SF Film Society Launches New Women Filmmaker Fellowship

Original article by Ryan Lattanzio

The folks behind the San Francisco International Film Festival have launched a new initiative to support underserved voices.

The state of things for female directors in Hollywood may be looking bleak, but one organization is looking to make a difference on the indie side.

The San Francisco Film Society has just launched the SFFS Women Filmmaker Fellowship, a new suite of services that will support female writer/directors working on their second or third narrative feature with financial backing, programs and events, mentorship services, industry connections and more.

Backed by the Kenneth Rainin Foundation and facilitated by SFFS’ Filmmaker360, this fellowship will provide direct assistance to an underserved group of storytellers and help build sustainable careers for women filmmakers everywhere. Also, the fellowship will give priority to projects in the under-represented genres of sci-fi, comedy, action, thriller and horror.

Participants in the SFFS Women Filmmaker Fellowship must working on a second or third English-language narrative feature screenplay budgeted at no more than $3 million. Fellows must also have had a previous film premiere at a major international festival.

Applications will open in winter 2016. The fellowships will take place from April to October each year, overlapping with the Film Society’s San Francisco International Film Festival (April 23–May 7). Program support includes:

  • A $25,000–$40,000 cash grant, which must be used for living expenses. Individual amounts depend on place of residence and estimated travel costs to participate in Bay Area fellowship components.
  • Placement in FilmHouse Residency program and access to all FilmHouse programs and activities.
  • One-on-one consultation with film industry experts from the Bay Area and beyond regarding casting, 
financing, budgeting, legal issues, distribution and other relevant topics.
  • Weekly one-on-one consultation services provided by Filmmaker360 staff, with feedback on screenplays, verbal pitch strategies and written materials such as synopsis and treatment.
  • Presentations and networking opportunities with Bay Area narrative filmmakers.
  • Expenses covered for one 3-day networking trip with a Filmmaker360 staff member from San Francisco to Los Angeles, for meetings with established industry professionals

Anvil of Doom – FilmSchoolSF student Beltran Luque Speaks

One of the best parts of FilmSchoolSF is the wide spectrum of students we see from around the world and from around the block. So many interesting and awesome people come through our doors every year and each bring their own stories, character and creative spark.

We’ve had a three students from the great country of Spain lately and we took a few moments to chat with the one with the coolest hair – Beltran Luque. Before coming to America and entering FilmSchoolSF, Beltran was in a death metal band called ANVIL OF DOOM. Watch the video below. Serious business. (Editor’s note – Spelling and grammar unaltered from answers received.)

Where was this video shot? What concert? Who did you open up for?

This was in my hometown, Jerez de la Frontera (Cadiz, Spain). The show was a 3-day festival called Metalway and there played Megadeth, Celtic Frost, Edguy, Annihilator, Kreator, Sodom… and many more!It was incredible!

Was this your first band?

No, it was my first band as a singer, but before i was playing guitar with my best friend Octavio Vazquez. but this is the band that I have been longer, and involved …

What made you go from music to filmmaking?

The film and television was something that always been a constant in my life as music, I’ve always been doing this two things at once. But now after leaving the band, I decided to focus a bit more in the film, and improve my career as a filmmaker.

You’ve been in the US for over 8 months now. What’s your favorite thing about America?

There are many things I like to use, but I think the freedom to be creative, and as people appreciate the job well done, regardless of your dress or social status impressed me.

filmschoolsf student

Beltran on camera

Spain won the World Cup. How did you celebrate?

Wow  was amazing, we met many friends and went to see the game at Civic Center and then when we win, we went to a restaurant  on mission dristic, where we ate and drank and after that I cannot remember very well hahaha.

What is your filmmaking focus? What are your strengths as a filmmaker?

I love fiction, I focus more on that, but I also love making commercials and documentaries. I think my strength is to create something visual, and of course the job has to be professional

What do you plan on doing after graduation?

I’ll try to find a job in the field of film, and still make my short films here in Usa.

Any advice for future filmmakers?

Follow your dream, you and work hard!


We lost one to los angeles. temporarily?

film school californiaAnother “alumni-done-good” article? Yes. Yes, indeed.

Straight off the pretty awesome post on Jeremy Briggs, alum of San Francisco Film School, California, we’re right backatcha with an update from Stephanie “Syd” Yang. SSY is a long-time part of the FilmSchoolSF school community and has been one of the key people that have made us such a success. From a bright-eyed student in the 1-Year Digital Filmmaking program to a trusted member of the FilmSchoolSF faculty, she worked on dozens and dozens of shorts, commercials and a feature and brought a fun, level-headedness to each production.

