When Steve Felix was 5 years old, his parents rented “Back to the Future.” This is the first movie he remembers watching — or at least, it was supposed to be.
As it turns out, the movie inside the box was a much lesser-known horse drama titled, “Lightning: The White Stallion,” starring Mickey Rooney. Fortunately, that one little mishap didn’t stifle Felix’s future love of all things film.
After studying corporate financial management at The University of Akron, Felix returned to his first love by joining the team at Akron Film+Pixel, a year-round social organization for creators and fans of film and games. He currently serves as its co-executive director.
While the organization’s annual film festival won’t return until 2013, “Akron Film+Pixel Night” will take its place this month. A Halloween-themed “Night of the Freakishly Short Animation Festival,” showing short films from around the world, will be held Oct. 25 at the Akron Art Museum.
Did you always want to be involved in the film industry? If not, what did you want to be when you “grew up”?
SF: There was a brief period when I hoped to become a taxi driver, probably inspired by the New York City setting of “Ghostbusters.” But from early teenage years, I was all about film.
How did you get involved with Akron Film+Pixel?
SF: I got involved right after attending the 2007 “Akron Independent Film Festival” at The University of Akron, which was run by the student filmmaking group, “The 2380 Project.” I showed up at their weekly meeting and found a few others with an interest in growing the festival. Later that year, attorney Richard Honeck helped us incorporate as an independent non-profit.
What’s your favorite genre of film?
SF: The most true-to-life movies tend to be genre-bending, so that’s how I like them. Science fiction elements are icing on the cake.
What is your favorite movie of all time?
SF: Today it’s “Lost in Translation.” I’m completely taken with Lance Acord’s naturalistic cinematography, Sofia Coppola’s spare writing, Bill Murray’s empathetic performance, and the shoegaze soundtrack [a subgenre of alternative rock]. But tomorrow I might say my favorite film is “Vertigo,” “Chungking Express,” “Days of Heaven,” “Heat,” “Rushmore” or “Back to the Future” (which I did eventually see a few dozen times).
What sets a good movie apart from a bad one?
SF: A good one tends to develop themes, locales and nuanced characters and then leaves room for interpretation. A bad one is likely to rest on tropes and always tells us what to think.
When you watch a movie, what things do you notice that normal viewers might not?
SF: I’m probably more attuned to editing and camera choices than most, at the expense of knowing any characters’ names or what exactly is going on in a complex plot. I’ll be into the tone and texture of a film whether it wants me to be or not.
Is every movie going to be in 3-D eventually?
SF: There are still technical problems with 3-D, like the need for glasses, but once those are overcome, yes, practically every movie will be 3-D. The technology and visual language of it are both in their infancy.
Why host the film festival in Akron, not L.A. or New York?
SF: The top few cities have become dangerously good at collecting creative people, and they already have diverse cultural offerings. The Midwest should have those opportunities, too.
Why did you decide to add videogame arts to your organization’s focus?
SF: The games industry is comparable in size to that of movies, but far fewer events take place for its community. Like films, videogames are a hybrid of many art forms but add choices and immersion that give them unmatched powers of self-expression.
Do you think Akron has the potential to become a frequent film location like Pittsburgh or Cleveland?
SF: Large indie productions could find diverse shooting locations in Akron, with minimal permit, traffic or fee difficulty. I’d love to see our old Art Deco buildings utilized. Hopefully filmmakers who visit the festival will keep the city in mind.
What advice would you give to aspiring filmmakers?
SF: Keep projects on a need-to-know basis until they’re almost done. Talking about them dissipates the excitement that should go into finishing them. And upon finishing, it’ll be more fun to blindside us than to simply meet the expectations you’ve set up.
In my spare time, you’ll find me ...
SF: Going to rock shows with my girlfriend or trying to learn Japanese on YesJapan.com.
/ Writer Leighann McGivern is an editorial intern with akronlife. She is a senior at KSU working on her bachelor’s in journalism.