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The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Blog post by Gena Mangiaratti, Journalism ’13, FLEFF Intern, Feeding Hills, Massachusetts
On Wednesday, Helen De Michiel, who I interviewed leading up to the festival, addressed the FLEFF interns during our class time. She talked to us in detail about the process of making her documentary, the Lunch Love Community, distributed in the form of webisodes, and what she learned about the future of media in the process.
As part of her presentation, De Michiel showed us a couple clips of the documentary, including one of children at working in a garden as part of their school's curriculum at Malcolm X Elementary school in Berkeley. I think it definitely showed that the children are being taught how healthy food is grown, and also about the value of knowing where our food comes from.
De Michiel was just as engaging and enthusiastic about her work as she had been over the phone, with the added value of having her there to explain what we were watching and react to the curiosities and expressions of the audience.
This was also the second presentation I've been to this week where the speaker seemed to encourage the use of electronic devices in class, such as laptops and mobile phones — the first presentation where this happened also based around a series of webisodes.
De Michiel talked about the future of film and media, comparing it to looking out the window at the foggy sky of that day, because it's hard to determine how creative projects will be most popularly distributed in the future. But currently, it seems that the internet is an increasingly popular medium.
As she spoke, I was intrigued by the idea of being able to share independent projects such as hers with such a wide audience — and at no charge.
But a question I could not figure out how to phrase burned in my mind.
During the Q&A session that followed, a fellow intern, who also happens to be my team leader, raised the question:
How can someone make a living — earn money — when you are not profiting off the sale of your films?
That was what I had been wondering about. With the shift toward internet technology, how will new independent filmmakers who have a fantastic message to spread, such as De Michiel, be recompensed for their work?
De Michiel, too, did not seem to have a set answer for this question, but explained that there can be a trade off between telling the truth as you see it independently, and trying to tell the truth when under the umbrella of a corporate company.
It seems that some independent filmmakers have to take up other jobs or find other ways to make money to continue doing the work they are drawn to.
Another intern asked her if it is ever tempting to sell out to larger companies. De Michiel said that she never really had that option, because as an independent artist she is able to do the work she prefers to do.
I found this both interesting and admirable, and it makes me wonder if there will one day in the foggy future of media be a way for innovative independent filmmakers to reach a wide audience, and make a living off of their work, without having to possibly lose independence.
What do you think?
Interested in learning more about Helen De Michiel and careers in independent filmmaking? At 1:10 pm Thursday, April 14, in Park 220 there will be a meet-up with De Michiel and IC alum Laura Deutch, where they will be holding a discussion about working independently, following one's own beliefs as a filmmaker and earning money in the current state of the economy.