July Newsletter

Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.

michigan film and digital media office banner
facebook link twitter link

July Newsletter

Traverse City Film Festival, Vidlings and Tapeheads Film Festival, and Detroit Book Fest bring the heat.

As we flip the the calendar to July and settle back into our work, hopefully many of us were able to enjoy some time over the Independence Day holiday with family and friends.  If there is one thing we can agree on, it's that lately it has been hot.  Whether you've been cranking your A/C, have your fans on full blast, constantly watering flowers and lawns, or spending your days poolside or on the beach, we all have our own ways of trying to beat the heat.  You may need keep that up for a while longer -- July brings Michigan some creative events that will surely turn up the heat!  We'll take a look at the 2nd Annual Detroit Book Fest, returning to the Eastern Market this Sunday.  We'll also provide coverage on the Vidlings and Tapeheads Film Festival coming to Hamtramck in late July as well as the Traverse City Film Festival, at the end of the month.  So cool down now because things are just heating up!

Traverse City Film Festival is returns with a terrific slate of films and will honor Jane Fonda


The 2018 Traverse City Film Festival is back with a wonderful lineup of films that will please patrons of all ages.  TCFF kicks off with the always popular street party on Tuesday, July 30th and wraps up with the awards show on Sunday, August 5th. This year's festival has plenty of exciting content returning, such as the "Food on Film" series and the free screenings every night at dusk at the Open Space Outdoor Cinema at Clinch Park. There is truly something to suit anybody. We'll chat with Susan Fisher and Meg Weichman, who were integral in putting the 2018 TCFF together. We'll also explain some of the amazing programming on deck for this year's festival. Don't wait to get your tickets. Many of the screenings often sell out. As always, support #MiFilmFestivals!

Q&A w/ Susan Fisher, Managing Director of TCFF and Meg Weichman, Creative Director of TCFF



With a combined 22 years of TCFF experience, Susan Fisher and Meg Weichman have been running the show behind the scenes, having had their hands in just about every corner of the festival. Both starting as interns, they are working as a combined force at the helm of this year’s festival. With many different titles throughout the years, Susan now works as Managing Director and Meg as Creative Director. The yin to each other’s yangs, Susan has a business degree from MSU while Meg’s background is in film with degrees from NYU and UCLA. Together they bring an unmatched passion for the organization and the community as well as unrivaled operational insight. With a strong team of people supporting them, they are committed to making year 14 one of the best yet.


Q: Thanks for giving up your time to chat with us.  Can you let us know a bit about your professional background, and include your role/responsibilities with the Traverse City Film Festival?


Susan: I graduated in Business Administration from Michigan State University in 2008, and started full-time work at the festival the next week. I was hired on as the second employee at the time, after working the summer before as an intern in the office. Since then, the festival has grown exponentially and my experience in all corners of operations has grown. My main responsibilities include development, sponsorship, intern management, music, city relations, venue and tech setup, box office, merchandise, concessions, sales and more! Many areas of the festival are overseen by both Meg and I, including social media, theater management, special events. 


Meg: I have degrees in Cinema Studies from NYU and Moving Image Archiving from UCLA. I started with the film festival as an intern in 2009 and eventually as its third employee. I work in areas involving programming, communications, marketing, guests, volunteers, and more. 


Q: We understand there were some growing pains after former festival director, Deb Lake, stepped down.  How has the transition been going?


Susan: The transition has been going great. Because of both of our experience and length of time with the festival, the biggest hurdle has just been taking on additional work. Unfortunately the new Executive Director we hired was not a good fit, and that just set us back a bit having taken the time to train while he was here. We have a wonderful team of summer employees that are a huge reason for our success and we are very grateful for their experience and knowledge of the festival.


Meg: No growing pains here that an extra set of hands couldn’t fix. Since Susan and I have been with the festival so long and involved in many areas, it’s been a matter of finding the right new person to join the team full time. We are very thankful to have such a great team of seasonal staff and volunteers running the show this year. 


Q: How best would you describe what the Traverse City Film Festival is all about?  What is the overall mission or does it change from year-to-year?


Susan: The Traverse City Film Festival is such a force each summer, and year round in our festival-managed theaters, the State Theatre and Bijou by the Bay. Our mission is to serve the community and help grow our educational program and teach people of all ages about film. Certain aspects change each year as we try to focus on a new way to serve our Friends and festival family. This year, one of our big goals is to bring more students to the festival, with our new program TCFF Student U. Students currently enrolled in high school or college can apply to get free vouchers for the festival, and attend movies for free! 


