About this blog
The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view
Sunday, February 9, 2014
Ann Michel and her husband Phil Wilde are FLEFF producers and owners of Insights International, Inc. According to the company website, “We speak science. We speak non-fiction video. We speak documentary filmmaking. We can bring the outside world to the classroom; and the classroom to the outside world.” Insights International, Inc. was formed in 1980 and continues to produce innovative work today. Check out their latest endeavors!
Can you tell me about your role in FLEFF?
About 10 years ago or a couple years after, Ithaca College acquired FLEFF. Professor Zimmermann, who’s a very good friend, asked us, my husband Phil Wilde and I who run Insights International Inc, that’s our production company – she basically asked Insights to help her produce some of the events that were taking place at Ithaca College and it’s grown into us remaining producers for the live events that are part of the FLEFF week and also helping at Cinemapolis making sure that the festival is run in a professional manner. In the past 3 years we also ran the internship class that enable students to get 1 credit for participating in very hands on way during the festival and in other events surrounding the festival, which is actually something much bigger then the festival. There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes and throughout the year to run a festival.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
For many of the artists who participate in FLEFF the organizers and the flavor of FLEFF give us some creative freedom to really create some original imagery which is usually used during the Tuesday night concert as well as help to shape the festival. It’s a great team to be a part of. The leadership is good. It’s always a pleasure to be on that kind of team and on this team we are given quite a bit of create latitude. And here’s an example of that, last year and this year we will be curating a section of Russian films and documentaries for FLEFF. There’s a slot now. We did it last year and they’ve asked us to do it again and we will. So we’ve been able to really create an international presence for FLEFF and bring some interesting new documentaries into Ithaca and we have a discussion after we screen something. This year I’m really excited because of the Olympics the spotlight is really on Russia. The short part of it is that we’re able to work with FLEFF to bring some exciting films into Ithaca and I’m really excited to be able to do that.
What’s something people don’t know about FLEFF?
There’s more to it that meets the eye. Which is good. Like a good party – there’s a lot of planning but you should never be made aware of it.
What do people in the community need to know about FLEFF?
For a student I think the hardest thing for them is to carve out the time, especially Ithaca College students. There’s so many extracurricular so many important things. I think students get stretched very thin. And the thing about a festival is it’s a very compact experience. What people should know is that the more time they spend at FLEFF the better it is. It’s kind of hard to convince people otherwise. You can pick one or two films you’re really interested, but just being around and going to the parties and participate in the discussions, the atmosphere is such that you can meet people. You can meet the visiting professionals and just have conversations. Some students have eventually landed jobs making a contact at the networking thing. So what you have to do is just go! Save the date! Don’t book any championships or state team finals or breaking up with your boyfriend. Just come. And the more you come the better it is. It’s a direct relationship.
What’s your proudest moment in all the years you’ve been involved?
There’s highlights and low lights. It’s a little like show business. You go on with the show right?
What are you looking forward to the most at the festival?
I always look forward to the concert at Hockett with the visiting musicians. Jairo Geronymo comes in. He was an IC professor for a while and now he’s one in Berlin. He’s so much fun. Debbie Martin and he are such a great pair on the piano. We’ve worked together for years. So that’s always nice to have a team with continuity. Everybody knows each other. Everybody knows how to work together and how to make things better each year. So that’s been a really nice progression to do that concert because these are very professional people. And Professor Zimmermann directs it and she really gives everyone a lot of creative latitude when they work with her.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
This past week, I spoke with Phil Wilde, FLEFF producer, Internship Coordinator (my boss!), and coprincipal of Insights International. We talked about the unique atmosphere of the festival, the various interpretations of the term "Environment" as well as our shared enthusiasm for soul music. Phil has been active in the festival since its inception and expressed excitement for the upcoming events.
Evan Johnson: What are some of your responsibilities as FLEFF Intern Coordinator and have their roles or responsibilities changed this year?
