With the Virginia Film Festival fast approaching, students should be looking into getting tickets for the event held in Charlottesville from November 1-4. The Arts $ Program allows full-time UVa students to get free tickets to any of the screenings. By visiting the Virginia Film Festival website, students can order tickets online and pick them up at the UVa Box Office located in Culbreth Theater.
The festival works closely with the University to make it convenient for students by hosting the film screenings around grounds and making tickets free for students. This week we caught up with a Virginia Film Festival intern Claire Cundiff, a third year in the College of Arts and Sciences working with the Community Outreach Department, to chat about the approaching festival and the role of an intern on such a huge event.
WUVA: What is your major and does it relate to your internship in any way?
Claire Cundiff: I’m a Media Studies major. I found out about the internship through the department. They send out e-mails that are relevant to media studies, so that’s how I found out. I think there are about thirteen total interns and each person has a very different role.
WUVA: Do you plan on working in the film industry later on in life?
CC: Hopefully, yeah. This is my first real introduction to film stuff, and the film world, but I have taken a lot of classes in film. Hopefully I’ll go into film production or the work behind it. We’ll see. Taking it one step at a time.
WUVA: I know there are lots of other film festivals out there. Do you guys go to any of these beforehand to gauge it?
CC: So, the director of the film festival, Jody Kielbasa, originally came from the Sarasota Film Festival. I think he was there for a few years, and he really turned that into a powerhouse festival that attracted a lot of industry talent – it became a great presence in the South. The Virginia Film Festival hired him to build up the reputation of the festival. He’s been here for a couple years now and has been doing a great job. The festival has grown a lot! It’s a four day event; it has over a hundred films. We’ve been able to attract a lot of industry talent and put together some great panels, too.
WUVA: Absolutely! So what is a day in the life of an intern like?
CC: Each intern has a really different role. My job mostly regards community outreach. I handle a high school educational screening of Chasing Ice that we’ll be playing on Friday morning, so I’ve been contacting local schools and other educational programs that are bringing students to see the movie. Also, there’s the Action! High School Directors Competition. Others have been planning with Family Day, writing the program, helping with on publicity around ground, or working in development with potential donors. A typical day entails going to the office and checking in with all my bosses to see what needs to get done. While we each have our own work, there’s a lot of group work or doing whatever little task needs to be done at that moment. There’s a lot of office work involved like copying papers and editing. Also, part of my job is to go out to the different venues and see which spaces will be appropriate for a certain event, and tasks like that.
WUVA: How has the experience been thus far?
CC: It’s been a great experience. Everyone at the festival really knows what they’re doing and has a lot of experience, so that’s been really cool just to learn from the staff. It’s also a really exciting place to work. We have a big event coming up, and we need to make sure it gets pulled off in the best way possible. It’s a bit of a pressure situation to see can we do it, but it’s looking like it’s going to be a great program, so that’s been really exciting to see it come together.
WUVA: What do you like best about the department you are interning in?
CC: I really knew nothing about community outreach before I became an intern for the festival. I had no idea what went into getting the word out for the festival, so I’ve been surprised by how much the festival does pursue the community. I expected more people to come to us, but we really go out and seek the audiences that we think will be most appropriate and most interested in the festival. My job particularly is going after the high schoolers. There are some interns that work with families for Family Day or elementary schools for part of our Young Filmmakers Academy which is another part of the Community Outreach team. Another part of outreach entails going through every single film, and looking at the subject matter. We looked on grounds and in the community for which specific groups that will be most interested in that film. So, there’s a film called Eating Alabama about the food industry and the commercialization of that versus local production, so we’ve approached a couple different groups on grounds that are really interested in sustainable eating or living. Whole Foods is working with us on that film, too. Each film has a lot of attention to detail put into it so see who will be most attracted to this film and how we can get them to come to it.
WUVA: So far, what has been the most hectic part about the Virginia Film Festival?
CC: A week ago, before we had announced the program was pretty nerve-racking. Backing up, going into the festival I had no idea about how the time frame for film festivals work. You would think all the blockbuster films would be nailed down months in advance whereas actually the smaller films are confirmed earlier, and the biggest films are confirmed maybe a day or two before the program is released. So, the bigger film the more last minute it is. That’s also the way talent works. If actors are coming from Hollywood, we won’t know until the last minute whether they actually can come. That was nerve-racking as the deadline came up – will they come, will they not come, will we get this film, will we not get this film? It turns out this year we have a very strong programs so it turns out everyone’s really happy excited about that, but I didn’t realize that was how it all worked. I definitely was very surprised when I learned that, and a little freaked out, but that turned out great.
WUVA: Wow! So we should stay updated on the festival as it approaches. Do you know why it works this way for creating programs and confirming films?
CC: Absolutely! Keep up dated by checking the website and following our twitter! I’m not exactly sure, but I know a part of it relies on the other festivals, so we watch the Toronto Film Festival and Telluride beforehand to see which films they have and are highlighting. It’s fitting together all the puzzle pieces. You obviously don’t want the same film to be the highlight – you want to have a complementary selection. So part of it is looking at these other festivals – some bigger than us, and some smaller than us- and seeing what they have and seeing what we can add to the whole festival movie scene.
WUVA: Do you have a movie that you are looking forward to the most?
CC: I’ve already seen a couple of them to know what’s coming out. There are a couple ones I’m really looking forward to, but I don’t know if I’ll actually get to see them during the festival. They promised the interns that we might see one, so I’ll probably be working during most of the festival. I’m looking forward a lot to The Silver Linings Playbook, that should be a really great one, so should Rust and Bone. The Sessions is another one of the big names that’s coming out, but during the whole festival there will be a lot of big blockbuster ones that everyone wants to see, but there’s also a lot of hidden gems throughout the whole thing, so I think it’s really something to look forward to.
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