Each May for the past 23 years, the BFA Film, Video and Animation Department has been showcasing the talent of students graduating from the department at the annual Dusty Film & Animation Festival. Several days of screenings of short films, videos and animations culminate in a gala awards ceremony at the SVA Theatre, with famed film and animation industry professionals presenting awards to students selected for their exemplary work.
This year’s 23rd Annual Dusty Film & Animation Festival featured a brand new element—a two-minute trailer capturing the excitement of the yearly event. SVA Close Up recently spoke via email to filmmaker and faculty member Annie Flocco, who not only produced the video, but is in charge of producing the Dusty Festival as well.
What was the hardest part of reducing an evening-length ceremony, and hours of footage, into a two-minute video?
Actually for me it really wasn’t that hard because I had a very clear idea of what I wanted to accomplish with the trailer, which directly informed what footage Kat Knight (editor and current BFA Film, Video and Animation student) and I chose. I wanted to show the excitement and scope of the Dustys so that someone watching the trailer would have a good sense of the festival and the Awards Ceremony and feel as if they were there. I wanted to showcase the students and their work, the stature of the presenters, the industry presence, the SVA community and the professionalism and quality of it all.
Now, Kat, as the editor, probably has a different answer as to how hard it was to reduce all of the footage to a two minute video given that she was the one pulling clips from all of the raw footage!
Why did you want to produce a trailer for the Dustys?
The Dusty Festival has evolved a great deal over the past few years and is more than a wonderful event that takes place every year in May. One of my many goals with the Dustys was to have it not only be an amazing showcase for the thesis students presenting their work to the industry, but to also have it work for the BFA Film, Video and Animation Department and the school as a whole, all year long—and it is. The work that I am doing with the Office of Admissions is just one example of this, and the Dusty trailer and website have already been sent out to 3,000 prospective students, which is exciting.
What stood out to you about this year’s event?
The energy! The positive energy was palpable. Everyone—students, family, friends, sponsors, presenters, industry people—were truly enjoying themselves and responding so positively to the work and the festival.
We also did something new this year at the Dusty Awards, which was to have clips shown of the nominated films and animations. Olivier Bernier (BFA 2006 Film, Video and Animation) and Tiffany DeGuzman over at Rota6 put those together, and they did a great job. It was a big success and greatly added to the evening. Countless people said that they wished they could have seen more of the films and have either asked to see the films in their entirety or plan to come to more of the screenings next year.
And most importantly, we had a very strong industry presence, both through our sponsorship and at the festival. Companies included Magnolia Pictures, Fox, Offhollywood, Emmett/Furla Films, Cartoon Network, Glass Eye Pix, and many more, who all gave their support. Many of them attended the festival, too. On top of that, each year I bring on industry professionals to be judges for the Dustys—directors, producers, writers, documentarians, animators, cinematographers and editors—and again, many of them were in attendance. The most exciting thing about all of this is that many companies and individuals have asked to see the films, and many students have internships or jobs as a result of the festival and these relationships.
What do you enjoy most about producing the event?
What I most enjoy is knowing that I can make a difference. I have over 20 years experience as an independent producer and filmmaker, and a background in marketing and event production. In producing the Dustys and its many moving parts, I have drawn on every facet of my experience to make it a success and the festival that it is today, all of which is rewarding.
Even more rewarding is to see the smiles on the students’ faces and to know that in some way big or small I have been able to make a difference or have been able to help them, and for some, have the Dustys launch them in their careers. Whether it be teaching my class or producing the Dustys, I am at SVA because of the students. And as I said at the Awards this year, I am sometimes “wowed” by the amazing work that the students create and always very proud of all of them.
What would you want a prospective student to know about the Dustys?
The BFA Film, Video and Animation Department is strong and competitive with the top programs in the country. The Dustys add something special on top of that. Unlike some undergraduate film programs, all SVA film and animation thesis students get to make a thesis film, which is a great thing unto itself. But to then have your thesis film screened in a state-of-the-art theater, showcased to the industry and have opportunities that can lead to internships and jobs, is a pretty amazing thing. The Dusty Festival and Awards are exciting and fun and something they will never forget.
Images (from top to bottom): (L-R) Annie Flocco, BFA Film, Video and Animation Department Chair Reeves Lehmann, and Valerie Smaldone, Master of Ceremonies, 2012 Dusty Awards; Jorge Arzac, 2012 Outstanding Film, Directing and Editing Award recipient with actor/director John Turturro; SVA Theatre.