Q: Volunteers and interns seem to be integral to the overall success of the TCFF.  Can you speak to that and how individuals can get involved with and support the festival?


Susan: We 100% couldn't do it without our volunteers and interns. Our volunteers are the backbone of what makes us special - we have people from all backgrounds, all walks of life giving their time to ensure a festival success. It's really special to have your dentist tearing your tickets, your neighbor serving you popcorn, or a person you've just met helping you find the next bus. It brings a special feeling, everyone is happy to be there and happy to help. Some people take a week off of work for the festival to volunteer! We couldn't be luckier. And our interns, wow. The program has grown in so many ways since we started (I was in the first intern class in 2007), and these students are integral to so many of our departments -- video production, film research, music management, design, parties, food procurement, office management, social media, and more. Their youth is helpful, too for keeping us on the top of what's "cool" (that's what the teens say, right?). It’s a really great partnership, they receive a crash course in festival planning in their area of choice, and we get some essential help.


Meg: There are so many ways to get involved and a role and time commitment for just about everyone and every interest. For the festival, people can visit tcff.org to fill out our volunteer application and get more information. And we’re always in need of volunteers year-round at the State and Bijou theaters, visit stateandbijou.org for more info. 


Q: Traverse City is quite a tourist destination, especially during the summer months.  Why should the casual tourist or even a local who has not previously attended the TCFF, consider attending this premier event?


Susan: The festival has so much to offer. I think essential viewing for a newcomer is the free films at Open Space each night. Sitting with 5,000 of your friends watching a film in silence on the shores of Grand Traverse Bay is truly a magical experience you can't get anywhere else. And take a chance on a movie - we have so many different types and screenings available, there's something for everyone. Stop by the box office, read through the guide online, and pick something you might enjoy! And in between films, take in what TC has to offer, downtown shopping and eating, dip your toes in the water, and enjoy this very special place we live.


Meg: For me it’s not only the chance to experience these films on the big screen, with world-class projection and sounds, but the unique energy and excitement of the festival itself. Directors, subjects, and stars are often on hand following a screening for Q&As, there’s musics, and downtown really comes alive. There’s no other week in TC like it. 


Q: Do you wish to leave our readers with any parting shots on how they might best enjoy this year’s Traverse City Film Festival?


Susan: The Traverse City Film Festival is for everyone! We have a Kids Festival (both movies and a FREE lawn party), a special interactive area for teens, movies for all ages, and a focus on attracting the filmgoers of tomorrow. Stop by our box office and talk to one of our amazing volunteers and find out what's a good fit for you. We’re here to help and guide you to the best festival experience for you.


Meg: Take a chance on something, you really can’t go wrong, and it's in the most unexpected of films that we often see the biggest response out of audiences. Get out of your comfort zone and learn something new. 



TCFF lineup at a glance

It would be nearly impossible to break down the entire TCFF lineup as there are well over a hundred films screening across eight different venues in a span of just six days. Instead we'll look at the different type of programming offered at this year's TCFF.



Open Space Outdoor Cinema

Always a hit at the TCFF, the outdoor venue utilizes a giant inflatable screen for nightly showings at dusk. This year's screenings include Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, 9 to 5, The Greatest Showman, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Black Panther, and Coco. Pull up a chair or a blanket and enjoy the show, with beautiful West Grand Traverse Bay as your backdrop.



Student Films

TCFF has a terrific track-record of supporting talented student filmmakers. This year is no exception, with students on hand from MSU, CMU and U of M. They will be sharing short films and I believe at least one feature film MSU completed.



Food on Film series

This has become a popular program, which showcases food or chefs in documentaries. Patrons to these films are typically treated to a small snack based on the film as they depart. Yum.




TCFF knows how to throw a party. The festival is wonderful about acknowledging their Friends, Founders and Volunteers at exclusive parties. There are also Opening Night and Closing Night parties that are nothing short of spectacular. The Opening Night Street Party allows patrons to mix and mingle along a two block stretch of State Street, while enjoying wonderful food and drink. The Closing Night Bash really bookends the TCFF nicely with a family friendly atmosphere, celebrating all the hard work that went into putting on a world-class film festival.



Film School

Over at the Northwest Michigan College, festival goers or the general public can attend insightful panel discussions on the filmmaking process. There is a nominal cost to attend, but the knowledge gained make these engaging discussion well worth it.




There is an array of films to choose from in all forms. Review the schedule in the link below and start building your calendar around the films you are interested in seeing. There is definitely something for everyone at the TCFF.



The Woz

Free interactive entertainment venue that Michigan State University curates each year. Come see the latest in gaming and VR technology.



