Los Angeles is known for being a melting pot full of diversity and creativity. This is especially true for the thousands of filmmakers who call LA their home. The following LA-based filmmakers are making exciting and innovative art that has created a buzz amongst audiences and critics.
Ana Lily Amirpour
Amirpour is an Iranian-American director and screenwriter who impressed audiences with her 2014 feature film A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night. The 36-year-old filmmaker was born in England and later moved to California with her family. Ana Lily Amirpour studied visual arts at San Francisco State University and went on to earn an MFA in film production at UCLA.
Amirpour’s passion for film started when she began making movies at the age of 12. As an adult, Amirpour made several short films that won awards at a number of international film festivals. One of her shorts was an early version of A Girl Walks Home At Night, which later became a feature film. The feature film shows off Amirpour’s talent for paying homage to genre films like spaghetti westerns and horror while still infusing the cinematic experience with her own unique visual style.
The Bad Batch, her horror/sci-fi/western hybrid about a dystopian world in which a young woman battles cannibals in a desolate wasteland, premiered in 2016. Another feature she has in the works is titled Blood Moon. In line with the rest of her films, Blood Moon features a strong female character.
Follow Lily and her work on Instagram.
Carlos López Estrada
Carlos Lopez Estrada is a 29-year-old music video and film director based in Los Angeles. Estrada was born in Mexico, grew up in LA, and studied filmmaking at Chapman University in Southern California.
Estrada began his career by directing several videos for a variety of music acts including Thundercat, Flying Lotus, Goo Goo Dolls, and Passion Pit. His video for the Mexican pop group Jesse & Joy’s song “Me Voy” earned him a Latin Grammy award in 2012. The music video was created with stop-motion animation using almost 3000 cut-up photographs. The Grammy-winning video showed off Estrada’s style.
In 2015, Estrada premiered his new short film, Identity Theft, at various film festivals. The film is based on a one-act play written by Andrew Rothschild.
His first feature-length film, Blindspotting, was released in 2017 starring Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal. This feature film is a semi-autobiographical story based on the gentrification of Oakland.
More of Estrada’s work can be found here.
Barry Jenkins is a 38-year-old director, producer, and screenwriter based in LA. Born and raised in Florida, he attended college at Florida State University and received critical acclaim for his first feature film, Medicine for Melancholy, in 2008. The film follows two black twenty-somethings through a day of their romance in San Francisco. Throughout the movie, race and gentrification are discussed in the context of the black indie culture.
Moonlight, a film that depicts the life of a young gay black man growing up in South Florida, was released in 2016 and won dozens of awards. Jenkins directed and co-wrote the film with Tarell Alvin McCraney, receiving a Golden Globe for Best Picture - Drama and an Academy Award for Best Picture, amongst a plethora of other honors.
Since the release of Moonlight, Jenkins has been directing television shows including an episode of Netflix’s Dear White People. Upcoming projects include a series based on Colson Whitehead’s novel The Underground Railroad.
Brendan and Emmett Malloy
Brendan and Emmett Malloy are sibling directors who grew up on the beaches of Southern California. Their website describes them growing up in a huge and entertaining family. The siblings have worked on commercials, music videos, and feature films together since a young age.
These self-taught brothers explore surf and snowboard culture in both their 2001 comedy Out Cold and the highly anticipated 2017 family drama The Tribes Of Palos Verdes. The latter coming-of-age film is adapted from a YA novel and took nearly 20 years to make it to production.
The Malloy brothers were recognized in Variety’s 10 directors to watch for 2017 because of their latest film.
The Malloy brothers continue to make award-winning commercials; the industry is waiting to see what they direct next.
Check-out the Malloy brothers.
Issa Rae is an actress, writer, director, producer, and web series creator. Her career took off with the viral comedy web series Awkward Black Girl. YouTube viewers couldn’t get enough of the young woman named J (played by Rae) and her everyday experiences with career struggles and dating. Rae won several awards for the series and went on to star and write an HBO series pilot in 2013 titled Insecure. Rae’s show Insecure became an instant hit and has earned two Golden Globe nominations. The series has recently been renewed for a third season.
In 2015, Rae released a memoir titled The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl. Her memoir explores her struggle with identity and fitting in and is woven through with funny stories. The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl hit The New York Times Bestseller list after its release. Follow Issa Rae on Twitter, because it’s a good idea.
Do you want to see your own name on this list in the future? Consider working with Evidence Studios! Bring your innovative talent and passion for storytelling to the field of filmmaking. We’d love to work with you. Send us an email with what you’ve been working on - we can’t wait to see it!