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Fernando Mico, director

Fernando Mico, director, Northern Virginia Film Festival.

Lights! Camera! Action! Mason Alum Creates Own Film Festival

Fernando Mico knows what it’s like to bounce around from job to job after college.

The 1994 George Mason University graduate worked as a graphic designer, a Taekwondo instructor, a software entrepreneur and a film postproduction teacher before becoming the director of the inaugural Northern Virginia Film Festival.

A martial arts connection got Mico, a sixth-­degree black belt, a job in the production department of a large company. But the company was sold and he found himself in a back room stuffing DVDs into mailers. It was time for another change, Mico says.

He pursued digital filmmaking at the Washington, D.C. campus of Boston University and later taught post­production film there. He realized film and entertainment were underrepresented in the area, and thought hosting a film festival might be the way to go.

He visited the Angelika Film Center in the Mosaic District and thought it would be a fantastic venue for displaying and supporting film artists’ work.

It was pretty much a cold call [to Angelika]. My goal was to always come big—year one—right away. The end goal is to become the premiere film festival in the Atlantic region, if not the Sundance [Film Festival] of this area. This is a big deal.

Fernando Mico, Class of 1994

Angelika staff welcomed the idea—the film center hosts several film festivals each year. Hosting a film festival taps into the part of filmmaking that Mico says he enjoys: preproduction.

“There’s a magic to it; I’m handling the dreams and fashions of artists and I have a great sense of responsibility to that,” says Mico, who describes himself as having the imagination and creativity of a little kid.