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The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Blog posting written by Shawn Steiner, Film, Photography, and Visual Arts '14, FLEFF Intern, Elkridge, MD
Coming to you straight from Park 220, a.k.a. the "Disco Lounge," is a party of new media artists. Right now we have Helen De Michiel, Laura Deutch, and Phillip Mallory Jones all sitting here talking with students and each other.
Their comments from the industry are enlightening. They talk about the industry, their own work, independence, and unemployment. It's hard to track when each one has such interesting things to say, but here we go.
Dr. Zimmermann provided the introductions and a short conversation before fellow blogger Shea Lynch started a long discussion about the artists' favorite subjects. Which is all you need to get these brilliant minds rolling.
Helen provided us with some insight into the industry and how to get started working in this difficult field. Laura was able to talk about working in the documentary field and building up trust with who she works with. Then, with some support from both Laura and Helen, Phil began his discourse.
Phillip started with, "It's internal." A great point from which to dive in. "It has to do with getting something out... What I'm always doing is getting something out of here. It's a signature." An amazing look into the mind of the artist.
Helen continued with "Art does not refer to a particular set of rules or forms or materials as it once did." It is a "sensorium that is different than domination." She urges the students to do what we want to do. However, we should know that it may not allow us to live indefinitely. We still should do it! Especially in such a fluid world. We just need to accept that "today you may be drinking wine. But, tomorrow you may be picking grapes."
Laura jumped in on the conversation to talk about how we are working in new organizational formats. The consumer based world is something that we need to work and live in. We need to take on a new form of life.
We come back to Helen. She says that we will be able to live off of the skills that we know. Even though, as Phil alerted us, we will most likely become unemployed. Working in this industry is pushing the pain boundaries. Phil even asks us, "Where do you want to take the pain? What matters?"
The conversation continued, delving deeper and deeper into everyone. All of the students are on the edge of their seats, taking in every piece of information.
It is impressive what these intellectuals are working on right now.
Laura is working on Messages in Motion, a project in which she works to create and produce the short form documentary. Helen is working on Lunch Love Community, a web series in which she documents the development of food in California public schools. Phil also explained how he is working is Second Life to help work with the qualifications of elementary school teachers through a module. All impressive pieces of work.
They continued with how everything is such a collective space. Dr. Zimmermann then educated us on Singapore and how it is a different experience from the U.S. The work more on a flat, fluid scale than the pyramid employed here.
New media is becoming the way of the future. The people themselves are becoming the market, you must learn skills and use them in order to market yourself in order to get a break. Also, leadership skills are vital to success.
Collaboration is perhaps the most important method of creating projects. They pressed the necessity of education and personal growth in this fluid world. Everything is always moving and you have to go with the flow.
Now, we have the final words of advice from each one:
Helen stuck with what she has been saying the whole time, market yourself, learn, and get leadership skills.
Phil went philosophical and said "Take your show on the road." Work with a group and get out into the world.
Laura said, just go out into the world and talk to people! Get out of your comfort zone.
I wish I could've gone even more in depth, but I myself was enthralled by the conversation. Luckily, the guests will be here for another few days and there are many opportunities to see them. Soon, I will post up a few key events that should be seen. Come back soon! We have many bloggers around doing this everywhere. FLEFF is everywhere!
Helen's screening will be Saturday at noon at Cinemapolis. She will be presenting Lunch Love Community.
Phillip is actually presenting at 4 p.m. in Studio A. So if you can go check it out!
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Blog was written by Kelsey Greene, Documentary Studies and Production, '13, FLEFF intern, Buffalo, New York
I am yet again in the third row of seats, but this time in the Park auditorium.
Laura Deutch says she didn't know what her path would be in college, which makes me feel a little bit better about not knowing my specific path for the future yet. I love how she is telling us about how she became involved in media and the steps she took to get where she is today.
The main focus of her presentation is her newest project Messages in Motion, which she started as a grad student senior thesis two years ago.
She is a very organized and clear presenter. Her slideshow is very informative and compliments what she is saying well. I am drawn to her idea of documentary which includes more new media concepts.
With her project she has individuals make "video postcards" using Flip cameras. The project activates social relationships and promotes personal expression. She redid an old cargo van and drives around Philadelphia, Pennsylvania teaching basic filmmaking techniques and helping community members use media in a meaningful way.
The slide that is currently up contains influential mobile media projects for Laura. While her idea is unique and creative she makes the point that it is not the first of its kind...
She is kindly explaining her process with us and using examples from her different experiences. She has a neat chart slide up with the following information giving the simple format of her process:
She is now showing us the homepage of her website that has a crazy map with blue lines marking where her Messages in Motion van has been. It is very visually appealing!
One thing I didn't know is she didn't originally plan on working with youth, and generally wanted to work with adults as well, but says she has worked mainly with youth since.
As what I am doing now, Laura says she has been trying to blog as much as she can. Her reason for doing so is to make the project and process as transparent as possible.
She showed some clips of videos individuals have made.
Now, the presentation is coming to an end so I am going to wrap up this blog.