Kidsfest and #Tweens

TCFF welcomes families in unique ways with age appropriate films in their lineup for the little ones. Kidsfest is located in beautiful Clinch Park right behind The Bijou theater. Kids can enjoy crafts and games and films for only $1.



See the entire schedule or download the program to the 2018 Traverse City Film Festival HERE

MFDMO to host Michigan Film Office Advisory Council meeting at TCFF


The Michigan Film Office Advisory Council will meet on Tuesday, July 31, 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., at the West Bay Beach Resort, 615 E. Front Street, Traverse City (49686). This meeting will occur in concert with the 2018 Traverse City Film Festival - July 31-August 5.


If you are an individual who needs special accommodation or arrangements at this meeting, please contact the Michigan Film Office (see below) as soon as possible, and before the date of the meeting, to notify us of the special assistance you may need.


Please call or write: 

Michigan Film Office Attention: Erika Murdey 
300 N. Washington Square – 4th Floor 
Lansing, Michigan 48913 
Phone: (517) 241-6757


If you plan to make comments or give testimony at any of the MFOAC meetings, please bring your comments in written form, with sufficient copies for the MFOAC members. To contact the Michigan Film Office Advisory Council please email: MFOAC@michigan.org.  

Detroit Festival of Books becoming one of the 'can't miss' events of the summer

Writers, publishers, collectors and readers flocked to the Eastern Market last summer for the first ever Detroit Festival of Books. The event returns this Sunday and promises to be even bigger and better. The Michigan Film & Digital Media Office will once again be in attendance, showing our support for Michigan's fine authors.  We had a chance to speak with Festival creator, and Film Office friend, Ryan Place about this year's Book Fest. 


Q&A w/ Detroit Festival of Books creator, Ryan Place


Q: Thanks for giving us a few moments of your time.  Please let us know about your role with the Detroit Book Fest and a bit about your professional background as well.


As the creator of and event chairman for the Detroit Festival of Books (aka: Detroit Bookfest) I'm the Chief Stooge of the Bookfest Circus, sort of like Palmer Eldritch in the great 1965 Philip K. Dick book 'The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch'. If you eat some Chew-Z, you may see me appear in holographic form as a dementedly grinning carnival barker with a pile of books for sale. I'm still working on developing my "professional background" and perhaps one day will have a viable resume, one which doesn't create instant laughter. 


Q: So the Detroit Book Fest is entering its second year, and by all accounts year one was a smashing success.  What do you have in store for year two?

I love books and absolutely love Bookfest! Bookfest Year 2 or as we're calling it "Double Trouble," will feature 200 vendors selling BOOKS of all sorts, vinyl records, vintage board games, comic books, artwork, etc. We will also have 5 food trucks, 2 beer vendors, a DJ playing funk music and several random, cool things interspersed throughout the festival. You won't want to miss it. Oh, and be sure, all you 21 and uppers, to join us for the Official Bookfest Afterparty at EMBC! 


Q: You’ve garnered some amazing support from the Eastern Market to host this annual event.  Can you elaborate on what that partnership has meant for your event?

Back in 2016, I pitched the Bookfest idea to Lonni Thomas. Lonni is the Market Manager at Eastern Market and right off bat, after saying "Ryan slow down, you're getting too excited about Bookfest," she loved the idea and has been extremely supportive of the event. We have co-developed the event at Eastern Market in terms of charting a fun footprint, which now includes Shed 6, aka: The Gallery, which will feature around 40 authors, publishers and presses. We are trying to expand slowly, incrementally, so as to not get too ahead of ourselves. Detroit Bookfest would not exist at Eastern Market (and possibly therefore not at all) without the love and support of Lonni Thomas, Dan Carmody and the great crew at Eastern Market Corporation. Thank you guys!


Q: The Michigan Film & Digital Media Office is really looking forward to taking part in Sunday’s event. Tell us something people may not know about the literary scene in Detroit and/or Michigan.

Detroit has, and has always had, a huge, albeit somewhat underground, book scene. Readers are numerous in Detroit but we're often comically overlooked because this entire area is frequently misperceived as a blue collar cultural wasteland of dangerous sludge mutants. It's not. Yes, we do have alot of great blue collar people here, arrrrr matey, thar be a ton of readers and book lovers here, many of whom are blue collar and others who come in collars of every color. And even bookworm pirates with shoulder parrots. John King has been holding it down publicly, internationally for us for over four decades and we are deeply indebted to him. Beyond that, there has always been a fantastically talented underground scene of writers and creators here. Recently, there have been several thousand of these types moving to Downtown Detroit from all over the world and holding court at places like Cafe D'Mongo's, El Club, The Leland, The Mutiny tiki bar, Tangent Gallery, The Jam Handy, etc, dozens of other great places. A new literary world of sorts is being created in Detroit right now. Detroit's most difficult challenge has always been getting recognized. Publishers and literary agents would be wise to start keeping a closer eye on Detroit Book City and plant some flags here, open some satellite offices, extend a helping hand to those in the shadows. You may be surprised who reaches back.  


