Rachel Floyd raises the funds

We're so impressed with Rachel Floyd's fund raising efforts for new production Black Girls Be Like that we had to ask her a few questions.

She raised nearly 7k on her indiegogo,  and she's looking to raise several thousand more on December 12 with a holiday concert at Fountain Street Church. And, frankly, we want to help her. 

Here's why:

Filmmaker Rachel Floyd Holiday Concert Fundraiser for the upcoming feature film Black Girls Be Like Tuesday, December 12th, 2017 at 7 pm   Fountain Street Church Tickets $10      Purchase here

Filmmaker Rachel Floyd

Holiday Concert Fundraiser for the upcoming feature film Black Girls Be Like
Tuesday, December 12th, 2017 at 7 pm  
Fountain Street Church

Tickets $10      Purchase here

Have you participated in the Grand Rapids Film Festival (GRFF) in the past - what production/year?
Yes I have, I participated in 2015 for my short film "Bloom"

BGBL _ConcertPoster.png

Why is GRFF important to local filmmakers?
The festival gives us a platform to show our work. The year I entered GRFF, I had created a short film for a magazine contest. I missed the deadline and was devastated that I wouldn't have a place to show. One of my friends told me about GRFF, and I and was accepted, I was overjoyed that the work we completed would not go in vain. The experience was easily one of the highlights of my career as a filmmaker.: 

What's your current project, and why is it important?
My current project is called Black Girls Be Like, it's a coming of age movie about a young girl living in Grand Rapids struggling to forge her own path and discover her own identity despite her environment. This project is important because it aims to give young women living in poverty a voice. I feel like this demographic is often left out of the conversation, and what’s more, when they are included it does not offer an accurate depiction of what life is like for them. This film offers the first real glimpse into that world from a female perspective.

Where are you at in the production process?
Right now we are in pre-production. Being an independent filmmaker is hard! Especially when you have no money. We've been in the funding phase for a little over a year now. We haven't given up though because we truly believe in the story. Also, the extra time has given me more space to conceptualize the look and feel of the film. It gave me the space needed to go back to the drawing board and to attack the project from fresh eyes.

Why are we hearing so much hype about this project before filming has begun?
I'm smiling really big as I type this; I don't know why there is so much hype but I am happy that people are excited about the film. I think the excitement stems from a Grand Rapids woman born and raised coming home to bring something exciting to the city. Also, the subject matter is exciting. Let's face it Grand Rapids is not doing much to promote African Americans and film, the fact that here I am doing just that is big, and I hope that it inspires more black filmmakers in the area to get active in the GR film scene.

What do you aim to accomplish with this film?
I want to give young women a character that they can relate with, I want to give them someone that they can point to and say "that's me" That sense of belonging, and feeling that you are not alone is huge, especially for young girls. I hope that through this film people feel inspired to go after their dreams and that they feel at the end of the day anything they desire is attainable with hard work. I also want people to see what life is like for people that live differently than them. There are very clear class lines in this country, and often times we don't realize it until we're faced with that reality. For some I want this to feel like they're stepping into a different world, and for others I want this to feel like they're stepping into a memory or going back home. 

Spotlight Event in Review

Written by: Nicole Lardner and Kyle Kaczor

On October 13, GRFF held our annual “Spotlight” event on the riverfront of Compass Insurance featuring the award winning short, Supermom (Jason Honeycutt) and feature film, Something Fun (Chad Rhiness).

22770569_10155935905067764_2385103138167876592_o.jpg
22713429_10155935904782764_3891322941090801316_o.jpg

Recap: The event kicked off with the Blue Spoon food truck bringing amazing Tex-Mex options for the event-goers (vegetarian and meat-lovers alike). Adding to the relaxed environment was Grand Rapids’ native Brewery Vivant. Serving their beer on wheels, including their special brand of IPA called Hopfield and Farm Hand, one of the most popular Farmhouse Ales in the state.

22769984_10155935904747764_3625830777806720681_o.jpg

The pre-screening party offered modified versions of the hit game jenga and beer pong, but enhanced to giant size, along with cornhole and horseshoes. DJ Kevin Kowalski set the mood with a variety of music to entertain all attendees. The fire pit cut through the fall air and offered ambiance as well as warmth.

