Lauren Lukow – Guest and Production Coordinator

Posted on November 7, 2014 by

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“[It’s] like taking 100+ dogs for a walk in the park.” This is how Lauren Lukow describes her job as Virginia Film Festival Guest and Production Coordinator. It’s her job to coordinate the travel, accommodations, and festival schedules of all VFF guests – all 200 of them.

This year, Lukow also happens to have had a part in one of the festival’s films. She produced the short film Farewell Old Stringy, to be shown during the short narrative films showcase on Sunday, Nov. 9. She’s come a long way since her days as a VFF intern. Even though she doesn’t get to see many films during festival weekend– she’s usually running here and there, taking care of business behind the scenes– the sheer liveliness of the festival itself fuels her passion film and the arts.

“My job is to literally correspond with artists on a daily basis,” she says. “It doesn’t get much better than that.”

Read more interviews from The Makers of the Virginia Film Festival series »

Lauren Lukow

Share your story. How did you get in the door at the Virginia Film Festival, and how did you transition from intern to full-time employee? What does your job as VFF Guest and Production Coordinator entail?

LaurenLukow

During my first year, fall semester at U.Va., I took a media studies course called “Cinema As Art Form,” taught by Professor Walter Korte. It was right around the time of the 2010 Virginia Film Festival, and Prof. Korte brought in special VFF guest, film director Peter Bogdonavich, to speak with my class. Listening to him talk was incredible, of course. But I also vividly recall gushing over the upperclassmen students standing inches away from Mr. Bogdonavich, wearing colorful Film Festival badges around their necks. I wanted to be in their shoes so badly! Fortunately, during my second year, I was able to enroll in an arts administration class taught by none other than Jody Kielbasa, director of the Virginia Film Festival. As one of his students, I got to know him better and ended up interviewing for and becoming the director’s assistant intern for the 2012 festival. I found the experience so eye-opening and valuable, I came back my fourth year as a development intern. By the end of my 4th year, I simply reached out to the VFF staff, expressing my interest in their full-time, seasonal production and guest coordinator position.

In this role, I’m primary responsible for shepherding all of the VFF’s guests (more than 200 of them!), including booking their travel and accommodations, ensuring they have everything they need during their stay, and essentially getting them to the right place at the right time during all four days of the festival. I also help with a number of production-related projects including assembling audio-visual presentations, contributing to the launch of our new website, and gathering all the necessary set pieces for this year’s special theatrical performance of Mark Twain Tonight!.

What drove you to pursue a career with the festival, and what keeps you passionate about your job?

My love of film, arts management, and nonprofit organizations. In my eyes, it was kind of a no-brainer! The staff are sincere, talented, and some of the hardest-working people I know. Just being in their presence provides immense satisfaction and inspiration. Moreover, it’s the relationships I’m able to form with numerous filmmakers, artists, and professionals over the course of the festival timeline that creates for an altogether fantastically collaborative and rewarding experience. My job is to literally correspond with artists on a daily basis. It doesn’t get much better than that.

How many Virginia Film Festivals have you attended?

Including the ones I’ve worked — four! The first festival I ever attended was in 2011, during which I saw Albert Nobbs with special guest Mia Wasikowska, and Badlands with Sissy Spacek and Jack Fisk joining as VFF guests as well.

What sets the VFF apart from other film festivals?

Our relationship with a world-renowned university. The fact that we’re able to combine the forces of both the Hollywood film industry and the academic U.Va. community, and bring them under the same roof is absolutely extraordinary. And the conversations that come out of it are not to be missed. It truly is the best of both worlds.

What is your favorite movie?

My favorite movie is A Beautiful Mind.

Finish this sentence (feel free to be creative!):  Guest and production coordination to me is…

like taking 100+ dogs for a walk in the park.

What films are you excited to see at the Virginia Film Festival this year?

Truthfully, I don’t normally get to see that many films due to the fact that I’m usually running around, working to keep the Festival running! That said, I’m making it a priority to see two of my own films! The Festival’s Centerpiece Film, 5 to 7, for which I was a production intern in summer of 2013, and a short film called Farewell Old Stringywhich I produced just this past year!

Where do you go for a quick bite in Cville between screenings?

As a staff member, I have all-day access to food and drinks in our filmmakers and sponsors lounge, this year at Brookville Restaurant on the Downtown Mall, above the Whiskey Jar. Bring on the bacon!

Where do you go for a post-film screening drink?

My apartment, where I enjoy a glass of wine before heading to bed in preparation of another long day at the festival!

Dinner and a movie, VFF 2014 weekend: What local eatery would you recommend for dinner?

Always aim for the Downtown Mall, because that’s where more than half of our screenings are taking place! I’d recommend Bizou! The food is delicious, and they’ve got large, vintage movie posters hanging throughout the whole restaurant — so perfect!

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