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Festival Interns Go Behind the Scenes, Get Job Offers!

Written by Alyssa Figueroa

Elicia Wartman '12 and Anthony Tocchio '12 hang out with assistant professors Mustapha Khan and Jason Harrington at FLEFF. Photo: Allison Usavage '12

When  FLEFF intern Siobhan Cavanagh '12, a cinema and photography major, met film director John Valadez, she could not believe how truly interested he was in talking with her. “We talked about my intentions in going into film, and we talked about his experience and breaks in the industry,” she said. “It was really awesome to meet an award-winning director who is actually working in the field.”

Every year, Ithaca College hosts the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival (FLEFF), and students go behind the scenes to make it happen. This year, one hundred IC interns, including many freshmen, worked the festival in four groups -- operations, marketing, hospitality, and blogging -- while networking with filmmakers, directors, producers, screenwriters, community partners, and community members.

Video by the author with help from Nick Deel '09:

FLEFF intern Daniel Sitts '12 said he enjoyed being part of the week-long festival. “You read about films and you watch them, but festivals are where films happen,” he said.

Dana Rivera '12 also found her FLEFF internship to be a rewarding experience. “I like that I get to meet people within the school and in the area that are involved with filmmaking. I get to find out things firsthand for my career.”

One FLEFF intern was even offered a job with a production company, after they saw his work ethic.  “It was a really big highlight,” he said.

FLEFF interns take on a wide variety of roles. Those on the operations team help set up before events and strike them when they're over. Hospitality interns meet and greet guests and make sure everyone is where they need to be. There are also bloggers, who write about the events and their experiences for FLEFF’s website. The marketing team members organize Facebook events, create e-mail messaging, work event tables, and more to bring awareness to the festival.

No matter what, though, every intern is immersed in the event. Sitts said he heard about students participating with FLEFF as a freshman on his tour at Ithaca, but believed a freshman would not be allowed to get fully involved. Now he's the first to say he was mistaken.

“You can’t really ask for more of a hands-on experience than FLEFF,” he said. “The second you get to an event all you have to do is walk up to anyone and ask, "What can I do to help?" Within 30 seconds you’re building a screen or handing out flyers -- so you’re always doing something.”

Anyone on campus can get involved in FLEFF. Peter Srinivasan '10, a cinema and photography major, said some people hesitate to get involved  because they believe it is strictly about the environment or only centered on films. “It’s about ideas, talking to other people, and learning how to think outside particular boundaries,” he said. “Environment is everything that’s around you.”

Gordon Rowland, strategic communication professor and FLEFF intern supervisor, said he expects the interns to attend FLEFF events and step up to any challenges they may face. “I want them to have a really good understanding of how a festival works.”

Communication management and design major Michele Maciejewski '09 was part of FLEFF’s management team. She suggests freshmen take advantage of this event. “I think that FLEFF is a major part of the Ithaca College experience,” she said. Maciejewski added that you get to meet and become close to other students on campus. “For freshmen, this is a great way to make connections early,” she says.

Rivera said it is very important to her that she can quickly get involved in happenings on campus. “I didn’t think I’d have an internship so quickly,” she said. “It makes me really glad I came to Ithaca -- that I have opportunities as a freshman.”



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