After hours at the Santa Fe Business Incubator on July 19, over a dozen local filmmakers sit attentively as guest speaker Steve Allrich flips through a script. Aldrich addresses one of the writers in the room, whose draft he holds in his hand. “Usually, if there’s a sound playing over a visual that’s coming from the next scene, it’s called a ‘pre-lap,’” Allrich says. “That allows filmmakers to know exactly how that sound fits into the story.”

The group, known as Santa Fe Filmmakers, meets once a month for these workshops. As Eric Streeper, its founder, explains, "I started putting talks and workshops on about seven months ago, because there weren't any active filmmaker groups I could find in town." Since then, the group, which primarily communicates through the online platform Meetup, has grown to over 200 local filmmakers and creatives, according to its webpage.

At this particular workshop, called First 5, writers received feedback on the first five pages of their script from Allrich, a writer and producer who worked on the 2015 Western drama The Timber. The subject matter varies greatly, from an Afro-badass female spy to a troublemaking elderly duo. Allrich, who one attendee jokes "looks a lot scarier than he actually is," delivers feedback in a critical but constructive manner. The result is a relaxed environment where writers feel comfortable engaging in conversation with Allrich and with their peers.

This level of camaraderie is the norm for the group. "What I really like is how supportive everybody is," says script editor and proofreader Diana Thatcher. "For example, this workshop was not what I was expecting—Allrich was really gentle and supported everyone and helped them. I thought he would just rip into them." Writer Dean Balsamo agrees, saying, "I've gone to a number of groups like this, but this is the one that seems to gel."

It's encouraging to see such a cohesive, diverse and welcoming group of filmmakers, but it's not surprising given Streeper's upbeat personality. He explains with excitement that workshop turnouts have been getting better over the last few months. "Tonight's turnout was pretty good, but sometimes we'll have events where almost 30 people show up," Streeper says with a laugh.

Most events are a good mix of old and new faces, Streeper notes, and Steve Allrich is no exception to this trend. The pair's relationship began about a month ago over coffee. "I became involved with Santa Fe Filmmakers by just looking up Meetups in Santa Fe, since I was involved in a similar group up in Portland," Allrich tells SFR. "I found Eric's name and reached out to him for coffee."

After a few more caffeine-fueled discussions about film and one lecture, Allrich pitched his idea for a script workshop, which Streeper received enthusiastically. "After I did one of their talks last month about screenwriting, I realized that education is something that I want to get more involved in," Allrich says. "In a previous life, I was an artist, and I taught art for about 25 years, so I do have an enjoyment of teaching."

Aside from plans for another script workshop, the group has even more events coming up over the next few weeks. This Thursday, members are scheduled to appear at the Santa Fe Community College for a hands-on workshop. "They're going to have all kinds of equipment there," Streeper says, "but it's all going to be pretty common stuff, so you'll learn how to really shoot on a budget."

In August, Santa Fe Filmmakers aims to join forces with other organizations like the New Mexico Film Foundation and New Mexico Women in film for a mixer at The Bridge at Santa Fe Brewing Company, which Streeper hopes will be an opportunity for local filmmakers to meet and make plans to collaborate on future projects.

For now, though, members are grateful for the community they’ve built within their ranks. For a group only seven months in the making, they’re proud the member commitment. The potential for growth is promising, Allrich tells SFR. “I’m open for whatever the future holds, however it evolves,” he says. “I’m just enjoying being a part of the community. There’s a lot of interest in film here and screenwriting which is exciting. Santa Fe kind of has the feel of a small town, comparatively speaking, but there’s a lot of interest relative to the city.”

Cinematography for the Cost-Effective Filmmaker
6 pm Thursday July 27. Free.
Santa Fe Community College,
6401 Richards Ave,

New Mexico Filmmixer
Time TBD Tuesday Aug. 8. Free.
The Bridge at Santa Fe Brewing Company,
37 Fire Place,

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