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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 Brian McCormick at 8:21PM
Lunch Love Community

 Blog by Brian McCormick, Film & Photo '12, FLEFF Intern, Wilbraham, MA

Helen De Michiel is visiting the FLEFF intern class today to give a presentation on non-fiction filmmaking and talk about her open space documentary project "Lunch Love Community."

Looking around I might not be the only intern blogging right now -- so you might get a few different perspectives on this event!

Just as with the Uncorked! premiere, De Michiel encourages us to take out our mobile devices and go to her website, and engage with the media on the website while she presents. This is what it is about: innovation. As she says to us now, "You have to come up with new ways of doing things."

Now she is showing us video clips that can be found on the site of the big screen. The video is of an elementary school undergoing the lunch reform movement.

I'm doing exactly what she suggested and looking at her website -- feels wrong to be web surfing in class! However, this website is amazingly engaging. Quoting from its 'About' page:

"The Lunch Love Community Documentary Project explores this community-based school lunch reform movement, and how passionate and dedicated people coming together can change the way their children eat, how they think, and how they learn in school."

She has just finished showing the webisode, and she asks questions like "How can teachers come together and change the ways they think about food that they cook and grow and how that's connected to the environment?" and "How do you change people's eating habits?"

Initially they had funding problems for Lunch Love Community during 2009 due to the recession, and they were getting funding mainly from non-profit organizations (working independently). She says to us, a group of students engaged with and/or studying film, "When you are an artist, obstacles and challenges force you to be creative." For Lunch Love Community, they went away from the idea of doing a long film and instead making short films that would be easier to get out to people, by means of the web and on mobile devices: hence, webisodes!

She is showing us now another webisode about the lunch reform movement at Berkley Unified School District, giving a behind-the-scenes look in the kitchens of how they prepare the foods and where they are getting it. The webisode is comprised of footage of the kitchens, footage of the children, and interviews with the administration and people pushing the food reform initiative.

She emphasizes that just because they make a great website does not mean people will come to it. They also are working with giving the audience an idea of "what to do next" after absorbing the intense experience of watching the documentary.

What they (De Michiel and the people behind Lunch Love Community) have found is that "connector" people are what make a real difference in the new media environment (i.e. bloggers!).

Following her presentation, De Michiel has opened up to questions from the interns. One of the questions is about how to get the webisodes to appeal to people, and De Michiel describes how all of these stories are meant to build over time, since they aren't necessarily linked. She is also hit with the money question: How does an independent documentary filmmaker spend hundreds and thousands of hours on a project and still have time to support themselves? The benefit is that she has all the creative freedom in the world, however, we still really need to look at how creative artists can put out all of this material and still sustain a living.

Tomorrow there will be a meet up with De Michiel and Laura Deutch (another independent documentary filmmaker) at 1:10pm.

Saturday will be a screening of her project Lunch Love Community at Cinemapolis at noon.

Take the chance to ask her your own questions about Lunch Love Community and independent filmmaking!

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