Boise's Burgeoning Film Community

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Hollywood, for right around 100 years now, has been known as the epicenter of the film industry. Each year, thousands of people with dreams to be actors, actresses, writers, directors, producers and hangers-on flock to Los Angeles to hopefully achieve their dreams of stardom. (Or a career. Take your pick.)

Over the years, thanks to advances in technology and rising production costs in the City of Angels--not to mention tax breaks in others states, cities, and territories--the making of television shows and movies has increased tremendously outside the city of Los Angeles.

Take the state of Georgia, for example. Thanks to the success of The Walking Dead and generous tax credits, there has been a boom in the film industry in the state of Georgia. It's a dream that people in many states have in hopes that major productions stop by their beautiful state.

Boise, Idaho hasn't quite reached that level yet, but at the rate things are going, it's entirely possible Boise sees a boom of its own in the coming years.

Nearly 18 years ago, I first moved to this city with "being in the moving pictures" on the mind. It was only six months prior that I had decided to pursue writing as my career. I was going to write movies, just like Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, and one day be the talk of Tinseltown. And I was going to do it by joining the theater department at Boise State University.

I knew very little about film making at the time and I knew even less about theater. Talk about jumping in head first into something.

During my first semester, I auditioned for a student film. Luckily, I was cast as the pizza boy in a movie called White Out. It was nearly five seconds of fame that can still be seen on the VHS copy that I own if you play your cards right.

Aside from the shooting of a few skits for a sketch comedy show, it would be another five years before I appeared in front of a camera.

After graduation, with a degree in dramatic writing, I decided it was time to go try my hand in Los Angeles. The Boise film industry in 2002 was still small, with an occasional feature film being made and local commercials relegated to the same four actors. Every once in awhile a production would roll through town (or even a premiere for a major film, like A Midsummer Night's Dream)., but for the most part, film opportunities were few and far between.

Skipping past the formative L.A. years, we'll fast forward to my return to Boise in 2006, part of which was due to the desire to return to a city that was growing. Plus, it was thought the arts scene was about to blossom.

Even then, ten years ago, one could see that the film community was growing in Boise. Major studio productions weren't flocking to the state (thanks to little to no tax incentives), but the people who lived here and worked here were making more films, shooting more commercials, and in general were prone to desires to simply create.

And now? Well, the industry continues to grow. Each day I see feature length films being produced, written, directed and acted in with local talent. This is in addition to the numerous short films I see casting notices for weekly.

The burgeoning film community, thanks to the work of countless of people, is slowly centralizing itself and beginning to use the plethora of talent that is willing and wanting to work in this city. Is it self-sustaining, in which a person can quit a job to consistently get paid for acting? Not quite, but paid opportunities are growing with each passing day.

The ability to film on digital has certainly helped with this growth, providing more opportunity for people to go and shoot without worrying about the cost of film or converting film to a computer to edit. Not this always produces the best of results, but it's giving people the chance to at least go out and experiment and perfect their craft.

Film festivals like the Boise Film Festival, i48 film festival, and many others have become mainstays in Boise.

Filmmakers like Travis Swartz (of Hank Patterson fame) and Will Von Tagen (Almosting It) are making feature length films regularly. And these are just two names among many talented people constantly making short films, creating web series', or organizing table reads for films yearning to be made.

There are even others from the area, like Trevor Campbell (Spray Paint Atlas), who return to their roots here in Idaho to film their projects. And he is one among many in L.A., Chicago and New York that are representing the Boise area.

As Boise continues to grow, so does the film industry. The opening of the JUMP building will hopefully provide even more growth, with chances for people to continue to hone their craft with classes in acting, writing, directing, and editing, to name a few.

Within five years, one can hope that major studios will be finding their way into Boise. If not, though, the future is certainly in good hands. And who knows, perhaps one day we'll have our very own television show being filmed right here in Boise, with the cast and crew made up entirely of local talent. 

Hey, one can dream, right?


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