Sunday, January 29, 2006

Cell Flix Update: NPR, Inside Edition


The judges' final decision is in, and the winner of the first Cell Flix Festival competition will be announced tomorrow.

National Public Radio's "Morning Edition" will air a four-minute piece on the festival tomorrow (Monday), sometime during the first hour of the show. And we expect a crew from the early-evening entertainment program, Inside Edition, to be on campus tomorrow to shoot a segment. There are other pretty exciting possibilities in the works; we'll keep you posted.

The visibility of Cell Flix around the world has drawn new kinds of public attention to the Park School as a place where students and faculty are engaging in creative approaches to media production. Alumni are already emailing me, telling me that their colleagues are now asking them about Park, and about what kind of place it was to go to school. One '03 alum says she posted the newspaper story above her desk because she's proud to have studied at a school that 'gets it.' The point? We're not a cell phone school - but Cell Flix isn't about cell phones. It's about being ready to engage with the next new platform, technology, and creative opportunity. And if we can establish a reputation as that kind of school, that's good news for everybody -- faculty, students, and alumni.

Now that the process is finally coming to a close, I want to take a minute to acknowledge the work of several people who have really stepped up to make this event more successful and high profile than anybody could ever have expected it to be. In particular:

-- Three of our faculty -- Meg Jamieson and Nick Muellner in C&P and Peter Johanns in TVR -- took the time and energy to review all of the entries that met the minimal requirements to come up with the "top ten." After viewing all of the entries, I was really glad that I wasn't the one who had to make those decisions - -and I was really grateful that three of our most expert faculty had volunteered to do it for us.

-- the students who have been featured in the media coverage, including (in particular) Suds, whose photo accompanied the AP story that was published in newspapers all over the world, and who therefore became something of the representative Park student for the competition; Sasha Stefanova, and Mike Potter. They responded to the media with professionalism, thoughtfulness, and an ability to articulate their ideas with clarity and precision;

-- the alumni who took time out of their incredibly demanding schedules and lives to select the winner. David Lebow and Rodrigo Bellott came to the work from very different professional perspectives -- David as Executive Vice President and General Manager of AOL Media Networks, and Rodrigo as an independent filmmaker -- and they independently selected the same entry as the best: proof that platform doesn't alter the qualities of a great story;

-- and finally, the above-and-beyond-the-call-of-duty work of Melissa Gattine in Park's Special Programs office, who has been juggling national media requests for the past three weeks with the skill and calm of a real PR pro. Everybody wants something NOW, everybody wants to be sure none of the other media is getting it first, and nobody has a clue about how to deal with the file formats and transfers involved. Melissa has managed to maneuver through the maze with grace and good humor -- and without a single glitch. The media can be...ummm, difficult, at best, and they're always ready to move on to something else if there's the slightest annoyance or problem. Thanks to Melissa, there were none -- and to the benefit of all of us, that means the media stuck around long enough to get the story.

As always, an idea is nothing more than an idea -- and, as I've been told by Cell Flix judge David Lebow -- the world is full of extraordinary ideas. The real test is in the execution. I introduced what seemed like the wacko idea of a mobile-delivery film festival to the Park School, but its success is a credit to the faculty, students, alumni and staff who together made it a reality. My congratulations and gratitude to each of them.


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