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FLEFF Intern Voices

The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view

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Posted by Kimberly Capehart at 1:10PM
FLEFF Lab Friday with moderator Dr. Thomas Shevory, and filmmakers Deia Schlosberg and Costa Boutsikaras

Blog posting by Kimberly Capehart, Documentary Studies and Production '16, FLEFF Blogger, Cherry Hill. New Jersey 

Welcome to the fourth session of FLEFF Lab Friday! I'll be live-blogging this session with Costa Boutsikaras, director of Inhabit, and Deia Schlosberg, director of Backyard, so post any questions you may have for the filmmakers in the comments section of this post! 

Deia Schlosberg made Backyard as her Master's thesis at Montana State University. Originally aiming to make a film about deceptive information practices, Schlosberg found herself very intrigued by the phenomenon of fracking, particularly the amount of corruption that perpetuates destructive environmental practices.

You can view the trailer for Backyard here.

Backyard takes interviews and videos from five different people in five different states, as they discuss their personal experiences with tracking, or hydraulic fracturing. These pieced-together interviews serve as evidence of the destruction of tracking in neighborhoods and communities.

Another environmentally-conscious filmmaker is Costa Boutsikaras: a graduate from Rutgers University's film, video, and media program. He fundraised money to travel around the country to learn about the sustainable enterprise of permaculture across the country. After interviewing 25 people, Boutsikaras found a lot of common thematic elements and design concepts in permaculture gardens from the farms of Midwest to the rooftops of Manhattan.

You can view the trailer for Inhabit here.

"A lot of the community is online," says Boutsikaras. "There's a lot of communication and sharing of ideas, as the movement is still growing." 

Evident in both Schlosberg and Boutsikaras' work is the fusion and the intersection of the digital and the environmental. Rejecting the romantic notion of nature and the environment as an untouchable pastoral retreat from modernity and technology, both filmmakers embody the changing face of environmental consciousness as well as the growing form of documentary. By using collaborative digital media and outlets to gain attention, these filmmakers have the possibility to effect tangible environmental change.

Additionally, both Schlosberg and Boutsikaras embody a true sense of young, do-it-yourself filmmaking. Discussing technologies used in the making of both films, Boutsikaras insists that "anyone could shoot this kind of material." The two embarked on relatively small-scale journeys to share ideas and dialogue with locals. 

Following a question parsing the motivations behind shot composition and its relation to environmental filmmaking, both Schlosberg and Boutsikaras stress the importance of locating human actors within an environmental context: of pointing out the human role in the environment.

"On the one hand, we all have our own backyards, but in reality, the entire world is one big backyard; there's no mine or yours when it comes to the environment," remarks Schlosberg.

"We were interested in trying to show people ways in which they could participate in and get excited about the movement. Our goal was really to create something exciting, to give people options, and to teach them about something that they might not necessarily be privy to," adds Boutsikaras.

Piggybacking on Boutsikaras' comment, Schlosberg adds, "I don't think any change can come about if people don't explore and learn and formulate their own opinions." 

This dialogue points to a wider trend in contemporary documentary film practice: inviting others in to share, collaborate, and learn from mutual exchange. 

"I think everybody wants to share their story and their perspective, and I think filmmaking gives people a forum to do that," comments Schlosberg.

And in the same collaborative vein, Boutsikaras adds, "Showing films is a way of creating and fostering a local community." 

What shines through in this intimate session is the obvious passion and thirst for knowledge that these filmmakers clearly share, and that has been instrumental in creating a small-scale, sustainable community initiative. 

You can see Backyard for FREE at 1:00 pm on Sunday, April 12th, downtown at Ithaca's local independent theater, Cinemapolis.

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