Q: Can you give folks any bit of advice on how they might best enjoy Sunday’s Detroit Book Fest?

The best advice I can give Bookfest attendees is come with a ton of money to spend. You will have so many great items and great deals here, you won't want to pass them up. Also, take some time to explore the other Sheds and the entire Eastern Market District. And if you're over 21, join us for the Official Bookfest Afterparty at Eastern Market Brewing Company, down the alley from Bookfest. Vinny Moonshine will be the musician of the evening and helping usher in a strange new world of great Detroit music. MC5, Eminem, Rodriguez, Jack White, Motown, etc, Detroit has produced so many talented musicians, it's wild. And Vinny Moonshine might be next in line for the levitating laser beam multi-colored spotlight of international recognition.  

Links of interest on Detroit Bookfest


FB event pagehttps://www.facebook.com/events/489759531358545/

Bookfest Afterpartyhttps://www.facebook.com/events/2019975491658433/

Rare Book Hub (Bruce McKinney)http://www.rarebookhub.com/articles/2456

Fine Books Magazine profile -https://www.finebooksmagazine.com/fine_books_blog/2018/04/bright-young-collectors-ryan-m-place.phtml

WDIV article (3,141 shares)


Onlyinyourstate (1,700 shares)https://www.onlyinyourstate.com/michigan/book-festival-mi/

Abeooks Podcasthttps://soundcloud.com/user-169439032/14-detroit-bookfest

Hip in Detroithttp://www.hipindetroit.com/2018/07/the-2nd-annual-detroit-festival-of.html



Vidlings & Tapeheads Film Festival, now in year two, enhances what is already a growing arts and culture scene in Hamtramck



2017 gave us plenty of good with a healthy dose of bad. Perhaps the best new thing 2017 brought us was the Vidlings & Tapeheads Film Festival in Hamtramck. Anyone looking for a place that supports the arts and culture, with a heavy dose of blue collar work ethic, and buzzing with positive energy, need look no further than Hamtramck, Michigan. Vidlings & Tapeheads Film Festival fits perfectly within those ethos of Hamtramck. VTFF makes its return for year two later this month, and it has filmmakers, cinephiles, audiophiles and art enthusiasts eager for what's sure to be an enjoyable weekend of festivities. We'll chat with Vidlings & Tapeheads founder and director, Jerry White Jr. and give you the lowdown on this year's lineup. Remember, as always, support #MiFilmFestivals!

Q&A w/ Vidlings & Tapeheads Film Festival founder and director, Jerry White Jr.


Q: Thanks for giving up your time to chat with us. Can you let us know a bit about your professional background, and include your role/responsibilities with the Vidlings and Tapeheads Film Festival?


Happy to! My work in film/video started when I was a teenager doing public access television here in Michigan. Through twists and turns I've kept with it and doubled-down, so to speak, by getting my MFA in Film and Television Production at USC's School of Cinematic Arts in 2013. I've worked on various film projects since then, including the 2016 Michigan documentary "20 Years of Madness." I was a producer and one of the subjects of that film (long story) and it did really well on the festival circuit—premiering at Slamdance and playing great fests in Michigan like Traverse City Film Fest, Hell's Half Mile, Freep Fest, and Waterfront. I began programming for film festivals after that and it wasn't long before I was inspired to create the Vidlings & Tapeheads Film Festival. I'm the director of the fest as well as one of its lead programmers. My responsibilities include everything from designing the website and programs to running our social media to picking up the coffee cambro the morning of the fest.


Q: Vidlings and Tapeheads Film Festival is now in its second year. What did you all learn after year one and how has that helped planning year two?


I was very fortunate to receive a lot of great advice from other fest directors and coordinators, especially Don and Alan of Hell's Half Mile Film and Music Festival in Bay City, so our first year did really well right out of the gate. That said, I learned a lot about how to better structure calls to entries and extend our reach—we opened up for submissions much earlier this year and were engaged with more film programs throughout Michigan (something we plan to improve even more for year three).