Stephanie recently relocated to Los Angeles upon an ill-founded rumor that there was a burgeoning film scene of some sort down there. We were able to ask her a few questions about the move and her current projects.

What part of being here at FilmSchoolSF do you miss the most?

The people and the community.

How does LA stack up to San Francisco? Traffic? Smog? Weather?

I mean, it’s a totally different world. And it’s tough for me to compare at this point because by the time I left i was so over SF…and as much as I didn’t expect it, LA is rocking my world. Sure, traffic sucks. The air has made my asthma kick in overtime (ugh) and the weather is too hot for my tastes (I know, I know…I’m the one person out here who doesn’t appreciate the year-round heat) – but overall, it’s wonderful.

film school californiaThere is a creative energy buzz here that’s unlike anything in the Bay and it’s addictive. In addition to all of this, life is just different here. Networking happens everywhere — I am getting back into the flow of going out a lot – and that’s how I’m getting work these days. And even though things are still slow out here these days, there are still a lot of indie productions in play. Plus having UCLA, AFI and USC out here too means there are a lot of events to attend + projects to get connected to. Those schools are super-connected out here and I’ve been working more  and more in particular with 2 DPs who graduated from AFI years ago (one teaches there currently) and through them I’m meeting some awesome folks and learning lots of rad lighting + camera schemes.

Oh, and then there’s the gay + lesbian scene out here. Oh, where to start. SOOOOO different than the Bay…as much i ran away from it when I was younger when I was in college (I went to UCLA) because I didn’t understand it (It really is the L-Word out here – and for me, being queer in the Bay just made sense). I’m meeting some pretty incredible women out here  – oh, yes, Hollywood is totally gay.

You came to FilmSchoolSF with a post-graduate degree from Tulane. What did you learn at SFSDF that you didn’t get in all your previous years of school?

I got my MA from Tulane in French Literature and Film Theory, and my BA from UCLA in French Literature — where I also studied film + critical theory. What I got at SFSDF was the hands-on production training I was craving. I also gained a level of confidence of being on set that I didn’t have before, which is probably the most valuable thing I received through my experience at SFSDF (of course after meeting all the rad people there!)

If you had a small- to mid-sized castle somewhere in Idaho, would you give it a funny name? Or would you take it seriously?

Totally. It would have a cryptic name, like Pocketsquirrel Manor. And at it, I would have 20 cats, 2 dogs, 3 goats and 5 rabbits…with a few skunks and possums thrown in for good measure. Of course, the castle would boast a Dolby stereo-equipped screening room, a sound stage, a collection of vintage 8mm and 16mm cameras, and a 10- ton grip/lighting package. It would also have a state-of-the-art kitchen, an organic garden, a swimming pool and plenty of bedrooms so friends could all come visit and we could make films together. It would also not be in Idaho.

To be able to say “I’ve made it”, what kind of work would you be doing on a daily basis?

Ah. To have made it. I’m not sure I want to get there or maybe I’m already there? Meaning, I think life is a journey. In a sense, I could say I’ve already made it in that I am living a life that feels extremely satisfying and full of joy. I get to work on film sets in a variety of settings, I get to play with and direct lights (!!), I have amazing people in my life who I respect, love, and learn from. I wake up every morning thankful that I get to work as an artist and be surrounded by creativity in so many forms. oh, and yeah, I do really need to be making more money! Ha! Working in indie film just isn’t as lucrative as I would like it to be…and I believe that all will come together. Soon. Yes.

Recent gigs?

film school californiaMostly I’ve been getting work as an electric on a variety of indie + art shoots — and am working now more and more as a gaffer on indie shoots. It’s been a journey and I’m finding so much joy working as a gaffer — (of course with competent DPs!) … and i’ve decided to focus on pursuing this route right now — lights/power distribution/etc. – so much fun + really incredible! I learn so much on every set I’m on…and I’ve been working/networking to build my community here with DPs who I admire — and am taking more and more jobs (and getting offered more + more jobs too) to work as a creative gaffer — working in tandem with the DP to create beauty. It’s so so so much fun! and I’m finding too that I’m really good at it and that folks like working with me. I’m still debating going down the union/728 route — so you never know…

Right now, I’m trying (hard) to get hired as a gaffer on an upcoming feature (keep those fingers crossed) and just got hired as a gaffer for a series of web projects at NBC that begins shooting in July… along with gaffing two short films in June.