23172665_10155972080362764_3177724839919616768_n.jpg
chadandjason.jpg

When it came closer to the viewing, the directors, Jason Honeycutt and Chad Rhiness gave a short interview and answered questions. This was a nice touch, seeing as to how both directors are Michigan born and raised, and now making it in Los Angeles.  

Because a good amount of film students aspire to land themselves in LA for their professional careers, GRFF toured the filmmakers to four regional universities to offer some advice to students. The most meaningful advice was to, “stay humble and prove yourself.” In fact, Honeycutt said that the advantage that Michigan students have is their humility and lack of entitlement.

22448554_10154667069711256_7880686547723689151_n.jpg
22713613_10155935904437764_2650292547824808540_o.jpg

Exhibiting films outside in October is a risk, but the weather held and with blankets and lawn chairs in front of an impressive blow-up screen, the evening was magical, a “perfect fall night.” There was no cozier of a setting, with blankets, friends, and two great films playing below the star and tiki-torch lights. A special thanks to Compass Insurance for hosting and sponsoring the event.


Why you missed out: Even as an intern working the event, I had a blast. It was clear to see that event attracted a wide variety of  viewers, around 75 people to be specific, and there was so much for them to do before the film showing. The location was truly beautiful, which definitely added to the experience. The films were shown directly on the riverfront in Grand Rapids, and we lined the space with tiki torches, which only added to the overall aesthetic. It was also a nice touch to have Food Trucks because they are honestly just so fun, as well as easy. But by far, my favorite part of the evening was the feeling in the air. It was the perfect mix of fun, and relaxing all throughout the evening. Seeing everybody enjoying the films, fire, food, and their friends made the work well worth it.

Words of Advice From Last Year's 36-Hour Challenge Participants

Participants Justin Razmus and Talon Rudel speak on what it was like to be a part of last year’s
36-Hour Challenge. The two give advice and insight based on their experience.

 

Justin Razmus - 2017 winner -film Burnout

616 Media

What was the hardest part about making a film in 36-hours?
I'm stating the obvious here, but the time constraint really makes this a huge challenge. You have very little time to write a script before you need start filming. Once you start editing chances are you will be so low on time you won't be able to re-shoot any scenes. You just need to work with what you have already. If you're a perfectionist you have no choice but to get over that and concentrate on getting the full edit out as fast as possible

How did you use the opportunity to deepen your experience or network?
This was one of the few times I've had the opportunity to work on a creative project in this capacity. I typically film corporate videos and live events so it was fun to take some time to be completely creative. Working on the script and the story from the beginning was a good experience, as well as working with my crew and the actors.

Did the Challenge increase your knowledge of the overall GR filmmaking community? How?
Yes it did. This was my first chance to meet a lot of people in the local film community. I have to say that there are a lot of amazing people in this city! I've been able to network with some of the best and it's helped me a lot. From getting advice on how to proceed with certain projects to finding people that can collaborate with me on my film projects. I'm really happy that the Grand Rapids Film Festival has allowed me to connect with such a talented group of people.

What advice do you have for those competing for the first time?
Don't waste any time. 36 hours goes by fast. Try to write most of your script and shot list the first night, and even start filming if you can. Remember that editing takes a lot of time, so get the footage into your editing suite as fast as possible. I think the most important part is to have fun and realize it's a 36 hour project. Yes there will be things you would do differently or better if you had more time, but you will learn a lot about working under pressure and how to complete a lot in a short amount of time.


Talon Rudel - Audience Choice winner - film Doorways

Grand Valley State University Student


What was the hardest part about making a film in 36-hours?
The hardest part of making a film in 36-hours was the creation of the concept and sticking to it. With a short film, the concept/idea is the center of how the audience engages with the film. So working with the crew to come up with an idea that we all loved, and then not cutting corners was what literally kept us awake. With such a short time to make a film, it is very easy to get discouraged by obstacles and going the easiest route. However, while sticking with it and deciding to keep on struggling to make the film the best it could be was very difficult it was very worth the struggle. 

