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The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view
Monday, March 26, 2012
Blog posting written by Chloe Wilson, Television-Radio ’14, FLEFF Intern, Ashland, Massachusetts.
On Friday, March 30th in Room 220 in the Park School of Communications, a “day of dialogue,” FLEFF Lab Friday, will occur. Multiple conversations are scheduled throughout the day, but one you don’t want to miss is the How to Get Your Break panel.
I spoke with Steve Gordon, the facilitator of the panel. He is a current Ithaca College professor in the Department of Television-Radio and was previously the Executive Vice President of Creative Affairs for Viacom Productions.
We covered a range of topics in our discussion, but one major point that stuck out to me was how relevant FLEFF was. Gordon talked about his experiences at multiple festivals, including Cannes and Sundance, but said that FLEFF was one of the most unique and intellectual.
Regarding the theme of microtopias, Gordon discussed the idea that it was about expanding already existing environments. It was a different view that made complete sense to me, and I recommend going to visit Gordon during FLEFF Lab Friday and asking him about it!
Regarding the How to Get Your Break panel, Gordon said that the members of this panel are “the best the panel has ever had.” With filmmakers Laura Kissel, Jim Miller, and Shelly Niro, along with industry pros Kevin Lee, Carlos Guttierrez, and Rodrigo Brandao, I have to say I agree.
You can see a more extensive schedule of FLEFF events here, FLEFFers. Happy FLEFF to all!
Saturday, April 16, 2011
Blog posting written by Abby Sophir, Television/Radio '14, FLEFF Intern, St. Louis, Missouri.
A big thanks to Lindsay Harrop for the Live Blog of the "How to Get Your Break" panel! And of course to Karin Chien, Tina Mabry, Rodrigo Bellott and Rodrigo Brandao for a very down-to-earth, fun and informational panel. While I highly suggest reading Lindsay's blog if you have the time, for those of you in a hurry, here's a more pithy version of the advice these professionals had to give.
1. It takes determination, focus and self-motivation to move up in the industry. Even if you’re working for free printing scripts and getting coffee, don’t take the easy way out.
2. Don’t ASK for favors, MAKE favors. In other words, make people owe you favors.
3. Going into the television industry we are told NETWORK. NETWORK. NETWORK. But this does not mean waving your business card in everyone’s face. It is about making genuine connections.
4. Be knowledgeable about the industry, films, directors, etc. Know what’s going on.
5. Don’t underestimate the importance of the business aspect of film and TV.
Tiny Mabry's film Mississippi Damned will be showing for a second time tomorrow at 4:10 PM. I saw a showing tonight and it was fabulous! Rodrigo Bellott's film Even the Rain about water wars in Bolivia will also show for a second time tomorrow at 7:30 PM. Make sure to get to Cinemapolis early, it sold on on Thursday night! Karin Chien's award-winning film Disorder will also show tomorrow at 2:10!
Don't miss out on these great opportunities to watch provoking films followed by intimate discussions with the directors!
Friday, April 15, 2011
Blog posting written by Lindsay Harrop, Cinema & Photography '13, FLEFF Intern, McMinnville, Oregon
The second part of my live blogging from the How to Get Your Break Panel in Williams 225:
SG: How do you get agents? How do you get someone to read your script?
TM: I'm still trying to figure that out. As a writer, what I do to get people to read my stuff is I've gone ahead and done a lot of free-lance jobs for directors and now I'm starting to turn toward television and trying to get some pilots picked up. You have to be patient and find your own way. This is waiting game too. And from the writer's perspective, I do my best to get my work out to a small group of people. I want honest feedback, even though we're really shy introverted people. I want to tell a good story.
RBr: I think it's important to remember to find your own voice and that there are a ton of production companies out there and hundreds of models of people who have fantastic, rewarding companies without the kind of adulation that people get stuck in reflecting on. It can also be about integrity, loyalty to your artistic vision and the people you work with. That's something you have to learn now because if you don't have it here you won't have it in twenty years. Some of the best people we talk about weren't trying to copy anyone - they followed their own path. It's important to de-clutter the images of success.
