Origins & Overview of the Made-in-Michigan Film Festival

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    icon Sep 24, 2015
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The Made-in-Michigan Film Festival happening at The Bronner Performing Arts Center at 525 E Genesee in Frankenmuth from October 16-18th will be showcasing over 50 films from talented Michigan filmmakers.

The idea for the festival began when founder Wally Green noticed a young neighbor making a simple film. The thought occurred to him, ‘Where does a filmmaker show off his creation?” And with this thought in mind, the Made-in-Michigan Film Festival (MiMFF) was born.

According to current festival organizers Paul and Laura Weiss, in 2008 the MiMFF was incorporated as a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation and organized its first film festival in Lapeer, Michigan. The mission was to provide a high-quality venue to screen the best films made in the State of Michigan. Additionally, the hope was to inspire student and first-time filmmakers to pursue opportunities within the film industry.  After four years in Lapeer, the festival moved to Frankenmuth in 2013.

Since its inaugural presentation 2,000 people and counting have attended.  “Made-in-Michigan gives people a chance to experience the visual arts made in Michigan,” reflects Laura. “We inspire people to give filmmaking a try. With today’s technology, anyone can make a film; but more importantly, creative people who didn’t have access to filmmaking equipment in the past can make a great film. My 8-year-old niece made an awesome one-minute claymation film using a stop motion app with her laptop. She made a storyboard first, which is amazing. Some day one of her films might be in the festival.”

Paul also points to several highlights at this year’s festival that people should be aware of attending. “T-Rex is so good. I want people to come  celebrate our Michigan champion – her life struggles, her coach’s support. It’s an inspiring film. Every year we offer a free all day filmmaking workshop for 16 high school students. The Motion Picture Institute runs the clinic. Saturday night we show the 5-minute film they have created, followed by a Q&A with the students. A participant form last year, Spencer, is this year’s MC and was part of the screening committee.”

“The most rewarding feeling is seeing the excitement of the filmmakers that are accepted into the festival and feeling that our festival may have provided some momentum for them to continue learning about the possibilities within the film industry,” adds Laura. “ After every film block the filmmakers answer questions from the audience.  Watching them interact and getting feedback is hard to duplicate in any other way.”

There is no better feeling when the audience leaves the screening and are glad they attended.  When movie goers express to us their pleasure and insist that we keep this idea moving forward,  it encourages us to continue despite the many challenges.

“Organizing a film festival of this nature is very challenging and time consuming,” concludes Paul.   “We received over 225 film submissions representing 82 hours of films.   Our group of nine programmers watched all of these films and together and we had to decide which films would be accepted into the festival.  Telling filmmakers that we could not accept their films is not pleasant.  Many good films could not fit into our schedule.  These filmmakers put their heart and soul into these films.  We want to accept films not reject them.  Our hope is that we will be able to add additional venues and expand the hours to reduce the number of films not accepted.”

“Although we have a strong group of organizers, we still have some needs and can always use more help.  Getting our messages out to the public within our budget is a major challenge.  We need individuals that can focus on promotions, publicity and especially social media.  If you are interested, let us know.”

All films will be shown on Friday, Oct. 16th from 6 pm to 11 pm; Saturday, Oct. 17th 11 am to 9:30 pm – and  followed by a  free AfterGlo Party with the filmmakers at the Frankenmuth Brewery; Sunday, Oct. 18th showings will run from 1 pm to 7 pm.

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