How did you use the opportunity to deepen your experience or network?
I used the opportunity of participating in the 36-hour challenge to expand my experience by doing whatever it took to make a project that I was proud of. I used this as a chance to get together with good people and make a film, because you learn filmmaking by making films. Specifically, I had the chance to work with VFX for the first time, directed the largest ensemble cast I had to that point, and was able to have ample opportunities for creative problem solving. As for my network, I took the chance to meet other great filmmakers in the area and was proud to show my film among such talented peers. 

Did the Challenge increase your knowledge of the overall GR filmmaking community? How?
The challenge as a whole increased my knowledge of the GR filmmaking community by demonstrating the vast talent in the area. By showing a film among other filmmakers, I was able to better see the great talent and diversity there is in this community. As well, the challenge facilitated opportunities for me to meet other like minded filmmakers in both the opening ceremony and the screening.  

What advice do you have for those competing for the first time?
My advise for those people competing for the first time is threefold. Firstly, make sure that you are well rested when the event starts, and be sure to be safe while working. Feel free to stay up the whole time, I did, but don't let that cloud your judgment where it comes to on-set safety. No film is worth someone getting seriously hurt. Second, make sure to have a dedicated group of peers to work with. Even if its only you and three others, the more great filmmakers in a team, the better the creativity and the better the product. And lastly, HAVE FUN! It sounds hunky dory, or cliche or whatever, but if you go in knowing that you want to have fun, then the whole experience will just be so much more memorable and it will show in the product. We make films because we love making them!

Wielding Influence Through Entertainment

Written by: Kyle Kaczor and Jen Shaneberger

The Grand Rapids Film Festival (GRFF) intern team is embarking on a quest to examine how movies and television programs shape beliefs, culture and behavior. It’s a question of great relevance and consequence. If film influences behavior, than the filmmaker wields a truly mighty power.

The team is in research mode, sorting through thought provokers and prophets of the 80’s like Neil Postman and Joshua Meyrowitz, and modern researchers like Michelle Pautz and Sarah Kozloff. These authors agree that the information transmitted through film and media influences the belief systems of viewers. This is the first of four blog posts, an attempt to outline an argument, which we’ll develop in more detail through future posts.

As many great people, including Spider-Man circa 1962[1], have said, “with great power comes great responsibility.” The weight of that responsibility is one that David Puttnam explains in his 1988 interview with Bill Moyer.

david puttnam.jpg

"When I’m teaching in England, I have this expression I use all the time which is, there are “and” movies and there are “or” movies. And the filmmaker’s responsibility is to make an “and” movie, that’s to say, you make a film which is entertaining and informing and has intrinsic values, values which are ongoing values within society and which people can gather around and defend. The “or” movie is a movie which on Day One decides that it merely wishes to exploit whatever aspect of the audience is fashionable at that moment and doesn’t wish to bother itself with injecting any other values whatsoever." [2]

Film as Opinion Shaper

Because film uses images, sounds and script to depict scenarios, it informs the viewer in a variety of ways. Because of this, Michelle C. Pautz argues that film has the power to shape perceptions of its moviegoers on a range of subjects.[3]

She demonstrates how film directly impacts opinion by collecting viewer responses after watching Argo and Zero Dark Thirty.[4]  25% of Argo viewers reported a positive improvement in their governmental opinion after watching the film, as did 18% of those who watched Zero Dark Thirty.[5]  There was also an increase in viewers level of trust and reliance on the government regarding National-Security Issues.[6]  Pautz’s research shows that even one or two films, especially ones based on real-life events, can impact viewers opinions and reflections towards certain issues.

In fact, several films can be credited with, as Sarah Kozloff points out, “changing hearts, minds and laws, including  I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932), The Snake Pit (1948), On the Beach (1959), To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), Philadelphia (1993), The Insider (999) and Brokeback Mountain (2005).” [7]

Several scholars have examined the power of media to change attitudes and actions. Slater’s 2002[8] work recounting radio and television dramas with prosocial messages led him to argue that narratives are uniquely able to persuade people because while immersed in story, the ability to challenge the narrative through counter-arguing is lost.[9] In the same vein, Oatley argues that if a viewer can be transported, they can be transformed.[10]

Transformation is of great interest to the Grand Rapids Film Festival team. As we continue to explore the idea that film influences behavior in the coming weeks, the responsibility of the filmmaker to the viewer will be of great importance.

