What IS Scary Cow?

Scary Cow is a film collective located in the San Francisco Bay Area. Open to everyone interested in making movies, Scary Cow’s mission is to build a film community that actively learns to make better films by making films. Scary Cow is run by its members and any revenue Scary Cow receives goes back out to its members in the form of screenings, budgets, classes, and more. We’ve made over 415 films and have given out well over $260,000 in budgets since we started in 2007.

Scary Cow offers many benefits to its members including:

1) Screenings for every film we make at the historic Castro theatre!

2) Budgets for our best films as determined by all Scary Cow members

3) Networking with bay area filmmakers

4) Build your Reel and resume with the films you make

5) Film Classes taught by Bay Area professionals

6) Access to our member and actor database

7) The kick in the pants you need to help you make more films!

How does Scary Cow work?

Member’s join Scary Cow at the beginning of a Round. A round is a 4 month period given to you to make a film with other Scary Cow members. The first meeting you attend is the Pitch Meeting. This is a meeting where everyone can pitch their ideas. You can either pitch your own film idea or just listen to the pitches and decide which films/teams seem like the best fit for what you’re interested in. After the pitches, members have an opportunity to mingle and form into their own teams based on mutual interest.

Four months later, you submit the film that you make together. During those four months, hopefully you’ve attended several of our mixers and been to a few of our classes. If you submit a film by the deadline and it meets our (very simple) criteria, your film will screen a few weeks later at the incomparable Castro Theatre! If you miss the deadline, it’s ok – just submit the film next round – you’ve got another 4 months to make the film even better… or make a 2nd film!

Everyone who goes to the screening is given a ballot to vote for their favorite films. Films are separated into two categories. Phase 1 are films that have been made without Scary Cow funding. Phase 2 are films that have been made with the help of a budget award from Scary Cow. Phase 1 and Phase 2 films do NOT compete against each other – so everything remains fair. After the screening, ballots are tabulated and awards are given to the top films in several categories. Usually 30-40% of our films receive a monetary award – which is incredibly high compared to most film festivals!

With these awarded budgets, members move in to Phase 2 with their next Scary Cow film. Then the cycle repeats!

What types of films does Scary Cow make? Who owns the films?

Scary Cow has no creative criteria on what films are made in Scary Cow. In other words, you can make whatever kind of film you want! We’ve had dramas, comedies, horror films, musicals, documentaries, music videos, animation, trailers – you name it. We are primarily organized around making short films but even a few feature films have been made in Scary Cow.

Any film made in Scary Cow remains entirely owned by the filmmakers. In other words, if you make the next Blair Witch Project in Scary Cow, you’ll keep the profits – we just hope you remember to thank us in your acceptance speech!

What are some achievements of Scary Cow and its members?

Our films have been screened at a number of film festivals including the Slamdance, Palm Springs International ShortFest, Sonoma International Film Festival, the Berkeley Digital and Film Festival, the Anaheim International Film Festival, Frameline, Outfest, and more.

Many of our former members have built a reel from their experiences in Scary Cow that has helped them get into film school (including UCLA) or start their own production company.

One of our members got their start composing music for films in Scary Cow and has since won an Emmy for music they wrote for a documentary on PBS.

Our first feature, a documentary, has been screened in over 8 countries and is for sale on Amazon.com.

Who should join?

Anyone with a passion for making films! Writers, Directors, Cinematographers, Production Assistants (PAs), Editors, Lighting people, Sound people, Producers, Art Directors, Makeup Artists, anyone who wants to help out on the crew.

How to join?

Sign up to our newsletter using the button below. We’ll let you know when our next information sessions are (we host three rounds of them per year) where you can meet the founder and other members, ask questions, and get a feel for how you can fit within our filmmaking community.
Alternatively, if you feel like you already know enough, you can join now without ever having attending an information session.
We hope to see you there!