You hear "film industry" and many people immediately think "Hollywood." But an enterprising pair has been working to put the Bay Area on the map as a hot spot for filmmakers for the last 11 years.
With lights, cameras, and a red carpet, Marcus Sams and Dave Moutray set up the kind of social event you'd usually find in Los Angeles.
But this is San Francisco, and that's the point. After film school, Moutray saw too many friends leave the Bay Area for film careers.
"It made me sad that L.A. was the destination," he said. "In my heart, I wanted the Bay Area to be the destination for filmmakers."
Moutray and his friend Marcus Sams created the Bay Area Film Mixer in 2012 to keep filmmakers local. The pair have organized quarterly social and screening events to share resources and job opportunities.
Sams says the connections can bring collaborations that can take filmmakers and video producers to another level.
"They came to a couple of mixers and said, 'Yo, I literally got my entire crew and my actors from one mixer,'" Sams recalled.
The Bay Area Film Mixer network has grown from a few dozen to 3,400 people, and a recent event held at 111 Minna Gallery was one of the largest so far.
For some small filmmakers, the mixers are their only chance of getting their work screened. Marcus Bruno says he's gained resources he never would have gotten in L.A.
"Up here, a lot of people volunteer. It's important for the community, a blessing for me," Bruno said. "I never would've known how to get a crew together had I not gone to Bay Area Film Mixer
Actress Jacqueline O'Kelly says the close-knit network starts at the top, with Moutray, who owns a video production company, and Sams, who has his own improv training center.
"Dave and Marcus are very sociable, very kind and generous individuals, always extending a personal invitation to Bay Area Film Mixer events," O'Kelly explained.
"Whenever people come together to work on a project together, I bring a brick, you bring a brick, and we keep doing it, then, 'Oh, look at the building we've just made,'" Sams said. "That feeling of collaboration is amazing."
"That's one of the things that inspires me the most is seeing how Bay Area Film Mixer has inspired filmmakers who, like I said, not just to stay here, but to do their best work here," added Moutray.
The Bay Area Film Mixer is looking for a new home as its old venue closed. The group is not a nonprofit, but it is financially supported by the nonprofit WeXL.
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