Local Industry | Reports

Continuity and Change at BF/VF

1 Oct , 2001  

Written by Emily Jansen | Posted by:

Bob Glover takes the helm as Executive Director of Boston Film/Video Foundation, preparing to lead the organization into a new era.

Founded in 1976, the Boston Film/Video Foundation is a regional arts center whose mission is “to encourage and facilitate access to and understanding of film, video, and electronic media as a means of expression.” 

Since its founding, local filmmakers have benefited from BF/VF services, which include equipment access and financial assistance, as well as numerous educational programs such as “Rough Cuts” and the BF/VF Meet the Director series. This year, after serving for 14 years as the Executive Director of BF/VF, Anne Marie Stein stepped down to pursue new opportunities, and Bob Glover assumed leadership of this well-respected organization. NewEnglandFilm.com caught up with Mr. Glover to find out more about him and his plans for BF/VF.

As opposed to many in the Boston area who started their film careers by attending film school or getting involved with a local production company, Bob Glover entered the Boston filmmaking community in a more roundabout way. He began as a science teacher. 

Eventually his teaching career took a decisive turn when he made a transition into children’s television, first producing for Zoom, then working as an AP on Sesame Street, and later serving as a coordinating producer at WGBH. The last television production work Mr. Glover did was as executive producer for local programming at WGBH. Eventually he left television and delved into the business world with a marketing job. In all, Bob Glover spent 30 years in television working on public affairs shows, live television, documentaries, and children’s and adult programming.

So what drew him to the executive director position at the Boston Film/Video Foundation? “BF/VF is a fascinating place,” he pronounced emphatically. “It has so much potential and yet is already doing spectacular things. I felt that coming here was a great opportunity that would also pose interesting challenges to me. With the [BF/VF] workshops and the New England Film Festival, there is simply so much going on here. Particularly the New England Film Festival — it is a spectacular resource for local filmmakers to exhibit their films.”

Indeed, BF/VF supports and spearheads some of the Boston film community’s most esteemed events. With the departure of longtime Executive Director, Anne Marie Stein and Glover’s arrival, there are certain to be changes within the organization starting right from the top. When asked what he would bring to the organization, Glover replied, “Everybody brings their own unique style and perspective to an organization,” he said. “Anne Marie nurtured the organization through some very challenging times. I would say that I am going to have a more programmatic focus rather than a curatorial focus. I really want to forge ahead with our programming.”

It’s clear that Glover has some specific ideas in mind and that he has not left his academic roots far behind. As he explained it, many people tend to focus on one aspect of learning. In film school there can be an emphasis on intellectual concepts rather than hands-on workshops. In workshops there may tend to be an emphasis on “doing” rather than on intellectual concepts. As a Northeastern graduate, Mr. Glover believes there is something to be learned from a model of education, which incorporates classroom work with real life work experience. “Both of these experiences are unique, valuable, and with benefits. I would like to try and provide both of these valuable experiences through different approaches.”

When faced with the question, how will this philosophy affect his long-range vision for BF/VF and his ultimate goals for the organization, he launched excitedly into a discussion about the BF/VF workshops — the organization’s foremost educational initiative. “It’s fascinating… these workshops are for people who are interested in filmmaking but don’t necessarily have the time or money for film school.” The workshops, he continued, provide an opportunity for someone to develop skills, and in some cases a person can learn enough to find a job in the film community that is consistent with their newly acquired skills. 

“In my biggest leap of fancy, I see us setting up workshops which service novice, intermediate, and advanced filmmakers. Up until now,” Glover observed, “I think we have done an excellent job of providing resources for novice and intermediate filmmakers, but I think we can do more for advanced filmmakers.”

Already BF/VF is working with Northeastern as a partner to present media arts programs for their students, and Mr. Glover has initiated talks with a variety of people at other organizations about how, and in what capacity BF/VF can work with those organizations. He lists his major workshop goals as forming partnerships with other academic institutions and expanding course offerings. Glover quickly added, “by this I don’t necessarily mean the number of course offerings, but rather the quality and range of the offerings BF/VF provides. I want people to be able to grow with the experience.”

And what about BF/VF’s other programs? “We will of course be continuing our support of the New England Film Festival,” he said. “We want it to grow and we want to make it more important and visible in the community. We are also going to be continuing our support of the Rough Cut series.” Glover stated that he would be seizing every opportunity to do more Master classes and hoped to bring back an old BF/VF tradition –monthly screenings. According to Glover, in the past BF/VF had done monthly screenings but at some point the screenings became less frequent. “In its 26 going on 27 years,” Glover added, “we have done some outstanding things at BF/VF — things for whatever reason were started, lasted a few years, and then stopped. We are going to be looking to return to some of these things.”

So what does Glover consider to be BF/VF’s most important contribution to the New England filmmaking community? “It’s hard to articulate one single thing,” he said. “Over the years BF/VF has been important — has been a focal point, a gathering place, a catalyst for change — it has been a center for communication in the [filmmaking] community for years.” Glover emphasized how BF/VF’s role has evolved and continues to evolve as technology changes and as the needs of the community change. “Our contributions have been numerous over the years, but right now we are really trying to re-energize our organization. People who’ve gone through the workshops have gone on to do any number of things with their experience — started film festivals, made career decisions, etc. — these types of contributions are hard to track. We also serve as a fiscal agent for filmmakers who would have difficulty raising money otherwise. There really are many different things we do to try and support the filmmaking community.”

For those who have not yet taken advantage of what BF/VF has to offer Glover encourages people to look at the BF/VF workshops to see if there are classes of interest and points out the value of other programs.

“At a recent Rough Cut screening I was blown away by the experience — meeting with a producer, critiquing someone’s work, having a direct impact on a film’s form–this is a wonderful learning experience. And for people whose films are critiqued, it is a great way to obtain thoughtful criticism. Another option for a filmmaker is always to call us directly to talk about a film. We do a lot and offer a great number of opportunities. I would say call us and talk with us, e-mail us.” Glover further expressed his excitement with the two newest additions to the BF/VF staff. Abigail Harmon is now Director of Programming and Development and will be working on the major programming events. Kim Jackson joins as the new Education Director. Glover ended our conversation with a bit of advice and a prediction for the future. “I would say to everyone, contact us and take advantage of our offerings. Look for a definite change in the quality of the experience here within the next three months.”

For more information about the Boston Film / Video Foundation visit www.bfvf.org. For more information on the New England Film and Video Festival, visit www.bfvf.org/festival/.

For more information about the Boston Film / Video Foundation visit www.bfvf.org. For more information on the New England Film and Video Festival, visit www.bfvf.org/festival/.