About this blog
The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view
Monday, April 22, 2013
Blog posting written by Kimberly Capehart, Documentary Studies and Production '16, FLEFF Intern, Cherry Hill, New Jersey
I am eighteen years old and I just spent a week seeing dozens of films, meeting and conversing with film directors, distributors, producer, new media artists and musicians, and, most importantly, writing about all of it.
FLEFF is something that I never could have dreamed that I would be a part of, especially as a freshman. In the past 5 months, I've overcome my own personal fears and obstacles and have evolved into a mature, festival intern. As a spectator, FLEFF has really exposed me to a lot of new films and styles of filmmaking. It gave me opportunities to see works that I would have never seen on my own, and will probably never see in a theater again. As an intern, it has given me so much more. FLEFF has improved my communication skills, my writing skills, and my skills as a professional to-be.
My experience has introduced new opportunities and sparked my interest in a variety of new things. I feel like I definitely have an advantage over my colleagues because of this internship: I feel more prepared to tackle bigger things, both on- and off-campus.
This summer I plan on volunteering with the Philadelphia Q!Fest, a gay and lesbian film festival, to further explore the world of film festivals. I will definitely be taking my skills and memories from FLEFF with me back home to Philly.
My experience with the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival has been nothing short of incredible, and I can't wait to (hopefully!) come back next year.
Friday, April 5, 2013
Blog posting by Kimberly Capehart, Documentary Studies and Production '16, FLEFF Intern, Cherry Hill, New Jersey
I'm sitting in at what is arguably the most exciting FLEFF event: FLEFF Lab Friday!
Directors, producers, distributors, and scholars have been sitting in Park 220 all day long, speaking with students and amongst themselves about a wide variety of topics.
Right now, Yong Ki Jeong (film director, Couples, Once Upon a Time) and translator, Changhee Chun (Cinema, Ithaca College), Peter Miller (film director, AKA Doc Pommus), Carlos Gutierrez (Cinema Tropical), Bo Wang, (director, China Concerto), Kevin Lee, (dGenerate Films), Dominica Dipio (film director and film scholar), and Vanessa Domico (Outcast Films) are sitting together at the front of the room, waiting to share their secrets of the industry and answer questions.
Moderator Steve Gordon (TVR, Ithaca College) has each guest introduce himself or herself by sharing his or her own personal story. Their backgrounds are all extremely different; some guests started in film, others started with Physics degrees, and still others began their careers as activists.
What did they do to end up where they are? What advice do they have to offer to other people looking to pursue similar careers?
Here are some quotes from the conversation:
Kevin Lee: "Whatever you do, do with a real sense of purpose. Don't do anything because you feel trapped or pressured into it."
Vanessa Domico: "I couldn't agree with Kevin more. Do what you're passionate about. This sounds like a cliche, but I really mean it: embrace the moment. You need to keep your eyes open to see all the opportunities."
Peter Miller: "I had many breaks along the way. I basically apprenticed for a very long time with a lot of different people. Now I make my own films, but working with people who have done this for a while, who really know what they're doing, is so important. It's something I really think we have to do to learn how to tell the stories we want to tell."
Kevin Lee: "A lot of students in the past have been really surprised that I had a day job for about ten years that was completely unrelated to film. If you're planning on going to Los Angeles or New York, looking for your big break, don't expect that things will just fall into place. You need to hustle and work hard."
"Pursue your passion any way you can and stay open to different things. Sometimes things just organically crystalize into opportunities that you never expected. Your life and your career are things that happen when you're busy working on other things."
The group discusses the power of social media, with Lee and Dipio referencing the Kony 2012 video as an example of a film that gained support through outlets like YouTube and Facebook.
Yong Ki Jeong:"Social networking allows films to reach larger, international audiences. Korean filmmakers get more support for international works than they do for domestic works."
Discussing activism, and film's ability to introduce activist notions in the minds of viewers, as well as playing off of Jeong's mentioning of Seoul, South Korea, Miller offers: "Go into a co-production with your soul, do something that means a lot to you."
Peter Miller: "It's especially important, since you're young and trying to change the world, to get inside yourself and realize what you're trying to do. Just because you're trying to make money, doesn't mean you should do something. The world needs your talent to make things better."
Vanessa Domico: "Know yourself and know your strengths and weaknesses. It's good to work with collaborators. A lot of the time you're going to have to assemble a team of people to work with who can fill in your gaps."
The panel is open to questions!
Q: Are there any outlets that are especially supportive of independent films?