Stay tuned.

[1] Website: We Minored in Film, Article title: The Origin of “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility” & 7 Other Surprising Parts of Spider-Man’s Comic Book History, Article author: Kelly Kond, Date on website: April 22, 2014,  link

[2] “Filmmaker David Puttnam (Part One) | BillMoyers.com.” 1988. BillMoyers.com. http://billmoyers.com/content/david-puttnam-part-1/.

[3] Pautz, M. (2015). Argo and Zero Dark Thirty: Film, Government, and Audiences. PS: Political Science & Politics, 48(1), 120-128. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1049096514001656  

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] "Empathy and the Cinema of Engagement ... - Berghahn Journals." 1 Dec. 2013, (Kozloff 2013). Pg 29

[8] Slater, M. D. (2002). Entertainment education and the persuasive impact of narratives.

In M. C. Green, J. J. Strange, & T. C. Brock (Eds.), Narrative impact: Social and cognitive foundations (pp. 157-181). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates

[9] Slater, M.D (2002) page 173.

[10] Oatley, Keith (2002)  “Emotions and the story worlds of fiction” Pp. 39-69  M. C. Green, J. J. Strange, & T. C. Brock (Eds.),  Narrative impact: Social and cognitive foundations

 

Meet the 2017-18 Intern Team

GRFF offers a unique internship experience where students with various majors work collaboratively to implement programming. These interns serve as the organization's backbone by supporting festival efforts. 

The 2017-18 intern team is:

Alex Dickey

Alex Dickey

Alex Dickey - GVSU, Film major - production/marketing
I have spent the month of July working on the summer film project for Grand Valley State University. I want to go into the field of cinematography. Some of my favorite movies are Empire Strikes Back and Jaws. I also play the guitar, and ukulele for fun.

 

 

Kyler Kaczor

Kyler Kaczor

Kyle Kaczor - GVSU, English and Human Rights major - film submissions
I'm a Grand Rapids native, born and raised. I love film, literature, old music and weird art. I'm a writer currently attending GVSU with a major in English and a minor in Human Rights. My biggest influences and interests are David Lynch, David Cronenberg, John Waters, Dario Argento, Herschell Gordon Lewis, the Beat Generation writers, dark humor, punk rock and abstract thinking.

 

 

Wade Leppien

Wade Leppien

Wade Leppien - KCAD - graphic design and animation
I graduated from Kendall College of Art and Design as a Digital Media major where I developed my skills in animation, illustration, storyboarding, and writing.  I'm currently working on concepts for several animated series that I wish to tell interesting stories and inspire others with. I worked with the Grand Rapids Film Festival before to create animations for the 36 Hour Challenge and I'm glad I have the chance to return for this new experience!

 

Austin Paul

Austin Paul

Austin Paul - GVSU - Film major - editing/writing
I'm an editor, writer, and DP. For the longest time I've had a deep interest in films and how they are shot, produced, and put together. I've been doing writing and editing work for a while, and have always found them both a tranquil and a challenging experience. In my spare time I tend to work on learning how to draw and working with 3D programs.

 

Cherish Pittman

Cherish Pittman

Cherish Pittman - GVSU - Film major - production/research
I am a Senior at Grand Valley State University pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Film and Video with plans to immediately attend graduate school for my Master's degree in Sociology. I have always had an affinity for noticing problematic representation of minority groups in film and television, so my ultimate goal is to give a voice to the groups that have been silenced. Ava DuVernay, Spike Lee, and Barry Jenkins are a few of my inspirations. 