I just wrapped a short last week as gaffer with the most awesome female Director + DP team. This is the 2nd project I’ve gaffed for them — we’re becoming quite a team – I love it! However, I do miss teaching at SFSDF a lot!

– Electric, Girltrash, Directed by Alex Kondracke, produced by Power Up
– Best Boy Electric, Triple Standard, Directed by Branden Blinn
– Gaffer, narrative short, Slip Away, Directed by Tina Scorzafava
– Best Boy Electric on most recent PSA produced by Women in Film


Check out Stephanie’s Testimonial on FilmSchoolSF below. Oh, and she also features heavily in this fantastic behind-the-scenes mini-doc on the making of our feature film, Around June.

Watch One-Year Filmmaking Student Stephanie Yang talking about why she chose San Francisco Film School, California on Vimeo

Find out more information on FilmSchoolSF 1-Year Digital Filmmaking program HERE

catching up with FilmSchoolSF filmmaker serafina kernberger

So many of our students go on to get great gigs that it’s easy to overlook some of the best stories. This one, interestingly enough, has been right under our noses for a couple years now. FilmSchoolSFfilmmaker Serafina Kernberger completed the One-Year Digital Filmmaking Program way back in 2007. She didn’t have to go far to find work. Literally, that is. She works in the building right next to the school – about 200 yards away.

sfsdf filmmakerSerafina is a producer at one of the hottest web content companies in the nation. Called Revision3, the company is home to the popular show Diggnation, Tekzilla and many more.

About Revision3:

Revision3 is the leading television network for the internet generation. We create and produce all-original episodic community driven programs watched by a super-committed and passionate fan base. Our hyper-connected audience gets the vast majority of its entertainment, information and social connections through the internet.


sfsdf filmmaker

Serafina shows off a camera on Tekzilla

When did you attend FilmSchoolSF?

Fall ’06 through Fall ’07 for the One year program, Class 4.

What were some of the key lessons learned while at the school?

Learning the workflow for a shoot, from pre-production to post was the most valuable thing I learned. Learning how to prepare a shoot most efficiently, how to run a shoot, and how to turn it all into a final product on a tight schedule, in an environment that provides support and guidance is much better than having to figure it out on your own once a job is on the line.

You landed a pretty awesome job. Tell us about who you work for. What do you do, exactly?

I’m the Associate Producer at Revision3 for Tekzilla and HD Nation. Each releases a ~30minute show once a week, and I’m 1/4 of the team that produces each show. I do a little bit of everything, from writing segments, to organizing sponsor spots, to assisting the live shoot, overseeing the edit, and ensuring all the pieces fall into place for the final release.

Revision3 is on the leading edge of content development and distribution. What you think the future holds for film distribution?sfsdf filmmaker

Digital is definitely the future, but two things have to happen first: 1) High-speed internet needs to be more accessible and affordable to more people. Netflix’s instant streaming feature is the best and most convenient way to watch films, but only if your connection can handle it. 2) Studios need to adapt. They’re currently falling into the same trap that the music industry was in 10 years ago.

People will pay for content if it’s it convenient and reasonably priced. The iTunes music store was a great alternative to pirating music, and cheap enough, so it took over. You can currently “rent” movies digitally from iTunes, but the price is relatively high, and the restrictions aren’t worth it for most people. Legal digital music thrives without DRM, and movies can too, if they’re given the chance.

What kind of advice do you give new filmmakers?

Just do it. If you want to make something, make it, and get it out there. Don’t stress about your gear – good content is more important than good hardware, and even so, prices for decent equipment are lower than ever. Put it on Vimeo or Youtube and send it to everyone you know. Also, check out our show Film Riot. They have lots of good tips for DIY filmmakers, and it also just happens to be one of our funniest shows on the network.

Check out more of Serafina Kernberger!

Spotlight on Actor Greg Cala

Greg’s having some pants problems

One of the big strengths ofFilmSchoolSF is that we have a Film Acting program as an integral part of the school. Our filmmakers benefit from having a deep pool of talented actors to turn to when casting their films and our actors have many opportunities on a wide range of projects from a variety of directors.

From small parts in shorts to leading roles in features, FilmSchoolSF actors get the experience they need to land paying gigs.

