2017 Spotlight

Presented by the Michigan Film and Digital Media Office
Friday, October 13 (rain date Saturday, October 14)
Riverfront at 280 Ann St NW


The Spotlight highlights two Michigan filmmakers with an outdoor screening of their films. For 2017, the event features the winners of the April Festival’s Best Michigan Feature and Short.

The event is free and open to the public. Arrive before the viewing starts at dusk to enjoy a DJ, games, photo-booth, and even a fire.

Brewery Vivant is the official beer sponsor and will be pouring Grand Rapids farmhouse beer, Farm Hand, along side the new Hop Field farmhouse IPA. Blue Spoon food truck will be onsite with delicious meals. Be sure to bring your own chairs and blankets for the viewing.

Filmmakers Jason Honeycut (Supermom), a Grand Valley State University graduate, and Chad Rhiness (Something Fun), a University of Michigan graduate, are from Michigan but live in Los Angeles. They will be present at the Spotlight screening for meet and greet and a Q&A session.

On Thursday October 12 and Friday October 13, these filmmakers visit regional universities to talk with students about the transition from Michigan to Los Angeles.

Supermom (14m short) Trailer: https://vimeo.com/180850491
Daughter thinks her mother is a real life super hero - she might be right. Starring Justine Herron ("Kevin Hart - Let Me Explain") and John Hensley (lead of "Nip/Tuck," "Teeth," "Hostile III").

Director Jason Honeycutt: Jason Honeycutt is an award-winning director, born and raised in rural Michigan. He grew up making movies from childhood. He worked three jobs to pay for film school and moved to Los Angeles where he's directed and/or edited content for FX Network, FOX, CBS, Dreamworks, Universal Republic, Sony Music, Disney, TNT and others. He is the winner of six Promax Gold Awards and is a part of the On-Air Promotions team at FX Network, where he helped them to win Promax's "Marketing Team of the Year" six times in a row.

His first short film, "Returning Home," won a number of film festival awards such as "Best Supernatural" (Detroit/Windsor Film Festal), "Best Produced Screenplay" (Oregon Film Award), "Golden Ace Award" (Las Vegas Film Festival), amongst others. His second film, "Intersection," won "Best Short Film" at the Durango Independent Film Festival, "Best Screenplay," at the Idyllwild International Film Festival, "Best Drama" at the Apex Film Festival, as well as 10 other wins or nominations.

Director Statement: Having had two films in festivals, and seeing so many dreary, depressing films, I wanted to create something upbeat and colorful. I created "Supermom" as a way to tell my two daughters that super heroes can look like them, that girls can do anything and mother do not have to have a certain "job." I am proud to say that this this film was made in conjunction with the Los Angeles Fire Department and they will be playing it before speaking to children all around the city, as a way to also inspire them to believe that anyone, male or female, can become a hero.

 Something Fun (Feature)
Trailer: https://vimeo.com/192034393

Veronica Atburn returns to her home town after a year of traveling the United States, reunites with her high school friends, and forces everybody to stop rehashing the past and start doing Something Fun.

Director Chad Rhiness: Chad grew up in Williamston, MI, the location and inspiration for his first feature film, Something Fun. He studied Screen Arts and Culture at the University of Michigan, where he watched a lot of movies, wrote about those movies, then attempted to make movies of his own. Since graduating in 2014, Chad won the Feature Screenplay category of the Final Draft Big Break Contest, and made the move to Los Angeles, CA where, finally, winter no longer exists.

Director Statement: At the end of 2014, I won the Final Draft Big Break Contest and I decided we should use the fifteen thousand dollar grand prize to make a feature film. When you only have fifteen thousand dollars to make a movie, you have to write that movie like you only have fifteen thousand dollars. So I did. I wrote about my hometown, set it at my childhood home, and worked to make the whole thing as personal as possible. I convinced my parents to let a cast and crew of eight invade their beautiful empty nest. We did the whole thing in fourteen days. It was the most difficult, most insane, most fun two weeks of my entire life. Something Fun is about getting past the catching up and onto the good stuff. Getting through “how are you doing?” and onto the doing. It’s about being there for those who have been there for you. And it’s about having a little fun along the way.

2016 Spotlight: Philip Carrel

Grand Rapids native and independent filmmaker, Philip Carrel, graduated from Compass College of Cinematic Arts in 2008 and has since served as director, editor and production designer on a wide range of projects. Carrel's passion for film, photography and bringing a story to life, combined with his propensity of travel, has resulted in a progressively adventurous feature-length film, Dýrafjörður

In 2011, Carrel and his wife traveled to Iceland where he captured the natural wonders and unique culture showcased in his film. While shooting Dýrafjörður, Carrel discovered that the locals embraced a way of life that is shaped by what is already accessible around them. They value the beauty of nature that surrounds them and take pride in protecting it.

Carrel hopes that Dýrafjörður will challenge and transform viewer's thinking on multiple levels. He wants  his audience to experience a culture that is vastly different than the American culture, to gain insight on their day-to-day lives and core values. He wishes for nature to be seen as something our culture needs to be more intimately connected with and for creators to take pride in using resources from their surroundings to craft finished products that are uniquely their own. 

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