Life behind the camera
MANCHESTER — It may not be time for the red carpet just yet, but four local entrepreneurs have embarked on a business venture that could lead down that path.This summer, four Burr and Burton Academy alumni — Spencer Fowler, Noah Kane, Henry Kornaros and Jaidon Lalor — began the production company Sol Sun Media.While they could have set up shop in a larger market like New York, they decided to base the company out of Manchester, in part, because they had a unique service to offer within the region.One of Sol Sun Media's first official clients is ITVFest, which hired the fledgling company to create promotional materials this year for the festival that is slated to take place in Manchester from Oct. 10-14.ITVFest's executive director, Philip Gilpin, Jr., had seen work that Kane and Lalor had done the previous year — a series of commercial-like pieces. So when he saw Fowler's work at Burr and Burton Academy's Gawlik Awards, the awards show for the school's cinematography department, he instantly knew that the filmmakers were who he wanted to help promote the festival."I was at the Gawlik Awards back in May and I was thinking to myself, 'OK, I have to hire a team to do this video, but I need something that's young, but stylish, [and that] captures the new voices that are coming up within the industry,'" said Gilpin. He wanted someone with sharp photographic eye and a knack for narrative."I was watching one of Spencer's college videos and I was like 'Of course. Of course these are the guys that have to do it,'" he said. ITVFest began in Los Angeles in 2006, moved to Dover in 2013 and relocated again to Manchester last year, drawing more than 1,000 creators and network decision-makers to the region. With the networking that happens at the festival among filmmakers, producers and executives alike — in addition to the interest some people have shown in filming in the area — Gilpin believes there is the potential for the area to become a real draw for the film industry."The event is the doorway to get the people in here that eventually will bring their industry and their work here because one or two films aren't going to change the economy of southern Vermont, but if you get 10 or 12 films a year or one or two television series that film here, that can change a place for a generation," he said. "We've got thousands of people that are coming to southern Vermont every year. Let's just keep them here by having them bring their work here and all of a sudden you've got money, jobs, youth retention, educational development, workforce development. So, that's really the whole point of the ITVFest Institute."With the promotional materials for ITVFest now complete, Kane said Sol Sun Media has begun focusing on commercial work. Independently, the founders of Sol Sun Media have worked for some recognizable brands — Puma, Audi and Presidio among them — in their first year in the industry thanks in part to the connections made through Kornaros."He had a friend down in New York who is a professional photographer and a creative director and he hired Henry as director of photography and that's how we were able to connect with those brands," said Kane. While Sol Sun Media is focused on commercial work for now, they also will be doing other projects such as documentaries, the first of which — about the nation of Costa Rica — they expect to begin shooting approximately six months from now. Kane and Lalor are will be spending three months shooting and while the film is expected to be full length, Kane said, there is the possibility that they could begin a documentary series with Costa Rica serving as the first episode. It is this type of project that Kane said the company would like to focus on long term."The end goal for us, really is to make documentary and 'passion projects' that we will independently finance in the beginning and then hopefully find funding for once we have built a portfolio for that," Kane said.
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