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Timely partnership for the arts

By Kirsten Khire, Francine Wunder, and Lee Doyle

Students from Michigan State University, Wayne State University, and the University of Michigan will premiere the first collaborative film created through the groundbreaking Michigan Creative Film Alliance.

The film, “Appleville,” is conceived, directed, produced and edited by 22 students from the three universities. The premiere showing of “Appleville” will be 7:30 p.m. March 30 at the Detroit Film Theatre inside the Detroit Institute of Arts. A short documentary on the making of the film will be shown, and a question-and-answer session with the cast and crew will be held.

“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.

Announced in July of 2010 by then Gov. Jennifer Granholm with seed funding from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the Michigan Creative Film Alliance aims to consolidate resources and provide film industry training for film students at the three universities. The intensive program used a professional film model as a learning environment.

“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 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 U-M. “The polished and professional quality of the final production reflects the students’ enthusiasm and creativity.”

Work on the film began in early July, under the guidance of Hollywood executive and MSU alum Bill Mechanic. Students were divided into pre-production, production and post-production departments. The students finished shooting the film by August. Since the fall, students have been editing and putting the finishing touches on the film.

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 U-M senior screen arts and cultures major  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 faculty from Wayne State. “They’ve gained knowledge and experience by sharing their combined expertise on location and working hand-in-hand with industry experts.

“Applevilee” 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. RSVP is required. To RSVP, please visit

For more information: Kirsten Khire, Michigan State University, 517-432-0013; cell: 517-944-1148, Francine Wunder, 313-577-2150, Lee Doyle, University of Michigan, 734-763-5800,