Laura Deutch is very inspirational to me and I have immensely enjoyed and appreciated this presentation.
Sunday, March 6, 2011
Blog post written by Kelsey Greene, Documentary Studies and Production, '13, FLEFF intern, Buffalo, New York
I had the opportunity to speak with Laura Deutch, an Ithaca College alumna and Philadelphia-based media artist and educator.
KG: Can you please describe why you decided to use media as a tool for social justice?
LD: Media is a powerful tool to support advocacy and educational campaigns for social justice. Visual media allows people to connect with one another, and identify with diverse points of view.
The problem is that in the current system, there is inequitable access to resources for creating and effectively distributing media messages. Even with the explosion of social media, the digital divide is very real.
As an educator, it’s important for me to not only help create alternative media, but to transfer these skills to underrepresented communities so they understand how media is constructed and manipulated, and gain the knowledge to document and express their own experiences and analysis.
KG: Your most recent project is Messages in Motion. Can you please explain this project and your reason to start it?
LD: There are two components to the Messages In Motion project. First, I’ve been identifying and working with organizations to conduct video workshops with the flip camera. At a workshop I speak about what a story is, what a shot is, what it means to upload, edit, and so on.
Participants see that they can create a video, and so they gain confidence. They see the power of this tool to reach a wider audience.
I’m a little less interested in having them recreate media they see on TV, but rather we experiment with voiceover, direct address and images to create something expressive and reflective of their experiences. The videos are used in an educational context or as part of an organizing campaign.
Second, I outfitted an old Chevy work van into a mobile media studio. I have 2 laptops, a workspace and a monitor. The equipment is powered by a solar panel on the roof.
People can stand outside the van and watch what others have created. I wanted to create a self-contained system so participants can create, upload it, and exhibit their work within a few hours.
Once people go through the whole process, it gives them the confidence that they can do it themselves.
KG: What has your experience been like doing such a project?
LD: For me, it has been really great. The neighborhoods in Philly are very segregated and have their own identity, so I enjoy being able to be mobile and being able to show people’s videos and create connections between places.
What’s great is that now that I am building an archive of videos, the participants are inspiring one another. They see the work of their peers in other parts of the city, and they respond to it, and build on it.
I’m starting to develop a broader understanding of the city. I hope to use this work to draw deeper connections between issues and create stronger alliances among organizations and neighborhoods.
KG: You have also recently completed a feature-length documentary, El Sol Sale Para Todos. Can you please give a brief summary of what the documentary is about?
LD: The documentary chronicles the last 15 years of the growth of the Mexican community in Philadelphia.
We wanted to show what it’s like for the first generation of an immigrant community to come to a new place and build a life. By now, the community is quite established, but it’s a history that many people do not know about.
What’s happened in South Philadelphia is similar to what is taking place in many urban and rural towns throughout the US. Through the stories of the seven main characters, the film puts a human face on the struggles and complexity of migrating to make a better life for oneself and one’s family.
It tries to break down stereotypes and can be used as a way to enter into the immigration debate.
KG: How did you find the story for the documentary? What was it like making the film?
LD: Since moving to Philadelphia 5 years ago, I became aware of the changing populations in the neighborhood where I was living.
I started volunteering with JUNTOS and Media Mobilizing Project for an initiative titled, Our City Our Voices. The goal of this project was to train low income and immigrant adults in citizen journalism media production.
During those workshops, I met Carlos and Leticia and we started making short films together, and 2 years later, we collaborated on this feature doc. Between the three of us we each brought unique experiences to the project. Ultimately it’s a piece made by the community, for the community.
KG: Did you ever see yourself doing the projects you are doing?
LD: Yes, as a student I was a media studies major. I never took production classes at school--I got trained at the Public Access Center in town.
I was always interested in community media. My junior and senior year I was more politically active.
Since that point, I’ve been pursuing work that allows me to combine my interest in documentary and radical experimental film with social justice and media education. Going back to school, and creating the Messages in Motion project was a logical outgrowth of those interests.
KG: What are some of the difficulties with a career such as yours?
LD: The biggest challenge is stability. I work on a project-to-project basis and teach a lot of classes.
However, organizations and institutions are only starting to realize how important web video and social media is to their work.
KG: Can you please describe some personal benefits you have achieved from doing your projects/films?
LD: I like the independence that I have because it has allowed me to work with many different people.
Working with media has allowed me to access a lot of different struggles, stories and cultures and it has helped me understand my role as an educator and producer.
KG: What are your views of FLEFF?
LD: I appreciate the vision and holistic approach to expanding one’s understanding of environment beyond global warming, for example, and trying to address the interconnected social, political and cultural issues which impact our natural and social environment.
KG: What are you looking forward to about FLEFF 2011?
LD: I feel very honored to be coming back as an alum.
I was always really inspired by visiting guests as a student--and I hope I can return the favor. I’ll be bringing the van, and I hope to offer something that can connect college students and town residents.
I am also very excited to see and hear the presentations and meet other artists.
KG: What advice would you give to aspiring media students today?
LD: Take responsibility with the skills and knowledge you are developing, stay true to your values and instincts.