Peter Miller: "There are some organizations that give money out to independent films, but the budgets are growing smaller and smaller. Sometimes individual people give money. When asking for money, you need to know two things:
1. Learn to write well. Being able to write about and explain your film is as important as your film itself.
2. Have a sample of your film to show."
Carlos Gutierrez: "That's an open issue. Sometimes individual fundraising sites like that take away from a larger discussion of independent distribution and production. I think that we need to come together as a community of independent filmmakers to find more sources of funding."
The conversation continues about various sources of funding and questions about receiving and asking for grants. It opens up to a conversation about the need for a close film community with which to collaborate and on which to depend.
Q: If you have something you're very passionate about, but don't think that anyone would be interested in, do you still make it?
Kevin Lee: "That question is different in regards to Chinese film. In China, a lot of things can get banned or removed from the internet, but a lot of Chinese filmmakers are very persistent. Audience is very important, so filmmakers aren't making films just for themselves, they're making films on social issues that they want other people to see.
Carlos Gutierrez: "Thinking about the audience can be tricky, because you're just projecting your own ideas on how the audience will react. I think it's more about the relevance of the film: social and economical relevance is most important."
Dominica Dipio: "Personally, a lot of the filmmakers in my country are independent and self-motivated, and a lot of things that motivate them are relevant social issues and the potential for change. So when I feel passionately about something, I am the first judge of its relevance. But sometimes it turns out to be what people want to hear and what they would like to reflect on."
Q: Do you think having a graduate education is beneficial or necessary in establishing yourself in a film-related career?
Peter Miller: "If you want to teach, you probably need an advanced degree. Teaching is one way that people subsidize their filmmaking habits."
Kevin Lee: "I'm pursuing a higher degree because I'm based in Chicago, and a lot of the community there is academia-based. That's just me, though. Sometimes you can learn more from collaboration or apprenticeship than you can learn in school."
The conversation ends with the discussion of a need for a film community. Use FLEFF as your opportunity to start establishing YOUR own community of filmmakers, audience members, and professionals!
Thursday, April 4, 2013
Blog posting written by Kimberly Capehart, Documentary Studies and Production '16, FLEFF intern, Cherry Hill, New Jersey
I'm currently sitting in Williams 202, waiting for the screening of Mansoor Behnam's experimental film, Cup of Coffee with Kafka. Behnam, himself, is here and ready to talk to the FLEFF-goers in the room. Stay tuned to read about Behnam's comments, and my thoughts on the film.
5:32 pm: Benham thanks the class for coming and introduces his film, Cup of Coffee with Kafka.
As an immigrant to Canada in 2006, Benham says that he experienced feelings of displacement and alienation in his time of transition, and that his work reflects very personally on his experience.
In 2010, he attended a panel with the theme of "in transit." Behnam says he was fascinated with the idea of transit and mobilities.
Along with a friend, Felipe Quetzalcoatl Quintanilla, a diasporic Mexican filmmaker, Behnam crafted an experimental documentary reflecting on the theme that fascinated and touched them both.
"It has an element of instability and change, so sometimes the film may look different than that of 'typical films'" he preludes.
The lights are dimming and the film is starting, get ready.....!
The film opens with a definition of the word "transit," followed by a handheld, sped up, blue filter-tinged shot of people and cars passing as the person holding the camera walks down the street. This lasts approximately 50 seconds until the film stops. Apparently we have only a short clip of the film set up on the computer, so it'll be a few minutes while moderator Tom Shevory figures things out.
5:42 pm: A DVD of the film is loaded and ready to go!
5:43 pm: The film is restarted, and this time it plays for more than 50 seconds (yay!). The handheld images taken while the cameraperson walks (which are reminiscent of the dizzying feature film, Cloverfield) are spliced between interviews of filmmakers as they explain their definition of transit.
Some filmmakers define the term literally, as a state of motion. Others offer up more creative definitions, often accompanied by stories and examples. I wish I had seen this film when I offered up my own definition of mobilities.
5:55 pm: More technical difficulties! Static noise consumes the classroom and the picture on screen breaks and jumps in slow motion. Once again, our moderator and filmmaker are on the case, trying to figure it out.
6:01 pm: The film is working again, but this time we're watching it through YouTube. Isn't technology great?
6:02: Except buffering. Buffering is not great. The classroom is ringing with suggestions on how to avoid the dreaded buffer awaiting a thirty-six minute film.
6:11: The film is working again, again.
The documentary-style interviews with the filmmakers offer some interesting views and definitions of the word "transit." But, coupled with visible microphones, varying aspect ratios, random cuts on action and more distanciating elements, the film is definitely experimental in nature - an interesting and refreshing take on the art of documentary filmmaking.
