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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 Elma Yedda Gonzalez at 11:16PM
Phil Wilde, vice president of Insights International, Inc.

Phil Wilde, vice president of Insights International, Inc. fell in love when he was a college student at Cornell University in 1970. That year, he picked up a Portapak camera for the first time and began recording everything. Film became his addiction.

Since 1970, Wilde has helped develop small video organizations in Ithaca, has worked at Insights International Inc., and has worked for Ithaca College several times as lecturer. His most recent  collaboration with the college has been through his involvement with Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival.

EG: How did you first discover film?

PW: It’s an addiction. Honestly, it’s just like heroin. I had my first hit of video in 1970. I borrowed a Portapak, it was the first thing that I could get my hands on where I could actually have the freedom of expression in television. Film was too expensive to produce. I was a student; I couldn’t afford film to run through a camera, but I could to borrow a video camera from Cornell University’s library, and go out for the very first time — these were the first portable cameras that ever existed — and go out and film something that was a subject I was interested in. So I got an addiction to being able to tell my story with video and I was lucky enough to come along at the time when it was first invented. I was a sophomore in college, I was just 18.

EG: Why is it important to have festivals like FLEFF somewhere like Ithaca, a college town?

PW: The problem with most film festivals is that they are mostly involved in selling the films. In other words, the film festival is a place where the filmmaker comes and presents his or her work. They bring their stuff here and try to get a distributor or whatever it might be, that is the typical film festival. Or a film festival is meant to try to promote a certain place. The first film festivals where Paris and Italy and Rome and they were meant to promote Rome and not necessarily the film, but what Ithaca College brings to it is a third way. It’s not just about the film, it’s not just about the place, it’s about the intellectual experience of the expression of film and the audience. The intellectual perspective that a college town and a college — and specifically Ithaca College — brings to it is to allow a dialogue that is an examination of the film not just a celebration.

EG: How are you involved behind the scenes at FLEFF?

PW: I teach people how to schmooze, how to go up to people and have a conversation and come out of it with something more than a pleasant conversation. In other words you never learn anything if you are talking, so I teach people how to listen to the people who come to FLEFF: the presenters, the people who bring their films, the people who are interested in film.

An awful lot of the [interns in FLEFF are] people who were in film or television or theater or parts of Ithaca College that are the performing and television radio arts and the best thing that you can do if you are a person like that is to learn how to talk to other people. So I showed people the ways to get the most out of that kind of experience at FLEFF. To enhance the students’ intellectual dialogue. Thats exactly what we do.

EG: What about FLEFF do you like the most?

PW: I just love the idea of having this experience right in my backyard. I travel all over to other festivals. I’ve got some favorite little ones that I always try to go to, but here it’s coming to me, and the other side of it too is an chance to offer what I’ve got inside me to this intellectual community. I’ve always thought of the educational side of video and film.

EG: What advice do you give students attending the festival?

PW: I think everyone should take the time to go up to the artists who are there and engage in a personal dialogue. I think that is the most incredible thing about FLEFF. Everybody should approach a filmmaker or a producer or somebody who has brought a film or somebody who speaks on a film at FLEFF, or somebody who’s been at FLEFF. Everyone, engage in a dialogue.

I know it’s as hard as asking a girl out. It’s just as hard to go up to most people and start a conversation, but it’s so worth it.


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