RBe: That's absolutely true. The film industry, Hollywood and the agencies, they work because they want to keep their jobs. Period. I don't know a single filmmaker who works with an agency who has gotten work through their agency. Literally. I don't have an agent either. I don't need one. I meet interesting people who actually want to make films instead of being worried about keeping their jobs.
SG: What do you think of the internet and how to use it as access to media and for projects?
KC: Kickstarter is a new platform that's been an incredible tool for media artists. There are films that have raised $1 million on there. It's called crowd funding. What it is is really a platform. It's up to you to drive people there and get word of mouth. It's been transformative. Indiegogo has also been successful in a different way. In terms of the other side - distribution - we've all been waiting for the internet to save distribution, and it hasn't happened. We're waiting for it to monetize. Netflix is starting to help, but only in the last year. We're still waiting for it to happen.
RBr: Netflix is really the only player and they've been leveraging their... monopoly. Or strength. My experience has been the same; Netflix is the only company bringing real sales. The DVD has been dropping and we're still scrambling to figure that out.
KC: The internet has yet to revolutionize distribution.
A: If there's anything you feel should be introduced to a Cinema-Photography curriculum, what should it be?
TM: Film business. USC taught me how to make a hell of a film, but nothing about business.
RBr: I also think these things are constantly changing and there are many things that are constantly changing. You really need a dialogue with the industry. You're not going to learn everything here [at school]. It's also important to come to the industry with other skills. Film history for example. A distribution class would be great. Or maybe workshops. Even if you just got to SXSW and go to the lectures there.
RBe: I think an industry class would help, but it wouldn't provide all the knowledge. I need to emphasize the importance of knowing the industry.
KC: I talk about distribution a lot because it's the single biggest problem for the independent industry. When I teach producing, I teach distribution and financing together.
RBr: Something else we need are more culture in real independent cinema. We need to stop talking about Hollywood and talk about the unknowns, creating a following for them on twitter and stuff. Tell your friends about smaller films.
SG: Last comments: What's the best advice you can give? One line.
KC: Know what you want.
TM: You gotta get used to rejection. it's not about the number of "No"s you get, it's that one "Yes."
RBr: Find the people you can trust.
RBe: Make yourself and your projects inevitable.
Friday, April 15, 2011
Blog posting written by Lindsay Harrop, Cinema & Photography '13, FLEFF Intern, McMinnville, Oregon
Here we are in Williams 225 with the "How to Get Your Break" Panel. Moderated by IC's Steve Gordon, we have Rodrigo Bellott (casting director of Even the Rain), Rodrigo Brandao (Kino Lorber), Karin Chien (founder and president of dGenerate Films) and Tina Mabry (writer/director of Mississippi Damned). Here's a snapshot of the great discussion we have going here:
SG: How'd you get your start?
KC: Working for free on a film. I come from a very traditional Asian-American family. I didn't know anyone in film or music and I moved to NY to get into independent film. There's a listing (a tech list) put out by the Mayor's Office that lists every production in New York. I sent out my resume every day for a month and the first person who hired me, I worked my way up from taking the trash.
TM: I didn't have any film background till I went to USC. My last semester I saw "Boys Don't Cry" and it changed my life so instead of going to law school and wracking up debt I decided to do what I love and wrack up debt and applied to the grad school. My third year I saw Jamie Bambitt was looking for a writer and I tried for it and ended up getting the job.
RBe: I have two simultaneous careers. I shot "Sexual Dependency" as a senior at IC with my friends here. Took me three years after graduation to get it finished, during which I was interning at Good Machine before it turned into Focus Features and folding clothes at Club Monoco which is probably the best job I ever had cause it taught me to be a people person. "S.D." ended up taking on a life of its own and winning lots of awards so that helped. Really the trick is hard work, focus, persistence.
RBr: I also took the internship approach. I started in Ithaca at a theater so I helped them with restoration art history and setting up film projection. After that I started one immediately at Sony Classics in NY for nine months. It's so important to do everything and learn how hard everything is. The support jobs, answering phones, everything. It was a fast learning curve. Having a lot of internships on my resume helped me get the jobs that I wanted. It's hard work. It's not pretty all the time, but you got to keep going.
