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Made in Ann Arbor; building fledgling film industry

If all goes according to plan, the impressively hip video created by five U-M students will be the equivalent of a personal calling card — and a resume.

In an entertaining, well-paced video filled with enchanting and familiar sights, the students present a compelling argument for filmmakers from around the world to come to Ann Arbor to shoot and edit their films. (To watch the video, please click on the “arrow icon” in the box below.)

The aim of the promotional two-and-a-half minute video isn’t merely to showcase U-M and Ann Arbor’s diverse settings and resources, it’s an attempt to boost the local economy by attracting jobs to the region. Notably, jobs for the students themselves.

The students — who range in talent from directors to videographers to editors — are all interested in staying in Michigan after graduation, if they can find a job. Since the passage of the most attractive tax credit in the nation and a host of films shot in locations throughout Michigan in the past several years, many students have been encouraged about the state’s fledgling film industry. But with the tax credit facing an uncertain future, many students are increasingly anxious about where they will end up after graduation.

Regardless of what the future holds, the students who created the video for the U-M Film Office and Ann Arbor Convention and Visitor’s Bureau will likely face post-graduation with the drive and enthusiasm that distingusihes their fine work.

Meet the filmmakers:

Taylor Stanton — A freelance filmmaker and screenwriter, Taylor is a senior in U-M’s Screen Arts & Cultures Department. He has worked on a variety of professional productions, including “Answer This!” shot in Ann Arbor and on the U-M campus.  His student films have been screened at several festivals, including the Traverse City Film Festival. Originally from New Baltimore, Taylor plans to move to Detroit and pursue a career in screenwriting and cinematography. His favorite directors are Sofia Coppola, Mike Leigh, and Billy Wilder.

Ali McKenna A recent U-M graduate with a degree in English, Ali has been involved in numerous student film projects on both the writing and producing end, and has worked with The Big Ten Network. She relishes in the business of making movies and hopes her tenacity and hard work will pay off in career in movies or television as a producer.

Ben Ellmann A U-M Screen Arts student, Ben’s first love is screenwriting, and is exploring other areas of film production. “I love to be on set, directing or gripping, and editing is awesome too… making films is fun no matter what I’m doing. Here’s hoping more productions come to Ann Arbor so we can keep making movies at Michigan.”

Bhanu Chundu  Bhanu is currently a senior in the College of LSA from Phoenix, Arizona, majoring in Screen Arts & Cultures. He is an integral participant in the Michigan Creative Film Alliance, traveled to the Traverse City Film Festival, and serves the boards of M-Flicks and the Film & Video Student Association. “I hope to work behind the camera, ultimately to be a part of the growing entertainment industry in Michigan.”

Jason KraneA Performing Arts Technology major  from Fort Lauderdale, Jason has worked on several short films. He hopes to enter the film industry upon graduation, working in post production sound, camera operation, production audio, or editing. Jason’s credits include boom operator, sound recordist, assistant director, composer, sound designer, camera assistant and director of photography.

Mark Sandoval — A Screen Arts & Culture senior, Mark’s passion and focus of study is cinematography. He has worked as a camera assistant, director of photography, and has collaborated with other young filmmakers from MSU and Wayne State in the Michigan Creative Film Alliance. Upon graduation he hopes to remain in Michigan, and find a job in the state’s film industry. (No photo available.)

The soundtrack is composed by My Dear Disco. Band members refer to their music as “Dancethink Music.” Some might call it high-brow guilty-pleasure dance music.  At the end of the day, it’s hard to find a genre to apply to a band of music degrees shamelessly enamored with catchy hooks, who sing through giant megaphone in French, shred Van Halen on electrified Irish bagpipes, write 80’s-tribute dance-rock anthems in 5/4, and re-sample themselves doing it live — all to create a modern-day musical Frankenstein that will pull even the most self-conscious listener on to the dance floor.