I asked FilmSchoolSF Film Acting veteran and talented (and busy) actor Greg Cala a few questions about acting, his experience here at the school and what his plans are for the future.


How long have you been acting?

I loved making videos as a kid. After college, I traveled around the world working for Club Med where I taught sports in the day and performed in shows at night. The shows were mostly pretty silly and comedic. I really loved the creative process of entertaining but definitely needed some skills to go to the next level.

About 6 years ago, I decided to take improv classes. I had a total blast and really learned to be in the moment and to listen and respond to my scene partner with whatever came into my head. Soon after, I decided to take acting classes where I had to learn lines and follow scripts. I then started searching for an agent as well as finding gigs on my own.

What is your favorite kind of work? Commercial? Drama? Comedy? Why?

I got an agent over 5 years ago. Most of the stuff you get through an agent in the bay area is commercial or industrial (corporate video) work. I have done a lot of film work up here as well but most of those, I have found on my own. Overall, my favorite work would be dark comedies, similar to the film Sideways. I love to do scenes that are both funny and depressing. Financially speaking, the best work has been commercial work. My most surreal gig so far was getting to act in a scene with Sean Penn in Milk. I played Senator Briggs’ Aide. An amazing experience!

What classes have you taken at FilmSchoolSF and what was the most important thing you learned?

I have taken classes at various acting schools in San Francisco and have learned something from each. I started taking classes at FilmSchoolSF a few years ago to keep the acting muscle moving. I like that the school records your scenes so you can review them later. I’ve taken everything from the Advanced Film acting to Improv to the Actor, Writer, Director Workshop… I’ve gained something from each class but the most important thing would be the process of breaking down a scene and making choices that can best suite the scene as well as take advantage of my own personal style.

Advice for new actors?

My advice for new actors is to have fun! Know yourself, what you want and what you are capable of. Be in the moment of the scene. Listen to your partner. Respond to what they give you. Don’t rush the process. Really absorb everything you learn.

Acting is like snow skiing. I use to teach skiing so I know. Often times skiers want to get to the advanced runs as soon as possible even though they don’t have the skills. That is not the way to get better. It’s a slow progression but once you really get it, it feels amazing and you are way more confident. Don’t be afraid to fail. Just learn from it. Oh, and did I say, have fun! 6 years ago, I had a goal to become a working actor and I was pretty clueless to what that really entailed. I have learned so much since and plan to continue to learn and get better.

No matter what, I want to be believable in every scene I do. That is important to me.

What’s next for you?

I play the lead role in an independent feature film coming out next year called “Amity” by Alejandro Adams.


Check out Greg’s most recent commercial.


Greg’s reel!

[vimeo 5616596]

Alum starts new firm – downtown digital productions

A few months ago we told you about a graduate of our 5-Week Filmmaking Workshop who went on to open her own business. The student, Natalie Hull, started Forget Me Not Films to create short films for families designed to “…capture your fleeting memories forever in brilliant High Definition.”

And now we’ve got another student who has taken the lessons learned at SFSDF and struck out on their own. Robert Goc, (aka Cock-the-Goc) Class 9 of the 1-Year Digital Filmmaking Program, has teamed up with a couple stylish and savvy friends back home in Buffalo, NY and launched a new production company called Downtown Digital Productions.

The trio was recently interviewed by Artvoice – Buffalo, NY’s #1 Newsweekly

We asked Robert a few questions about his new endeavor. And because Artvoice asked five questions, we’ll ask six. That’s how we roll. Go team!


digital productions

You call yourself “…a cutting-edge, “boutique” video production company.” What unique skills and insight do you and your partners bring to a clients?

We call ourselves “cutting edge” and “boutique” because of the education and technology we utilize. The Canon 5D Mark II, as I’m sure you’re well aware of, offers incredible stills as well as 1080 x 1920 full HD video. Most commercials and videos shot in this area are still being done on MiniDV. Usually no HD shoots. It’s ridiculous. There are dinosaurs in this town who have been running things for 25-30 years, editing on 10-year-old Dell’s with editing software less advanced then Windows Movie Maker. We just need that one shoot for everyone around here to understand what we’re talking about, and I’m happy to say we’re very close to getting it.

digital productions

What is Downtown Digital Productions’s focus? Music videos? Corporate work?

