The History and Evolution of Film In Philadelphia

 

The city of Philadelphia is known for being the home of the Liberty Bell, the Deceleration of Independence, but also its cheesesteaks. A part of the magnificent city that most people don’t tend to speak about is the historic film cultural in it. The mission for “Philm Film” is to shine a light on the prospering talent Philadelphia is producing, and their influence individually on today’s culture. To establish the influence, I will identify the birth of the film industry in Philadelphia, transitioning into analyzing the Philadelphia Film Festival, the Philadelphia Film Society, the Philadelphia Latino Film Festival, and then the Philadelphia Independent Film and Video Association.

Philadelphia’s connection with the making of movies dates to when film was beginning in the industry. Per Jake Blumgart, a writer for the Philadelphia Encyclopedia (http://philadelphiaencyclopedia.org/archive/films-feature/), identifies that the city’s Lubin Manufacturing Company created and distributed many of the first generation of silent films. From the late 1800’s to the early 1920’s films were broadcasted without synchronized recording sound and no spoken dialogue, leading to the title silent films. Following the unsuccessful trial from the company, Philadelphia never obtained an outstanding aspect of the nation’s filmmaking. After Lubin’s abrupt reign at being at top of the movie industry, Philadelphia shifted from being a major part in movies to prominent part in manufacturing groundwork for businesses. As Philadelphia was involving in a construction city, movies became a backburn for directors such as M. Night Shyamalan and David Russell.

The Philadelphia Film Festival is a film festival founded by the Philadelphia Film Society and each year the festival is held in the city. The festival is held throughout various theater venues in the area, and it promotes films that are generally independent and are not typically seen unless in the Philadelphia area. Per visitphilly.org (http://www.visitphilly.com/events/philadelphia/philadelphia-film-festival/#sm.0000193sgjdztjdwmrb04umycnbhu) The annual festival was founded in 1991, and it lasts for eleven days which is one of the longer running film festivals in the city. The festival highlights areas such as short films, spotlights, documentary showcase, American independents, and masters of cinema. Festivals such as this allow large gatherings to view different categories of films and help loop perception of a city life, and the city in general.

Another production endorsed by the Philadelphia Film Society is the PFS Roxy Theater, which brings top independent cinema to Rittenhouse Square. Beginning in 1975, the historic Roxy Theater has operated as a two-screen movie theater featuring highly anticipated new release films, repertory movies, and educational programs based on film and filmmaking for students of all ages.

In 2012 the Philadelphia Latino Film Festival became Philadelphia’s only festival featuring remarkable and original work of developing and establishing Latin American and Latino filmmakers (http://www.phlaff.org/about/history-and-mission/). The Festival yearly produces screenings that consist of underground works from all genres. The programs are able to fascinate a divergent audience creating a new field in Philadelphia where actors, filmmakers, and producers can engage with the audience, actors, and be able to discuss inventive work.

The Philadelphia Independent Film and Video Association (PIFVA) is a program developed by independent filmmakers to provide services to media makers, throughout all genres, styles, and skill levels. (https://www.dokweb.net/database/organizations/about/a4cdbb72-cfd6-4b56-b9f5-23700fd3672e/philadelphia-independent-film-video-association) Locating at the International House for 19 years, PIFVA molded into an imperative and compelling gateway for local media makers, and an independent community with diverse based productions. Their events are generally presented through PIFVA but they are also in partnership with other organizations such as, the Greater Philadelphia Film Office, PhillyCam, which is a community access media, and Reelblack, which is Philadelphia’s number one promoter for black films. These organizations provide the necessary education and information for both the beginning and experienced artists in the media.

-Justin Hunt

Independent Films in production in Philadelphia.

Quiet on set! Camera rolling? Slate. And action! These are the phrases that every director screams when he/she is ready to start filming. Filmmaking is a visual art form that heavily relies on the use of visual sets and or set designs to add a certain je ne sais quoi to the story. Philadelphia is no stranger to film. Philadelphia has been used for the film medium for decades. Philadelphia has a rich and diverse film history with big budget films such as Unbreakable, 12 Monkeys, and Rocky. These world famous films are part of the reason Philadelphia was put on the map as a prime city to shoot a feature film and or short film in. But what really gives Philadelphia its film flavor are the vibrant independent films. Two independent film companies, Average Superstar films, created by Loren Lepre, and The New In-crowd Films, created by Matthew Delia, are two examples of film studios based out of Philadelphia that use Philadelphia and its surrounding areas for locations.

