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V7: Thanks so much for being a part of our Visionary Panel! You graduated from UNCW in 2011 and was a part of the Visions staff. What’s it like coming back as a panelist?

GF: I was having an unsatisfying day at work when Shannon reached out to me about coming back to speak at Visions, so it was a nice surprise! I worked for Visions one year and had a film shown the following year so I have very fond memories of the festival. I’m very excited to be back and I hope that it’ll be beneficial for everyone attending.

V7: You graduated from UNCW in 2011. Can you briefly explain all the things you’ve done since graduating?

GF: After graduation I shot commercials for the multicultural organizations at UNCW. Then I moved to Ann Arbor, MI and worked at the Ann Arbor Film Festival for a couple of years as a tour assistant and later as the Volunteer Coordinator. After that I moved to Boston to get my Master’s at Emerson. I graduated last May and by June I was offered to teach two classes.

V7: You work a lot with real film rather than digital video. Why do you think you lean toward that medium?

GF: Even at Emerson, 16mm film is a rare thing. It’s very tactile, hand processed. Film is more interactive which is what’s so attractive to me about it. It’s more about doing things wrong than doing things right -- my experimental workshop professor (who is now my boss)  used to comment that I was not gentle with my film, but why would I be? I wanted to see what I could do with this blank film; I wanted to see how gnarly I could get.

V7: What drew you to experimental filmmaking?

GF: I started film studies with an idea of making documentaries. I took Shannon’s experimental film class not to make experimental films per se but to mess with film as a medium more.  One of the assignments, poetic documentary, was what really opened my eyes to the possibilities. I wanted to see what else I could do other than just streamline documentary. The class allowed me to get closer to Shannon, who I felt understood what I was trying to do, and it also allowed me to explore more personal work.

V7: Was there any specific film or moment where you knew you wanted to study film?

GF: I remember Shannon played parts of Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould and I had a quasi-religious experience. It was challenging and stimulating in a way I’d never experienced before. Now the only other times I feel that combination of emotions -- when my brain is trying to create all these connections -- are when I’m painting or listening to jazz. After we watched it I immediately went out and got Glenn Gould on vinyl. Monahan told me to keep going after being discouraged.

V7: Any advice for aspiring filmmakers?

GF:In this stage of your career you aren’t getting paid so your only responsibility is to do what speaks to you. In my senior post production class with Dave Monahan, my film didn’t play well with the rest of the class and I was so scared that I’d been wasting all my time making something that nobody cared about. Monahan and I ran into each other outside of class a few days later and he just told me, “Those kids don’t know what they’re talking about -- keep working.” It’s hard to get criticized when your work is so personal, but have to learn to distinguish what’s valid criticism and what’s garbage. Keep your voice. Also, take Andre Silva’s 6x1 class if you can. I still use lessons from that in my work.