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Urban Film School: Breaking the Barriers of Traditional Filmmaking

by Annalise Velazquez

The future of affordable education in San Francisco is at a constant risk due to the state’s budget cuts, and this has been heavily effecting the Cinema Department at City College. The majority of the students taking Cinema classes can not afford to enroll in the Academy of Art or the Art Institute, and chose CCSF for its accessibility and reputation. City College is a remarkable institution, and the people I’ve met in the Cinema Department have been some of the most driven and inspired independent filmmakers. Not only are they are passionate about their craft, but they truly want to see each other succeed.


When CCSF Professor and Director, Lise Swenson, chose to use CCSF students to make her upcoming feature film, Saltwater, I thought to myself- “ how innovative!” Not only would these students get the experience of creating a feature, but the deeper knowledge of how to create a low-budget business plan. Swenson would rather make her film with the help of the community rather than relying on private investors. This is truly unique in the film world. It is breaking down the barriers of traditional “Hollywood” filmmaking and creating a new “San Francisco Indie” style, which is distinct because of our small but mighty film community.


Projects like this are some of the phenomenal things that are coming out of City College and deserve to be recognized. Although there is a constant insecurity when it comes to funding, since the stock market crash, it is important to remember that when all else fails- it is up to the community to build what may lack. For example, the Cinema Department may have limited resources, but that has never stopped the students from banding together to make each other’s visions become realities. Saltwater decided not to rely on investors, but rather the community because it would form stronger connections and bonds within the city of San Francisco and Bay Area.


This is the main inspiration why Saltwater wishes to reach out to the Bay Area community. What we lack in our budget, someone out there will be willing to donate. Our Solicitation and Donations team have been working hard the last few months researching secure donated goods and services and they are just about ready start making cold calls. We really hope to inspire people with our project, because it is these partnerships that will truly help make this feature. All those who contribute will be listed on our Community Partnerships page, an ending a credit and the chance to say they helped a San Francisco community based film become a reality.

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