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Michigan’s major public universities premiere collaborative film “Appleville”

March 9, 2011

Michigan film students are doing their part to boost the state's film industry, and their hard work is about to show. On Wednesday, March 30, students from Michigan State University, University of Michigan and Wayne State University will premiere their first co-produced film.

"Appleville" was created, directed, produced and edited by 22 students from the three universities who were part of the groundbreaking Michigan Creative Film Alliance program.

"Our three major public universities have had a strong research partnership, and this is the first arts-related collaboration involving our students and faculty," said Matthew Seeger, Interim Dean of the College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts at Wayne State University.

The film will premiere on March 30 at the Detroit Institute of Arts during a special program that begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Detroit Film Theatre. The program will also include a short documentary on the making of "Appleville" and a question and answer session with the cast and crew of the film. An afterglow reception will follow the program.

The alliance was announced on July 6, 2010 by then Governor Jennifer Granholm as a way to provide collaborative film industry training to students in Michigan. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation provided seed money to launch the three-university collaboration. The intensive program used a professional film model as a learning environment for students from the three universities.

The program kicked off on July 7, 2010 with a retreat at the KBS Conference Center in Gull Lake, Mich., featuring Hollywood executive and MSU alum Bill Mechanic. Since July, the students divided into pre-production, production and post-production departments to create and complete the film. The students finished shooting the film by August, and editing, sound, and color correction were the final steps to complete the film.

"This is a defining moment for filmmakers in Michigan, and these students are fully trained and career-ready. It's vital for the public to understand the importance of the collaboration as a tool to combat the ‘brain drain' of our talented young filmmakers and artists to the east and west coasts," said Bob Albers, lead faculty on the program from MSU.

"Appleville" is an original script full of twists and turns in the plot. Characters Donny and Frank try to rob a group of senior citizens on a bus outing to the new Appleville Mall. What follows is a funny, bittersweet and action-packed ride as this unlikely crew must band together against the pursuing police before their options run out.

"I was so impressed by the dedication, time and energy the students put into making this film," said Robert Rayher, faculty lead from University of Michigan. "The polished and professional quality of the final production reflects the students' enthusiasm and creativity."

Andrew Sandoval, an Oakland University Theatre major was cast in the role of Donny. Myles Mershman, a professional actor and recent University of Michigan graduate plays Frank. The cast also includes an ensemble of veteran Michigan actors including Screen Actors Guild members Reuben Yabuku, Evelyn Orbach, Trudy Mason and Richard D. Jewell.

"The opportunity to work with such an amazing cast was a tremendous experience for me," said Bhanu Chundu, a senior screen arts and cultures major at the University of Michigan and director of "Appleville."

"Students in the Creative Film Alliance represent the next generation of leading film storytellers, artists and professionals'" said Juanita Anderson, lead Alliance faculty from Wayne State University. "They've gained knowledge and experience by sharing their combined expertise on location and working hand-in-hand with industry experts. The screening of ‘Appleville' is momentous because it showcases the talent of our students and the significant role our universities play in the development of a sustainable, indigenous community of film professionals in Michigan."

The "Appleville" premiere is free to the public, but an RSVP is required. To RSVP, go online to https://specialevents.wayne.edu/applevillepremiere/.

Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution of higher education offering more than 400 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to nearly 32,000 students.

  • Contact: Francine Wunder
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  • Email: francine@techtownwsu.org
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