Pacific Students Attend Independent Filmmaker Project Week

The Pacifican

By: Angelique Doty

From Sunday, September 20 to Wednesday, September 23, the Media X Department offered an opportunity for students to participate in the 42nd annual Independent Filmmaker Project Week, also known as IFP Week. This event traditionally takes place in New York, but due to the pandemic’s new virtual circumstances and a grant the department received, the event was available to attend online. A series of lectures and networking sessions were put on during the day, and Pacific students had the option to choose which events to participate in. Student participants were required to attend 1–2 panels a day from Sunday until Wednesday, write a one-page reflection, and take 2–3 pictures of themselves attending the events for the social media page.

The IFP Project Forum provides career opportunities to help filmmakers of all experience levels. This is the leading platform in America for creating independent projects. The main goal of the Project Forum is to set the foundation for building careers in this industry. The multiple daily conferences and panels with a variety of speakers and topics covered provide a strong chance for Pacific’s Media X students to become more educated in this industry from leading professionals.

Katie Chambers, Community Engagement Director at NYWIFT, talks about her experience managing the Communications and Membership Departments and co-producing the two annual awards shows, The Muse Awards and Designing Woman Awards. “We advocate for equality in the screen industries and support women at every stage of their careers,” says Chambers. Due to the pandemic regulations, this year’s events had to be held virtually for the safety of all the participants and speakers. Chambers spoke highly of her experience, describing the event as an open opportunity for people to network and virtually gather to share ideas and discuss their current projects.

The New York Women in Film and Television Mixer event provided artists a chance to meet and network despite the limitations from the new virtual lifestyle. NYWIFT has been proficient despite the pandemic regulations, producing more than sixty virtual educational and networking programs since the closure in March, according to Katie Chambers, the Community Engagement Director for NYWIFT. The goal of this institution is to support women’s career goals in the industries of filmmaking, television, and other digital creative work. Leading men and women in these industries help educate and provide information for others learning to build and further develop their career paths in filmmaking and television.

Kevin Pontuti, Filmmaker and Department Chair at the University of the Pacific, shared his personal experience with the IFP event. He was signed up for the week-long event, then decided to open the opportunity for Media X students to get involved because it serves as an open door to network, get professional contacts, and learn from the virtual workshops to help students build their career path. His goal with opening this event up to students was to connect the Media X majors of all college standing with IFP to get more involved in hopes of establishing a better understanding of current filmmaking. Pontuti had the chance to meet sixteen influencers from the “Meet the Decision Makers” sessions later in the week and appreciated the recordings available for watching even after the live panels ended.

He recommends Media X students get involved with IFP’s year-round programming, especially since the events are easier to access now that they are all virtual. Pontuti is looking forward to the Game Developer conference that will likely be online this spring but may take place in San Francisco. Despite the global trauma caused by the pandemic, he sees all the virtual events as one positive outcome to make this dire situation a little more bearable, while preparing students for a professional career after graduation. “If there ever was a silver lining to the volatile current times, the shift to virtual events like this has opened up access in a way that was never considered before. We have so much access to events and speakers through these online events, and I do hope they continue even when we are back in person,” he added.

Juliana Jackson, class of 2022 Media X student, Pacific Film Club President, and participant in IFP week discussed her experience attending the seminars led by industry professionals and learning more about improving her own film projects. She found the networking events to be helpful in making contacts. She learned from directors and writers of current film/TV pieces such as The Devil All the Time, Little Fires Everywhere, I’m Thinking of Ending Things, and Betty. The seminars provided tips on succeeding in the entertainment career path. “I personally gained a sense of unity when hearing from directors and writers who are successful, but also face some of the same production problems as myself. I also found that a lot of the self-doubt that comes with each creative endeavor is universal for filmmakers and learned how to push through that in order to create the story you want to tell,” says Juliana Jackson. Chambers, Pontuti, and Jackson all recommend these events to future Media X students, creatives, and filmmakers looking to expand their network as well as enhancing their creative skills.