6:25 pm: The film has ended and Behnam is waiting to answer questions.
"I like nomadism. I'm trying to turn this concept of 'instability' and 'homelessness' into being 'in a home'."
"Through the element of change, we are actually fixed. We are fixed in a constant state of change."
6:31 pm: He explains concepts of change through examples of science and paradoxes.
"For me on one hand change is internal, it's existential. On the other hand, its physical. As an experimental filmmaker, I try to reflect that through my work. It's not bounded by rules or borders, so it can always be changing."
If you couldn't be here and would still like to see Behnam's film, you can find it on YouTube.
What is your definition of transit?
Monday, March 25, 2013
Blog posting written by: Kimberly Capehart, Documentary Studies and Production ’16, FLEFF Intern, Cherry Hill, NJ
I’ve never been to a film festival.
This news might be surprising to some, especially since I’m currently interning for a film festival, but I am a complete newbie in the festival scene.
But, if there’s one thing I know about film festivals, it’s that they’re about films. Duh, right?
In addition to showing films I’ve learned that festivals, specifically the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival, feature a lot of other things. This year’s festival will be bringing in an amazing array of films, guests (like directors, producers, distributors, scholars, etc.), new media artists, and music.
Wait a minute, music at a film festival?
On Tuesday, April 2nd, the Whalen Center for Music will be hosting FLEFF’s Mobilities concert: Carl Orff’s legendary Carmina Burana, performed by musicians from Ithaca and around the world.
Don’t be fooled by the name of the cantata; Carmina Burana is a widely recognized piece of music, and you’ve probably heard it before. The piece’s opening movement, O Fortuna, has been used in hundreds of soundscapes, including scenes in action movies and between plays on Monday Night Football.
The movement can be found on YouTube here, and for Ithaca College students, the cantata can be listened to in its entirety on the Naxos Music Library. I recommend that everyone listen to it at least once before the live performance,
I’ve gotten into the habit of listening to Carmina Burana while I do my homework and, let me tell you, I’ve never felt so empowered while sitting alone in a room.
Each of the movements in Carmina Burana is incredibly varied: not only within the piece, but also in and of itself. Loud, powerful choruses layered with drums and pianos (you read that right, multiple pianos!) follow haunting solos, which, in turn, follow soft instrumentals.
The piece is truly unpredictable and incredibly exciting to listen to – and that’s just through my cheap headphones. I can’t imagine how the piece will sound live.
The free performance will fill up quickly so make sure you get down to the Hockett Recital Hall at the Whalen Center for Music early on April 2nd. Don't miss out on your opportunity to see a very unique performance of this legendary piece. The concert starts at 8:15 pm.
Until then, take a listen to Carmina Burana! How does it make you feel?
Thursday, February 28, 2013
Blog posting by Kimberly Capehart, Documentary Studies and Production ’16, FLEFF Blogger, Cherry Hill, New Jersey
March 3rd is only a few days away, which means that in just five days, the Upstate Filmmakers Showcase will be occurring downtown at Ithaca’s local, independent movie theater, Cinemapolis.
For those who don’t know, all profits from the showcase will go to support Cinemapolis in its complete digital conversion. Sadly, the days of 35 mm film projection in theaters are extremely numbered, and every theater that wishes to survive in the modern multiplex business needs to make sure they’re ready to compete in the digital marketplace. For Cinemapolis, this means equipping all five of their theaters with brand new digital projection systems. You can read more about the technological aspect of it here.
As suggested by its name, the Upstate Filmmaker’s Showcase will be featuring work exclusively from filmmakers in Upstate New York. I recently spoke to Carol Jennings, an upstate filmmaker herself, and the director of the Park Media Lab at Ithaca College, about Park Productions’ contribution to the showcase.
Park Productions is a media production company stationed on the IC campus that is staffed exclusively by Park students. The company primarily works on collaborative projects with non-profit organizations within the Ithaca community. Through their client-driven work, Park Productions gives students professional experience in media production.
In 2011, in collaboration with the Visitors Bureau and the Chamber of Commerce, Park Productions produced a series of webisodes that “showcases popular destinations” and “highlights the unique natural beauty of the Finger Lakes Region” in order to promote tourism in the region. Finger Lakes Uncorked! “follows the adventures of a fictional character Craig Vinholtz, a magician and wine enthusiast living in the Finger Lakes region of New York.”
