For film enthusiasts, and I mean real cinefiles who bleed film from tiny editor’s cuts on their fingertips. For you, if you happen to wander over to the east side of Los Angeles there is a lovely little gem of an organization, Echo Park Film Center. Steps from the intersection of Alvarado and Sunset, not far from the millenial artiste enclave of Silverlake. There is so much visual artsy mojo in the air it’s hard to not be swept up. EPFC is a non-profit cinema arts organization that resembles more of a storefront storage shed for film geeks. But don’t let the clubhouse atmosphere fool you. These folks know their stuff and want you to know it, too. They have regularly scheduled classes in everything from working with 16 mm to basic editing. If you are a budding filmmaker you can rent equipment (camera, lights, sound) including telecine if you work with film, You caen even screen your work in their space.
There are no pretentious film buffs here, just hardworking, if cash strapped, Joes and Janes producing their art. The walls are lined with filmmaking equipment and memorabilia. A walk down memory lane includes Super 8 and 16 mm cameras and projectors with DSLRs and This is a one stop shop slide projectors for performance artists.
A VHS tape (yes, they still exist) and DVD library holds hard to find screeners and copies of master work dating all the way back to the silent era – you can see the work of greats like Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd.
This is a one stop shop with coaches willing to help you in every corner of your process. The directors can check equipment at the counter. The editors can check stock in the back. For film and photo development, the toilet area behind the office doubles as a darkroom.
My god, there is so much. I am not doing this hidden oasis justice. In addition to classes, screenings and resources, there is a filmmobile which is a really great way for EPFC to take their show on the road and introduce film fans in other areas of the city to who they are and what they do.
I took the beginning editing on Premiere Pro class with Will which was a cool intro in general to EPFC and a fun afternoon overview of working with Premiere. To be fair, it was only a four-hour class, but I got the basics and learned enough to be able to do a quick edit on my own shorts. I will have an experienced editor in the end, but I still want to take a stab at it. And now I can.
As a non-profit they even have artists-in-residence working on projects exploring visual media and performance art in all forms.
With all they do and how useful it is to LA’s eastside art community consider a donation or membership. It does have its privileges with the free Youth membership allowing access to film and video equipment from before you were born. The individual $45 membership allows rentals and screenings and the small group classes at a discount. There are even family and business memberships if anyone is so inclined to support up and coming artists or to make sure future generations know their film history and can still use Super 8 and 16 mm film when making their breakthrough short films.
Nothing I say can substitute for checking out this group for yourself. It’s summer, so why not enjoy a film than to see a few new and experimental films under a blanket of stars in a park around a lake? Joining Echo Park Film Center may even be the beginning of your beautiful relationship with 16mm filmmaking. And don’t forget to invite me to the premiere