In most college classes, students meet with professors in a classroom during the week, listening to lectures, taking notes, and learning the skills they need to succeed in their future careers.
But BC has one class with no classrooms, no notes, and no passive lectures. Instead of sitting on campus learning the skills it takes to succeed, they get up, get out, and actively make connections with the people who can help make their dreams a reality.
The class is called Independent TV & Film, and it’s made up of a group of students interested in careers in the film industry, whether through acting, directing, producing, business, or cinematography. This past weekend, the BC Arts Council took the whole class and drove out of Boston and up through the scenic autumn trees of Vermont to a small but vibrant town called Dover to attend ITVFest, the Independent Television & Film Festival.
So what exactly is ITV Fest?
In short, it’s a 3-day festival for the creative people who produce original independent content for television and web-based series. The fest features this kind of storytelling because although there are many independent film festivals for feature-length movies, there is so much happening in shorter-form filmmaking and television-format that deserves recognition. There were web series, television pilots, short documentaries, reality shows, comedies, and dramas screening all weekend. Not only could you watch all of these independent tv shows in screenings throughout the day, but you could be sitting next to and talking with the amazing people who created them. The screenings of all the televisions shows were so inspiring in their diversity, creativity, and production, and there are too many to link here, [check out the website to peruse the festival selections!] but a special shout-out must go to “Cooking for One with the Crying Chef,” which is a hilarious web series produced by the New York Picture Company, which just so happens to be a video production company created by some incredible BC alumni!
ITVFest takes place annually in late September in Dover, VT. The location is remote, which really seems to create a more intimate festival experience. Up in the mountains, with the fresh air and the beautiful colors of fall foliage, festival goers get to spend a ton of quality time together in a beautiful setting…
Whether it be in interactive panels…
…Attending swanky mixers in the evening (complete with some of the best snacks I’ve ever had)…
(In the above photo, two BC students talk to Bernie Su, creator of the Lizzie Bennet Diaries!)
Or just hanging out around a campfire…
BC students spend a lot of time at the festival learning, but also being a part of the action. They make friends in the industry, get an insider perspective on what it takes to produce independent television and web content, and collect advice on how to get started making an artistic career out of doing what they love.
There were live casting workshops with real casting directors, interactive storytelling workshops with Alison Norrington (founder of StoryCentral) and David Katz (from CBS), panels on screenwriting, digital production, and the art of creating a fictional world. Check out this packed schedule from this year.
Philip Gilpin, the executive director of ITVFest (and a BC Alum!) invites Boston College students to the event every year because not only is it an inspiring opportunity for the students, but the industry professionals from HBO, Starz Digital, CBS, Amazon Studios, Bravo, Dailymotion, and more come to destination festivals like this in order to seek out fresh faces, new talent, and be ahead of the game about what’s next.
BC students have a lot to offer to the independent film industry, and the first step is simply getting time to connect and network with the people who are already successful in the field. Checking in with some students near the end of the festival, I was able to learn more about why this weekend proved to be an invaluable experience for their weekend and their future.
Theatre major Samuela Nematchoua said the best part of the ITVFest experience was “meeting all the amazing people that you can’t meet in real life, getting close to celebrities, people from Hollywood, HBO producers, directors, and actors.” She was one of the many BC students who was able to obtain contacts within the industry to keep in touch with so they could collaborate on future projects. She was able to become Facebook friends and LinkedIn connections with people she admired, and looks forward to working with them and hitting them up for more advice. Her suggestion for students thinking about signing up for the class and attending the festival next year? “It’s worth missing Parents Weekend. [The class] gets you VIP access and so many opportunities. I’ve gotten advice on how to work my skills, as well as lots of encouragement to keep going. It is worth it for your career, and if you don’t take this class, it’s like you don’t really want to be in this industry, because this is the way.”
Cimron Charles, a senior film studies major at BC, said that ITVFest gave him more than just connections; it gave him a new way of thinking about his future career: “If your interested in this field, go! It will open your mind. I came interested in cinematography, but now after talking to people in the festival I’m realizing there are so many other ways to get into the industry.” Cimron works in IT at BC through Eagle Tech, and talking to film professionals made him realize that his technical skills may be even more of an advantage than he previously imagined.
The good news for you if you did miss out this year is that the ITVFest class (THTR225701) will be available again next Fall Semester! ITVFest 2016 is sure to be even bigger and better next year, and BC students are becoming an integral part of the whole festival experience. One BC student who attended last year even got a job right out of college organizing and managing this year’s event! If you have any questions about the class and getting involved with ITVFest next year, contact us the BC Arts Council at email@example.com. We can answer any questions you have about the class and the 2016 festival.
The future is bright for BC students at ITVFest. Who knows? Maybe in the next few years BC students can not only attend, but also submit their own projects to the festival! This industry is all about dreaming big, putting yourself out there, and sharing your stories, so look for out for the Fall 2016 course listings.
Also, in case you weren’t already convinced, check out our sweet digs at the Matterhorn, the cutest Vermont inn of all time, run by the wonderful Wanda and Joe, and their completely inexplicable pet camel…
And, have I mentioned how pretty Dover, Vermont is? Because…