Valley Film Fest: LA's “Backlot” Gets the Spotlight

Flicks and the San Fernando? Yep, they go way, way back.

It's a phenomenon that generally occurs around the holidays. You're across the country, visiting family, and the television is on, and, oh, look, in that movie, there, it's Ventura Boulevard, and then Bob's Big Boy, and oh, it's Encino.

Televisions remind traveling Angelenos of home, and the Valley is very often the place they see. That's because the once citrus-y, now-suburban-y stretch has long been Hollywood's over-the-hill backlot, a place that's near enough to film but far enough away to lend an airier, bigger-sky feeling.

Valley Film Festival is indeed named for the San Fernando Valley. It's in the Valley, too -- phew, right? -- rolling in North Hollywood each and every year in the autumn. This year's dates are Nov. 13 through 17.

And while you may see Magnolia or Lankershim or Burbank in the background, you'll be at the festival to support a very local goal, which is "to further the education, production, and distribution of filmmaking in the Valley."

Because there's a truth right there: Not only has the big place on the other side of the hills been the longtime backlot, it has been the lot for many Valley-based filmmakers, artists who don't think of themselves as "the other" as compared to Hollywood but rather the main event.

The SFV, in short, is not second-ran to Tinseltown but its own quirky, inventive, and strange place, cinema-wise. Family shorts, dramatic shorts, features, and the adults-only "Valley: After Dark" -- yep, you might have guessed that -- are all part of the five-day cinema bash.

A bash that supports both place and the filmmakers who call that place home. It is true that many a production packs up the big lights at the end of a shoot and departs the Valley, but this fest is all about those people who stay there for the night, and every night, because it is both a place to film and a place to call home.

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