What’s next for the Oakland film industry?

Over the past decade, local filmmakers have put Oakland on the Hollywood map. films such as Fruitvale Station, Moneyball, Sorry to bother and Black Panther have placed the city at the center of socially conscious drama, political satire, and the Marvel Universe.

Not only Hollywood blockbusters achieve this success. Documentary trilogy by Peter Nicks—the waiting room, the power, and classroom— has further proven that there is an appetite for stories about Oakland.

But while Oakland has become a major movie subject and setting, and continues to produce talented directors, writers, and actors, much of the work that goes into making these films is done elsewhere. Aside from a few street scenes, a lot is produced in warehouses and backlots in Los Angeles, New Mexico or Georgia. Many film crew employees are recruited from industrial centers in these and other cities.

What would it take to make Oakland a thriving center for filmmaking? Who are the people behind the scenes working here to build such an infrastructure? What are some of the obstacles they face?

There is a burgeoning industry of locals looking to take the Oakland movie game to the next level.

We’ve invited the perfect guests to explore these questions and more at our next Culture Makers event, taking place December 15th at the New Parkway Theater. And we invited singer-songwriter Satya to liven up the night with a performance. The show will be hosted by The Oaklandside Arts and Community Reporter Azucena Rasilla. We hope that you will also be there with us.

Culture Makers is generously presented by Xfinity with additional sponsorship support from PG&E, East Bay Community Energy, Tidewater Capital and Oakland Athletics.



Here you can find out more about our guests:

Benjamin Mulholland

Photo courtesy of Benjamin Mulholland

Mulholland is an Oakland-based writer and director. His celebrated works include the short film MOAB. and the action/satire web series Pennies for the Juggernaut, which has won fans around the world. His films, which span adventure and science fiction genres and deal with politics, mysticism and mythology, have screened at numerous festivals including the Oakland International Film Festival and Cinequest. He is currently working hard on a feature-length version of his short film, The Lake Merritt Monsterand a new movie 1000 demons.

Mulholland has served the local film community as an advisor to the New Oakland Film Center and as a mentor to young filmmakers through local organizations and educational institutions such as BAVC, St. Mary’s College, Fremont High School and the Nueva School. Mulholland is an SFFILM resident, Cine Qua Non-Lab Fellow and Berkeley Film Foundation grantee.

Laura Wagner

Photo courtesy of Laura Wagner

Wagner is an acclaimed filmmaker and co-founder of Bay Bridge Productions and the Oakland Film Center. Their feature documentation includes The Scales of Hope, artisticand Art 21 Bay area of ​​San Francisco. Her documents have premiered at Sundance, Tribeca and SXSW, as well as the Seattle, Rotterdam and Melbourne film festivals.

Wagner’s narrative feature films also received awards, notably: It felt like love (Spirit Award and Gotham Award nominations), Tracktown (Sundance Creative Producing Lab; SFFILM Residency), Simple life (Jerome Foundation and Film Independent AbelCine grants; US in Progress official selection) and My first kiss and the people involved (Best Cinematography and Best Feature Film at the Ashland Independent Film Festival; Audience Award at the New Orleans Film Festival).

She was Associate Producer on the documentary John Leguizamo: Tales from a Ghetto Clownwhich premiered on PBS, as well as Pulse: A Stomp Odysseyan IMAX film that has been shown in museums and cinemas around the world.

Peter Nicks

Photo courtesy of Peter Nicks

Nicks is an Emmy Award-winning documentary director, producer and cinematographer whose best known works include a trilogy set in Oakland that explores the interconnected narratives of healthcare, policing and education. The waiting rooman immersive depiction of the Highland Hospital emergency room, won an Independent Spirit Award and was shortlisted for an Oscar in 2012. the powera look inside the troubled Oakland Police Department, won the 2017 Sundance Directing Award. classroomthe final film in the trilogy, won the inaugural Jonathan Oppenheim Editing Award at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.

Nicks currently heads the non-fiction division at Proximity Media, which he co-founded in 2021 with fellow Oakland-based filmmaker Ryan Coogler. Nicks is currently directing underestimateda documentary about Stephen Curry, All-Star of the Golden State Warriors.

Musical guest: Satya

Singer-songwriter Satya is a graduate of the Oakland School for the Arts. She made her hometown debut at the New Parish last December opening for Mara HRuby (our final musical guest on Culture Makers). Thrive against breakage. her new EP, deep bluetreats themes of love, heartbreak and healing with striking vulnerability.

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