SG: What do you think the "key ingredient" for getting a job and moving up is?
KC: For moving up, something between focus and determination. The truth is, the people who make it to the top in this industry may not be the nicest or even the most talented, they are the most determined. There are no rules. Your career is what you make it.
RBe: I want to comment on the determination. Biggest tip as an intern: Don't take an easy way out. Every time a celebrity came in, all the interns would run to get them coffee and stuff but I would be photocopying. Now I know all the details of legal infrastructure and all the deals made during that time. THAT'S determination and focus.
RBr: There's no set path. You need to find your niche. You need to have other sets of skills. Speak foreign languages, know programs, have business skills, that'll be the differential in the market. You need the knowledge of how you'll be used in the market, and also be building your own skills. Focus and determination are important, but that the end of the day it also comes down to what's on paper and what you can do. That's what companies want. What are you bringing to the table?
SG: What does networking mean? How do you make it work?
RBe: There's some confusion about that. Biggest secret: Don't ask for favors. MAKE favors. Your best asset is to know that people owe you favors.
TM: You can't just go into a room and start handing out business cards to everyone you meet. For me, it's about the actual relationships with people. That's what helped get our film made. Developing friendships and professional work at all times.
KC: When I first started working, my nature is very quiet and shy, and I didn't start networking till I was a producer. Leading up to that I just worked. Every single job I had, I worked my ass off. Everything I was asked to do I did, and then more. Just trying to learn as much as I could. That's all I did for a year and a half. Now, as a producer, networking is part of my job. When you're first starting out, networking is much less important than working hard.
We're still going strong and I'll post some when we're done!
Friday, April 15, 2011
Blog posting by Brian McCormick, Film & Photo '12, FLEFF Intern, Wilbraham, MA
I'm currently in Park 220 for an ongoing meet up with FLEFF guests. Come for any of these presentations -- it's FREE!
Here's the line-up: 10am --Rodrigo Brandão, Kino Korber Films 11--Helen De Michiel, Lunch Love Community, 1--Philip Mallory Jones, new media artist 2--Franklin Lopez, media activist , moderated by John Scott 3--Danny Schecter, moderated by Todd Schack
* * * * *
Rodrigo Brandão is the first FLEFF guest. He graduated in 2001 from Ithaca College, with a double major in Cinema/Photo and Art History. He is director of publicity at Kino Lorber films.
Brandão starts off by going around the room letting everyone introduce their majors and interests in order to gauge the discussion. I'm seeing that there is a large range of guests -- graduates and undergraduates and professors, from IC, Cornell, UCLA, and more -- all with general interests in film and media studies.
His company specializes in silent films and foreign films -- 90% of their catalogue is foreign cinema. This is all considered Art House cinema. He identifies challenges of distributing these art house films -- how do you get people to go to the theaters or rent foreign films on Netflix? Even, why are they considered Art films? How can kids be educated to read subtitles?
He acknowledges that DVD sales for Art House films are going down. In addition, less theaters are showing art house films.
One of Kino Lorber's film was "Dogtooth", it was a big winner at Cannes Film Festival. After showing it in NY, but they tried to get LA bookers to show it, they said no because it was "too weird." Critics complained, and it ended up receiving an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Film. A good example of how you must push and push to make things happen.
He talks about how you don't have that sense of loyalty anymore with film critics, partly result of newspapers going out. Now you need to find the critics who write about what you're showing, so it's a bit more complicated nowadays knowing where to direct your efforts. For every film, there's someone who has a little bit more authority on it.
Next he shows growth rates of where audiences are going for press, and the only place where there is a growth rate is online. Everywhere else -- TV, newspapers, audio -- are going down. It's a very telling graph. This means, when people are looking to find information about what films they want to see or might want to see, there's a big chance they'll be looking on the web.
The dependency of online is even creating problems for small businesses -- now popularity depends on millions and millions of hits. There isn't much space for small businesses and communities it seems on the internet.
One shocking statistic he gave: Over 20% of Americans don't use the internet. That's roughly 50-60 million people. This is largely a rural-urban divide, as it's difficult to get Broadband access to rural areas.