 

Eric Shalayko

Eric Shalayko

Eric Shalayko - GVSU Film major - editing/public relations
I'm currently a senior at Grand Valley State University, majoring in Film & Video Production, and minoring in Advertising & Public Relations and Writing. My emphases are film & video editing and screenwriting. I aim to weave the audio and visual mediums together to tell stories to their fullest capacities. Be it fictional, documentary, or promotional projects, everything has a story, and I love seeking out those compelling narratives within

 

Seth Trowbridge

Seth Trowbridge

Seth Trowbridge - GVSU - Film major - producer/film submissions
I am a senior Film and Video major at Grand Valley State University focusing on producing and screenwriting. I gravitate towards character-driven stories that deal with topics such as identity, social issues, and growth. I've just come off of line producing and unit production managing Grand Valley's Summer Film, and am currently in preproduction for a few senior thesis films. Some of my favorite films include East of Eden, Kings of Summer, and The Kids Are All Right.
 

Tyler Wilson

Tyler Wilson

Tyler Wilson - GVSU - business management and marketing
I am a marketing major at Grand Valley State University who is graduating this December. Some of my hobbies include traveling, watching horror movies, and critiquing sports. After graduating, I hope to pursue an MBA in the near future. Getting to work for the Grand Rapids Film Festival is a great opportunity for me to practice using the tools and skills that I have learned throughout my collegiate career.

  

GRFF Announces New Season

Three annual events keep the Grand Rapids Film Festival team busy throughout the year, specifics for the 2017-2018 season below. 

Spotlight: October 13
The Summer Spotlight features a screening of a regional filmmaker’s work in a relaxed outdoor park environment. These events are free and draw over 200 people. Learn more.

36-Hour Challenge: January 26 | February 2
The 36-Hour Challenge engages high school and university students as well as aspiring professionals in a lively time-based filmmaking competition. Learn more.

Festival: April 13-15

  • Friday April 13, 7pm – 11pm: F&M (Fashion and Music for Film Showcase) where KCAD students create fashion inspired by music videos
  • Saturday April 14, 12pm - 11pm: Screenings of Quality Entertainment and Transformative films

  • Sunday April 15:  Regional filmmaker presentations and networking. Watch 2017 PechaKuchaGR Filmmaker Edition presentations here.

2017 PechaKuchaGR Filmmaker Edition - presentations

pk fb cover.PNG

GRFF teamed up with PechaKuchaGR to highlight 20X20 presentations from 12 area filmmakers. They were asked to answer the question, "how has film transformed your life?"
...one of the GRFF team's favorite questions. 

PechaKucha 20x20 is a simple presentation format where speakers show 20 images, each for 20 seconds. The images advance automatically.. Learn more about PechaKucha here

Below are the 2017 PechaKuchaGR Filmmaker Edition presentations. Enjoy!

PechaKucha Speakers Utilize YouTube for Distribution

This article features two speakers from the April Filmmaker PechaKucha event: Sloan Inns and Ella Swift. Both have released their short films on YouTube,and are hoping to attract as many views as possible. 

Watch Sloan Inns' Filmmaker PechaKucha presentation from April 7, 2017 to learn more about his character and the films that shaped him. 

Sloan Inns, Owner of BMG Visuals
View Dust here.


Dust, a revolutionary short dance film shot in slow motion and re-choreographed to new music, released on May 8. Featuring local professional Krump dancer Mark Evans II, Dust offers a deeper meaning as it depicts man’s battle against the futility of life.

“I woke up at 3 A.M. and this image of a Krump Dancer flooded into my mind,” Director Sloan Inns explained. “I could see his chest lock and pop so violently that dust exploded off it, and I couldn’t get to sleep after that.”

Along with his wife Jenna Inns as the film’s producer, they created this unprecedented dance film. The plot is based on a Biblical story of man being created from the dust. Using dance to communicate how man overcomes the curse. Its aim is to provide inspiration to those struggling to know what to do between the time they are born and when the dust finally settles on their lives.

Dust pushes the limits as a new style of dance film, the secret of which lies in post-production. The film was shot in slow motion, which is how the dancing can move from real time to slow motion with ease. The editing process took a full year because the process of matching the beat of the score to the dance was intricate work.

“It was an ambitious project,” said Inns. “But I’m really happy with how the dancer manages to dance in real time, then break into slow-motion while keeping on beat.”

