A Very Belated Goodbye
from Jonathan Kaplan
To all of our many friends who've attended our WFG film group meets through the years, I want to say that it's with a bit of a heavy heart that I've decided quite belatedly to officially announce the end the Westchester Film Group.
Over the course of six years, we took the WFG from a gathering of four people meeting in the back room of a bar, to the largest and only Film networking and educational group in the history of Westchester County.
Throughout, we remained autonomous and refused outside funding, with the attendant strings attached, absorbing the considerable expense of printing, posting and mailing flyers, providing refreshments and free publications, etc., for each meet. That all came out of our own pockets - which we gladly accepted. It wasn't the cost but the time and effort required to keep the group running at a high level , (our commitment never to repeat programs and simply become another Film screening repertory group, for example), which became deciding factors.
For seven years we acted not only as an Educational and Networking group, but as an unofficial social group, and de facto clearing house for Film queries over Westchester and the metropolitan New York region, including out-of-state queries from as far away as California and Toronto. Everything from a student needing the answer to what f-stop setting they should use, to where could a documentary Filmmaker get the best deal on a rental? If I didn't know the answer, and I often didn't, I always made sure I knew someone in our database who did, and the caller always had their answer within twenty four hours.
* * * *
Additionally, I made a time consuming location move, then moved again, twice in under two years. I decided to embark on producing my own debut film, something I dreamed of for years.
Beyond that however, the time I was devoting to the WFG, whether I was able to successfully obtain a speaker or not, was eating into ever larger chunks of my time that I needed to produce my film, and I couldn't effectively do both.
The time had come to close out the group.
We hesitated seemingly forever, because no one wanted to end it. We'd built from scratch into a strong presence, a hub support group for Filmmakers in Westchester.
Even when our best judgment told us otherwise, long after our last meet, we continued to entertain thoughts of one big final "Goodbye" party. However, despite my best efforts, it was just wasn't in the cards. Still, I posted no announcements, hoping against hope that somehow, more than two years later, we could still, some how start up again.
However, Jim had increasing work and family commitments, and my debut film expanded in scope and budget, greater than I originally envisioned, into an all time consuming, long term effort.
* * * *
The WFG was one of the single best things that I've ever done. I met literally hundreds of people through the years. Many became long term social acquaintances, a few of you became close personal friends who touched my life for the better, for which I'll be eternally grateful.
There are far too many people to try and thank here, but their names are all noted after each individual meet.
On behalf of Program Director Jim Evans and myself, I thank all of you for the all the wonderful relationships and opportunities the WFG provided to enable us to give something back to the Westchester community that I'd called "home" my entire life.
The time had come and I had to move on.
I wish all of you the very best in the New Year and days to come and want you to know that I'll always remember with fondness the great times and warm friendships we shared. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to serve you. It was a pleasure and a privilege.
of Every Meet
July: Our first meet, Mercy College, Dobbs Ferry. Informal get-together; 9 attendees
Fall: Fireworks Brewery, White Plains (later to become Mercy College) Informal Meet; 4 attendees
January: Post Resources Informal Networking Meet 50+ attendees.
February: Emelin Theater, Mamaroneck Small Informal Meet.
March: WCC; “Before You Go” Feature Documentary w/Q&A with Director
April: Sundance Directors Mary Harron (“I SHOT ANDY WARHOL”), John Walsh: (“Ed’s Next Move”) & Journal News Film Critic/Moderator Marshall Fine: Approx 60+ attendees
May: Borders Café, Mt. Kisco Filmmakers Roundtable Get together
June: Tour of “Sprocket & Dubs” Editing Facility. Appearance by Iris Stevens, Film Office Director.
July: Fireworks Brewery; Informal Get together
August: Private Tour of Blue Sky Productions (“ICE AGE”, “X-FILES”, “BUNNY” et al) Harrison NY
October: Tour of Bee Harris Productions, Editing Studios, Mt. Vernon, NY.
November: WCC Pleasantville resident Writer/Director Terry George “Some Mother’s Son”, “A Bright Shining Lie”, “Hotel Rawanda” interviewed by Journal News Film Critic Marshall Fine. 75 attendees.
February: Fireworks Brewery: Informal Networking Meet. 50+ SRO open meet w/many new faces.
May: Westchester Arts Council: Informal Meet and Greet. Talk by Council Dir. Janet Langsam
July: Post Resources Ossining. Rob & Jackie Weir Hosts. Demo of Avid and “Ice” 3-D SpEfx software
November: “Screenwriting” discussion at the American Red Cross, WP. WGA writers Ethan Wiley & Ed Woodyard guests. Group Director and script analyst Jonathan moderated.
March: Mercy College, Composer/Audio Engineer Prof. Stephen Ward on Film Scoring: Aesthetics and Techniques
July: Mercy College. Prof. Stephen Ward demonstrates Pro-Tools use in composing Movie scores and sound effects.
September: 27th WCC: “The 1st Ever Meeting of Westchester’s 2 Film Heavy weights” Film Critic Marshall Fine & Mt. Vernon’s Film Scholar Vincent (“KUBRICK”) LoBrutto discuss the State of The Indie Film.
December 13th: Our 1st Holiday Party, at Rob & Jackie Weir’s “The Big House”, Ossining, NY.
September 25th: Huge Fall Kick-off Get-Together Party at Jerry Errico’s studio in Irvington, NY.
November 28th: WCC: Demonstration of Apple’s Final Cut Pro (FCP) courtesy of Prof. Bill Winters.
December 19th: Huge Year End Wrap Party, again at Jerry Errico’s Studio, Irvington, NY.
July 24th: Mercy College, WP SRO! 95+ Networking/Event at Mercy College’s Digital Theatre (the former Fireworks Café site). SONY’s “Star Wars” Digital Camera, Talk, Q&A and award winning clips. Our largest meet ever!
December: "The Big House" post production studio in Ossining. Year end party. Jackie and Rob Weir again were our gracious hosts.
September 24th: at Mercy College. Eric Druker from Lowell Lights gives a lighting workshop.
November 13th: WP Public Library. /ScriptAnalyst/Writer Jonathan gives a Screenwriting Workshop. 65 attendees.
December 11th: Ossining, Holiday Party at Rob & Jackie Weir’s “The Big House” editing studios.
April 22nd: Mercy College, WP; Screening of Million Dollar Award Winning Shorts courtesy of Hypnotic Films.
September 30th: Mercy College, WP: Movie presentation and Q&A by representatives of Kodak. OUR FINAL MEET.
A total of 30 programs in 7 years.
By any measure, a roaring success.
- - - Jonathan