The festival will debut two short films written, produced and directed by LSA students, and will feature two public faculty-taught film workshops. Additionally, U-M student interns will be on site to assist with many aspects of the festival, including creating a recap to be shown at the festival's closing.
Since 2009, LSA's Department of Screen Arts & Cultures and screenwriting program director Jim Burnstein have been involved with the Traverse City Film Festival. Each year, students in Burnstein and lecturer Robert Rayher's screenwriting 423 course debut their original short films, created over the course of just one semester with help from student writers, producers, actors, and costume designers from across the university.
After selecting two outstanding student-written scripts from the fall semester, the class splits up to finalize their scripts, film the shorts and make final edits within the span of a few months.
This year's films are "Chasing the GOAT," about an aspiring mixed martial artist doggedly pursuing a coach he believes will help bring him closer to greatness, and "Malignant Humor," the story of an improv group booked to perform at a high school where a student has just committed suicide. They will be screened at the Old Town Playhouse at noon July 27. Burnstein, Rayher and many of the student filmmakers will speak about their experiences and answer audience questions.
"It's very exciting to show our film at the Traverse City Film Festival," said Matthew Barnauskas (A.B. '17), head producer of Malignant Humor. "It's not something many students get to do, to premiere their film and get to be with the audience."
The festival's Film School will also feature several classes taught by U-M faculty. Burnstein's class, "Where To Go From Here: Developing Your Movie," will help audience members learn how to turn their ideas for movie scripts into reality. It will be held in Scholars Hall at Northwestern Michigan College at 3 p.m. July 26.
Rayher will also teach a class, with U-M alumna and casting director Pamela Guest, titled "Behind the Scenes at U-M Film School" at noon July 28 at Scholars Hall. The pair will discuss the screenwriting course and the students' filmmaking process, including the skills they picked up along the way.
Finally, student interns from U-M have had a long presence at the festival. This year, four interns are helping with event coordination, Kids Fest programming and production of a short film showcasing festival highlights.