Monday, September 18, 2017

The Valley Film Festival Expands Programming Into West Valley w/October 7th Screening

Contributed by Georgia Menides

When we say, The Valley Film Festival, we mean THE WHOLE DARN VALLEY

For the past 17 years, The Valley Film Festival has produced annual independent
cinexplosions at the Laemmle NoHo 7 with adjunct programs and parties running all the way up and down “the Lankershim strip” in the NoHo Arts District. VFF continues to hold court as the largest and longest running film festival in the San Fernando Valley, bringing in about 12K total foot traffic each year.

Yes, Laemmle NoHo 7 is in The Valley.  But the name, “The Valley Film Festival” refers to a lot more than just our venue’s location. The name is reflective of our targeted- to-Valley-folk programming. We primarily focus on films with concrete production or cast ties to the (818). Or we program foreign films that speak to the specific cultural needs of The Valley’s strongest international demographics.  In short, we are of, from, and all about The Valley.

As traditional movie theatre audiences continue to decline, more and more theatres are willing to take a chance on a film festival in efforts to raise revenue. The result has been a propagation of small festivals popping up all over The Valley and in the world at large. So how can The Valley Film Festival continue to differentiate itself from the herd when every day it seems like someone else in the (818) is starting yet another festival?

I spoke to VFF’s new co-producer, David Kraus to learn more about his efforts to expand the presence, financials, and outreach for VFF, making sure that filmmakers, distributors, and audiences know that we represent the whole valley.

David Krouse - “2017 has been a ground-breaking year for the festival. We’ve grown in every direction; expanded programming, venue additions, partnerships with online and broadcast tv stations, sponsors, staff, and social media. We are also growing our distribution wing. Next year we will be hosting a film market to help connect hundreds of local filmmakers with the companies who acquire content.

My overarching vision for VFF is to become THE Valley Film Festival – as the single most important annual cultural  event in the San Fernando Valley, from the West Hills to Burbank. To achieve these visions, we needed to expand.”

The focus has been on evolving our programming to now host year-round community screenings, parties, events, and panels on every aspect on filmmaking. We are now able to offer exhibition to a wider range of filmmakers, branching into episodic and VR media. Additionally, now we have an opportunity to import more international cinema into The Valley. Our international community deserve a chance to see films on screen in their own language. The more we can provide, the better.

DK - “One of my first thoughts for a screening venue (far away from North Hollywood) was the elegant but cozy 75 seat theatre and spacious reception area at Columbia College Hollywood in Tarzana. I approached the film school about partnering with us and are so excited to have them in board. So far, it’s been a perfect fit and we have already hosted 3 crowded, successful panels.”

The Valley Film Festival’s first Community Screening will be on Saturday October 7th with a “real talk” discussion about the highs and lows of mumblecore (microbudget filmmaking). 
Both the dramatic feature, “Jack and Cocaine” and comedic short “Rock This” were produced for barely any money. But neither filmmaker let money get in the way of realizing their dreams.  Even the most successful filmmaker usually started out, at some point, with an idea, a camera, and few friends in a frenzy of passion, cheap and fast, on a mission to just get the story out.  

The Valley Film Festival is so excited about this screening. We feel it will inspire artists and non-artists alike to take a crack at this art form that, thanks to today’s technology, is no longer just for the rich and connected.

I'll have more to say about our expansion as it continues to unfold. But for now, just remember, when we say, "Valley Film Festival," yes, we mean the whole darn Valley!! 

Saturday, October 7, 2:30pm
@ Columbia College Hollywood (Tarzana)
18618 Oxnard Street, Tarzana, CA 91356

The 17th Annual Valley Film Festival runs October 25-29, 2017 @ Laemmle NoHo7. 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

It's HOT! HOT! HOT! Can You Feel It?

Contributed by Georgia Menides

There are two types of "heat" that describe Los Angeles. There's the heat which refers to the rest of the city floating around the (818) all innocent and perpetually moving. Then, there's the Soul Sucking Heat Monster of Hell that lives within the (818) proper. Every summer, he comes, and no amount of tribal rituals, AC, or central air will keep him away. 

To be honest, I've always the been the lone Valley Film Festival programmer who didn't live in The Valley, until this winter, when a job beckoned my roommate and I to Sherman Oaks. Overall, we love it here! We love the farmers markets, galleries, mom and pop stores, canyons for running, snow capped mountain views, proximity to Lankershim and Magnolia (aka the VFF strip), the parks, the bars, and the best ethnic food ever.

