Before this job, I was a sound intern at a theatre festival in Massachusetts. While there, I began applying to any film-related job I could find throughout the country. Naturally, my mind leapt immediately to the obvious choices: LA, Atlanta or New York. If I could make it there, maybe I could really get started on my film career. When I began interviewing for this job, I asked the same question I've been asked a million times since:
Why Northwest Arkansas?
Well, I could tell you about the thriving art community here, or how Walmart's milkshake brings all the corporate boys to the yard. But I'd rather mention how that question is indicative of a much bigger problem when it comes to filmmaking:
You see, a lot of us indie filmmakers, just setting out, often get the feeling that we need the best to begin. It feels like you'll never get anywhere if you're living in the middle of nowhere, and in order to begin, you've got to get somewhere. But maybe we should be approaching it all from the opposite angle. Many great film directors made their debuts right where they started out.
Christopher Nolan, for example, made his debut, Following, on a shoestring budget in London. The film not only jumpstarted his career, but went on to be critically acclaimed, even receiving a Criterion Collection release. Peter Jackson and Neill Blomkamp both made short films in their home countries - New Zealand and South Africa, respectively. These would later springboard them into international acclaim, and the opportunities to make big-budget, VFX-heavy Hollywood features.
Living in smaller cities offers you some respite from the intense hustle and bustle of the metropolises. You'll often find a dedicated, if small community of like-minded creators who are more than willing to jump onto a new project in order to gain experience. Locations are often easier to acquire, and many times, the people are friendlier. Finally, living outside of the hubs gives you an opportunity to tell stories that are outside of the usual range. Use your location to create content that's unique, and that highlights what makes it special. It can be as much a character as any human being.
The fact that companies like Element Studio exist is evidence that video production is a useful commodity no matter where you live. If you're able to excel in your field, and tell your own stories as well, then more power to you. So instead of asking "Why Northwest Arkansas?" and listing all the things it doesn't have, make a list of what is available, and work with that. At the end of the day...
Why not Northwest Arkansas?