San Diego Film Week puts the focus on networking


When San Diego filmmaker Jodi Cilley was teaching in local colleges, she saw her students produce excellent work. Later – to her dismay – she would see these promising creators of cinema working at Rite Aid and other retail stores.

“I was watching students coming out of college programs and having nowhere to go,” Cilley said, explaining why she founded the San Diego Film Consortium in 2012. “That was the spark.” The fruits of her labor culminate in the second annual San Diego Film Week, which starts Friday. Stretching over two weekends, through March 11, it is sponsored by the consortium and its local partners, including film festivals, media-related nonprofits and colleges.

SDFW will screen local films and selections from other festivals, as well as provide workshops and panels. Designed to attract both fans of local cinema and San Diegans involved with filmmaking, the event’s main goal is networking. The week will feature a pitch-fest, an event the consortium started in its first year.

“We have 5,000 people in our local film community,” said Cilley, who earned her master’s degree in business administration from San Diego State University in 2010. “To create a film, you need people with a variety of special skill sets. At the pitch-fest, someone will say: ‘I want to make this film – I need you guys to help me.’ When it started in 2012, relationships were created in the community. Every film from that pitch-fest was made. It got people working together.

“Now, we can imagine films originating in San Diego being made with 100 local people working on them.”

At SDFW, short films run the gamut of genres and topics. “Fright Night” at the Museum of Photographic Arts has a tasty sampling of horror and paranormal shorts, including “Fall Back,” filmed at the Lafayette Hotel in North Park. SDSU will present two blocks of its best shorts from the decade. “SD Heart LA” compares and contrasts work by San Diegans and Angelenos, while “SD Heart TJ” does the same with shorts from our southern neighbor. Several other short blocks have self-explanatory titles: “A Woman’s Place,” “Doc Block” and “Just for Laughs.”

Full-length films to be screened at SDFW also cover many topics. “Love All You Have Left” is about a mother who has lost her young daughter and discovers a girl who claims to be Anne Frank living in her attic. Then there are documentaries, including “Shadow of Drought: Southern California’s Looming Water Crisis” and “Tony – The Movie.” The latter follows a former waiter named Tony Rodriguez, who becomes homeless in San Diego and begins investigating the crisis and possible solutions.

Local festivals that will contribute selections to SDFW include the GI, Underground, Latino and San Diego International film festivals, as well as Pacific Arts Movement, which presents the San Diego Asian Film Festival.

A red carpet gala and preview will launch SDFW Friday at North Park’s Sunset Temple (fancy attire encouraged). The “Excellence in Acting Awards” will be announced that night, as well as the nominations for the San Diego Film Awards. Those nominations of excellence in local films have already been decided by three rounds of judging. The nominees will be screened during SDFW. The awards will be announced April 8 at Humphreys Concerts by the Bay on Shelter Island.

“The end goal of SDFW is to showcase films and network with each other,” Cilley said. “We want to promote filmmakers’ skills and companies and get greater buy-in to help it happen. We want to create an industry here, which is a network of businesses. We want not only filmmakers, but also administrators and civic leaders coming together.”

San Diego Film Week

When: Friday through March 11

Where: Museum of Photographic Arts, 1649 El Prado, Balboa Park; Media Arts Center’s Digital Gym Cinema, 2921 El Cajon Blvd.; and other venues.

Tickets: $10 to $12 single-screening/panel tickets; $25 to $30 parties; student, military, senior and group discounts available; $200 to $275 for all-access passes.

Phone: (619) 512-2403


Wood is a freelance writer.