Local film festival highlights Michigan filmmakers

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The annual Made-in-Michigan Film Festival (MiMFF) returned this year for the eighth time, offering new films to be watched and discussed.

The MiMFF is a non-profit organization that seeks to display the talents of local filmmakers in an attempt to celebrate the talent and passion of those who decided to choose Michigan as their home for making movies.

This year, the festival took place in the Bronners Performing Arts Center in Frankenmuth and showcased various different films, both short and feature length.

The first night of the festival was a special one, as its horror theme was one that many were looking forward to. This night also highlighted two of the festival’s award-winning feature films, “The Alchemist’s Cookbook” by Joel Potrykus and “Accidental Exorcist” by Daniel Falicki. Potrykus took home the award for best narrative feature, while Falicki left with both an award for best film overall and best lead actor.

The next two days of the festival were packed with various different shorts ranging from lighthearted and comical to deeply dramatic and thought-provoking. Both narrative films and documentary films were displayed periodically throughout the weekend.

Some of the highlights of the shorts section included Robert Butler’s “A Girl on the Mat,” which won awards for both best lead actress, Julie Kline, and best supporting actress, Aphrodite Nikolovksi. Butler’s somber story of how tragedy can affect families in profound ways was a hit with the audience as well as fellow filmmakers and showed much promise from the up-and-coming director.

One of the most informative sections of the festival was a panel that was held during the second day that included seasoned Michigan filmmakers including Butler, Falicki, Lisa Enos, and Joshua Courtade and was moderated by Potrykus. The panel covered various topics that included some of the challenges faced by being filmmakers in Michigan as well as some inside information as to what it is like to be a filmmaker in general.

One of the main topics discussed and most useful to those interested in making films was one that most up-and-coming filmmakers have to deal with when getting into the business, which is how it is possible to fund a project like a film.

Butler suggested to “start low” and make the budget more realistic, as first-time filmmakers must prove themselves before investors will be willing to shell out enough money for a million-dollar budget.

“Something that I see a lot of first-time filmmakers do is that they’re like, ‘This is my baby. I’ve been working on this script for years and years and I need to make it for $200,000, I’m going to go for broke, I’m going to give it everything I got,’” Potrykus said on the topic. “So you ask every rich uncle, every neighbor, every doctor you know … and after you get done, that rich uncle is never going to give you money ever again, so I always recommend to filmmakers, start really low and just slowly walk up that budget ladder. Otherwise, you start high, and it’s not going to be your vision, that first film.”

The panel was an example of what the MiMFF sets out to do every year with the festival: Not only does it display the works of filmmakers here in Michigan, but it also encourages those with an interest in film that it is an attainable goal, and when it comes to making art, one should not let his or her apprehensions get the best of them.