Our focus is anything creative. We have a saying around here that we want to make “something the client has only seen in their dreams.” Our ideal client is someone that has an idea, and a passion to see it become reality. That’s where we come in. The three of us, John, Sonia and myself, are so dynamic, so different, that between us, we are able to say the right thing and ask the right questions, that pulls that idea out of the client and meld it into not only exactly what they envisioned, but usually so much more.

What were the most important things you learned at SFSDF? How have these helped launch your new company?

The most important thing I learned at SFSDF was persistence. I had so many curve balls thrown my way, so many ups and downs. Just getting a loan was rough enough, let alone living on your own, moving from apartment to apartment, job to job, pay check to pay check, shoot after shoot, film after film, it was a grind. Let’s not even get into the window incident (Ed’s note: Inside joke). Just like school or making a movie, starting your own company takes a lot of persistence. At SFSDF I learned that walls are placed in front of us, so that we may prove that we are willing to scale those walls, and in the end, battered and bruised, you come out on top and right where you need to be. It’s a beautiful thing.

digital productions

For new filmmakers, what would you say is the most important key to success?

I’m sure you’d love for me to say how important film school is, and don’t get me wrong, it is. I learned more in my twelve months at SFSDF then I ever thought I could learn, technically speaking. But you gotta be able to get yourself on a set. If you’re just starting out, work for free. And don’t just show up and go through the motions, get yourself noticed. Work twice as hard as the person next to you. Take it as seriously as you can. Even if it’s a student shoot with no budget whatsoever. Smile. Enjoy life. Be the person everyone wants to be around on set. Have fun. 9 times out of 10 I walked away from those non-paying gigs with $150 or more in my pocket.

Once someone like a director, who has been toiling day and night, writing, casting, crewing, re-writing re-casting, sees how hard you’re working and how much you care about his or her vision, they usually can’t help themselves but fork over some cash. And if not, there’s still karma. The harder I worked on other people’s shoots, the harder it seemed other people worked on mine. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

Are you working on any side-projects apart from DDP? Writing a feature or a short? Maybe a documentary?

Anything I do from now on will be under the Downtown Digital brand, and yes I am working on plenty right now. I just finished my latest short, “Tile M for Murder,” a funky video based on a short story by Charlie Fish, and I am currently working on the script to a brand new webisode tv show coming soon to the Downtown Digital Productions.com’s “On Demand” page. We have so much we’re about to be dropping, so stay up and stay tuned. You never know, you may very well want to make your next short here in Buffalo. If you do, give me a call!

digital productions

Robert is rockin’ the tie

Tell us about the Sunglasses Required Party. What kind of crowds are you pulling in? What kind of music? Do you have a special pair of sunglasses or do you get a fresh pair for every party?

Sunglasses Required (SGR) really started out of sheer boredom with what Buffalo had to offer as far as night life. My roommates and I decided we wanted to throw the kind of party we would usually have to drive to Toronto or NYC to get. Dub step, trance, all kinds of techno. As long as the bass is kick’n, we’re usually happy. I’ve actually been rocking glasses for the last few years, as you know. I’m pretty blind without them so I’ve had to keep them on, but everyone else wears them.

FilmSchoolSF alum works on new Butcher Brothers Film


We’re just gonna lead this entry off with a big ‘ole photo. Have a look at that, will ya? Looks pretty scary, no? Give it a few seconds. OK.

THE VIOLENT KIND is the new film from The Butcher Brothers which recently premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. SFSDF alum Maria Bernal-Silva was chosen to be on the production team. We were recently able to catch up with Maria and hear about her work on the film.

How’d you get involved?

I was referred to this project by the Sound Recordist & the Associate Producer. I received a call that the Butcher Brothers were shooting a horror film in Sonoma County and are were in need of a Script Supervisor.

What did you do?

As the Script Supervisor, aka Scripty, I kept track of and log script notes regarding picture & script continuity as well as taking A & B camera notes. It was a 2-camera shoot, so as one can imagine, that meant double the attention needed to keep track of what each camera was doing & the action within the frames. Thankfully, 2 directors means extra sets of eyes.


The most important thing you learned during filming?

This was an ultra-low-budget SAG, 2-camera, independent feature film, with over-night shoots, in the woods of Somoma County… I read and loved the script. I was also told that this is the coolest group of people to work with and they were right.

