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DC Area's Film Scene: "Underground Hollywood" | Arts & Culture

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DC Area's Film Scene: "Underground Hollywood"
Arts & Culture

In 1998, Eduardo Sanchez and Neal Fredericks, two Montgomery County Community College alums, shot a film in the woods of Maryland called “The Blair Witch Project.” It went on to gross nearly $250 million at the box office, making it one of the most successful independent films of all time. “The Blair Witch Project” was a perfect storm of a clever idea and a shrewd marketing campaign that capitalized on the budding new medium of the internet. It's a good possibility that you've heard this story before.

It's an equally good possibility that you haven't heard of the army of filmmakers in the D.C. area that has been growing in the decade since “The Blair Witch Project” captured the country's imagination. I should know. I'm one of them.

Technology has made leaps and bounds since 1998. Advances like affordable HD cameras, editing software, and streaming video have changed the way movies can be made and delivered. A legion of filmmaking enthusiasts in the Washington area have taken advantage and poured their hard earned money into musicals, zombie films, and even Westerns.

Although with its blessings, technology also brings challenges. Indie filmmakers are not only competing against their Hollywood counterparts for attention, but against the countless other entertainments in our post-iPad world. So indie filmmakers are like garage bands, working tirelessly to get the word out, find an audience, and hopefully, get discovered. It's an unending hustle. Indie filmmakers will spend far more time promoting their work than actually producing it. But these efforts may be starting to gain some traction.

The D.C. area is already home to a number of impressive film festivals including D.C. Shorts, specializing in short films, and SilverDocs, the American Film Institute and Discovery Channel's documentary showcase. In just the last year, the World Music and Independent Film Festival and the REEL Independent Film Festival have been created to bring attention to D.C.'s filmmakers.  The 48 Hour Film Project originated in D.C. and now hosts competitions all over the world. And homegrown feature films like “Ghosts Don't Exist” have drawn national attention.

Washington will always be synonymous with politics, but under the radar, a vibrant film scene has flourished. The next step is to get people to recognize it... and that's where I come in. I'm a D.C. area native and I've been acting and making movies here for five years. Just when I think that I've met every other filmmaker in the area, I come across someone new. We're all out there scraping and scrapping. And we all need an audience.

So keep watching.

Written by Francis Abbey

Filmmaker - Actor - Podcaster - Vlogger





Arts & Culture