November 13, 2014 Helium Films

Why aren’t you in L.A.?

By Shaan

Every time we go to a networking event or simply meet new people, one question always comes back: why aren’t you in L.A.? Why, as producers and filmmakers, would you be in San Diego rather than Los Angeles?


From a client’s perspective, the doubt and questioning of our location (a.k.a. San Diego) is understandable and legitimate. It’s nothing new that Hollywood is the capital of the film industry, alongside with New York City. Not like in San Diego, one can find thousands of actors, producers, directors, technicians, studios, and everything else one needs to “make a film”. So, again, why San Diego?

From a video production point of view, we have two answers, or maybe we should call them “reasons”. First, Los Angeles is a crowded place, especially if you aren’t deeply connected (yet) or fortuned. The competition is fierce, and the number of clients proportionally reduced. From a one-man show guy that can do it all, to the biggest production companies with all the means, clients face an incredible number of options. Adepts of any levels from skilled students to well-known professionals, from low-cost to million-dollar budget, from creative to conservative companies, everybody is fighting for clients as well as crew members. In L.A., like American psychologist Barry Schwartz would explain in his book “Why More Is Less”, when you have too many choices, too many decisions, and too little time, well you will often feel unsatisfied (I really recommend his TED Talk). Let’s not forget that in a city of abundance like LA, it also comes down to the budget, if you’re not Coca-Cola or Walmart, you might just get the lower end of the bargain. And as a production company, it’s pretty clear that the more we are, the hardest it is to standout.


In San Diego, there’s a lot to create, but not that many creators.

In San Diego, if you do it well, there’s a real opportunity. As a very entrepreneurial city, new clients appear everyday. As a matter of fact, in March 2014, Forbes named San Diego the best place in the country to launch a startup.” Coming from San Diego State University, we’ve witnessed how they lead one of the best entrepreneurial programs of the country (Forbes again), from where originated big brands such as Rubio’s Grill , Jack in the Box, and Volcom, but also promising ones like Solo Eyewear and ShakeSmart. Considered the Silicon Valley of BioTech, San Diego is also home to many successful technology companies. Who wouldn’t start a business in “the finest city”? It’s sunny all year long, the landscape is beautiful, and we don’t suffer the infernal traffic that Los Angeles endures everyday…

Win-win situationsFrom a client’s perspective, San Diego tends to offer lower prices for the same quality of work thanks to an overall lower cost of living. Startups that want to invest in their marketing strategy can do it with a more reasonable budget, and usually build a better, more long-lasting relationship with their video production partners. In the various industries we’ve been involved in: new technologies, retail, health, arts, or education, to name a few, we’ve managed to create win-win situations. Navigating through all these different industries expended our knowledge and technique, and allowed us to grow at a much faster pace.

Unlike L.A., where everybody constantly bath in a cinematographic environment, San Diego’s entrepreneurs are not always used to video production. Explaining the processes and benefits is sometimes necessary, but once they embark the boat, they quickly become “aficionados”.

So, in a way, comparing Los Angeles and San Diego is like comparing the choice between a fountain drink or a bottle, crossing the border from Tijuana to San Diego or from San Diego to Tijuana, choosing between “the shortest way” or the “fastest way” on your GPS… Sometimes the obvious option turns out to be the hardest.


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