News, Views, Updates and More about the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival
Friday, November 2, 2012
Written by Jonathan Morello, Assistant to the FLEFF Codirectors
In this portion of our interview, Tom discusses new media and how the various forms of film featured in the programming shape the festival.
Jonathan: What gives you most joy while working on FLEFF?
Tom: For me, it’s learning new ideas and new ways of thinking about these ideas. I’ve learned so much about so many things with the festival.
That’s what keeps me interested. FLEFF is always changing. It’s always different. Year after year, we offer fresh content, presented in ways that have never been seen before at the festival.
The recent transformations of media really add to this way of thinking. I enjoy gaining insight on how this works. It’s just different than the traditional academic structures to say the least.
Jonathan: Can you explain how transformations in media have changed the festival?
Tom: We do a lot of work with new media. We always make sure to include works that engage digital interfaces. We don’t see the distinction between forms. We see film as a broad category that includes all media formats.
Jonathan: How does the incorporation of new media formats add to FLEFF?
Tom: It creates an inclusive environment without limits. New media allows FLEFF to incorporate works in new interfaces. It allows activist groups, nonprofit groups, and educators to have their message about sustainability heard. They will submit their films to the festival in the form of DVD, Blu-ray or in a digital format for the on-line audience. The use of Skype allows us to interact globally.
Everyone is welcome to share their story, their ideas, and their feelings toward sustainability regardless of form. It doesn’t matter if you are a distributor of major independent films shot and projected using 35mm film or an activist group using online interfaces for user-generated upload.
Jonathan: How does distribution across these different formats impact FLEFF?
Tom: It mainly effects how and where we plan to program events during the festival.
Most of the films created and distributed by activist groups, nonprofit groups, and educators are shown at Ithaca College during the festival. These works screen better on campus and the creators of these films really enjoy working with the undergraduates. As guests in the classroom, the creators really enhance the dialogue and discussions that pertain to their particular exhibition.
Larger budget films, distributed by major distributors have very particular roll-outs on the film’s exhibition. These pictures are shot and projected using 35mm film. 35mm films are generally what the industry and programmers dub “the most commercial.” A commercial film is something you can sell tickets to because it is designed for wide distribution. These types of works will screen at Cinemapolis in downtown Ithaca.
When programing for the more popular films, we have to be mindful of the roll-outs and how long major distributors plan to run these films in the theaters. In order to use these films, the roll-outs have to coincide with our scheduling and when we plan to have the festival.
Jonathan: Can you think of any other challenges relative to these commercials films?
Tom: Everything in the commercial and art cinema theaters is changing. 35mm film is going to disappear. Replacing it is high-quality digital projection. This provides quality that is superior to DVD, Blu-Ray and even 35mm film.
Jonathan: How does this pose a challenge for FLEFF?
Tom: In order to screen these films, you need high-quality digital projectors that cost about $60,000 each. Cinemapolis needs five of them for a complete upgrade. The theater is in the process of raising money through grants and fundraising to make this full and necessary transition complete.
Keep your eyes and ears open for Part II of this story! It's coming soon!
Saturday, October 20, 2012
By Jonathan Morello, FLEFF Assistant to the Codirectors
A few days ago, after grabbing an afternoon pick-me up at a local coffee spot in downtown Ithaca, I decided to stop by Cinemapolis to see if anyone was around to chat about the theater’s involvement with FLEFF.
For those of you who may not know, Cinemapolis is home to all of FLEFF’s off-campus film programming during the festival.
During my visit I was lucky enough to run into Scott Bliss, the executive director of the theater. He offered that we sit down and chat about Cinemapolis and FLEFF. I could not pass up a chance to have a discussion with a key film exhibitor in the upstate New York region!
Jonathan: Can you talk about the relationship between Cinemopalis and FLEFF?
Scott: It’s a hand in hand partnership. We try to accommodate FLEFF as much as possible. We have a facility that allows the directors to host a considerable amount of programing in a location that is right down the street from Ithaca College.
At the same time, we work with Tom Shevory and Patty Zimmerman (festival co-directors) to promote films to our customer base. This gives FLEFF great exposure--and helps Cinemapolis build its audience. It works to both of our advantages to do that. We recognize how important FLEFF is to the community and Ithaca College. We want to do anything to help them. And they will do anything to help us. It’s kind of a no-brainer to partner together.
Jonathan: What role do you play as the executive director of one of FLEFF’s most important partnerships?
Scott: I mostly work with marketing. Part of my job is to brand Cinemapolis and move it into different directions. That’s why one of my tasks was to work with Tom and Patty on FLEFF. It’s a huge annual event that is able to showcase Cinemapolis for what it is. They recruited me. I wanted to help them in any way possible. I think last year (2012) was a huge success.
We were able to make FLEFF more visible to our regular patrons and the community. The-tie in with Ithaca College is really important as far as branding goes.
Jonathan: Does Cinemapolis contribute to any of the programming that is presented at FLEFF?
Scott: Patty and Tom are really great. They do a lot of the negotiating with the film distributors. They handle the scheduling. However, I do meet with them to discuss the ways we can collaborate together. I have a booking agent that takes care of the movies that we show, so we’ll try to open a film or two that weekend to coincides with the festival.
Jonathan: Is there anything new that Cinemapolis hopes to contribute to FLEFF 2013?
