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The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view
Monday, March 24, 2014
Blog post by Blaize Hall, Television-Radio '15, Georgia, VT
Steve Gordon is one of Park’s finest. After working for twenty years in LA, he escaped the traffic and city bustle and moved to peaceful Ithaca to teach. When we met, he spoke fondly of Los Angeles, but shared how nice a change of pace Ithaca is. He raved about his several years’ experience with FLEFF, gave advice, and shared professional insight into the competing worlds of corporate and Indie film. Here are some highlights from the interview.
A favorite memory from FLEFF:
“I remember having the experience of showing a film in one of MY classes. It was a short documentary called ‘Gimme Green’ about people’s obsessions with their lawns. It was packed house.” He grins, “Don’t tell the fire marshal, but we had about forty people in twenty-four person room. People got really fired up and started asking questions about environmentalism and water rights. None of us were really prepared to answer!” He chuckles, “It was exciting ‘cause then we wanted to go research that. ANY film that makes you think like, that I think is wonderful. This film managed to do it in just twenty-five minutes.”
Advice to Interns:
“I’ve talked to the interns before about ‘how to FLEFF’, and given lists of things you shouldn’t do. For example, don’t run up to a director and kiss them!”
“Has anyone done that before at FLEFF?”
“Well, we have had interns be a little too effusive. The interns are really enthusiastic.”
“We had a political filmmaker, an IC grad, show a doc on the Koch brothers. I think it opened up some minds and eyes, the way they budgeted that and fundraised for that. I don’t think the students were really aware that its not just indie go-go, its really necessary to be creative in doing fundraising campaigns. Whether its a party or a concert or whatever it is, its things that we don’t really think of when we think of fundraising.”
Running the “How to Make Your Break” panel:
“Most of the FLEFF guests are not traditional Hollywood filmmakers. However, there’s a lot of the same aspects of getting into the business even in the indie film world. The guests often have more interesting stories, from different countries. The way they got into the business, there’s a theme that can translate and also be inspiring. One woman, Karen Chen, worked for an indie film company. She was inspiring. Whether the independent film business is going up and down, her story was all about the passion of telling these stories. I think she also inspired students to learn more. It’s especially appropriate for film and television students at Ithaca to take part in FLEFF. It’s about story telling, that’s what FLEFF is. It’s important to see different talents, world wide. It’s different perspectives on story telling, which is important. I think is a great experience you can’t get that in your daily routine of going to classes here in Ithaca.”
You’ve worked in the “corporate” world of Television. This is all indie, what is the biggest difference in those fields, and what stays the same?
"They’re so much more close together than they’ve ever been. Many people think We’re in the golden age of television. Television and film are shot on the same medium, which is mostly digital, mostly because of the proliferation of channels and outlets that we can watch things on. There’s much more niche work being done, which is what independent film is. These worlds are coming closer and closer together. Many of these filmmakers coming to FLEFF can and do make television. And there films are shown on television. That’s because there’s so many channels, there’s really something for everyone."
If corporate film is getting closer to indie film, do you think international film is getting closer to Hollywood?
"I hope not. A lot of international film follows Hollywood to some degree. That’s kind of been the formula for filmmaking, in the same way that England and the BBC has sort of paved the way for high quality television. The more broadly you can look at things from a worldly perspective, the higher the quality can be. I think now in Hollywood and in other countries, people are looking more worldly.
Its not really corporate vs. Indie, because corporate is Indie. I don’t mean Batman is an indie film, but you know Sony, has an indie arm. They’re at all these festivals and they’re scouting films. Paramount and Viacom go to these festivals, they’re at Sundance, and Cannes, and they see what the filmmakers are coming out with. That’s whats great about FLEFF. FLEFF isn’t a competitive festival, but it is showing some things for the first time, and I think that’s really exciting."
Biggest hope for FLEFF this season:
“Biggest hope is that every film sells out and every film has at least half students. If we can make sure the students know what the offerings are, they will go.”