The most valuable thing I came away with during filming is the realization of truly loving what I do. Everyone: the actors, the crew, the producers, set photographers, to catering, Everyone was there for the right reasons. What got me there was the script. What kept me going throughout was the general feeling that filmmaker’s are crazy beings and everybody there was there to see it through. Filmmaking is a shared experience.

filmHow was Sundance?

Sundance was very fun…The energy and atmosphere was amazing and it was really nice to have a mini reunion with some of the cast and crew. At Sundance, you can park your car and take the free and frequent shuttles that run the “Theatre Loop” to get to the screenings which are respectively far from each other. A great system which cuts down on street traffic considerably.

Films I saw were: THE VIOLENT KIND (Butcher Brothers), CANE TOADS, THE CONQUEST (shot on Silicon Imaging 3D cameras), LUCKY (from the creators of SPELLBOUND; about the lottery), EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP (a Banksy Film), ENTER THE VOID (Gaspare Noe), MR.OKRA (short film).

5-Week filmmaking Workshop alum starts own business

filmmaking workshopAnd now for some more good news…

This time, we hear from filmmaker Natalie Hull of Bend, Oregon. Natalie is a recent grad of the 5-week Filmmaking Workshop and has already turned the skills she learned into a full-time business. Her company, Forget Me Not Films, makes high-quality short films for families.

From her website…

“We work one-on-one with you to create a custom film of your family – capturing your memories in a unique and timeless way.

Unlike most home videos with shaky footage, bad lighting and poor sound, you will receive a studio-quality film that is filled from beginning to end with your highlight moments.

Using a wide variety of elements including professional camera equipment, on-location shots, archival photographs, carefully chosen music and – best of all – your own words and those of your children, we produce a one-of-kind documentary on DVD for you. Click to watch a sample.

Natalie took a break from shooting, editing and running a business to answer a few questions.

Which class did you take at SFSDF?

I took the summer documentary filmmaking workshop (Summer 2009)

filmmaking workshopHow did you get started with Forget Me Not Films (FMNF)? What got you interested?

I developed the idea for FMNF through my previous work as a researcher for a book about language and perception. Part of what I did was observe families. I took audio recordings and field notes while following people and analyzing family communication patterns. Eventually I got the idea to produce a companion documentary for the book. I started filming families and soon people started requesting copies of the footage.

I started wondering what I could do more commercially with that idea. It was fun to put short films together in a way that people hadn’t seen themselves before. It gives people a totally unique memory-keeping device. The custom films bring more meaning to families than I could have ever dreamed. It’s very fulfilling for me as a filmmaker.

What was the most important lesson you learned at SFSDF?

Before I attended the documentary filmmaking workshop at SFSDF, I had not realized the extent to which most documentary films are planned. My first inclination, as is the case for many young documentary filmmakers, was to shoot first and find the story later. There is a delicate balance between “scripting” a documentary film and allowing life to unfold as it happens. The most important lesson I learned at SFSDF was how to use the best of both aspects to create an artful, emotionally powerful, yet representative film.

Learning how to conceptualize a specific but flexible storyline for my films, and plan shots and interview questions accordingly, also dramatically streamlined my filmmaking process.

You are working on a documentary as well as FMNF, yes? Tell us about that.

Yes, I’m continuing my work on the long-term documentary film about how language shapes perception. I’m working with my mom, an independent researcher and writer, who has been developing this body of work for 25 years. It has taken time to craft her complex scientific ideas for a general audience. I’m delighted to join as a filmmaker on the project. It’s a real thrill to contribute the best elements of documentary filmmaking to her brilliant, original ideas: storytelling, visual imagery, animation, music and so on

What are Big Plans for the Future?filmmaking workshop

The demand for the films we produce at Forget Me Not Films is certainly there, however, because each film is written, shot,and edited in a completely customized way, they take time to complete. Eventually, I would love to hire a full-time crew and team of editors to keep up with demand.


Natalie is already scoring valuable press coverage. She was highlighted in Cascade Arts and Entertainment Magazine, was reviewed in True North Magazine and was recently interviewed by Kristi Miller of COTV for her live morning show. We’ll have that clip soon!

Find out more information on FilmSchoolSF 5 Week Digital Filmmaking Workshop HERE

FilmSchoolSF welcomes Danielle Parker to the staff

“We’re gonna need a bigger boat.”


We’ve been increasingly busy trying to keep up with our new admissions, our international students’ paperwork and the needs of our current students and decided that it was time to bring a new person to the team to lend a hand.

