From movies to Moogerfoogers

LAAFF is more than bands, hula hoops, stilt walkers and costumes. It’s also educational. In fact, some of the festival’s interactive events teach skills, hone talents and offer workshop experiences that seem credit-worthy. (It may still be summer on the calendar, but school’s already back in session.) Here are two A-plus activities.

Moving Minds Through Movies

LAAFF might need to add another ‘F’ to its acronym: Try Lexington Avenue Arts, Fun and Film Festival. Moving Minds Through Movies, part of the roster of Sunday afternoon’s interactive events, offers young people (ages 8-12) a chance to make their own two-minute documentaries.

According to Tim Arem, creator and artistic director of the Asheville International Children’s Film Festival (which celebrates its fourth year this November), the LAAFF activity begins at noon at the LAB with a 30-minute workshop. Kids are schooled on using cameras and then sent out in teams to shoot footage of LAAFF’s attendees, entertainers and vendors (topics are chosen by drawing). ‘After an hour of shooting, a staff of three or four from the film festival edits the footage into two-minute movies,’ says Arem. The editing process takes about an hour per team; last year, 20-25 kids participated and this year the event has room for up to 30 budding filmmakers.

‘Last year went really well,’ says Arem. ‘The kids learned a new skill and got to see the festival in a new light.’ Actually, anyone interested in the captured footage can check out LAAFF through these kids’ eyes: At 6 p.m. everyone is invited to a mini film festival at the Lab where the days’ two-minute movies are screened, along with the best of 2011’s AICFF.

And it’s not just the young filmmakers and their families who take in the show: ‘Last year, a lot of the people who were interviewed came to see the films,’ says Arem.

Dr. Bob’s Interactive Sonic Experience

Don’t freak out if terms like ‘Moogerfooger’ and ‘multi-pedal’ sound like a foreign language. Dr. Bob’s Interactive Sonic Experience, brought to LAAFF by the Bob Moog Foundation, is part techy translator, part science experiment and part all-ages fun.

Moog Foundation founder and executive director Michelle Moog-Koussa says that Moog instruments are pretty accessible: The first time the foundation brought theremins to a festival, both a 9-year-old and a 90-year-old played them. ‘One of our goals is just to teach people the basics,’ she says.

For festivals like LAAFF, LEAF and Gnarnia, Moog-Koussa commissioned an education synthesizer from boutique manufacturer Dewanatron. It’s built with oversized knobs and breaks down the basics – oscillator, modulation, filter and envelope. ‘You can hear what each one does. It’s really simple,’ says executive assistant Molly McQuillan.

Moog-Koussa adds, ‘This is a symbol of our overall work, what synthesis is and how sound can be sculpted.’

At Dr. Bob’s Interactive Sonic Experiment (held at LAAFF inside 49 N. Lexington Ave.), the Moog Foundation will offer sonic tours, primarily of theremins. ‘We have one that’s playing and then some others with the effects pedals – the Moogerfoogers,’ says Moog-Koussa. ‘It allows people to experience different perimeters of synthesis.’

The Interactive Sonic Experience is not to be confused with Dr. Bob’s SoundSchool, the Moog Foundation’s 10-week curriculum, offered through the public school system.

After a successful prototype last year, and an IndieGoGo campaign that raised $23,000, this September will see the SoundSchool in 25 local second-grade classrooms with a goal for 100 area classrooms by the 2013/2014 school year. But for anyone wanting a taste of the sound-meets-science programming that the Moog Foundation is bringing to local youth, the Interactive Sonic Experience is the place.

Alli Marshall can be reached at

About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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