In spite of the great number of festivals and film-related events that concentrate their efforts on the endlessly creative city of Los
Angeles, it seems like there is always a need for more platforms and spaces for
filmmakers to showcase their work and develop their careers. Being home to all of the major studios,
numerous distribution companies, and non-profit organizations, the city is still the top destination for anyone trying to make a career in this volatile
Taking into account this constant supply of new work and the
lack of an equally constant place to show it, Larry Laboe decided to create the
film festival/film organization, NewFilmmakers Los Angeles, modeled after one
by the same name in New York. Although the concept was essentially identical – a monthly
film festival to showcase independent cinema- Laboe knew that an industry
component was required to make of this new venture a success. Within a few
years, NewFilmmakers Los Angeles has grown to become a unique vehicle for artists
to launch their careers, connect with crucial support, and exchange ideas with
each other and with audiences.
As Executive Director of NewFilmmakers Los Angeles Mr.
Laboe continues to develop innovative partnerships and strategic relationships
that benefit the filmmaking community. With the help of a small but dedicated
team, which includes Artistic Director and Co-Founder Susie Kim, NewFilmmakers Los Angeles is a refreshing and multifaceted tool for filmmakers, industry professionals,
and film lovers alike.
Mr. Laboe talked to us recently about these and other unique
opportunities offered by NewFilmmakers Los Angeles.
Carlos Aguilar: Could you explain the essentials about what NewFilmmakers is, what you guys do, and how you got involved with this project?
NewFilmmakers as an organization has been around since 1998 in New York City. The NewFilmmakers New York program is part of the Anthology Film Archives,
which is a center for promoting independent filmmakers and helping to preserve work by independent and experimental filmmakers. It’s been going on there
for well over 16 years now. When I moved out to Los Angeles I had been a patron of NewFilmmakers New York for a long time. I really loved the sense of
community it gave independent filmmakers in NYC. I really loved the programming and how eclectic and different it was. It was very unique compared to
anything I had ever experienced before.
At the time I was somebody who would go to almost every film festival in the U.S. I was also a filmmaker, and somebody that simply loved to watch movies. I
had experienced Tribeca Film Festival, SXSW, Sundance, AFI Fest, LAIFF, and I just felt this uniqueness about NewFilmmakers and it’s format. It exhibited
its films throughout the year instead of being an annual festival that screens films for a certain number of consecutive days.
What I found through my exploration with NewFilmmakers New York was that this festival was able to showcase more films throughout the year by doing it as
a monthly festival. It was also able to highlight each filmmaker and their film more than at a traditional festival because you come to an event that is
about 10 to 15 film instead of a weeklong event that’s about 200 films. That’s what I loved about the program.
When I moved to L.A. I immediately joined Film Independent, but even with them in town and many others that support film, I felt like there was a place for
an organization like NewFilmmakers in Los Angeles. There wasn’t any consistent, truly independent film programming throughout the year. I found that Film
Independent had their screening series but it was more about Fox Searchlight or Paramount Vantage movies. These are not what I would consider “new
filmmakers” because a lot of the filmmakers they highlight have studio support or had done a lot of work in the past that sets them at a different level
than a true new filmmaker.
The work we highlight is not amateur work, or student films, or first time filmmakers, it’s just truly independent film that is at the same level of what
you would see at Sundance or SXSW. They are just filmmakers that still need a chance to get their voice out to an audience and to share their stories.
Many of the films that we screen go on to play at major festivals. They go on to win Academy Awards, student Academy Awards, and dozens of other prizes in
other well-respected events. The content really can stand on its own. We really try to choose based on unique storytelling, but also filmmaking that shows
we can really help the filmmaker take the next step in their career. We want to highlight films that we can show to the industry and potentially work with
that filmmaker on developing their content or getting distribution for their film.
Aguilar: What’s would you say are the main differences between the programming and initiatives in New York and Los Angeles?
NewFilmmakers New York started out being a monthly festival and it eventually turned into a weekly festival. Now they screen on a weekly basis. There is a
lot of value that comes from the weekly programming. Here in L.A. we screen anywhere from 150 to 200 films a year, and they probably screen over 300 films
In New York, the mentality with the programming is a bit different. They are more about highlighting experimental film, and we are more about highlighting
unique storytelling that really offers a chance for that filmmaker to succeed and move on to bigger and better things. We are more about empowering people
with industry tools, helping them develop relationships, and connecting with other creative people.
We would never try to do a weekly event just because it would be counterproductive to our monthly festival and to staying true to only showcasing a smaller
number of filmmakers once each month. That’s the main difference. We also have a lot more corporate sponsorships. We have a lot of industry partnerships
with companies like Sony Pictures Entertainment, SAG-AFTRA, Film L.A, Warner Brothers, and Disney. We are just more about the development of someone’s
career and they are more about giving audiences a forum where they can both show they work and come and see work by independent filmmakers throughout the
Aguilar: With numerous film organizations based in Los Angeles, what makes NewFilmmakers stand out from the crowd? What unique opportunities do you
We are the only organization besides Hollywood Shorts that does a monthly festival. What sets us apart is that we screen shorts, features, and
documentaries. We have a very premium 500-seat venue in Downtown L.A. We are really about showcasing a really small number of films each month. It’s a
dedicated forum for those 10 or 15 filmmakers in each particular month. An annual festival can’t highlight 10 to 15 films in an 800-word press release
because they have 150 to 200 filmmakers they are showcasing, but we can.
