If you’ve ever felt the inclination to make a film, learn more about film or just watch a film, then is the place for you. Since 2002, this local non-profit has offered a screening space, educational classes and equipment rentals to help local filmmakers make their visions a reality.
Located at 1200 North Alvarado Street, just off Sunset Boulevard, this multi-purpose space offers a little bit of everything. The space hosts screenings or events up to four nights a week, with a microcinema program every Thursday at 8 p.m. Shelves are crowded with books, tapes and DVDs to help educate and inspire. The walls are festooned with posters advertising past events. And you can rent cameras and equipment to get started making your own movie.
Co-founder Paolo Davanzo, a filmmaker and educator, first started the Human Rights Film Festival to honor the activism of his late mother. Filmmaking can be an expensive undertaking, as well as an intimidating one for the novice. Out of this desire to provide “equal and affordable community access to film/video resources” so that everyone has the chance to become “active, empowered participants in the creation and dissemination of experimental, documentary and narrative film” – in the words of their mission statement – the Echo Park Film Center was born.
Along with co-founder Ken Fountain, Davanzo started the center in his own neighborhood of Echo Park. The locale offered not only the chance to bring the community together but also is home to a pool of talented innovators, artists and activists. Echo Park and Silver Lake were also the site of early movie studios, home to Mack Sennett, Tom Mix, Fox, Disney and others. The neighborhood is the perfect place for the center’s eclectic screenings, including “Spanish language, queer, experimental and political” films, in the words of operations director Lisa Marr.
The center always aims to be a good neighbor and to provide resources to the entire community. There are educational classes for kids, adults and senior citizens. The focus is primarily on small-format film projects, like Super 8 or 16 millimeter. In addition to the equipment rental, the center is happy to offer “advice, hints or share their experience,” says Marr. They even hit the streets with the Filmmobile, a converted navy blue school bus that takes their programs around the city, the county and the country. Their Summer Screening Series takes well-known classics films or undiscovered gems and shows them in the location with they were filmed. For instance, the silent classis “Intolerance” was shown in the Von’s parking lot on Hollywood and Virgil where the studio once stood.
Running the Echo Park Film Center is a “labor of love,” according to Marr, and it depends heavily on its volunteers and donations. Check out a movie at one of their nighttime screenings. Check out a camera and make your own film. Or check out the calendar to see their schedule of upcoming classes. With nearly 250 events per year, and a love of all things film, the Echo Park Film Center is the perfect place for local residents to explore and create.