Ella Swift Redding discusses the films that transformed her life in this filmmaker PechaKucha presentation

Ella Swift Redding, Owner of Burley Mermaid Production
View Portrait of a Femme here.

Portrait of a Femme, a homespun web doc series about amazing women in modern culture, explores one woman's 'non-traditional' life each season.

In mid-July, Ella is competing as a finalist in the Galway Film Fleadh Pitch Competition for her latest project. A historical drama, it features Lady Gregory of Coole Park

Former Interns

Over the years, Grand Rapids Film Festival (GRFF) has shaped young professionals in the Grand Rapids area through its internship programs. In this unique experience, students with various majors work collaboratively, sharing creative ideas to implement into GRFF programming. These interns serve as the organization's backbone by supporting festival efforts.

Here are the internships we offer: 
·        Event Planning
·        Film Submissions Coordinator
·        Fund Development
·        Graphic Design
·        Public Relations
·        Video Editing

Through the internship program, GRFF strives to develop and train young professionals to make an impact on their lives by providing quality job experiences. Interns receive the opportunity to work as a team with other students who have differentiating majors, preparing them for the diversity they will face in the workplace.

GRFF reached out to a few of the past interns and asked them how the internship impacted their lives and what opportunities they have gone on to pursue. 

2014 GRFF Intern Crew: Jessica Wagley, Nick DiCarlo, Meg Jewell, Carese Bartlett, Amy Hallochak, and Adam Cutler with GRFF President and mentor Jen Shaneberger. 

2014 GRFF Intern Crew: Jessica Wagley, Nick DiCarlo, Meg Jewell, Carese Bartlett, Amy Hallochak, and Adam Cutler with GRFF President and mentor Jen Shaneberger. 

Amy HallochakFall 2013/Winter 2014, Behind the Scenes Team
Hallochak led the Behind the Scenes team, which interviewed filmmakers and created short promotional pieces for the 2014 festival.  She also worked with a team of interns to acquire sponsors to host mixers during festival week. These tasks helped her to learn about project management, which she recently utilized when she was an Account Director for Doner Advertising. Hallochack says, “I think about my GRFF internship all the time! Looking back, I wish I truly understood what an amazing opportunity it was and fully embraced it.”

Carese BartlettFall 2013/Winter 2014, Fund Development
Bartlett served as a Fund Development intern where she acquired project management skills in caring for the details involved in development. She is a now the Head of Operations and Productions at S2S Studios and sharpening the skills she learned. Her favorite part about the internship program was how much it prepared her for her current job.

Adam CutlerFall 2013/Winter 2014, Social Media Management
Cutler managed GRFF's Social Media for two semesters. “It was awesome to see so many people with different roles and responsibilities come together to produce a series of successful screenings and events.” He is now a Project Manager at NexVortex. He appreciated the experience he gained in management and coordination because it translated well with what he is doing now.

Jess WagleyFall 2013/ Winter 2014, Production
Through her event production internship, Wagley gained experience in organization, event planning, and critical thinking. Her role was extremely important for the first annual Fashion for Film. She is now fulfilling her dreams as a Corporate Travel Agent at Conlin Travel and utilizing these special skills.

Juliana Ludema discusses interning for GRFF

Juliana LudemaFall 2016, Communications/Writing
As a Communications/Writing intern, Ludema wrote and prepared press release, web copy and grants for fundraising. She has taken the experience with her to Caledonia Living Magazine, where she works as a Content Coordinator. Ludema brought a great energy to the team and stated “Being an intern for GRFF further confirmed my desire to work for a nonprofit.”

Meaghan GoemanWinter/Fall 2016, Graphic Design
As a Graphic Design intern, Goeman had the opportunity to create a sponsorship brochure and the poster for the Spotlight event. She enjoyed learning about collaborative approaches and how they can help complete tasks and events. Goeman is now a Social Media and Marketing Manager at Oh So Clean and will complete her degree in Graphic Design from Kendall College of Art and Design this December.

The Board of Directors extends a warm thank you to all of our past interns for the powerful impact you’ve left on the organization. 

GRFF is currently seeking interns for the 2017-2018 school year. Contact Jen Shaneberger at
Jen@grfilmfestival.com .