Tallahassee Film Festival Taps FSU Film School to Lead Festival to National Stage
Torchlight Program Executive Director Paul Cohen To Guide Future Development of Festival
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Tallahassee Film Festival Board Chair Lou Armesto announced today that the board has contracted the Florida State University College of Motion Picture Arts to provide the artistic and creative direction for the festival, with the goal of producing national visibility for the young arts organization.
“It’s a natural,” Armesto said. “We have one of the top film schools in the world right here in our own backyard. It makes perfect sense to leverage the expertise of its faculty to help the local festival that we are so proud of gain more prominence in the film industry.”
Frank Patterson, dean of the College of Motion Picture Arts said the college will focus on the long-term goal of growing the festival into a nationally recognized event and the short-term goal of producing a rich, film-centered cultural event for local audiences.
To achieve the long-term goal, Patterson has turned to Paul Cohen, the executive director of the college’s Torchlight Program, to guide the future development of the festival. Cohen, a 30-year veteran of the independent motion picture industry and an executive who has created several successful distribution and production companies, also teaches current and emerging film industry business practices at Florida State.
“I am excited and very much looking forward to working with the board to cultivate new initiatives and resources to move this festival forward,” Cohen said.
As Cohen works behind the scenes to develop the festival’s national footprint, Film School industry liaison Brenda Mills will serve as the festival’s executive director and provide organizational leadership for the festival. Mills will work with community volunteers, including key leaders Chris Faupel and Staci Mellman, to orchestrate the annual events.
Now approaching its fifth year, the Tallahassee Film Festival began as an initiative of the Knight Creative Communities Institute, with the goal of drawing and retaining young professionals and sustaining the area’s high quality of life. Since it was established, the
festival has screened more than 300 films, including several international and award-winning features.
“This is great news for Tallahassee,” said Mike Pate, former publisher of the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper and an advisory board member of the Knight Creative Communities Institute. “The FSU-TFF agreement is a smart town-gown relationship, one that combines the knowledge and professional experience of the university with the local leadership and financial support of the community.”
Recently, the festival board reconstituted its membership with the goal of identifying leaders in the community who are both passionate about the arts and have the ability to donate and raise funds for the festival.
“That was the key to this whole deal,” Patterson said. “Without community leadership, the Film School can’t push the festival to the next level. Nothing would make us prouder than to deliver a top-notch arts event to our friends, neighbors and colleagues here in Tallahassee.”
About the Tallahassee Film Festival:
The Tallahassee Film Festival (TFF) is a 501(c)3 charitable organization whose mission is to nurture all aspects of film culture and stimulate economic development; its vision is to make Tallahassee a nationally recognized film center. To those ends, it produces an annual festival and other year-round, film-related events. For more information, visit www.tallahasseefilmfestival.com.
About The Florida State University College of Motion Picture Arts
The Florida State University College of Motion Picture Arts is regarded as a top film school, described by the Hollywood Reporter as “one of the world’s best” and by the 2012 Fiske Guide to Colleges as “one of the top motion picture schools in the nation.” It has also been recognized by the Directors Guild of America for its “distinguished contribution to American culture through the world of film and television.” Florida State is renowned for the number of Student Oscar®, Emmy®, and notable national and international awards its students earn each year. The faculty is composed of award-winning industry experts with a combined 400-plus feature film credits who share a gift for teaching students the art, craft and business of storytelling in the motion picture industry.