September 18-22, 2024


Meet Kelley and Nicole Fries of Calabasas Film Festival

July 30, 2019
By: VoyageLA Staff


Today we’d like to introduce you to Kelley Fries, Nicole Fries.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
One of our favorite memories growing up was going to Blockbuster with our parents every Saturday morning and eyeing all the new releases on display and deciding on that night’s family movie. We would constantly fight as one of us liked rom-coms, and the other liked action. But now we can honestly say some of our favorite movies were from each other’s picks. Those debates sparked our love of movies and a passion to create a space for other film-lovers to enjoy and celebrate the movies!

We started The Calabasas Film Festival in 2014. With the rise of the international awareness of our city, we felt the community was ready for a film and arts festival to celebrate its unique growth. We firmly believe in the importance of keeping film art alive and providing actors, directors, producers, and writers a platform to share and celebrate their stories. With the help of the City of Calabasas, support from the community and all of our other generous sponsors, we have, in just five short years, become a signature event for the entire region and have seen explosive growth year over year.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Our inaugural year went off without a problem, but our second year was quite the opposite. Everything that could wrong… did! A pipe burst, leaving us without toilets in our main theater venue, a projector malfunctioned forcing the audience to sit through 5 minutes of darkness as the technician rushed to fix the problem. We also had half our volunteers not show up; it was certainly a baptism of fire. Thankfully all these problems were lessons learned and prepared us for the successful years to follow.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Calabasas Film Festival story. Tell us more about the business.
The Calabasas Film Festival is a non-profit organization established to support the awareness and exposure of the cinematic arts in our city and surrounding communities. Each year we continue to push the limits of excellence for all who attend, by showcasing a mix of award-winning features, documentaries, and shorts. In addition to our screenings, we specialize in bringing together the artists and the community to talk about the films, which we have found are best enjoyed along with exquisite wines and cuisine.

CFF is also dedicated to honoring the future of our industry by empowering young filmmakers with a platform for outreach through student screenings and events. We gift the winners over $20,000 in prizes, including film editing, equipment rentals, animation software, various educational products, scholarships and youth film camp training.

We are proud to be founded and run by women. Not every day do you get to work alongside your best friend and sister and enjoy every moment.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
We’ve seen both the upsides and downsides of luck. Luck was thrown our way the first year with the first movie that we contracted to show. A retiring distribution executive, who we by chance met at the racetrack, gifted us the US Premiere of the highly successful movie THE EQUALIZER, helping us fill several theaters. In year two, as you’ve read, we were plagued with bouts of bad luck, but we survived. Since then, we’ve seen both good times and bad, but have found that the harder you work, the luckier you tend to be.

Contact Info:

  • Website:
  • Instagram: @Calabasasfilmfest
  • Facebook: @CalabasasFilmFestival