We definitely have an opportunity as a festival to focus more on each film, to pitch press more because we have more time. We have a chance to break apart
each story and select different aspects of the story that might be appealing to press. Another important element we offer is a sizeable audience. With a
lot of annual festivals you are sharing the audience with 4 or 5 screenings, and with out festival we never have overlapping screenings. There are always 3
screenings at each festival showcase. They are scheduled back to back to back, so our theater is generally always full.
Most of the filmmakers we have at our festival who have been at other festivals have an amazing response to what we do. They often say things like, “This
is the best screening I’ve had,” “This was the biggest audience I’ve ever had,” “The promotion that you guys did for my film was amazing.“ We go out of our
way in terms of our press release to make sure it gets as many pickups as possible. Our theater is also listed on Google as a local theater under the name
“NewFilmmakers Los Angeles” alongside every AMC and other major chains. All of the films that we are showcasing at our monthly festival are listed on
Fandango, MovieTickets.com, Google Movies, etc.
We are trying to change the stigma of an independent film being so much different form a studio film. We want to put our movies alongside movies that wide
audiences are coming across and discovering online. We make sure that all our films get listed on those sites with synopses, trailers, director’s
information, writer’s information, producer’s information and the cast.
Lastly, our online promotions for each film are very targeted. Our email list is over 67,000 subscribers. We have a huge following of moviegoers in L.A.
that really want to come out and see films. It ranges from consumer moviegoers, to industry figures, distributors, production companies, producers,
management companies, agencies, composers, cinematographers, editors, and many other people that are passionate about independent film.
Aguilar: What are some the partnerships and initiatives NewFilmmakers Los Angeles has set up to help filmmakers not only be part of this festival but
develop their careers? Are any of these programs targeted to underrepresented segments of the population?
This year we are focusing on three different categories. We are focusing on documentary programming, we are focusing on programming films by Latino
filmmakers, and we are focusing on programming work by female filmmakers. We are a very collaborative organization. We love all these other film festivals
that take place annually. They are amazing for the filmmakers’ careers as well. We partner every year with AFI Fest, and with Film Independent for the
LAIFF among many others.
Regarding the three areas that we are focusing on this year I specifically would like to talk about our Latino focus. We’ve partnered with NUVO TV, and
they have a specific program called NU Point of View: The Emergent Latino Filmmakers, which is an amazing opportunity. We’ve partnered with them for this
initiative, which gives the filmmakers the opportunity to have their film screened on NUVO TV, which is in over 35 million U.S. households. If selected
NUVO TV pays them a licensing fee to show the film.
As part of this partnership with NewFilmmakers, NUVO is taking a first look at all the Latino finished films that we screen as part of our festival. To
take it a step further we also organize two events a year with NUVO TV to showcase Latino filmmakers and to spread the word about the films we are
screening. They support all of our films with listings on the NUVO TV website. I think this is a great example of the kind of collaborations we do to
expand opportunities for our filmmakers.
We also just established a partnership with a new company called FilmBundle, which is a company that distributes packages of short films online. They
generally include 5 to 10 films per package, and it allows the audience to pay what they want for the film bundle. You can pay as little as 10 cents or as
much as $1000, whatever you want to contribute. Out of this donation FilmBundle takes a cut, the filmmakers get a cut, and a non-profit film organization
gets a cut, but the audiences chooses how much they want each one of them to get. When you pay you can choose how much FilmBundle gets, how much the
filmmaker gets, and how much the non-profit involved in creating that bundle gets. We partner up with really unique companies like this.
Another distribution opportunity we have for a out filmmakers is our partnership with ShortsHD, which has a U.S. channel for short films on DirecTV, AT&T Uverse, Century Link, Frontier, and Google Fiber. ShortsHD also has a European channel for shorts. All of the films that we screen get a first look by Shorts HD. We are constantly working on opportunities like
that for our filmmakers. We have a ton of prizes both cash and in production equipment, services, and additional filmmaking tools that help filmmakers
throughout the year. A lot of the resources we get are in kind services from entertainment related companies or in kind donations to provide food and
drinks at the events. We do it all with a very small staff and with little resources. Filmmakers that have come to the festival know this and are very
appreciative of our efforts.
Aguilar: Where do the films come from? Does the programming focus on films made in L.A or are there films that come from abroad?
Our first mandate is to program a minimum of 20% of all the films we screen from international submissions. Our second mandate is to program another 20% of
U.S. films from places outside of California. The other 60% we designate for L.A. local films. Being a Los Angeles organization we definitely wan to be
supportive of local filmmakers but being an organization that is all about sharing films worldwide we also like to include films that represent
international voices. We have a programming team made up of 8 people and a programming director, Susie Kim. All of the films that come into the festival
are watched by a minimum of three people.
Aguilar: How much are tickets for NewFilmmakers Los Angeles screenings? What are the fees for filmmakers interested I submitting their films for
Another thing we do to make it as accessible as possible to everybody is to keep our tickets at $5. We try to keep the ticket prices lower than any
festival that isn’t free. Our film submission prices are also low. There is a $25 submission fee for anyone who made their film in L.A, $30 student
submission fee, $35 short fee, and $40 feature fee. Those prices don’t change throughout the year. For us is all about trying to include everybody and to
create opportunities for filmmakers.
NewFilmmakers Los Angeles Upcoming Screening will take place on December 13th for tickets and more information visit HERE