South of the starstruck, vapid Valley, beyond the glitz of the Hollywood Hills and the beaches of Malibu, and five minutes from hurly-burly Venice lies a newly opened outpost for legit indie filmmakers, SmogTV.
Supported by the aptly-named HD Pictures & Post – a post-production house that specializes in high-definition facilities – and sponsored by the slightly less descriptive Band Pro Film and Digital – a vendor that specializes in high-definition equipment – SmogTV loans professional resources to filmmakers in the LA area with compelling stories to tell and distribute on the web. ###
Continuing with my name critique, why ‘SmogTV’? Robert Kandle, Development Executive at HD Pictures & Post and a principal at SmogTV explained via e-mail:
“We wanted something that would say Los Angeles, but without saying ‘Los Angeles.’ At the same time, we wanted to stray away from the gilded, hyper-glamorized image the city gets from the tabloids and celebrity lifestyles. Smog is often associated with the city, especially for us who grew up here, and it conjures an image of LA that’s much more down and dirty. It’s a metaphor for the style of filmmaking our directors use, and at the same time it links us to the side of LA that’s real, authentic and often not covered by the media.”
A bit too contrived? Maybe, but I wouldn’t know – I’m a New Yorker. Earnest? For sure. Compelling? Most definitely.
Here’s how it works: Interested parties submit their narrative or documentary ideas, then meet up with the SmogTV team at their Santa Monica offices. Treatments, workflows, castings, and other logistics are discussed. If the project seems interesting and feasible, it gets a green light. That includes use of a Sony 1080i HDV camera, tape stock, pro sound and lighting equipment, and a postproduction facility. Free.
“If we can give filmmakers a platform where they can shoot in professional HD, edit in a professional post facility, distribute over the web, and not pay for it, then we’re thrilled,” Kandle said. “At the end of the day, it’s really about empowering people, providing access to information, new ideas and learning.”
So far that empowerment and access has spawned a short documenting the revolutionary women of Cuba’s nascent hip-hop scene, and a look at the people, process, and paint of Venice Beach’s legalized graffiti Art Walls and culture.
SmogTV will release a new video ever Wednesday while it figures out ways to better serve its filmmakers and community, hopefully leading to more frequent productions down the road.