Chris Wilmot wants Rochester to become more of a film town. His aim is to bring in mid-budget films, more than a million dollars, to shoot in a new Rochester studio. Others want Rochester to bring in blockbusters like Spider-Man. Still others think it's more realistic to promote smaller films with local talent.

In the middle of the debate are your tax dollars, which are required to lure the marquee films. Our guests discuss the movie scene:

The Rochester International Film Festival kicks off Thursday, with a variety of films, documentaries, and animations submitted by independent filmmakers. We meet some of them, including:

  • Joseph Bellavia, Rochester-based director of Long John
  • Pete Ireland, Sydney, Australia-based producer, writer, and director of Chip
  • Ian Massry, cinematographer, storyline producer, and editor of 59 Days of Independence
  • Josephine Perini, media, hospitality/events coordinator for Movies on a Shoestring, Inc.

We preview The Little Theatre's upcoming Science on Screen event by talking about Hitchcock's Psycho and psychology in filmmaking.

Our panel of experts discusses about how filmmakers use visual techniques to control the minds of moviegoers. We break down Psycho's famous "shower scene," and explore what rules, if any, exist in modern films. Our guests:

  • James Cutting, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Psychology at Cornell University
  • Les Friedman, Ph.D., professor and former chair of the Media and Society Program at Hobart and William Smith Colleges
  • Bri Merkel, special events manager for The Little Theatre

Film critic Jack Garner is in studio to preview the Oscars. He shares his selections for the various categories, including Best Picture. He also weighs in on the lack of diversity in the nominees, which has become a growing controversy.

In the United States, more than two million Americans are in prison, and 50 percent of those inmates have children under the age of 18. That means more than 1 in 28 children have a parent in prison, up from 1 in 125 children 25 years ago.

In Ontario County, volunteers have teamed up to help re-connect families through literacy: the Storybook Program offers imprisoned parents the opportunity to record audiocassettes or CDs of themselves reading to their children. The program is the subject of a new documentary called Turn the Page, which has been submitted for the Unite Rochester Challenge. It will be screened at The Little Theatre on February 11.

We discuss the Storybook Program, the documentary, and the prison system in America. Our guests:

  • Linda Moroney, filmmaker and director of Turn the Page
  • Claire Kremer, founder of the Storybook Project

Did The Big Short succeed in its mission? The Oscar-nominated film was designed to help Americans -- especially Americans with no background in economics or finance -- understand what caused the 2008 financial meltdown.

Our panel includes several people who saw the film. They articulate what they've learned, and our economics professor determines if the film has accomplished its goals. Our guests:

  • Amit Batabyal, professor of economics at RIT
  • Bryan Ball, Woody Battaglia, and Tom Proietti, sharing what they've learned from the film

Sympathy, Said the Shark is a new film written, produced and directed by a couple of guys who grew up across the street from each other in Sodus. They have aimed to create a different kind of thriller with this film, and they join us to talk about their techniques.

The Little Theatre will host a Rochester premier for the film on January 13, with the filmmakers joining the audience. Our guests: 

What are the best holiday films of all time? What are the worst? Why is Love Actually so polarizing?

We talk about holiday entertainment and what brings so many of us out to see the shows during Christmas week. Our guests:

  • Lester D. Friedman, professor in the media and society program, Hobart and William Smith Colleges
  • Jack Garner, longtime Gannett film critic

It's all things Star Wars.

What are local fans doing to celebrate the re-launch of the series? How, after the critically lampooned last series, can they keep their expectations in check? Jar Jar is not allowed back, right?

Star Wars super fans in studio:

The blockbuster Star Wars movie out this week will benefit a lot of companies and individuals associated with it, including an iconic Rochester brand.

The Force is also with Kodak with this week’s mega-premier of the latest in this blockbuster franchise, Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  That’s because it was shot on traditional Kodak film.

That’s a departure from some of the more recent Star Wars movies, according to Andy Evenski, who is Kodak’s President  and general manager of entertainment and commercial film.