There's a wealth of ideas disseminating throughout this group: one audience member who is a theater critic discusses the diminishment of newspaper reviews, and how critics strive to continue their dialogue about films, for free, because of their dedication and love to doing it. Additionally, Brandão says how one critic's review can be reprinted and reprinted, which destroys the dialogue.
Helen De Michiel -- who will be presenting next! -- talks about the small, crumbling exhibition spaces in the area, in contrast to viewing spaces in other parts of country. "I'm looking forward to when exhibitors are going to have to change," she says.
Wrapping up, Brandão talks about how NGOs are entering the exhibition market, and how festivals like FLEFF are saying: "We are going to exhibit these films, we are going to curate them here." These festivals get and show films that otherwise would never be shown.
When asked how Kino Lorber deals with the change in marketing, Brandão responds how his number of outlets has increased, but there is also more of a challenge of how to categorize all of these critics. "We have to create more subcategories and kind of filter things out." At Kino Lorber they are looking to hire people that are not only good markets, but even those who speak multiple languages, know extensive film history, and have great programming skills.
Much of FLEFF is owed to Kino Lorber, the distributor responsible for bringing the silent films to FLEFF!
The first of those films is showing TONIGHT: 7 p.m. @Cinemapolis, The Last Laugh, silent film with live music by John Stetch, jazz piano
Hang around for updates on the next presenter, or come down to Park 220 to hear from them yourself!
Sunday, April 10, 2011
Blog was written by Kelsey Greene, Documentary Studies and Production, '13, FLEFF intern, Buffalo, New York
On Friday, April 15, a panel will be held at 4 p.m. in Williams 225 called How to Get Your Break. This event is one everyone, I repeat everyone should try and make. Leading media artists, Rodrigo Brandao, Rodrigo Bellott, Tina Marbry, and Karin Chien will be present to discuss insightful information and tips on what one should do to well, "get their break" in the media industry. Ithaca College professor Steve Gordon will be moderating the panel. The event is free and will be time well spent! Mark your calendars and don't miss it!
Friday, April 8, 2011
Blog posting written by Lindsay Harrop, Cinema & Photography '13, FLEFF Intern, McMinnville, Oregon
We all know that the film business is a cutthroat, rapid-fire industry. As a film student, I'm always dwelling on the question of, "How am I actually going to break into the film industry?" Lucky for me and everyone else asking this question (and I know you all are), one of the on-campus events for FLEFF is a panel on that very subject!
How to Get Your Break is going to be a FREE panel moderated by Ithaca College's own Steve Gordon and featuring filmmakers Rodrigo Brandao (director of publicity at Kino Lorber Films), Rodrigo Bellott (IC alum and casting director of "Even the Rain"), Tina Mabry (writer/director of "Mississippi Damned") and Karin Chien (president of dGenerate Films). This promises to be a great discussion of the film industry and how to make your foot in the proverbial door. All four of these filmmakers will also be screening their own films and having seperate sessions all week so take the time to see their movies before and after the panel!
The best part is that all these people are participating because they want to meet students, so make sure to come prepared with your best questions! The panel will be Friday, April 15 from 4:00-5:15pm in Williams 225. Come early to get a good seat because it's promising to be a packed house! See you there!
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Blog posting written by Shawn Steiner, Film and Photography ’14, FLEFF Blogger, Elkridge, Maryland
Welcome back FLEFFers. Here is a new FLEFF scoop!
I had the opportunity to talk to Rodrigo Brandão, the director of promotions for Kino Lorber Inc., an international film distributor. He also happens to be an Ithaca College alum.
Shawn Steiner: How did you enjoy your experience at IC as an undergrad? Especially your time spent as Dr. Zimmermann’s projectionist.
Rodrigo Brandão: My experience at IC was truly fantastic and not simply because I was living abroad for the first time in my life. The idea that all of sudden (and with relative ease), I could take classes in several departments and also explore different theoretical practices, technologies and fields was completely new to me. And it really changed my relationship with work and cinema.
