The story of a nearly impossible pursuit to understand the impact of international cinema on childhood autobiographical memory.
The story of a nearly impossible pursuit to understand the impact of international cinema on childhood autobiographical memory. Read more
About this project
Hello and thank you for your interest in Finding Felix. The project was launched with support from Stanford University, Freie Universität Berlin and the Berlin Film Festival's Generation section. The resulting work will serve as informative entertainment for audiences of all ages and as a resource for filmmakers, educators, festival programmers and more. More of the interviews are viewable here: www.findingfelixproject.blogspot.com
We have so far:
- 30 + indepth qualitative interviews
- 12 expert interviews
- 2 test screenings for audience feedback
- 90 minute roughcut
- Music secured
To finish, we need:
- Film Clips
- Final Edit
- Post-Production Sound and Image Perfection
- First phase post-production Promotion.
Ask anyone what their first film memory is. It's likely they can quite easily access the memory and tell you. This is evidence of the impact of the event memory. At film festivals for young audiences like the Berlin Film Festival's Generation, there is a lot of first film memory-making with foreign films-- shown in their original languages, framed with knowledgeable introductions and valuable discussions afterward. How might memories of films like these impact the life built upon them?
Very much like travel, foreign cinema offers sensory imprints of the world's languages, stories, aesthetics, culture and landscapes. Seen in childhood, these memories become a part of the Autobiographic Memory foundation, offering cornerstones to which like-memories connect as we construct our personal histories. With further exposure, these memories can develop into worldly instincts.
After collecting over ten years of insight as a producer and presenter of motion pictures for young audiences for the Mill Valley, Chicago Children's International, The San Francisco International Film Festivals and Screen 360: Films For Children of the World, further evidence to illustrate value seemed still needed. Through immersion into this question at Stanford University's Graduate School of Education and initial testing with the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, I recognized that illustrating the vividness of these film memories through qualitative interviews will reveal what Stanford professor Scott Bukatman said, "a stone left unturned for innovating how young audiences learn." So with support from Stanford, Freie Universität Berlin, and the Berlinale Generation section, I went looking for Felix, an impressively genuine eleven year-old whom I had met while serving on the 2001 Kinderfilmfest international jury, ten years after that first meeting.
What was so impressive about Felix? I met Felix and his family each day when I showed up to do my job on the international jury. He engaged me in conversation in English, his third language. I found him unusually calm and engaged, especially for an eleven year-old. Most of all, he seemed to have a sense that he was experiencing something great. Felix became my emblematic representation of the benefits of foreign films for a developing mind. How did these memories impact the person he has become?
This year, the Berlinale children and youth section is 37 years old. That makes for a large potential of the young Berliner population to have an international film or two in their memories. Not only Felix helps us illustrate this story. Several others: former young journalists and jury members whose childhoods were filled with days at the Berlinale reveal their memories and their potential impacts. The memory makers: festival directors and the filmmakers both reveal the connection of their work to their memories and those of their audiences.
David B. Pillemer's research on Autobiographical Memory, especially his Momentous Events, Vivid Memories, connected. Film memories could offer a directive memory, like Brian Rink's who took an inspirational cue from his film memories and acted upon it - setting his life on a particular course. For some, we know a great film memory can be completely directive and produce the next actor, director or composer; but for others, the memory can be implicit, and subtly influence their lives. In any case, Dr. Pillemer points out the Distinctiveness Hypothesis: an international film exposes us to something different, something distinctive and thereby is more likely to be memorable. David Rubin of Duke University and Tillmann Habermas of Goethe Universität Frankfurt also contributed to the research. It is the aspiration of this project to show the wealth of cinema made for young audiences as a simple, accessible solution for bringing the "world school" to those who can't get out to it and to show the easily accessible opportunity to plant cornerstone memories of distinctiveness which could resonate within a developing mind for a lifetime, with vivid surprising outcomes.
A magical note about our music: I met our soundtrack composer and producer, Tim Blok, by chance in a Suriname take-out joint in Amsterdam. He played me "Mister Money", I pushed the video start button on my laptop -- as if it were a scene from an Elvis flick-- and we both said, "Yeah, uh huh, that works." Thanks for the magic, Tim! www.3rdfloormagic.com
Many Thanks to Tina Töpfel, Gintare Malinauskaita, Daniel Scheimberg and the Berlinale Generation team for their support of FINDING FELIX!
