Film Festival Opportunities Found In LA

After graduating with a BFA in Theater, Kyle McAuley '11 found himself creating short films for a California film festival. This year, he is the committee chair for the “On Location” project of New Filmmakers Los Angeles and hopes to hear from other Cornish transplants.

Moving away from Cornish College of the Arts can be a challenge. The college prides itself on having a highly connected community, especially in Seattle, with many transitioning straight from school into the arts here. But not everyone wants their career to be based in Seattle. Some, like 2011 Theater graduate Kyle McAuley, head south to Los Angeles.

“I miss the vibrant, dynamic theatre community in Seattle,” he said. “Los Angeles offers theatre as a part of its diverse art culture, but it feels less intimate than in Seattle. My perception comes from my college experience. Cornish is very immersed in the arts community. [It] gave me a sense of belonging that is often hard to find in Los Angeles. On a separate note, I miss the beautiful greenery and fresh air of the Pacific Northwest. I do not, however, miss the endless rain!”

In much sunnier Southern California, McAuley found another community of inspiration, the local independent filmmakers.

“A year after I moved to Los Angeles, a friend told me about NewFilmMakerLA,” said McAuley. “I submitted a music video to NFMLA’s annual competition known as On Location. Though my submission did not make the cut, I was impressed enough with the organization to begin regularly volunteering. I became well-acquainted with both the executive and artistic directors and was offered the position of committee chair-person for On Location.” 

McAuley encourages Cornish alumni and students based in Southern California to check out the On Location competition and consider making their own “What is your LA?” film. The competition is open to all categories of film: documentary, narrative, commercial, and music video. Filmmakers can choose to create a short piece (2 minutes or less) or longer piece (2 to 5 minutes). Entries can be made online and there is no entry fee.

Entering in a film festival provides a great opportunity to make connections with the Los Angeles community, McAuley stressed, with finalists also receiving the red carpet treatment and more than $60,000 in prizes donated by the 2017 sponsors. In 2015, he walked on that red carpet for his short "It's Vine By Me."

“The filmmaking industry has changed significantly over a decade,” said McAuley “With rapid advancement in technology comes changes in the way we view and receive content. … It’s an exciting time for new film makers as audiences open themselves to new perspectives in an ever-changing industry.”

While volunteering for an arts organization can be tough while you’re trying to earn a living, said McAuley, “for me, post-graduation, volunteering was key to my success. Not only has it presented opportunities to meet and collaborate with other artists, it has also been an incredible networking tool. It’s true in this industry … who you know can make a difference, but you have to be willing to put in the time and effort. It will pay off eventually.”

It’s a lesson that McAuley thinks his Cornish teachers would understand and applaud. “Of course, I didn’t know at the time just how profoundly my Cornish education would impact me but I saw the passion of the teachers and the commitment that Theater Chair Richard White has to not only education, but teaching life skills. That impressed me,” he said. “Although it’s not been easy, I learned from Cornish that hard work and resiliency are the keys to success.”

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Information on how to enter the NFMLA "On Location" can be found on the website.