Official Selection: Newport Beach Film Festival

A long, long road

When my short film, SCAM LIKELY, was selected to screen at the 2022 Newport Beach Film Festival, I couldn’t help but to reflect on what a journey it’s been. 

I grew up in Newport Beach, I fell in love with film and filmmaking in Newport Beach, and as a consequence, I feel like I’ve been circling the Newport Beach Film Festival in one way, shape, or form for the better part of my filmmaking life. As a high school student, I remember going to screenings at the festival and staying for the Q&A sessions, hoping to glean as much wisdom as I could from filmmakers who were doing what I wanted to be doing.

Following film school in Ventura, and a short stint in Los Angeles, I moved home. To say I was lost, would be an understatement. I’ve covered this in some detail in a previous post, but here are the Cliff’s Notes: I had a healthy amount of unearned confidence, and not a lot of real-world experience to back it up. As I began to realize this sad truth, I started grasping at the nearest straws…

first contact

Within a few months of moving home, I began volunteering as a film screener for the Newport Beach Film Festival.

Keep in mind: for filmmakers submitting their work for consideration at film festivals, these were the days of putting your film on a DVD, slapping it in a jewel case, buying a padded envelope, and dropping it in the mail. So, a couple of times a week, I’d drop by the NBFF offices, pick up a pile of DVDs, and head home to watch the assorted cinematic offerings and then wax poetic in the online review form.

I honestly don’t remember very much about any of the films that I watched, but I think it’s safe to assume that none of them ever screened at the festival. Even still, it was an illuminating experience, and I think gave me a real sense of where I was as a filmmaker, and where I’d need to get to.

Not long after that, I answered a Craigslist ad seeking film critics (or at least film lovers who could write), and soon I found myself on the staff of a fledgling film review blog called Cinema Beach. (I wish that the website was still around – it would be fun to take a trip down memory lane with some of my now decade-old film reviews, to see how they’ve aged.)

Cinema Beach never attracted a large readership, but I had a lot of fun while I was writing for them. It wasn’t paid, but you’d get reimbursed for your movie ticket, and thinking critically about the films you watch can’t help but to make you think more critically about the films you’re trying to make. There’s a reason, after all, why the French New Wave was spearheaded by film-critics-turned-filmmakers. 

first taste

Toward the end of my run with Cinema Beach, we had the opportunity get press accreditation to cover the Newport Beach Film Festival, and so I found myself with a pass to see any film I wanted, and access to all of the swanky parties. One highlight from that year’s fest was getting to know filmmaker Daniel Hsia, whose feature film, SHANGHAI CALLING played at the festival that year. We interviewed Daniel for the Cinema Beach podcast, and I really enjoyed getting to know him, seeing his film at the historic Lido Theatre (RIP) and then engaging in a more laid-back, social conversation when we ran into each other at a party at the Fletcher Jones Motorcars Mercedes-Benz dealership.

I remember looking around at all the people in their cocktail attire, mingling in a sea of expensive cars, my head swimming with all of the films I had seen at the festival that year, wanting desperately to figure out a way to get here, to this place, as a filmmaker, and wondering if I ever would. I remember thinking, This feels so attainable, and yet so far from my day-to-day reality…


Ten years later, I now live in Boise, Idaho where, almost against all odds, I’ve found my very own filmmaking tribe. I’ve had my share of ups and downs in my journey as a filmmaker, but now things feel like they’re definitively on the up-swing. We made a short film more or less by accident, and after screenings at Filmfort, the Sun Valley Film Festival, and the Tacoma Film Festival, SCAM LIKELY will screen at the Newport Beach Film Festival in a block of short films on Monday October 17th at 8:00pm at The Triangle. If you’re in the area, tickets can be purchased here.

See you there!

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