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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 Chloe Wilson at 12:50PM
Filmmaker Jon Bowermaster.

Blog post by Chloe Wilson, Television-Radio '14, FLEFF Blogger, Ashland, Massachusetts

Happy first day of FLEFF, everyone!

Filmmaker Jon Bowermaster will be bring his film "Dear Governor Cuomo" to FLEFF later this week. He was kind enough to answer some of my questions and give some insight into his film.  Read on for what to expect from "Dear Governor Cuomo"!

Chloe Wilson: For those who are unfamiliar, can you give a brief description of “Dear Governor Cuomo”?

Jon Bowermaster: Hydraulic fracturing for natural gas - fracking - is the most debated issue in New York state. It is a very divisive and complicated issue. We had the idea of a new kind of way to draw attention to the subject and simultaneously try and help educate movie goers about the process. The result was a music-and-message concert we put together last May in Albany, on the governor's doorstep. It featured musicians ranging from Natalie Merchant and the HorseFlies to John Medeski and Citizen Cope, as well as fracktivists and scientists, including Ithaca's own Sandra Steingraber.

CW: What was it like being at the concert event that the film depicts?

JB: The 3 hour long show, which we filmed with 6 cameras, was well-scripted. We didn't want anyone, including musicians, from launching their own soapboxes from the stage. The musicians were there to do what they do best - to entertain - and the others speakers were there to help try and explain the message and to educate about the risks of fracking - which is still not allowed in New York state, though it is in 34 others.

CW: Can you explain the best and worst parts about taking all the footage from the night and cutting it down into a film?
JB: The concert at The Egg in Albany was a sellout, but we wanted to be able to share the evening with many more, which is why we made the film. We had roughly 25 hours of film to cut down to 70 minutes. What helped was that the evening was scripted, so the film would essentially follow the script though we inserted interview footage and moved things around a bit. The only advantage to being at the concert was that it was 3 hours long and we essentially pared the film down to an hour. So there was lots of music and speech left on the proverbial editing room floor.

CW: Did any of your favorite moments from the event not make it into the film? 
JB: My one regret is that the concert ended with Sly Stone's "Everyday People," which was fantastic. But in the end, the owner of the song wouldn't give us rights to use it in the film. Apparently if we'd been selling macaroni and cheese, that would have been an okay usage. But given the "politics" of the subject, they declined.
CW:How has "Dear Governor Cuomo" made an impact on fracking?
JB:I think the impact of "Dear Governor Cuomo" has been twofold. The fracking fight has been going on for nearly 5 years and I think the film helped energize those that have been working hardest on the issue. And it has also gone a long way towards helping people who see the film understand what fracking is and its risks. I've had hundreds of really smart people come up to me after screenings and say, "I had no idea it was so bad."

CW: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
JB: The goal of the film is to get as many New Yorkers to see it as possible, so we are offering it to anyone to show to community groups, schools, churches, in theaters anywhere! Please check out the website for details.
See "Dear Governor Cuomo" at Cinemapolis on Sunday, April 7th at 1:45 PM! 


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