Are we Local Famous yet? (Our lives as Sonoma County filmmakers)

I never want to leave Sonoma County.
I think those words every time I eat (Our milk! Our eggs! Our produce!), every time I step onto the SRJC majestic-oak campus, and whenever I attend a local film festival.

I first realized the power of Sonoma County when I attended the San Francisco 48-Hour Film Festival. In SF, we cram into a grayscale theater and sit on stained chairs with chunks of cushion foam missing. Then filmmakers pack the room, which makes me wonder: where's, you know, the audience?! The crowd sits silenced during our film and then rally in the middle of theirs. At the director Q&A, the filmmakers decide to bring up their crew and suddenly everyone is on stage.

You'd think a Santa Rosa 48-Hour Film Festival would be just as miserable. After all, the same folks are putting it on. But the festival took place at the beautiful Summerfield Cinemas with their classic red seats. And no fake audience this time. We had a wonderful crowd of conscientious and supportive locals who watched our films and congratulated us. That's what makes a festival wonderful: the audience.

We won an award for "Best Home Grown Film" last weekend at the Windsor Independent Film Festival.

We won an award for "Best Home Grown Film" last weekend at the Windsor Independent Film Festival.

Turns out the 48-Hour wasn't a fluke. We just showed Tough Case at the Windsor Independent Film Fest last weekend. Though the first-annual festival couldn't afford publicity beyond a newspaper ad, Tough Case played to a sold-out event. We talked to filmmakers, audience members and judges alike, and I felt for the first time the spirit of a film festival. It's more than celebrating films; it's celebrating community.

I'm honored the Windsor festival awarded us the "Best Home Grown Film" award. We are proud to be true home-grown filmmakers who use local talents and local locations, writing Sonoma County into our scripts.

With Stefan expected to get his film degree next year, taking off for LA or New York would be no surprise. But we're addicted to this community. I'm excited to see our local films grow, especially with the expanding SRJC film department and high school filmmaking programs. As always, we're here to help filmmaking grow locally however we can. And hopefully, Sonoma County will be around to sustain us forever.