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Senior Tyler Downey, left and junior Jared Biunno, seen here in the Cinema Department student lounge, have started the Binghamton Film Initiative.
Photo by Jonathan Cohen
Project makes ‘lights, camera, action’ possible
March 20, 2014Tweet
Two Binghamton University students have spearheaded a project in which actors, lighting technicians and makeup artists can collaborate and produce films.
The project − Binghamton Film Initiative (BFI) − launched last month with a website that connects students from theatre, cinema and other disciplines.
“The idea is borne out of the fact that the two majors of theatre and cinema should be working together,” said Jared Biunno, a junior cinema major. “The talents and abilities that are innately associated with each department compliment each other well.”
Tyler Downey, a senior creative writing and theatre double major, transferred to Binghamton University and became an actor on the BTV show “Binghamton Bro Code,” a program that Biunno helped produce. He originally had the idea for BFI, and reached out to Biunno.
“We realized that many people wanted to act, direct, create and be part of bigger projects, but couldn’t find a way to connect,” Biunno said.
“The essence of what we’re trying to do is growing,” said Downey. “We’re realizing that the need to express oneself is in a lot of students who might not even realize it. It’s starting to splinter its way throughout the school.”
Biunno and Downey put their heads together to meet the demand for creative students looking to mingle. Students can connect by going to the BFI website.
“Our website functions like a job posting/social media hybrid, where students register with an ID that describes their major and what they’re interested in doing. Then they press a button that basically says ‘Connect me,’” Biunno said.
Despite its recent launch BFI has already seen success.
“We found an exchange student from Hong Kong − Oliver Lau − who is a film wiz, and he’s not even a cinema major,” Biunno said. “That’s who we are hoping to find. We want to reach out to those people who are hungry to make films and videos, and we’ve found that the availability creates encouragement.”
The positive feedback so far has only fueled the duo’s desire for further success.
“I’m thrilled to see that people are as enthusiastic as I am, because I’m obsessed,” Biunno said. “I want to make a big difference. I want to make sure that I’m leaving an impact, and that there’s a stronger presence of filmmaking on this campus than when I first came, because I think filmmaking is one of the coolest things you can do.”
“I want to build the site, continue to improve it and add features that will help people, and I want to bring these two departments together and lock them. I want these two departments to be best buddies, because they should be. Actors and filmmakers should always be talking and collaborating, and the fact that it’s not happening is a problem that I need to fix.”
“Jared and I both knew that the initial blaze of interest needed to be kept hot,” said Downey. “We are based in our users, and need to continuously stay a presence in their minds.”
Biunno and Downey agree that BFI would not be successful if it weren’t for the support of their respective departments.
“The faculty in the Cinema Department is excellent when it comes to promoting the individual,” Biunno said. “They are extremely skilled at tapping into a person’s potential.”
“The theatre major is a family,” Downey said. “There’s no loose end. My professors are so willing to hear more and more about this. It has been unreal how the Theatre Department has propelled us.”
With three films underway, Biunno and Downey said they are looking toward the future.
“We’re both pretty big dreamers,” Downey said. “We hope to come back here and talk to students who followed their dreams because of BFI. We know that if all the right things fall into place, this could be a lasting part of our campus.”
Biunno agreed: “The big goal is to have BFI be a self-sustained, totally student-run fixture on campus. We just want to sit back and watch the movie magic.”