We recently welcomed Danielle Parker to the FilmSchoolSF crew. She’s been busy getting up to speed with processes and procedures, fussing around with our phone (our names are on them now!), and navigating database mail merges but was able to take a few minutes to answer a few questions.

Where did you come from and how’d you get here?

Born and raised in Monterey, CA. Went to college at UC Berkeley studied English because my mom wasn’t thrilled with the idea of film, or film school; but you’d be surprised how many English classes are based on film, and vise verse. Traveled often and as much as possible. Graduated in 2005 and then toured South America. Then moved to SF to live in a converted room/dining room in my best friend’s apartment. Fell in love with the city, and began working at a publishing house and then Current TV.

What do you do when you aren’t working?

When I’m not working and have extra $ (which is rare), I love to travel. Otherwise, I love to ride motorcycles (Honda CB500) on sunny days, sew, swim, and play in the East Bay. I’m an only child so I can occupy myself fairly easy.

And because this is a film school, we had to ask her for her Top 5 Films. And they are (in no particular order):

Do the Right Thing , Old Boy, Big Lebowski, City of God, and Dumb and Dumber. (Wait. What? Did she really say Dumb and Dumber? Let me check the transcript again. Holy wow. Yep…it says it right here. Awesome!)



As the school continues to grow, we’ll count on Danielle to manage our ever-increasing admissions inquiries and contribute to fresh marketing and promotional efforts.

FilmSchoolSF students shoot promo for Noir City Film Festival

This week we were able to catch up with one of our alumni from the July 5-Week Filmmaking Workshop. Filmmaker Keith Azoubel is already out there shooting good stuff and moving forward with his career based on skills he learned here at SFSDF. Keith is a big fan of film noir and he was recently chosen to shoot a promo for the upcoming film noir film festival here in San Francisco, NOIR CITY.

How did you get the gig?

After I did my short film “The Goodnight Motel” for the SFSDF 5-week program last summer. I showed my short on a film noir message board just to get feedback and such. I got a message from film noir historian Eddie Muller who really liked the way my short film was shot and lit and wanted to know if I like to shoot the promo for his annual film festival, Noir City. Of course, I took the gig since I love film noir and I’ve always wanted to shoot in a bar. Eddie planned to have the promo done for last year’s film festival but had some problems getting it done. He already had a one page script and an actress ready to go, it was just up to me to get a crew together, equipment, draw out a storyboard and write out a shot list.

Challenges faced in shooting/casting/editing?

Casting wasn’t a problem since Eddie Muller already had the leading lady and himself to play, we added a role for a bartender a week before shooting. As for shooting, we try to keep it simple, of course I would’ve liked to have different angles and such but we wanted to get it done within 3 to 4 hours, which we did. It was just a matter of getting it done quickly but having as much as I wanted. I’m pretty happy the way it came out. Eddie had a friend edit the trailer, they had some problems getting it transfered onto his computer but figured it out so it all came together.

How did SFSDF help you?

Well for starters, the short film I did there last summer helped me get the gig. I was able to use the skills I learned at the school to make the best looking promo I can. I met people there who I worked really well with who I was able to have be my crew again for the trailer. I was able to use the school’s equipment, too.

Is this your first big opportunity?

I would say so, the fact that Eddie Muller is a known film historian who’s written a few books on film noir and knows a few celebrities such as Sean Penn and crime writer James Ellroy (L.A. Confidential, The Black Dahlia). So to have him give me this opportunity is big for me. Also the trailer is going to be shown at the Castro Theater in front of over a thousand people is really great. To think something I directed is going to be shown to that many people is an amazing thought. The trailer was recently mentioned in the SFGate and lives on the homepage of the Noir City website.

What other projects do you have in the works?

At the moment I’m writing some short films, some for the SFSDF 1-Year Digital Filmmaking program and afterwards shorts I want to write and direct to get in film festivals.

Full cast/crew list

Alycia Tumlin – The Woman
Bill Arney – The Bartender
Eddie Muller – The Man

Keith Azoubel (5-Week Filmmaking Workshop)- Director
Brandon Hamilton  – (Class 3, 1-Year Digital Filmmaking Program)- Director of Photography
Judy Zimbelman (Class 10, 1-Year Digital Filmmaking Program) – Assistant Director
Bill Ulleseit (Class 10 1-Year Digital Filmmaking Program) – Lighting
Ian D. Thomas – Sound
Scott Koué – Boom Mic

Filmed at Tosca Cafe.