Albion woman organizing WNY film and arts fest at GCC

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 24 June 2016 at 12:00 am

Rhonda Parker

ALBION – An Albion woman who produced and directed her first film in 2014 – “Friends Don’t Let Friends – Date Friends” – is organizing a new film and arts festival at Genesee Community College in August.

Rhonda Parker won several awards in 2014 at a Buffalo film festival. She has met many directors, producers and actors in the Western New York film circle in the past three years since she took up directing and producing films while a student at GCC.

“I didn’t know there were so many actors and films in Western New York,” Parker said. “This festival will be a chance to bring the Rochester and Buffalo film communities together.”

Parker said the two communities each have their own film culture, with Buffalo tending to be more prolific in producing films while Rochester’s film community is more technical-focused.

Parker and her husband Mark created Beaver Alley Studios, a non-profit organization last year. Since their debut film they have produced “Lonely Bananas,” which will be screened during the Western New York F.A.M.E. (Film, Art and Music Event). That film will be shown at 6 p.m. on Aug. 14, capping the three-day festival that starts Aug. 12. The Parkers also have produced “Message in a Bottle.”

Parker and Beaver Alley Studios are planning FAME with the Genesee Community College Center for the Arts. In addition to screening films, the festival will feature music performances, art displays, a photography contest, educational workshops, vendors, networking and “edgy comedy.”

Parker said the festival has generated buzz in the two film communities.

“As film makers, FAME understands the burden of high festival fees and the frustration of low audience turn out,” she said in a news release. “The group keeps fees low and has created an event with mass appeal. The festival treats film makers, musicians and artists like celebrities with an audience Q&A or panel discussion and encourages active audience participation by allowing attendees to choose some of the awards.”

File photo – Rhonda Parker, center right, is pictured in November 2014 with some of the cast and crew of “Friends Don’t Let Friends – Date Friends.” The group includes, front row, from left: Amelia Favata (Della) and Rhonda Parker (writer/director). Back row: Mark Parker (Director of photography/editor), Eric Witkowski (Jeff), Erin Stamp (Gwen), Casey Litzenberger (Allison) and Adam S. Dixson (Kyle).

Parker earned her degree from GCC with a double major in paralegal studies and communications. She wants to promote the local film and artistic talent, particularly the women artists.

Aug. 12 will feature scary films, while Aug. 13 will showcase “Girl Power” with films by female writers/directors or strong female leads. Aug. 14 will feature family-friendly films and others produced in WNY.

The mid-August festival at GCC has already received nearly 300 film, music and photography entries from all over the world. The organization is also seeking workshop presenters, sponsors and vendors. Vendor tables cost $100 for three days, but are discounted to $75 if booked by June 30. Tickets for the event are available on a per-block or workshop basis all the way to full VIP all-access. For more information on the schedule, tickets and the festival, click here.

“We are very excited about hosting an event like no other,” Parker said. “Three days of regional and international films, performances from local singers and songwriters, art displays, educational workshops-and of course, the all-important networking giving all attendees the opportunity to explore, exchange and share ideas and inspiring artists to continue their work.”