By Paul Cohen
Special to the Reformer
WEST DOVER >> Students enrolled in the Windham Regional Career Center's Film and Digital Editing program showcased their work recently at the yearly Independent Television and Film Festival.
The festival opened Wednesday, Oct. 5, with the screening of four short films, all created by previous and current members of the career center's digital film program.
The films shown were: "Dance Families," written and directed by Adam Hinckley from Putney and Ben Kaufman from Brattleboro; "The Big 4-0," written and directed by Owen Comstock, Emily Cutts from Townshend, and Sam Turner from Brookline; "Awake," written and directed by Colette Anton from West Dover and Justin Souvanh from Brattleboro; and "The Twinkietastrophe," written and directed by Freesia Capy-Goldfarb and Anya Mae Camille Gunzburg, both from Guilford.
The ITVFest, which is in its fifth year, is a public event that provides a networking venue for some of the world's best independent television pilots, web series and short films. It brings together over 1,000 filmmakers, actors, writers, directors, producers, financiers, Hollywood executives and general public fans. According to its website, the ITVFest seeks to promote "The cause of creating respect and livable wages for independent Content Creators."
Philip Gilpin, executive director of ITVFest and its founder, shared that the 70 films that will be showcased this year were selected from over 500 entries submitted by artists from 23 different countries.
Gilpin is excited to be producing this event in southern Vermont, and in Dover, specifically. He sees this area, as a whole, to be very supportive of its local artists, and he's well aware of the area's need to grow and sustain business opportunities, entrepreneurship, and employment. He feels this festival, which yearly introduces large numbers of independent artists to our local area, has become an integral part of that.
"This is one of the economic growth opportunities everyone's been talking about. The fit is perfect here in southern Vermont. You can live here, create a film, have it showcased at the festival, and be picked up by a national television network, without ever having to set foot in either New York City or Los Angeles."
After the films were screened, the students, along with their film instructor, Josh Moyse, gathered onstage to respond to a number of questions from the audience. They were asked who inspired them in their work (Stanley Kubrick, Wes Anderson, Quentin Tarantino); what their biggest challenges were (often quality sound); how much film was shot to produce these seven to ten minute pieces (ten hours or more, often five takes to complete a scene); and their conjecture on the types of films they may create in the future (quirky comedies, mysteries, gritty crime dramas).
Moyse understands the impact this type of experience can have on his students.
"Bringing my Digital Editing & Filmmaking students to the festival was a wonderful opportunity. The screening allowed students to meet real-world professionals, and gave them experience as to what a potential career in film can be like. This is the kind of practical application that deepens their education."
He sees this as a motivator to encourage his students to create strong films this year in hopes of getting them featured at next year's festival.
Adam Hinckley, co-creator of "Dance Families,: concurred.
"The ITV fest was a very cool experience for me. Watching my film on such a big screen was amazing, and having a large audience was great. I hope they expand it more and more each year."
Similarly, Freesia Capy-Goldfarb, co-creator of "Twinkietastrophe," understood the significance of Wednesday's screenings.
"Being able to participate in an event like the ITV Fest was an incredible experience, and a great way for those of us who want to go into the film industry to get a taste of what could potentially be in our futures. Having your work viewed by an audience is always slightly terrifying. As the filmmaker, you inevitably see your movie in a different light than the rest of the world, and my fear is often that what I want to express and what I am expressing in my film are two different things. It is intensely validating when an audience responds positively to your film, when they laugh at the jokes you wanted them to, when they ask engaging and genuine questions, not only because the film is something you worked so hard on, but because you know that your artistic expression was received the way you intended it to be."
The Film and Digital Editing course is one of many courses offered by the Windham Regional Career Center and Brattleboro Union High School that enable students to earn college credit while still in high school. The Windham Regional Collegiate High School, a collaboration of these two schools, oversees about fifty of these courses through its partnerships with a number of local colleges.
The film course is also offered as a component of the high school and career center's Visual and Performing Arts Academy, which is designed to provide students extended academic and studio experiences in digital design and communication, theater arts, fine arts, dance, circus or music, based on each student's individual interests.
Paul Cohen is the co-op coordinator for the Windham Regional Career Center. He can be contacted at email@example.com.