The production team for the project was composed of students, faculty, and alumni who worked closely with the Visitors Bureau and the Finger Lakes Wine Country to produce all nine webisodes. The series, which was intended to be a “social media release,” as Jennings puts it, premiered at FLEFF in 2011 and hit the web shortly after.
Jennings says her favorite part of the festival is seeing the “continuity of students, alumni, and professionals,” much like the combination that worked on Finger Lakes Uncorked! “It’s great to see former students come back as alumni, and then to come back even later on as professionals. Everyone looks at the work of current students and can offer suggestions and talk about their past work at Ithaca.”
Jennings says she is “honored that Park Productions is included in the group of incredibly talented filmmakers” who will be showing their work at the showcase. “We have an amazing pool of talent in the area,” she concludes.
Be sure to come out to Cinemapolis this Sunday, March 3rd to support your fellow Ithacans, Cinemapolis, and Upstate New York art!
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Blog posting by Kimberly Capehart, Documentary Studies and Production ’16, FLEFF Blogger, Cherry Hill, New Jersey
As a freshman in college, lots of things in the past 7 months have seemed intimidating.
It was intimidating to start all over at the bottom of the social food chain in a brand new school. It was intimidating to make friends. And it was, and will continue to be, intimidating to start new classes and to meet new professors.
When I first heard of FLEFF, however, I didn’t feel intimidated. As a Documentary Studies and Production major pursuing a minor in Environmental Studies, I thought I had found the perfect opportunity.
In fact, I didn’t feel any sort of intimidation at all until I returned to Ithaca after winter break; that’s when I got really nervous. I was nervous about being the youngest person in the room. I was nervous about my complete and total lack of experience. And, above all, I was nervous to interview people.
Looking back to that time, only a month ago, and writing this now, I find all of these stressers to be comical. All of my intimidation and fear subsided as soon as I met with the blogging team for the first time. It turns out I’m not the only freshman. It turns out that I’m not the only one with zero experience. And above all, it turns out that talking to people really isn’t that scary.
It’s only been one month, but I’m proud to say that that intimidated freshman is now an enthusiastic member of the FLEFF blogging team who takes on things she never thought she would at only eighteen (her favorite of which is flash mobbing).
For anyone out there who might still be intimidated by FLEFF: don’t be! The theme of this year’s festival is Mobilities, which is all about the sharing of ideas and passions between people. And while the thought of sharing ideas may seem intimidating, it all starts and ends with conversation. If I could do, you can do it.
Who are you looking forward to meeting and sharing ideas with at the festival?
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Blog posting written by Kimberly Capehart, Documentary Studies and Production '16, FLEFF Blogger, Cherry Hill, NJ
How much time do you spend on the Internet?
In a society that is constantly connected to smartphones and laptops, researchers have determined that the average teenager spends around seventeen hours a week online. But with the modern potential the Internet has for communicating with others, how can you blame them?
Popular websites like Twitter and Facebook make it childishly simple to share thoughts and ideas; and once that idea is put out on the Internet, it's as simple as the click of a mouse (or the click of a trackpad, for all of you wireless folks) to share that idea and to spread it to more people. The "retweet" option on Twitter and the "share" option on Facebook promote a global network of idea sharing: a tweet can be tweeted in Ithaca, New York and in a matter of seconds can be seen by people as far away as Berlin, Germany and Koriyama, Japan.
The potential for idea sharing isn't limited to social media. Smartphone applications like Instagram and the recently-popular Snapchat allow users to share pictures in a matter of seconds. Internet-based computer applications like Skype and Oovoo allow people from around the globe to video chat while simultaneously allowing them to share files.
This list of websites and applications that connect people and their ideas goes on and on and is constantly growing each day. The number, and diversity, of users is also growing daily; teenagers aren't the only ones taking advantage of idea sharing. Major corporations, local businesses, non-profits, musicians, artists, and so many more people reach a huge audience through this global idea network and can easily tweet, post, share, etc. their own ideas much more easily.
Mobilities is what makes this massive sharing of ideas possible, even when people are sitting at home. Mobilities allows ideas to spread around the globe and spark new ideas in others with ease. Connections and communications that never would have been able to happen are able take place thanks to the global idea network that Mobilities accommodates.
FLEFF is what brings these ideas, and the people responsible for said ideas, together. If so much idea sharing is able to take place around the world without people meeting, imagine how much more occurs when people come face to face.
This year at FLEFF, members of this global network of ideas will connect face to face. People from all over the world will be coming to Ithaca, NY to share their ideas on a wide range of topics, and the best part is YOU can join in on this global conversation and share YOUR ideas.
Are you ready to network?