Friday, November 30, 2012

Filmmaker Thomas Florek: Why I Love Open Screen

By Erin Korth, BMFI Intern

On Monday, Bryn Mawr Film Institute celebrates local filmmakers at the first Open Screen Showcase, a compilation of some of the most interesting work from our Open Screen Mondays program. The free event, which includes food and drink, will be emceed by actor/comedian and former MST3K host Joel Hodgson, and is curated by BMFI Lead Manager Mike McCracken.
Open Screen Monday regular contributor Thomas Florek is an award-winning videographer, documentary filmmaker, audio recording engineer/producer, composer, and software designer. He has an impressive list of writing and directing credentials to his name, including his most recent Particle Board and Cherry Veneer”, a short film examining the “our culture’s glorification of phoniness.” He also co-hosts the weekly radio program The Tom and Doug Show.

Filmmaker Thomas Florek always appreciates the feedback
he receives at Open Screen Monday events. His work is
featured in Monday's Open Screen Showcase.
Mike McCracken interviewed the filmmaker via email about the importance of the Open Screen Monday program.
Why is an Open Screen outlet important for the filmmaking community? 
Open Screen is a fantastic place to get to meet people who are actively interested in the process of creating film. It’s a supportive environment for people to show their work and learn.
How is the Open Screen format different than a selective format? 
It means that all sorts of levels of work can be shown. Working professionals show their work, but semi-professionals and newbies are also welcome to show their work. BMFI is great about facilitating discussion about every single thing that is shown. As a viewer we get to understand who the person is who made the film, and what they were trying to communicate. At a selective festival, films are more or less complete; here, many films are still works in progress, so as viewers, when we share our reactions, we are part of the process of making the films.
How does this format benefit you as a filmmaker? 
There is no better or more effective way for me to find out if the film I am working on is creating the things that I am hoping to communicate. BMFI Open Screen functions as a great and relaxed test audience for anything I might want to try to make. I have found out a wealth of information about my own work that allowed me to create better and more effective films. 
What did you learn about your work through Open Screen? 
Sometimes I learn that a particular segment I am working on does not really work, or is too long. Sometimes I learn that something in my film really is entertaining in a way that I had hoped it would be. BMFI Open Screen audiences are open to watching a lot of different kinds of work. I've gotten great feedback about commercials, and I've gotten great feedback about experimental work, as well as narrative pieces. One time I showed a few pieces that were made to appear as part of a multimedia kiosk presentation, and I received a whole lot of great feedback that made it possible for me to make the final product much more effective. I can get useful and honest reactions from people at the Open Screen events that allow me to go back and make my work better. 
What’s the best thing you've ever seen at Open Screen? 
Almost every time I attend, there is something there that is surprising and wonderful. I love to see the works of Kevin Corcoran, and of course I’m proud to have been able to see an early segment of Jon Foy’s Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles years before its celebrated release. I was so excited that I bored and annoyed Jon encouraging him to complete the film. Recently there have been some excellent young filmmakers (who work at the theater) who are doing really well done formalist film. Then there was Maurice Paramore’s film. All of those are just from the past few months. In the past several years attending BMFI Open Screen Mondays, I have seen a multitude of great work.
Thank you, Thomas! See some of Thomas Florek’s short films, "Decapitation" and "People are Mean", at BMFI's Open Screen Showcase on Monday, December 3 at 7:00 pm.

Erin Korth is a senior at Bryn Mawr College currently interning at BMFI.

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