Phil Wilde: What we tried to do this year was to create some teams that would allow people a lot of flexibility. If someone has a class one night - someone else can pick up the slack. It's a task where assigning someone a job in Februrary that needs to be done in April is a very difficult thing to do so having a team that's assigned the project means there's a flexibility to get the job done
EJ: Recently, you told me about the appeal of "the big city" and a much more rural environment. Could you tell me more about why they appeal to you?
PW: It's not what they have in common, it's more of what's different between the two. The idea of the environment is really based on where you are. So a "city' person will have a different view of the environment than a "country" person and that's something that FLEFF really plays with - the different environments people find themselves in.
EJ: The interpretations of "environment" is something that FLEFF does a terrific job of analyzing. As the festival has grown in success and popularity, how has FLEFF changed its interpretation of the term?
PW: FLEFF was very much involved in activism and the green movement at Cornell. What's become unique about FLEFF is that the kind of people who are now helping the program have a very deep around the cultural issues around the environment. Not just if we have enough air to breath but what will get us there through cultural understanding.
EJ: As an organizer, what drew you to the festival?
PW: One of the reasons i gravitated towards working with FLEFF is that I'm very conscious of people's environmental perception. It's what I studied in college and what I studied in grad school. What I tend to make films about are people's perceptions of their environment. Whether it's a person in the disabled community, urban-rural issues, or farming, food and putting food on the table. I'm always interested in people's personal perspective and I try very hard not to prejudge. And that's what FLEFF tends to be.
EJ: What are some different perspectives audiences can expect this year at FLEFF?
PW: I think its very similar to previous years only in that the films are not typical environmental films. People would have a hard time calling some of the films "environmental films." But the perspective of the people who are programming it have brought a good enough explanation so that we'll understand those things.
EJ: Are there any long term plans you have for FLEFF outside of the Ithaca area?
PW: I really don't think there's a need to address that. If it grows in the same way it's been growing then I don't think it needs to leave the Ithaca area. Maybe something in the city that shows us off - but I think we're doing quite alot by having it here at Ithaca College.
EJ: What is the best part about having FLEFF interns?
PW: It's absolutely their ethusiasm. I know what they're about to experience and how much they'll enjoy it. Some people have no idea what we're about to do - others have seen it last year or the year before but it's always an amazing event when it happens because people find a common bond after watching all these films.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Blog posting by Shea Lynch, Documentary Studies and Production '14, FLEFF Intern, Glens Falls, New York
Things are heating up!
We have FLEFF mini-courses coming up after spring break and FLEFF Week is just around the corner. I interviewed FLEFF Internship Coordinator Ann Michel to give us further insight into the FLEFF community.
Why is FLEFF important to the student body and community?
"We hope it encourages you to think. I mean, your whole college experience should be about that but we hope that FLEFF, in a concentrated way, really gets your braincells activated in new ways that you didn't think could."
How do you like "team teaching"?
"I like it because it takes the pressure off me. Two heads are better than one. I think humans do very well in groups and that's one of the reasons we structured the class to have groups of eight or nine people. Those groups will come up with more than 45 individuals ever could."
What are some struggles in teaching the class?
"It's tricky to schedule people to come in to speak to the class and coordinating 15 classes to make sure that each of the classes is worth it for [the interns] is a challenge. I want everyone to walk out of this room saying, 'I didn't know that before'."
What about the future interns?
"Bigger and better. If [the current interns] are successful this year, [FLEFF] will be bigger next year because we would have sold out more shows, created more buzz, made more of our guests happier, and our brand will become better known, which means we will get more money, more sponsors, and more audience. Hopefully we will continue to be better."
Ann Michel has been with FLEFF for 5 years with her company Insights International, Inc. and this is her first year teaching the FLEFF Internship class, invited by FLEFF Codirector Patricia Zimmermann. Michel teaches alongside Phil Wilde and together they hope to inspire many creative minds and continue the FLEFF legacy next year.