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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 Peter Keahey at 4:32AM   |  1 comment
image of Tom Torello

Blog posting written by Peter Keahey, Film, Photography and Visual Arts, '12, FLEFF Intern, Yellow Springs, Ohio

I recently had the opportunity to have a conversation with former director of marketing for FLEFF, Tom Torello.

Mr. Torello is an Ithaca college, Roy H. Park school alum, who majored in television and radio, and minored in religion and philosophy. He is currently the vice president of University Relations at Pace University. Previously, he was the Executive Director of Marketing for Ithaca Collage. Mr. Torello has over 14 years of marketing experience in higher education, working in numerous positions including Media Planner, Account Executive and Senior Account Manager.

I was able to ask Mr. Torello a few questions about his previous experience with the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival, as well as his experience as a Television Radio student at Ithaca College.

Peter: As a former TVR student, what were your interests at Ithaca?

Tom: I worked in the TV and radio stations. On the radio, I was a DJ on an AM station and hosted my own talk show. On TV, I hosted Panorama and was in the comedy show Nothing Special. I worked the camera or reported the weather or whatever needed to be done. As a weatherman I got some recognition around town. There is an IC TV jacket in the student union that was mine.

Peter: Did you have any interest in marketing at the time?

Tom: No, my goal was to by on-air talent as an anchorman, but when I arrived there were already incredibly talented people and I didn’t have that talent. I had a little interest in ads and decided to go in that direction.

Peter: When did you become involved with FLEFF?

Tom: Patty and Tom brought it to Ithaca and wanted help marketing it; I was in the marketing department. That was 4-5 years ago. Together, we came up with a marketing plan.

Peter: What were your responsibilities with FLEFF?

Tom: We took care of all the brochures, ads, website content, media relations and public relations, basically the branding of the college. For FLEFF, we decided what it should look like, its graphic identity, and how to build an audience. Each year, we had different goals and we built communication strategies specifically for those goals.

Peter: Are you still involved with FLEFF?

Tom: Yes, but not as much. I am on the advisory board. I still keep in touch with Patty and Tom. I give strategic input and this will be my first year attending as a guest.

Peter: How is FLEFF important to Ithaca and to the film community?

Tom: For Ithaca College, FLEFF creates and international presence and reputation, in addition to those already made by their academic programs. In India, FLEFF helps curate a project on water. International films come in through FLEFF. 10,000 people will see FLEFF films.

FLEFF creates an awareness of the city of Ithaca, too. through the film festival.

For the film community, FLEFF is not like Sundance or other festivals with traditional environmental agendas. FLEFF creates a broader awareness of environmental problems and creates more opportunity for film makers.

For example, once I met a couple who made films on polar bears. They had one film that other film festivals turned down because in their film, they said that global warming won’t kill the polar bears--because the change will be so gradual over time---but oil drilling will. Traditional environmentalists don’t want that message in their festivals, but FLEFF doesn’t have that agenda.

Also, FLEFF is incredibly entertaining, a great venue for artists.

Peter: What are you looking forward to at FLEFF this year?

Tom: The silent films and the parties and seeing people from Ithaca: Patty and Tom and other people I’ve connected with through FLEFF. Also, the musicians are amazing!



1 Comment


Thanks for this terrific interview with Tom Torello, FLEFF's former marketing director and now a key member of our international advisory board. FLEFF looks the way it does--and has international visibility and recognition---because of the strategic marketing plans Tom and his team at IC's Marketing Communications developed.

Here's an interesting tidbit from FLEFF history: Tom Torello helped us to pick out our distinctive FLEFF logo. I'll never forget that day. Windsor Design had concocted about six different designs for us to choose from, we were rebranding (very very hard work). Tom Shevory and I were a bit nervous about picking the logo, we had never done anything like this before (a long way from researching and writing books). Tom Torello and Peter Kilcoyne, who is our print manager, came into the room and clarified with some penetrating wisdom: THE LOGO NEEDED TO LOOK GOOD BIG AND SMALL AND IN BETWEEN.

And they helped us pick the logo we have been using for the last six years!

So thank you, Tom Torello, and Peter Kilcoyne, for creating the FLEFF "look." And thank you, Peter, for a wonderful interview with a key member of TEAM FLEFF>

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