Average Superstar films is an independent Film studio started by Loren Lepre in 2012. Lepre, an actor, writer and director, is in nearing the end of production on his horror film The Dark Military. The Dark Military is a film about a rogue group of mercenaries that go up against a group of teenagers on Halloween night. The teens, without anyway to contact for help, try to survive the night. The film takes inspirations from classics such as Friday the 13th, 24 and battle Royale and the Hunger Games. The film was in Pre-Production for upwards of two years with one and a half of them was making sure the script was solid.  The Dark Military utilized varying aspects of Philadelphia for its film which includes various streets in center city, city hall, and portions of the suburbs. The trailer for the film, which received upwards of two million views, is receiving a lot of attention and is sure to shine a light on the vibrancy of the Philadelphia area on film. Average Superstar films is currently planning their future slate of films in order to keep putting fresh and cutting edge content out onto the market. Average Superstar also has many film festivals that run during the year for other filmmakers to showcase their films, most of the contestants made their films in Philadelphia.

The New In-Crowd films, started by Matthew Delia in 2015, is another film company utilizing Philadelphia’s one of a kind locations. The studio is nearing the end of their production on the short film entitled Fall from Grace. The film is about a former all American pro farter named Joey Glutes recounting his last time competing in the gassy chamber against Freddy Flatulence for the crap call Championship. The film, directed by Matthew Delia, utilized locations in South Philadelphia as well as New Jersey. The New In-Crowd films is also starting production on their Marvel Comics Fan film. The fan film entitled Hero or Menace is a film following two Empire State University students living in the Marvel universe that, in order to finish a project for a journalism class, conduct man on the street style interviews in order to get the general public’s opinions of Spider-Man. Whether he is a hero or a menace. The students interview what they think are random New Yorkers but are really other super heroes and villains when they are in their civilian identities. The filming will take place primarily in center city Philadelphia including City Hall, various spots on Broad Street as well as locations in South Philadelphia. The film will also be traveling to film some shots in the state of New York, specifically New York City, near the flat Iron Building, Time square and Queens. The films will be submitted to various film festivals in Philadelphia and Nationally run film festivals.

These are just the tip of the ice berg. The Philadelphia area will be alive with film productions in the coming months and will be on showcase for the rest of the country to see. Let’s hope we put on a good show.

…..And Cut.

 

-Matt Delia

Philly’s Flavors: The Scoop on Film Trends of Philadelphia

deal-pictureThe city of Philadelphia is a very diverse city. It’s a melting pot for food, language and culture. The level of the city’s diversity, however is finite. When it comes to the film scene of Philadelphia, things tend to seem very uniform. When asked what were their favorite film genres the majority of people in Philadelphia with which I spoke responded within a three genre bracket, Horror, Comedy and Action. Horror however, holds the title of favorite out of the three. This is a fact that makes some of us curious. Why would the city of brotherly love have such a violent movie lust – what makes these genres (action and horror specifically) so popular and successful? Well, in this article series that’s what I venture to find out. What makes popular genres so popular?

The results of the question of what are Philadelphia’s favorite genres lie within accordance to the predictions of an independent film artist, who holds an intimate relationship with the industry, Matthew Delia. Delia is an actor, director and producer in the industry and a bit of a movie buff by default. The insurgence of the city’s Horror and Action focused obsessions are attributed two visionaries, Alexander Emmert (horror) and Loren Lepre (horror/action), according to Delia.

Neither Lepre nor Emmert are Philly natives, but they both took the industry by storm! Lepre is known for his Average Superstar films and regarded as a leader in the Philadelphia film scene according to imdb.com (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm4338573/bio?ref_=nm_ov_bio_sm). While Emmert has gained major traction in his screenwriting and producing career on the coasts of the United States, in Los Angeles and Philadelphia through his company Invictus Films (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2772986/bio).

Aside from their creativity and innovation Delia attributes their success to the fact that, “they have worked on many other filmmakers sets”, and “they have also networked and became connected with many people in Philadelphia allowing them to utilize these contacts to benefit the films they make.”

