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Interview with Executive Director of FilmGate Interactive, Diliana Alexander

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As FilmGate Interactive kicks off for a second year, the festival is jam packed with a schedule of film screenings, workshops and interactive presentations. The festival, brought to you by Indie Film Club Miami and FilmGate, prides itself on bringing together like-minded individuals on the forefront of interactive storytelling to showcase the latest ideas and enhancements engaging audiences in theaters everywhere.

Examiner had a chance to sit down with the festivals Executive Director, Diliana Alexander, to see just what the weekend's events have in store for Miami.

Examiner: How did you get started with FilmGate Interactive and the Indie Film Club Miami?

Diliana Alexander: Indie Film Club Miami resulted from a need. We created the organization as an answer to the question, how do we keep locally grown film talent in South Florida? Our answer was to provide support for independent filmmakers through workshops, production resources, and offer mentoring to help them create and produce their projects. We then quickly gravitated towards interactive storytelling, hence FilmGate. We knew transmedia and creating immersive experiences is the future and its coming fast in a very uncertain independent production future. We are very interested and focused on what is happening now at the intersection of storytelling and new technology.

E: So, tell me a little bit about the upcoming FilmGate Interactive film festival and conference. What makes this conference so different from other film festivals here in Miami?

DA: We provide a collaborative space for local and international visual storytellers and the industry that supports them so that new projects and new relationships can emerge. All of our programming is designed to engage the audience, where they are no longer passive but active participants in the creative process. They can immerse themselves as little or as far as the story architect has designed. As technology continues to develop and seep into our everyday lives, creating interaction with your audience becomes inevitable tool for success.

E: What kind of workshops and events can attendees expect to see?

DA: Event goers have a large variety of experiences to pick from including interactive screenings, musical performances, and workshops designed to catch you up to speed on new tech such as “Sony's 4K Demystified.” If you have a project you wish to create or need help with there is POV's hackathon (story hack) workshops. To add we are hosting POV, the National Film Board of Canada, industry leaders in immersive documentary & film-making who are sharing their projects with South Florida audiences.

E: As a relatively new concept, how do you see the festival and conference growing in the coming years?

DA: As we are presented with new opportunities, due to the rapid changes in tech we are experiencing, we have no idea what tools we will be using a few years from now. Will it still be Twitter? Will there be some new augmented reality wearable gadget in the marketplace? There are so many uncertainties but so many possibilities. Nevertheless, FilmGate will give attendees a glimpse into what that future holds and what great stories can be told. This year with generous support from The Knights Foundation, we are also able to make many of our events free or reasonably priced for everyone.

E: One of the films you're showing portrays a more interactive approach to story telling, tell me about "The Lost Children."

DA: The Lost Children literally allows the audience to play a part in the story of Evelyn Hamilton, patron saint of a fictional cult and her battle against all odds to fulfill her destiny. The evening happens in four parts. During an orchestrated cocktail party the audience may willingly play into cult recruitment techniques employed by story architect Mark Harris. Later they witness a live cult initiation ceremony and closes with a film screening. Believers encourage the film to reveal certain secrets. Skeptics cause the film to reveal others. It’s different every screening. It has as much thrills as a theme park ride.

E: How do you see interactive storytelling changing the face of film, as we know it?

DA: Films have you in tune to their story as long as you sit and view. When it’s transmedia-based and interactive that is not the case. Story and story characters exist and blend with reality through blogs, apps, holograms and other new tech. The story has a different ending for each person based on how the react to what is being presented.

E: How does the Miami film scene play into the idea of allowing the audience to "co-create" the films they watch?

DA: Miami artists and filmmakers like to experiment, even if we are still green at this new type of storytelling. Interactive means convergence and what we have seen is that transmedia pulls in not only filmmakers, but web developers, coders, contemporary dancers, theater performers, musicians, visual artists, social media and live event producers to tell one story.

E: In another interview, you talked about the desire to keep talent local by creating opportunities for young filmmakers here, what advice do you have for local filmmakers trying to get their film projects off the ground? What can they do to tap into the local indie film market?

DA: New technology creates opportunities instantly for the regional filmmaker - crowd-sourcing, less expensive and more mobile gear, and online distribution facilitates this. What I would tell creatives of all sorts is to keep creating. The technology has caught up where the world and not just Hollywood can be your stage.

E: Of all the exciting happenings scheduled during the festival and conference, which would you say is an absolute must see?

DA: The Lost Children cult experience is a must see. The Skype Show is a romantic comedy told through many mediums. Mad King Thomas a very offbeat transmedia musical dance performance. The National Film Board's A Journal of Insomnia experience is a perfect showcase for the stay-up-all-night-goers of South Florida. Last but not least and not to be missed is the FilmGate Technology Playground where creatives can try out the latest gear for storytelling production.

For more information and to purchase tickets to FilmGate Interactive please visit www.film-gate.org. To view a trailer for The Lost Children click here.

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