Luckily, I was able to transfer some credits from my college time in Brazil, and that gave me the liberty to reach for a double-major (in Cinema and Art History) and also take several film production and film theory classes. So I feel like I made the best out of that experience.
And on top of that, I got that great projectionist gig right on my first year... It was just great to have an excuse to see Battleship Potemkin, Buster Keaton's The General and all those Chris Marker films again and again and again.
Repetitive viewing is how you really connect to some of these dense works, and I have to thank Patty Zimmermann for trusting me to work for her during those years.
SS: What company do you work for and what do they do?
RB: I work for Kino Lorber Inc, a film distribution company based in NY that specializes in foreign films, classic titles and some avant-garde work.
I am responsible for the company's publicity and communications departments, and on top of that, try to attend some US and International film festivals (as much as possible) to help my bosses find new and exciting works.
It's a challenging job, especially because I'm often responsible for how our films are perceived in the media - and specially, among critics. And I am always dealing with indie filmmakers too, and I see up-close how they pour their hearts onto these films.... So I feel a certain degree of responsibility towards them.
But frankly, I wouldn't want to see films just as products...
SS: As a distribution company would you feel that your role is extremely important to the current film industry?
RB: The role of the "film distributor" is changing violently these days, and even more rapidly now than five or eight years ago.
So, I do feel that the role of the distributor is important, but I also feel like more and more, we are being asked to re-invent ourselves-- and also, to justify our roles and choices as gatekeepers.
The economy is making people re-think their spending habits, old networks of distribution are falling apart, new technologies are resisting old forms of monetization, and what may be the most important point here, our relationship with cinema and media is changing.
The ways in which we create value around our films are different now, and the whole relationship among critics, academics, industry and audiences is so different than it used to be.
The questions of how we create value, and then, how to communicate the importance of these works to different audiences, has never been more important. And frankly, sometimes we learn by mistakes.
SS: What have you done recently that you can talk about?
RB: Well, I am doing a lot of different things right now, but maybe the hardest thing I am "doing" right now is to sort of re-invent my job.
I used to have this script about how to promote a film, that usually started with a film getting a modest theatrical release and then, expanding to other markets and finally, ending up on DVD. Now, there are dozens of ways to release a film in the market, and the press has also become less scripted.
Different outlets now have different interest and priorities, and new technology is becoming such a major part of my job... So, I often find myself having to re-invent the wheel---as I'm driving the car!
I just came back from SXSW and frankly, it's always amazing to see how new media, cinema, coding, design, and music are fusing into these hybrid artistic and commercial forms.
SS: What film(s) are you currently promoting?
RB: Right now, I am promoting a Danish war documentary called Armadillo, a German film about a famous Spanish restaurant called El Bulli, and a Chinese film about the raping of Nanking called City of Life and Death.
SS: Having been to FLEFF before what do you think of the programming/topic for this year?
RB: I like that FLEFF thinks outside the box when it comes to its categories, especially because this way, the categories themselves (and the context in which the films are presented) become part of the film experience. That way, we already walk into the theater asking questions.
In a much less exciting and daring way, that's kind of what I do at Kino Lorber: I'm always trying to push audiences to interpret, discuss and engage with our films. I also think that the idea of checkpoints evokes a multitude of feelings, from reflection to resistance and struggle.
It's both a powerful image and crippling idea, and one that makes us realize the collective and constantly shifting nature of our modern lives. It makes me think that "stopping" is sometimes important and necessary.
And yet, it reminds me that "checking," or even simply naming and categorizing, can be a powerful form of oppression.
SS: Are you excited for FLEFF? Anything specific?
SS: Will you be in attendance for FLEFF 2011?
RB: Yes! And I can’t wait!
* * * * * * * *
I would like to thank Mr. Rodrigo Brandão for his time.
This very modest man does a lot in the film world. I am glad he was able to spare some of his knowledge with us. He raises some incredible points. I hope that you enjoyed reading these responses as much as I did.
And better yet. He will be joining us at FLEFF!
There was one point Mr. Brandão made that I would like to talk about. He said he “wouldn’t want to see films just as products.” Do you think that currently we are moving in a direction where film is becoming more of a product and less of an art?