‘FirstGlance’ film festival showcases inspiring filmmakers’ work

By Kerri Dougherty
November 5, 2009

Lauren Sliva

After much anticipation, the annual “FirstGlance” independent film festival took place at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia from Oct. 22 to Oct. 25.

It was a great turnout for the 12th annual film festival, as crowds of people rushed to the scene on all nights of the event.

The film festival featured different kinds of projects as the screen rolled feature lengths, feature documentaries, short narratives, mini-docs, student shorts, music videos and animation.

In 1996, “FirstGlance” was created in a small basement by one of Philadelphia’s own and Temple University Alumni, Bill Ostroff.

Ostroff originally lived in Philadelphia, then decided to expand his horizons with a huge move to Los Angeles. He successfully held the festival in both cities. Recently, Ostroff has decided to move back to Philadelphia in hopes to hold a film festival that takes place more than once a year.

“With $300 out of my own pocket, we started our own festival. We put a couple of our own projects in, along with some other people’s films and suddenly made a profit. We held the festival in a theater space, in two little rooms with 40 seats each for three nights. In total, we showed about 20 projects,” Ostroff said.

Many people were attracted to this event. It was a great opportunity to head out and watch films. The film festival was also a great opportunity for aspiring directors and filmmakers because they got the chance to meet with multiple directors and really have some one-on-one time with them. The majority of the directors there were interested in what the audience had to say and they were accepting any criticism in exchange for a better learning experience for themselves.

The audience voted on “Best of the Fest.” It was an all around interacting event where people were sharing ideas and receiving comments on their work. Many took it as a learning experience.

“I came here tonight to get a glimpse of how a film festival works. I am interested in participating in many film festivals, but I do not have the confidence just yet to share my work, but after tonight, seeing the crowd and how everyone was so interested in everybody’s ideas, it just made me think that no idea is a bad idea and I regret not trying to get my stuff out there,” Tim Nolan, freshman from Temple University, film and media arts major, said.

One interesting film that touched the hearts of the audience was a film about the Civil War and how influential it was on the American society. Film director, John Foley of Producers Management Television and a Temple University graduate of1974, radio television major just got back into film five-years ago.

Foley had a lot to say about the filmmaking process and some interesting tips for any filmmaker.

“Documentaries are different than a feature. With a documentary you have to follow where the story takes you. With the film I presented tonight about the civil war, it started getting interesting when the cast met with a historical decent. We found the granddaughter of a flag bearer in the Civil War and it was an amazing experience. When we arrived at the scene of the flag, she instantly got emotional and as the cameras were rolling, chills were just shooting down our spines,” Foley said.

When asked how they found the granddaughter of the Civil War flag bearer by someone in the audience, Foley explained the story.

“When we were on the hunt to find someone of historical decent, Google came through and saved us. We also worked with the Smithsonian museum in Washington, D.C. Things started getting very stressful as to finding out information for the movie. I continued to call the senator of Washington for help and he finally came through,” Foley said.”The film took two-and-half years to create. It takes a lot of patience, but the turnout is very rewarding. I relied on the kindness of strangers. It cost about $25,000 cash and $150,000 in favors to produce this film.”

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Kerri Dougherty

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