From script to screen
TRAVERSE CITY, MI — Taylor Stanton paces outside the Opera House in downtown Traverse City, a few blocks from the splendor of the west arm of the picturesque bay, and several hour car trip from Ann Arbor. For the occasion, the U-M film senior has put on a tie, ironed shirt and a broad smile. Beyond his perpetual upbeat countenance, there’s no hiding his nerves. Inside the historic venue, a near-capacity crowd is on hand to get the first public look at Stanton’s cinematography in “Camp Chapel,” which premiered at the Traverse City Film Festival, held July 27-August 1.
During the trembling minutes before the lights went down, the New Baltimore resident found comfort in the shared anxiety of his many friends who pulled more than a few all-nighters to produce a finished film.
In late July, Stanton and more than 20 other U-M students traveled to northern Michigan to attend the premiere of “Margaret & Izzy,” and “Camp Chapel.” The two one-act films were selected from full-length scripts submitted in Screen Arts & Culture 423 class, an advanced screenwriting course. Few, if any other university film programs have a such a unique arrangement with an established film festival, whereby student films are displayed prominently as an essential part of the week-long offerings.
The off-beat comedies charmed the audience on day three of the international festival of documentary and narrative films.
From start to finish, the student films are produced during winter semester. Scripts are fine-tuned under the direction of Jim Burnstein, head of U-M’s screenwriting program. Overall production is overseen by U-M’s Robert Rayher, and actors were mentored special acting coach, Pamela Guest, a U-M grad.
The productions reflect the collaborative nature of filmmaking, and ever-increasing common connections among students in Screen Arts Cultures, Department of Theatre, School of Music, School of Art & Design, and business school.
This year, the University of Michigan expanded its participation in an “educational partnership” with the Traverse City Film Festival, founded by Michael Moore, a documentary filmmaker whose credits include “Roger & Me,” “Bowling for Columbine,” “Sicko,” and most recently, “Capitalism: A Love Story.”
The partnership included U-M faculty serving as jurors, panelists and moderators.