The California Project Preparation: Making Professional Contacts in L.A.

A lot of my professional experience has been through my FMP, The California Project.  During the production of this film I’ll travelled to California to explore issues of race and segregation.

A lot of time had been spent considering who would be best to interview for the documentary, and getting replies from a lot of people wasn’t easy.  However, I did made a couple of really valuable connections over in the States.

Contact 1:  Rob Kalmbach: Photographer/Writer.  L.A, C.A.

I came across Rob’s work when I was location scouting different neighbourhoods to explore in my film.  His client list varying from Airbnb to MTV, VICE, I thought it’d be cool to contact him and see if we could arrange something.

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We exchanged a few emails before realising he was living not too far from where I was staying so we arranged to meet at a cafe called Flake on Rose Ave. for breakfast the morning after first day there.

It was awesome to meet someone I had never met before in a place I had never been before to talk about something I’ve never really done before…in a strange way.  We spoke about my project and where I was planning on going with it.  He spoke about his shoot for Airbnb where he went to different neighbourhoods and just took photos of things and people.  I was given valuable advice on how to approach people without being too obsessed with the idea of what you are doing, which helped me for the kinds of situations I was going to find myself in along the way.

After sitting and chatting for a while about L.A, London, photography films and such he directed me to the train station, dropped me off and gave me a little green bag to keep my camera safe inside my rucksack.  Good connection made there I think!

Overall this was a good experience.  It allowed me to enter the creative world through creating a new network with someone in a different place to me.  I am a fan of Rob’s photographs, and I received a WhatsApp from him yesterday saying he can’t wait to see what I found exploring L.A.  I am sure that I will receive some good feedback from Rob.

Contact 2: Stephanie.  Filmmaker from L.A.

Steph is a young filmmaker based in the U.S. who is working on projects exploring similar themes and topics to mine.  She is working on a film which follows four British families on their journey on campaigns for justice, and their private lives.  She has worked with Black Lives Matter and is now travelling back and forth between London and the States in order to continue with her venture.

This contact was passed onto me by Senior lecturer Ken Fero in hope that we would be able to meet as he (along with many) had concerns about my safety going to America alone.  However, Stephanie had moved to Arizona, so What’sApp conversations worked.

We spoke about her similar experience travelling alone as a young woman for the first time to make a film and it seemed so surreal that we were sharing exactly the same experience.  (Even down to whether having the camera out on the bus to film the journey at night is completely crazy of us to do.)

I plan to keep in touch with Steph during and after the production of my film.  Our shared interests allow the likelihood for a further professional relationship of some kind to be developed.

Contact 3. Bryan Konefsky.  Media Artist/Cultural Worker

I was lucky enough to have a tutorial with Bryan not long before trip to California.  This was an insightful chat because Bryan was really excited for me and my project.  It seems to be a recurring thing that filmmakers in the industry tend to go out of their comfort zones alone quite often to find a story worth telling.  Of course, this is what documentaries are all about, but speaking to other people who had already done it just make it feel a little bit more real, which was helpful for my progress pre-production.

We kept in contact and Bryan directed me to Echo Park Film Centre and another one of his contacts.  I got in touch as I thought the opportunity to speak with them as they both had potential content and insight for the film.

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Unfortunately Mo didn’t get back to me, but she wasn’t the only one.  This encouraged me to understand that not everyone is going to reply, but it’s okay.  it didn’t deter me from continuing.

Regardless of this, my encounter with Bryan was short, but I feel as though he was a kind of mentor.  Advice about things like having extra SD cards, where to get cheap lunch and such were all little things that I may not have thought about properly.

I’ll also be catching up with Bryan about my film soon, I think his feedback and further advice could be valuable to my development at this point.


Contact 4.  Ryan Micael & Erin Cipolletti.  Jospehine Doe

Brad had some of his colleagues common a couple of months ago and speak with us about their film Josephine Doe.  I can’t say I paid much attention to the actual film, but what they had to say was really useful.

Some points they touched on:

  • Post-production should be brutal, if it isn’t you’re doing something wrong.
  • Your film will be too long a lot of the time, you must cut it down.  This includes shots that you may be emotionally attached to that you may think fit perfectly in the sequence but don’t.  This is why it is always important to have an extra pain or eyes nearby to get a second opinion.
  • Do not compromise your art for others, but always take on advice.
  • If they trust you, they will hire you again.
  • Always refill yourself with creativity.

After the  talk I, along with a few other students followed them down to the basement to have a chat.  Ryan and Erin live and work in L.A., so it was a perfect chance for me to ask any questions.

They gave me some advice about locations of where to go and who to contact to get interviews which was helpful.  They nicely directed me to more people who didn’t reply, but it’s ok!

Some L.A. tips:

  • Contact boys and girls clubs, explore racial issues in this context.
  • Pick a perspective/angle and make it clear…what am I trying to do?
  • Film aiding in moving the human story further.

I did almost immediately send the Boys & Girls Clubs an email but got nothing back.

Contact 5.  Carla Gonzalez.  Executive Assistant to Pattrisse Cullors (Black Lives Matter)

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No reply 1: 

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No reply 2.  Ghetto Film School

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No reply 3.  Dignity and Power Now

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