There’s only one day until the premiere of the Virginia Film Festival here in our very own Charlottesville! Theaters around the University and in the community will be screening the incredible line-up of movies the Festival presents. The Festival is bringing a wealth of talent, including Emmy Award-winner Nick Clooney (father of George Clooney) and Academy Award-winner and Golden Globe-winner Keith Carradine. Not only is it bringing decorated Hollywood veterans, but also actors and musicians making their directorial debut, such as Matthew Lillard (starred in Scooby-Doo, Without a Paddle), Marc Singer (stared in The Beastmaster), and Boyd Tinsley (DMB violinist).
It’s not too late to get your tickets from the Virginia Film Festival website, the Film Festival Headquarters in the Main Street Arena on the Downtown Mall, or from the UVa Arts Box Office located in Culbreth Theater! Tickets are free for UVa students through the Arts$ program, so be sure to get them while they’re hot! Stay updated during the Festival by liking their Facebook page and following VaFilmFest on Twitter and Instagram!
We chatted with Virginia Film Festival intern, Emily Gawlak, a fourth year in the College of Arts and Sciences, to find out her role in the Festival and how everything is progressing on the eve of the event.
WUVA: What is your major? Does it relate to your internship in any way?
Emily Gawlak: I am a Modern Studies major and film studies minor. This internship definitely fits with my love of film. You learn a lot about film just through being involved with the Festival because we bring a really eclectic mix of independent, foreign, and classic films as well as new releases. Additionally, my English major compliments the internship well because a lot of writing is involved in various capacities such as drafting emails, newsletters, and program blurbs.
WUVA: Do you plan on working in the film industry later on in life?
EG: I would love to work in the Film Industry! It’s hard to say exactly in what capacity I’d like to work, but the Film Festival affords a neat glimpse into many different aspects of the Film Industry. Obviously you get a very personal glimpse into working for a Film Festival and seeing the different roles that play into putting that together, but over the course of the festival weekend you also get the opportunity to interact with directors, actors, producers, and others involved with the filmmaking process. Hopefully throughout the festival weekend I will be able to clarify my focus a bit more and come out with a stronger knowledge of what field I might like to go into!
WUVA: So, can you tell us what a day in the life of an intern is like?
EG: One of the fun things about interning for the Film Festival is that what we do varies from day to day. I am working as a Development Intern, so my job has a lot to do with the cultivation and coordination of festival sponsors. To do this, we have to work to keep our lists of sponsors up to date. As we move closer to the festival, this also means making sure that all of the sponsors receive their appropriate benefits. On most days I do this kind of development work, but there are other days, especially approaching the Festival, when we do more general preparation work such helping out with student and community outreach and publicity.
WUVA: You talked about how as the festival approaches you’re helping with publicity. What are a few of the ways you are reaching out to UVa students?
EG: Social media is a huge way to reach out to all potential attendees but especially to students. Our outreach interns have done a terrific job of working with a number of popular social media platforms (we even have a Pinterest!). I’m a huge fan of Instagram so I was really excited when they started a VFF account to share pics of what goes on behind the scenes at the Festival. Once they have all of the accounts established, a lot of what we do is just to help garner attention to the sites by sharing Facebook posts, retweeting Film Fest tweets, liking pictures, etc. We also work to target student groups that might be interested in particular films. Then we use our various connections (friends, professors, peers) to reach out to those groups.
WUVA: How has the experience been thus far?
EG: This is actually my second year working with the Film Festival, and I’ve had a great experience both times. It’s neat to be a part of such a welcoming and tight knit community. Because the Film Festival does not have a huge staff, they really rely on the interns big time, which means that we are an integral part of the team and are doing important work rather than just menial tasks.
WUVA: It’s wonderful that they’re so welcoming! Have you bosses or other staff there been able to guide you with possible career choices or given you any advice that really resonates with you.
EG: They do a great job of opening themselves up to questions about what they do. Everyone has been so nice in offering recommendations or advice when needed. They also encourage us to network during the festival and take advantage of the unique opportunity to interact with some big names and knowledgeable people within the film industry and the community who take part in the Festival.
WUVA: So, what is your favorite part about the department you are interning in?
EG: Development is a very interpersonal field, which I like. I enjoy interacting socially and building relationships, which is a large part of what my internship entails. During the weekend of the festival it is our job to cater to the sponsors in making sure that they have everything that they need, and through the steps leading up to this I have definitely become more detail oriented and outgoing.
WUVA: I’m sure you all are very busy as the Virginia Film Festival approaches. What do you think will be or has been the most hectic part?
EG: The most hectic part, hands down, will be the weekend of the festival. Although there are some more stressful pushes leading up to the big weekend, the weekend of is always the most crazy. We have long days that start early and go really late and there’s always work that needs to be done across the downtown mall and UVa grounds. But it’s all worth it because it’s so fun to see the festival come together!
WUVA: I know some of the interns have already previewed some of the movies. Have you seen any that you really enjoyed? Do you have a movie that you are looking forward to the most?
EG: Aside from the big movies that are sure to be blockbusters and garner Oscar buzz (Never Fade Away, Silver Linings Playbook, Fat Kid Rules the World, etc.), I’m really looking forward to I am Not A Hipster, because it’s heavily focused on the music scene in San Diego and Rust in Bone, which has Marion Cotillard in it. But who am I kidding, I want to see all of the films! That’s definitely the only downside of the internship- we don’t have enough free time to watch as many movies as I would like!
WUVA: Have you seen any that you really enjoyed or heard about any around the office that people are buzzing about after watching?
EG: Unfortunately I’ve been so busy I haven’t had a chance to watch any yet! I think most of the interns are in a similar boat, but after the madness of the festival dies down I definitely hope to check out a few. I’ve heard some good things from the staff about some of the documentaries though. Ethel and Eating Alabama have received some good staff reviews!
Stay tuned for more exclusive coverage of the Virginia Film Festival from WUVA.