The only's hot! Even my Greek blood can't handle the assault. I used my air conditioner for the first time last week (ask my roommate, Becca, it's true I've never turned it on before). I was  lying helpless on the couch until the temperature finally fell. 

Since I didn't move to LA to sprawl helplessly on my couch all day, I decided to research the community for how other Valley folk made it through the hottest months of August and September. So out of a compassionate favor to myself, I've complied a list of things to do when you're so hot you just can't move. I hope they help you as much as they have helped me.

1. Ice Skating

Yes, before the days of the ice skating rink, it made sense to go skating during the winter to avoid falling into patches of cold water and drowning. But, post ice skating rink? I mean, if you think about it, why are we forgetting to go ice skating during the hottest time of the year? It's on those sweltering days when it feels like heaven to not just cool off, but actually  get cold. We all love a good workout and an opportunity to show off our rarely worn hats and mitten sets, so give your skates a new lease on life (or just rent a pair) and get on board with this new trend. 

Where: Head to Valley Ice Center or Iceland in Van Nuys, or Pickwick Ice in Burbank for free skates days and nights. 

Photo by Benson Kua

2. Pools

I mean, hopefully, you have one, like I do. Or you know someone really close who has one and you can say, "Listen, it's too hot to live, I'm coming over." When the Soul Sucking Heat Monster of Hell comes out, and your own pool is unavailable, then it's time to peruse the little blue book. Analyze your Facebook walls and cross reference a list of potential pools. Now, look, your friends will know you've got an ulterior motive, so come prepared to shower them with chilled wine, fresh music, and eye candy. They're benefitting too. What a wonderful way to cool down from heat stroke, while pretty much broadcasting how cool they are to all of your friends.  And if you can't find a friend's pool, The Valley is full of options.

Where: The Van Nuys/Sherman Oaks Aquatic Center, East Valley YMCA, or, if you're closer to Burbank, the Verdugo Aquatic Center

Photo from Pixabay

3. Parks and Recreation Centers

The beauty of a Valley-based recreation center, is that there are tons of options to exercise  (both indoor and outdoor) and equally as many to not exercise. Or just sit and enjoy the weather, always temperate inside and out, due to air conditioning and tall shady groves of trees around tiny bodies of water. 

Hike through the woods in any of these beautiful parks and you'll find rivers, ponds, lakes, and animal tracks. 

Where: Lanark Rec Center (Canoga Park), Lake Balboa (Encino/Van Nuys) or NoHo Recreation Center (North Hollywood)

Photo courtesy of Georgia M.

4. Shopping/Museums

Museums sell themselves, especially on a hot day. I've known friends to go to The Getty for the sole reason of beating the heat, but shopping needs more of an explanation. Now when I say shopping, I don't mean the exhaustive process of hauling the kids into a car, driving around in the heat, and fighting over city parking. I'm talking about the kind of stores you can actually drive to, walk in, and let your kids run loose in. LA is full of stores that promise several hours fun for adults, children, and the kid within. 

Where: Museums - The Getty Center (Sepulveda) & Valley Relics (Chatsworth) and Fun Stores - Puzzle Zoo (several locations in LA), Wacko Soap Plant (Los Feliz), and The Dinosaur Farm (South Pasadena)

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

5. The Movies

No brainer here! Why do you think the word "Summer Blockbuster" is so important to big studios? Luckily, the (818) has several options for you to dip into for a blast of cold air. 

Where: Laemmle NoHo7 (the home of The Valley Film Festival) and the Regency's Valley Plaza 6, also in North Hollywood, to name a few.  What's your favorite theatre in The Valley? 

Photo by Ilja von Nagel

6. The Beach

Finally, if all else fails, there's the beach. The (818) is so close to the Pacific Ocean and you don't even have to drive there! Park at any metro station and make your way to the Orange Line; Get off at Warner Center and grab LA's official Beach Bus for only $1. Sit back, enjoy the hour-long ride through Topanga Canyon, and you'll be at the best place to beat the heat in the whole city. The best part? This service runs year-round! 

Where: Warner Center Station (Woodland Hills)

Photo courtesy of Georgia M.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Bitchin!! (In Honor of Valley Girls Everywhere)

Contributed by Georgia Menides

"Gag me with a spoon" and "barf me out the door"!  As much as we all love to laugh at "Valley Girl" lingo how much do you... like... actually know about its origins? 

