The following article was probably written by George Cushman several years ago.
A brief history of the "Ten Best of the West" Contest
The "Ten Best of the West" is an annual motion picture festival for non professional motion picture makers.
Its beginning really had its roots in the Town Meetings, little two day conventions of the Photographic Society of America.
Since their programs were primarily for still photo photographers, George Cushman, a PSA member from Long Beach, California,
suggested Town Meetings for motion picture photographers only. Two such meetings were held in the Los Angeles area in 1954
Cushman felt these meetings lacked the excitement of a competition. The ACL Ten Best, the father of all Ten
Best motion picture competitions, had been headquartered in New York City for the past 24 years before moving to Philadelphia
under the sponsorship of PSA in 1954.
Why not, Cushman wondered, have a Ten Best in the west, limited to motion picture makers residing in the western
part of the country?
Because the San Francisco area was also active in holding similar get togethers, Cushman decided to approach
those people with his idea.
On March 17,1956, he wrote a letter to Tullio Pellegrini, President of the Northern California Council of Amateur
Movie Clubs suggesting an annual competition which he called "The Ten Best of the West Coast." President Pellegrini answered
immediately with tremendous enthusiasm for the idea. He said Edward Kentera would be assigned to follow through on it. A day
or so later an equally enthusiastic letter was received from Ed Kentera. He suggested, however, that the word "coast" be eliminated,
it was not needed.
Thus encouraged, Cushman then wrote to Ed Garwood, President of the Southern California Association of Amateur
Movie clubs, and suggested the idea to him. Early in April, President Garwood responded, saying, "I presented the idea of
the Ten Best of the West to our members and it was favorably received. A motion to that effect was made and carried without
Cushman then wrote similar letters to Salt Lake City, Utah,: Seattle, Washington; and Denver, Colorado, asking
motion picture groups in those areas for their reaction. Letters were promptly received from O.L. Tapp in Salt Lake City,
R.W. Patterson in Seattle and Markley Pepper in Denver, all expressing enthusiasm for the idea.
Patterson, in Seattle, asked if they could host the Ten Best in 1957 in conjunction with the film festival they
But 1956 had to come first, and it did. Both Ed Kentera and Ed Garwood were helpful in establishing the rules.
Entry blanks were printed, publicity was circulated. The first Ten Best of the West was held in the West Hollywood Park Auditorium
on San Vicente Avenue in Los Angeles on Saturday evening, November 10,1956. That first year there were no talks, lectures
or demonstrations, just the screening of the winning films and the awarding other certificates.
Four areas, Seattle, Northern California, Southern California, and Salt Lake City were the original sponsors
and each was eligible to host a Ten Best of the West annual competition. Those areas have taken turns ever since.
In 1973, two clubs in the San Diego area asked to participate. They were welcomed as a 5th sponsoring group
and they hosted their first Ten Best of the West Festival that year. Attempts were made to induce additional areas - Denver,
Dallas, Omaha and a few others - to participate, but to date nothing further has come from this effort.
There is no President, or any other elected or appointed officer. Each area selects someone from their region
to represent them at the annual meeting which is held each year during the Festival. Each representative votes for his area
on matters relating to the Ten Best of the West, such as contest rules changes, entry fees, with of the next Festival, and
There is, however, an Executive Secretary who maintains records, keeps each area advised of any changes that
have been made, forwards notices of upcoming events, and in general keeps the ball rolling. He has no vote.(ed- No Executive
Secretary has been appointed for several years.)
The Chairman of each Festival serves as the Chairman of the Ten Best of the West for that year, and when his
Festival is over, the Chairman for the following year takes charge and serves for the ensuing 12 months, until his Festival
There is no treasury, never has been. Each host organization plans and carries out the details of its own Festival,
sets registration fees, plans the screening and the program, and keeps any profit that may accrue. By the same token, the
host absorbs any loss. Many observers have said the absence of a treasury has been one of the dominant factors in the continuing
success and smooth running of the Festival for these many years. (No doubt true!)
In the beginning all entries were on photographic film, but as video has become a popular medium for making
motion pictures, entries on video tape are now acceptable in the competition.
The Festival is usually held in October or November. It has proven to be a popular event and has been held every
year since its inception in 1956.