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Fresh at FLEFF

Fresh at FLEFF

News, Views, Updates and More about the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival

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Posted by Jonathan Morello at 2:12AM   |  3 comments
Tom Shevory is a Professor in the Politics Department at Ithaca College and codirectors the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival.

Written by Jonathan Morello, Assistant to the FLEFF Codirectors

I recently spent some time with Tom Shevory, codirector of FLEFF, to probe his ideas about the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival.

In this portion of our interview, Tom discusses new media and how the various forms of film featured in the programming shape the festival.

Jonathan: What gives you most joy while working on FLEFF?

Tom: For me, it’s learning new ideas and new ways of thinking about these ideas. I’ve learned so much about so many things with the festival.

That’s what keeps me interested. FLEFF is always changing. It’s always different. Year after year, we offer fresh content, presented in ways that have never been seen before at the festival.

The recent transformations of media really add to this way of thinking. I enjoy gaining insight on how this works. It’s just different than the traditional academic structures to say the least.

Jonathan: Can you explain how transformations in media have changed the festival?

Tom: We do a lot of work with new media. We always make sure to include works that engage digital interfaces. We don’t see the distinction between forms. We see film as a broad category that includes all media formats.

Jonathan: How does the incorporation of new media formats add to FLEFF?

Tom: It creates an inclusive environment without limits. New media allows FLEFF to incorporate works in new interfaces.  It allows activist groups, nonprofit groups, and educators to have their message about sustainability heard. They will submit their films to the festival in the form of DVD, Blu-ray or in a digital format for the on-line audience. The use of Skype allows us to interact globally.

Everyone is welcome to share their story, their ideas, and their feelings toward sustainability regardless of form. It doesn’t matter if you are a distributor of major independent films shot and projected using 35mm film or an activist group using online interfaces for user-generated upload.

Jonathan:  How does distribution across these different formats impact FLEFF?

Tom: It mainly effects how and where we plan to program events during the festival.

Most of the films created and distributed by activist groups, nonprofit groups, and educators are shown at Ithaca College during the festival. These works screen better on campus and the creators of these films really enjoy working with the undergraduates. As guests in the classroom, the creators really enhance the dialogue and discussions that pertain to their particular exhibition.

Larger budget films, distributed by major distributors have very particular roll-outs on the film’s exhibition. These pictures are shot and projected using 35mm film. 35mm films are generally what the industry and programmers dub “the most commercial.” A commercial film is something you can sell tickets to because it is designed for wide distribution. These types of works will screen at Cinemapolis in downtown Ithaca.

When programing for the more popular films, we have to be mindful of the roll-outs and how long major distributors plan to run these films in the theaters. In order to use these films, the roll-outs have to coincide with our scheduling and when we plan to have the festival.

Jonathan: Can you think of any other challenges relative to these commercials films?

Tom: Everything in the commercial and art cinema theaters is changing. 35mm film is going to disappear. Replacing it is high-quality digital projection. This provides quality that is superior to DVD, Blu-Ray and even 35mm film.

Jonathan: How does this pose a challenge for FLEFF?

Tom: In order to screen these films, you need high-quality digital projectors that cost about $60,000 each. Cinemapolis needs five of them for a complete upgrade. The theater is in the process of raising money through grants and fundraising to make this full and necessary transition complete.

Keep your eyes and ears open for Part II of this story! It's coming soon! 


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