As a programmer for The Valley Film Festival and lover of all things (818), I decided to do some digging into the history of these phrases as well as the concept of "upspeak" in general.

Although the expressions that made the words "Valley Girl" so ubiquitous did in fact originate in Encino, CA. in the late 1970s, entomologists have actually traced the beginnings of "upspeak" or "high rising terminal" back to the 1930s in parts of England and Australia. By "high rising terminal", I am referring to the use of a rising pitch intonation at the end of a sentence where a falling pitch is actually implied by its contents. So this concept that we have of a "Valley Girl" inflection being synonymous with being rich, female, flighty, or shallow couldn't be farther from the truth.  Speaking this way is actually quite international. 

San FernandoValley by Serouj via WikiCommons
That being said, in the late 70's and early 80's, up-speak did make its way into Encino, and other pockets of the San Fernando Valley, where it took on a life of its own.

In 1982,  Frank Zappa truly immortalized the concept with his song "Valley Girl" on the album "Ship Arriving too Late to Save a Drowning Witch." Lyrics with phrases like "gag me with a spoon," "bitchin," and others were given to him from his daughter, Moon Unit, then a teenager, who compiled a list of phrases she heard from her peers at the mall, in school, at parties, etc. and collaborated with her father on this track. (Read full lyrics here.)

On the heels of this song came Tracey Nelson's character, Jennifer DiNuccio, on the TV show "Square Pegs" where she played the ultimate Valley Girl. DiNuccio was known to use the word "like" up to 30 times per episode!!
Other TV shows like "Silver Spoons," "Saved by the Bell," and "My Two Dads," along with the movie "Clueless" continued to immortalize this kind of talk and link it to a vapid culture of shallow young girls dying to, like, go to the mall. 

But recent speech scholars have done extensive studies on "upspeak" and have been myth-busting ever since. 

These days,  this type of inflection is characteristic of all of Southern California, across all races, classes, ages, sexes, and cultural demographics. No longer does talking like a Valley Girl imply a less than stellar intellect. These days, Valley Speak, is simply a sign that someone may be from Southern California (aka the best place to live in the universe). So, like, embrace your inner Valley Girl with pride!! 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

VFF17 - Focus On: The Business of Licenses and Permissions (Free Panel)

One of VFF's goals this year is to ramp up our FREE educational panels. We had so much fun at Columbia College Hollywood in June, for Meet The Programmers, that we're doing it again next Wednesday, August 2, for an evening all about The Business of Licenses and Permissions. Food & beverages donated by Stonefire Grill and David's Tea. Join us!

Wednesday, August 2 @ 7:00pm (Networking)/ 8:00pm (Panel)Columbia College Hollywood18618 Oxnard StreetTarzana, California 91356-1411

This event is free and open to the public, however an RSVP is required for headcount purposes. RSVP through FilmFreeway or  

. Free parking is available on site and the venue is accessible from the Orange Line Reseda station.

NOTE - If you can't make it in person we will be broadcasting on Facebook Live

Join the VFF team as we navigate the complicated world of copyrights, licenses and permissions with our panel of experts:

Linda Nelson - Distribution Linda and her partner, Michael Madison, built a distribution company, Indie Rights, from scratch ten years ago and now represent more than 500 films globally. They maintain offices at AFM and Cannes.

Dean Rusu - Copyrights Dean is a graduate of York University with a background in Business Affairs and international distribution for studios such as Warner Bros., Universal and Paramount. Creatively, Dean is a writer, director and producer of documentaries, dramatic short and features.

Kevin Laffey - Music Clearances Kevin specializes in Music clearances and has consulted for both studios and independent projects - including Lionsgate, Showtime, The Weinstein Company, Sony, Warner Bros and Paramount Pictures.

Moderated by Ken StorerA graduate of Vassar College, Ken began his began his career with the DGA, ABC, and Disney, before landing on a desk at ICM working for the head of Television Packaging. There he became assistant to the showrunner of Law & Order: SVU at Universal Studios and eventually a staff writer for three seasons.

Monday, July 17, 2017

VFF17 ~ T-Minus 100 Days

It's our annual 100-day countdown to The Valley Film Festival, so we thought unveiling our 2017 poster would get you excited for the return of great, independent cinema in North Hollywood, October 25-29, at Laemmle NoHo7. Thanks to the creative genius at iBlakeStudio for listening to our concept and, once again, surprising us with something special.