The Berkshires are buzzing with film and media. WIFVNE recently travelled to Holyoke, MA to attend the 2nd annual Media Exchange sponsored by the Berkshire Film and Media Collaborative (BFMC) on October 23. In addition to the beautiful autumn scenery, WIFVNE encountered a vibrant and diverse community of media makers working on the cutting edge of media. Featuring a diverse series of panels and workshops of interest to the film and video community as well as the business community, The Media Exchange had something for everyone interested in making media in Massachusetts and beyond.
The highlight of the day long event was the presentation by keynote speaker Cynthia Wade, http://www.cynthiawade.com/ the Academy Award-winning Berkshires-based filmmaker. Wade won the Oscar for her short documentary “Freeheld”, the story of a New Jersey police officer who was diagnosed with cancer and wanted to give her benefits to her same-sex partner. The documentary has been turned into a motion picture of the same name, starring Julianne Moore and Ellen Page, which opened nationally on October 16th. Wade is producer of that venture.
Wade, a dynamic presenter, spoke about her beginnings as a filmmaker at Smith College and her dedicated approach to filmmaking, working on a variety of projects such as “Freeheld” which she said she would “take a bullet in the heart for” and also projects for hire, with equal determination and passion.
Other panels featured entertainment lawyer, Fred Fierst who, with a group of attorneys and filmmakers, discussed every legal aspect of getting a project done – from concept to script, to raising the funding, to attaching cast and crew and dealing with the unions, to negotiating and closing the distribution deal, tax credits, and gap financing. Another panel for filmmakers, “Funding Your Film” included leaders in crowdfunding and grants.
A “Local Success Stories” panel focused on industry professionals living and working in the Berkshire region. Participants included Diego Ungaro, Director of “Bob and the Trees” which was featured at Sundance this year as well as won the Grand Prize at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, Craig Crawford of Cadence Visual Effects whose work can be seen on “Game of Thrones” and Steve Porter of Porterhouse Media, whose mash-ups have promoted everything from breakfast cereal to Good Morning America.
“We also want our businesses to look to our local talent for their projects instead of going out-of-state to New York City or Los Angeles,” said BFMC Executive Director, Diane Pearlman.
The BFMC a nonprofit organization, is “a creative economic engine that supports production and workforce development in Western Massachusetts. BFMC develops educational and workforce enrichment courses, offers networking events for industry professionals, acts as a resource for visiting productions, creates jobs within our communities in the film industry and provides an on- line production guide and locations database as a resource for filmmakers,” according to press materials.
WIFVNE hopes to partner with the BFMC in events for media makers, bringing the eastern and western Massachusetts media communities closer together.
For more information about the BFMC visit the website : www.berkshirefilm.org or call their office 413.528.4223.