      After our fest last summer I attended a Michigan Film and Digital Media Office presentation and was convinced that would be a great partnership. Having the MFDMO come on board as a sponsor this year was a huge boost for us and I'm sure being somewhat established and having great press and amazing photos from our inaugural fest made our pitch stronger.

      I'd been in LA for several years so there were a lot of great organizations in Detroit I hadn't been aware of before last year. I read a piece in the Metro Times about The Seraphine Collective while prepping last summer and really connected with their mission. I reached out to them this year and they agreed to curate our live music program. I'm sure I'll learn just as much this year and can't wait to apply that to VTFF2019.


Q: How best would you describe what the Vidlings and Tapeheads Film Festival is all about?


I'll try to do this in a way that isn't a copy/paste from our mission statement. Ultimately I'm interested in promoting work that both challenges and entertains. That's true of our films as well as our music lineup and art exhibition. We put this visual/aural mixtape weekend together that I hope will get people talking and engaging with each other—ideally fostering friendships and collaborations. We show off Michigan talent while also showing our Michigan filmmakers, artists, and musicians some of the great work happening elsewhere. And for our audience that's just there to take it all in—our goal is to make them feel part of an experience and see/hear things they likely wouldn't otherwise.

      It's crucial that this is done together, in real life. There's something meaningful and magical about gathering, in person, in a space that's been created to move you! It's part of our humanity: the community and the campfire—in this case a really colorful, bizarre, and fun campfire.


Q: Hamtramck is quite a place. A city within a city if you will. How did Vidlings and Tapeheads find a home in Hamtramck? Please tell us about your 2018 venues.


Planet Ant was already on my radar—partly because I had my first screening of shorts with live music and art back when it was a coffee house in 1994! Of course it later became a theater and an amazing center of culture and arts in Hamtramck before expanding with the new venues where we hold our fest. Ant Hall and Ghost Light are an ideal home for us. From the start, my vision of this fest was one with films, live music, and art on walls. Not all venues can accommodate that, but Ant Hall and Ghost Light are made for it. The timing was perfect too—they opened last year, so we got to start all this together.


Q: What is one thing that you want attendees of the 2018 Vidlings and Tapeheads Film Festival to walk away with?


I want them to see or hear something that will stick with them for many years to come—and I absolutely believe we can deliver that. Whether it's a moment from Man in Camo (our opening night feature documentary), one of our forty-five short films, a song from one of the nine musical acts, or artwork from one of our seven artists. We've put a lot of time and heart into this and I think it shows—our attendees are in for a fun/cool/weird/powerful experience!

Links of interest



What's cool about this year's lineup is the variety. There is the opening night feature film, over 40 short films in categories like Michigan, Fiction, Documentary and Animation. Each night there is a party featuring some very talented musicians. Finally, throughout the festival the works of seven artists will be on display. The 2018 VTFF is going to be fantastic. Get your tickets today!





Facebook Event Page


Seed&Spark's Hometown Heroes again partners with the Duplass brothers, and the prizes are larger this year. Call for submissions is open


It's here!!!! The call for submissions for #HometownHeroes is open...and this year, they've upped the ante:

✔️ $50,000+ in prizes
✔️ Accepting narrative and documentary features
✔️ Duplass-ier

Get the full scoop, including deadlines, and get those features ready!! Because YOURS might be selected to be executive produced by this guy and his brother... http://ow.ly/vD9h30kS1V0


ATTENTION MICHIGAN FILMMAKERS: The 2018 Hometown Heroes campaign is now live and seeking submissions. Start building an audience for your documentary or narrative feature and let's show the Duplass brothers the amazing talent we have here. #HometownHeroes #MiFilm

Upcoming Events

July 13-15 - Blissfest - Harbor Springs

July 15 - Detroit Festival of Books - Eastern Market, Detroit

July 19-22 - Ann Arbor Art Fair - Ann Arbor

July 21-23 - Faster Horses Festival - Brooklyn

July 26-28 - Sights & Sounds Festival - Chelsea

July 26-27 - Vidlings & Tapeheads Film Festival - Hamtramck

July 28-29 - Mo Pop Festival - Detroit

July 31-August 5 - Traverse City Film Festival - Traverse City

August 4 - Trinity International Film Festival - Detroit

August 9-11 - Cowpie Music Festival - Caledonia

August 13-19 - U.P. State Fair - Escanaba

August 14 - Monthly Filmmaker Community Mixer - Royal Oak

August 17-19 - Grand Rapids Jazz Festival - Grand Rapids


Call for Submission Deadlines

August 1 - Royal Starr Film Festival