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Midwest Hollywood: Kansas City’s growing film culture

Kansas City was rated the 17th best city to live in as a filmmaker in a recent article by Moviemaker.com.

There’s no doubt Kansas City has a unique arts and entertainment culture. From privately owned studios that line our crossroads district, The Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, KCAI and the countless free-lance artists that call Kansas City home, we are creating and curating shows year-round. What is it about our city that attracts so many artists? 

The film-friendly city that brought you Robert Altman, Don Cheadle, Ellie Kemper, Janelle Monae, Dianne Wiest and Mickey Mouse is also home to eight equipment rental houses, nearly three dozen production facilities and 15 film festivals. It’s clear our city has lots of potential. 

Senior Casey Dewey has been in the KC film scene for two years and has worked on a few films with UMKC professors. 

“Film cities are usually based on the state’s tax incentives, no matter how picturesque or welcome to filming they may be,” said Dewey. “First and foremost, Kansas City has a unique look. KC could stand in for numerous, faceless, industrial cities—and that’s a good thing. The fact that most people have no idea what Kansas City is, looks like (or even what state is in), is to our benefit.”

Senior Logan Block had a similar opinion regarding Kansas City’s chameleon scenery. 

“Kansas City has many pleasing aesthetic aspects to it, and it doesn’t take much travel time to find something different to film,” Block said. “Whether it’s a more city-esque view you want to have with many buildings, streets, statues, or simply a more down to earth country and wholesome nature scenery, both are very easy to attain in Kansas City, and you wouldn’t have to travel more than 30 minutes or some to find the two completely different scenes. Other than aesthetics, there have been a number of film festivals that have been around for quite a while, which is always good for film and opportunities for new people to jump in.”

The film festivals here, including Middle of the Map festival and KC Film Festival, have attracted many to Kansas City over the years.

“I’ve been to several [film festivals] here: Middle of the Map, Panic Fest and KC Film Festival,” Dewey said. “I’ve been to several other film festivals around the country, and they’re always good forums for seeing films (of course) and meeting people, learning about the process and networking. KC has several film festivals, meetups and theaters that are dedicated to the craft. It really is a unique and thriving community.” 

Dewey is optimistic about the progress in the KC film scene. Only time will tell how our scene will flourish. Stay tuned and keep your eyes peeled for what is coming to KC film festivals and what is being produced in our city. 

aamnx9@mail.umkc.edu

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