Scott: This year Cinemopolis started selling tickets online. I think we will do the same for films that will be shown at the festival this year. We have seen a lot of success with online ticket sales for our general films. This method will be useful to pull-in younger festival goers who are accustomed to grabbing their tickets quickly and going right into the theater instead of standing in line and waiting.
Jonathan: I understand that you recently installed a high-quality digital projector. What opportunities will this open up for FLEFF?
Scott: Most major independent film distributors today allocate their titles through digital cinema. I think higher quality presentation throughout the festival is key this year: it will really enhance the experience.
Jonathan: What was the best part of your involvement with FLEFF last year?
Scott:For me, it was interacting with the interns. It’s good to see young people who have an interest in film and possess passion about causes that are important to them. It’s refreshing to see that there are groups of people out in the world who care about film and care about a medium that can facilitate social change or any other host of actions afterward.
Scott: FLEFF offers incredible preparation for whatever you decide to pursue later on in life. You learn how to work as a team. Your communication skills will improve as you drum up support for something that you truly believe in.
In any field it is important to obtain the working knowledge of seeing a project from beginning to end. I think experiencing something like that is absolutely essential for professional growth. Sometimes in an academic setting, you may not get that. You take your classes, you write your papers, and you take your tests. But being involved with FLEFF provides you with hands-on experience that you can take away and apply to whatever career that you end up going into.
Jonathan: Is there anything else that you want to add?
Scott: We are really excited about hosting the festival again. We always look forward to it. It is a little crazy at times but you know, being a little bit crazy is better than not being involved at all.
For a list of current screenings and events at Cinemapolis, check out their schedule HERE.
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
My name is Jonathan Morello. I’m inviting you to learn with me, explore with me, and grow with me as we embark on a journey that is the 2013 Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival (FLEFF). This year's theme is MOBILITIES.
However, before we submerge completely in ideas ,films, music, art and politics, I would like to invite you to get to know me. I'll be keeping the Fresh at FLEFF blog updated, and working on community outreach for the festival.
I’m currently a full-time graduate student pursuing a master’s of science in communications at Ithaca College. My studies here started last spring. I focus on corporate and organizational communications. Once I complete my degree in summer 2013, I hope to start a career in marketing or public relations for a corporation or agency that handles clients within the entertainment industry. So FLEFF is a perfect transition for me--a great way to contribute to a major festival.
Before I decided to attend graduate school, I had just received my bachelors of arts from Hofstra University in May of 2011. I majored in print journalism and minored in music. I was also extremely active on campus, so I am hoping to share time-management skills with interns, mini-course students, and festival course students as they embark on their FLEFF journey this year.
I wrote for the university’s student- ran newspaper. I worked as a resident assistant (R.A). I played for the men’s club ice hockey team. I was a leader in my fraternity. All of these activities gave me something very special: joy. These extracurricular activities are the reason I hold my alma mater dear to my heart. And they motor my interest in working on building social relationships within a festival like FLEFF. Community outreach and community building are two goals I have for my work with FLEFF this year.
My involvement with FLEFF began a few weeks ago when Dr. Patricia R. Zimmermann, codirector of FLEFF and professor in the Department of Cinema, Photography and Media Arts at Ithaca College, contacted me via e-mail. She informed me that I’d be working as the assistant to the co-directors for this year’s festival! This would be my graduate assistant in the Roy H. Park School of Communications--a step toward my goal of doing marketing, public relations and community outreach.
This news ignited feelings of excitement and intrigue. I immediately began researching everything I could about FLEFF. (tip for intern applicants: RESEARCH!)
Reading the vast array of blogs, supporting documents and film descriptions on last year’s website helped me understand the fundamentals of FLEFF, the diversity of those involved and the international recognition and impact of the festival.
To me, FLEFF is something much more than a way to help me gain solid professional experience within the field of communications. It is something that offers me the chance to meet people and hear voices from all over the world as they seek to have their messages heard.
The stories found at FLEFF are powerful. The topics are serious: war, disease, health, genocide, the land, water, air, food, education, technology, cultural heritage, diversity and beyond.
You see, I never had the chance to study abroad. Now, I feel lucky. FLEFF is my passport to the world. It's not a physical location, but an artistic and intellectual place, a place I am very excited to explore with all of you.
Friday, April 1, 2011
FLEFF scored a major coup today, when we received word from her agent, that actor, dancer, and celebrity Josephine Baker would be attending this year's FLEFF. "I've had a long-running interest in FLEFF," declared Ms. Baker, "especially in terms of the festival's expanded definition of 'environment.'"
Ms. Baker was apparently at first quite intrigued that an environmental film festival would screen her classic silent film "Siren of the Tropics." But, upon reflection, she noted that it makes sense "in light of UNESCO's definition of sustainability," which includes references to human rights, gender politics, social justice, and cultural diversity.
She also expressed admiration for the acting skills of Cynthia Henderson ("One of my favorites,") and the jazz performances of Fe Nunn and Friends. "Can't wait to see it," she said. "Death itself could not keep me from this event."
Ms. Baker was not at first certain that she would be able to attend, given her busy schedule, but thought, "April 1st was a perfect day to make the announcement."
Please join Ms. Baker for a screening of Siren of the Tropics, at Cinemapolis, Saturday, April 16, 7:00 p.m., w/ live music performed by Fe Nunn and Friends, and spoken word performed by Cynthia Henderson.