And ask anyone in the industry, they cannot express enough how important networking is. This is truly a “not what you know, but who you know” business.

This implies the success of the film is dependent on the success of the film producers within the industry. Which, again is a very shaky industry. I delve further into this idea to discover how success is generated on the industry spectrum

What I’ve found was that despite this being a stable or widely lucrative business, most people I have spoken with who are in the film industry say that they are in this line of work at foremost for the love of the art. But this makes people wonder, how the love of the art figures in to the success of films?

Delia answers this query when he says, “I think the love of the arts affects the leading films by them being better. Films that are made with passion and because of the love of the art are generally better in quality.”

Raindance.org supports this claim with an explanation as to why it might work in one of their articles, “The 5 Habits of Highly Successful Filmmakers” (http://www.raindance.org/the-5-habits-of-highly-successful-filmmakers/).  In the article they are huge supporters of the “Use it or Lose it Mentality.”  They believe in the exercise of the talent everyday – even something minor – just be consistent. Consistency is not a task for the faint of heart, but only of those willing to shed the blood, sweat and tears for the industry. This can only be done and done right by those who love what they do.

So, under the impression that successful genres are a result of many successful films and successful films are the result of behind the scenes work and industry labor, by producers actors and screenwriters, it has been found that the popularity and success of genres in Philadelphia – horror and comedy – should attribute all their fame the grassroots film makers who have a love for what they do and work the mixers to the best degree.

An interesting perspective indeed, but in the next issue of the Philly Philm Report I challenge this idea that the success is generated behind the scenes as I venture out to the other side of the screen and investigate the weight the moviegoers have on the success of genres and the films that compose those genres.

Stay tuned!

-Jachai May

Profiles – Aspiring Film Makers in Philadelphia

Social Media has become an enormous platform for people all over the world to showcase their talents, hobbies, and passion. People are able to create businesses, start blogs, sell products, all from the comfort of their own home. Social media allows us to transfer ideas from point A to point B in an efficient and effective way. University of Pittsburgh’s Albert Tanjaya is an aspiring filmmaker and found his passion for films and film making here in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but his journey did not begin here.

Originally born in Malang, Indonesia, Tanjaya immigrated to the united stated at the age of three. He first moved to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, but the idea of settling down was far from his mind. His family was constantly up and moving from place to place and from school to school. He eventually Moved to Philadelphia, where he spent most of his time, and eventually graduating and receiving his high school degree from Central High School of Philadelphia the 21st of June, 2016. He is currently studying at the University of Pittsburgh here in Pennsylvania.

According to Tanjaya, his passion for filmmaking began when he was in 7th grade where he was asked to participate in a project referred to as “National History Day”, and him and his partner created documentaries specific to certain historical events, and historical public figures. Fascinated by the research and editing aspect of the project, Tanjaya decided to continue his hobby for film making for the next 5 years, and if still currently working on this art form. Tanjaya has a focus in documentaries and is currently working on two or more projects for the Carnegie Film Festival which, according to its web page is to engage the Pittsburgh community with all-encompassing programming that promotes cultural exchange and expression, and through film, illuminates the local and global ethnic communities which seldom have opportunities to celebrate their artwork and culture on a large public scale. (For more information visit https://www.cmu.edu/faces/mission.html)

Some of Tanjaya’s work can be viewed on YouTube where he, himself, uploaded some of his documentaries (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pbzgmmJAHrc). In years 2014, 2015, and 2015, Tanjaya’s work won a silver award. Although filmmaking began as a simple hobby for Tanjaya, it was not always fun and games. He had to go through trials and tribulations in order to achieve his personal goals. Some of the trials, according to Tanjaya, were scheduling interviews, getting reliable sources, the layout, and basic outline of the documentaries. He states that his overall goal is to spread knowledge and analyze how people react and interpret his work to form their own opinions.

Tanjaya’s optimistic outlook on things has propelled him forward in life, and when asked what advice he would give other aspiring filmmakers he stated:

“Make it unique. Put passion into it, people know low quality. Be creative and your goal is to make films for you. Criticism is good, but don’t let it get into your head. Filmmaking is for everyone. Whether it’s to tell a new story or retell history, it’s yours and it’s not like any other, so let it reflect who you are.”

 

Bryan Rios-Rodriguez