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UMKC Film Graduates Challenge Hollywood Norms, Find Success in Thriving Kansas City Scene

Alumni Share Insights on Building Careers in the Heart of America and How Students Can Make It in Film Without Leaving the Midwest
UMKC alumni encourage aspiring filmmakers to explore opportunities in Kansas City, emphasizing the ease of making a name for oneself in the supportive local film scene.
Manuel Rivera
UMKC alumni encourage aspiring filmmakers to explore opportunities in Kansas City, emphasizing the ease of making a name for oneself in the supportive local film scene.

  UMKC graduates prove that you don’t have to move to the East or West Coast to be successful in film production.

   In a panel hosted by Professor Lyn Elliot, graduates Liv Gallo, Estelle Hansen and Emily Kennedy, they provided insight into their film production careers in KC. 

  The group discussed how they pushed back against the narrative that to be successful in film, one should move to Los Angeles or New York City. 

  “I know plenty of people across a variety of departments who work here [Kansas City] who are very successful,” Hansen said. “Kansas City also attracts a variety of projects from feature-length films to music videos to commercials to reality television, so there are great opportunities to be found.”

  The speakers shared that a thriving film culture and incredible network connections helped them grow in the industry. 

  “The biggest advantage to staying in Kansas City to work in film production is that it’s a tight community,” Hansen said. “I PA-ed in Kansas City for just under a year and got my first official job as a grip before that year ended.”

  Gallo explained that the smaller city creates some disadvantages. The lack of access to props presents the challenge of creating individual props, as well as outsourcing. The challenge has forced locals to be creative. .

  “We have our own makeshift prop house and each other’s props,” Gallo said. “Regardless of our lack of conventional resources, we can make things happen with the resources we have. We will make it look just as good.” 

 Graduate students encouraged others to seek out new experiences and connections in KC. 

  “I think Kansas City is a great place to get started in film production because it’s a small community,” Hansen said. “It’s easier to make a name for yourself here than in a place like L.A.” 

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