didn’t work out as my romance with San Francisco’s Castro Theatre far outweighed any LA theatre hands down. So after moving back to the city by the bay I’m very excited to share much of what I’ve learned about film here on my blog. I’ve worked with some of the best programmers in the world but have learned that it doesn’t matter where you are as long you focus on quality, standards and the art of cinema. I’ve experienced some of the biggest film festivals but somehow the coziest experience is always in my own neighborhood. I’ll be reviewing films and commenting on film culture as it surrounds the bay. from the Stanford documentary tradition to the halls of Skywalker Ranch, I’ll be making my way around and taking you along for the ride. I’d love to hear from you about what you’d like to hear about cinema in the area. Please feel free to drop me a line at