Should FINDING FELIX not accomplish its funding goal through Kickstarter, please consider contributing through our fiscal sponsor, cinefemme.net Rewards will be honored.
Our budget is available upon request.
Here are some of our younger respondents from the John F. Kennedy School Berlin, a bilingual K-12 school, which regularly attends the children and youth section at the Berlinale.
Three years later, four classmates consider the same film:
Below on SoundCloud is an interview with Katy Kavanaugh, Shawn Bowman, writer/producer Phillip Pelletier and singer Heather Christie on KBOO radio with Crystal Leighty in Portland, Oregon.
Essay by Katy Kavanaugh with Kara Knapfel: "What Kids Can Do"
Risks and challenges
One of the items in our request for support with film finishing is to license film clips and present them along with our interviews in the most delightful way to engage a general audience. Some clips will be harder to come by so we might have to reconsider participation and lose a few favorites. We'll work within the constructs of fair-use and offer a fair and equal fee to the rights holders. Our post-production finishing is based on estimates from two Berlin production companies with upstanding reputations in the community of being fair and supportive.
One reshoot session is in our finishing budget to re-capture the skyped interviews live. One has already been completed. Several of the research psychologists whose work supported this project will be at an international conference at the Center for Autobiographical Memory at the University of Aarhus, Denmark in July and another subject is also in Denmark, making the reshoots economical. If we don't get funding, the skype sessions will remain in a balanced aesthetic.
Sound settings in the beginning of the project were a challenge. You might detect a single sound channel in some of the clips in the video above. Nevertheless, our sound quality (as was picture) at our test screening in a 240 seat cinema at Kino Arsenal at Potsdamerplatz, Berlin was excellent. Editor Daniel Scheimberg (b. Colorado, USA) did what he knows how to do within FinalCut and the 90 mins played balanced in surround sound. I did the editing above--pros would do the final.
First phase post-production promotion is the next hurdle. The budget line item in this Kickstarter campaign is for film festival submission screeners, postage, film festival screen copies, promotion. Festival presence will dictate the type of release (theatrical, institutional, public television, etc.) and further determine acceptance and further distribution budgeting. FINDING FELIX seeks a world sales agent who specializes in institutional sales. If that doesn't happen, darn it, we'll collect addresses and take mail orders, so make sure to take note of our contact information.
Risks and Challenges in presenting a story developed from research findings involving the nebulous human memory? There could be hundreds, of course. But when the ultimate truth of the human memory holds the most value, then the challenge becomes that of any artist: revealing the most potent minimum. In this case, the journey to cut through so much fine qualitative memory recollection is the greatest challenge and will ultimately make me a better storyteller. If I cannot eliminate the "little darlings" and reveal a clear, compelling, and repeatable story, that is the risk that will drive me make it....because I would like to be trusted to tell more worthy stories in the future.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
This is Kickstarter's advice: "Your funding goal should be the minimum amount needed to complete the project and fulfill all rewards. Because funding is all-or-nothing, you can always raise more than your goal but never less."
"Why so high?" some have asked. This isn't my first turn at production budgets. The budget is based on real costs of producing with a small crew in the simplest, best way. If you haven't seen a film budget before, here's the summary of one.
Believe me, I know how to make a little go a long way. I produced and lived on the $US10K that was awarded through the fellowship, for a year. I've shot and recorded everything myself with help of a designer and History PhD candidate, both working voluntarily. A pro doc maker joined me for one day of shooting, gratis.
Doing everything yourself is possible, and in this situation kept the crew to interviewee ratio intimate, but for technology assuredness not optimal. That is why the budget for reshoots includes proper pay for a small crew.
Reshoot budget was 3,000
Allpost Editing, Sound, Color Correction, Titles, Subtitles 14, 443.60
First phase Distribution
(copies, promotional materials postage, entries, festival presence) 7,500
Director 2,500 (yes, always include a fee)
Total 34,443 Euros or 45,003 Dollars US
These films are submitted or selected by film programmers who watch what makers are making for the young audiences of their countries. Many are thinking about an international audience, too. Each year at the Berlinale Generation section, for example, we see the world premieres of films made in the previous year. This is an incredible collection of films that folks who are new to the conversation may not otherwise think of as films for young audiences. But film programmers know their audiences and their capacities. What is quite noticeable is the variety in perception of childhood capacities. Most of these excellent, often historically rich films do not get seen outside of the festival circuit. Ask yourself why that may be.
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