Thursday, 23 May 2013 12:09

June Film: Waterfront Film Festival; Compass College day camps

Written by  Anya Zentmeyer
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Happy summer, West Michigan. If the sun gets to be too much, there's always a cool, dark theater awaiting you.


With 70 dramatic features and documentaries on the 2013 roster, this year's Waterfront Film Festival may have a new home, but still has the same heart.

After 14 years sticking by its Saugatuck roots, financial constraints and a deliberate change of scenery prompted organizers of the non-profit event to change, with plans to move to new West Michigan-area locations each year from here on out. A $50,000 sponsorship pledge and fundraising efforts offered by South Haven landed that city the gig. The smattering of local talent – PR professionals with ties to the Chicago market, local business organizations and volunteer groups, shuttle service, office space and other in-kind donations offered up their time and money, sealed the deal.

"The decision was crucial for the event to evolve and survive in these challenging economic times that have taken their toll on nearly ever non-profit organization," said Hopwood DePree, co-founder of the festival, in a statement released in September.

Drawing in around 16,000 film-goers for the past few years, Media Coordinator Patrick Revere said South Haven has the kind of expanded facilities to accommodate what organizers expect to be an "all-time high" for event participation.

In April, WFF snagged a $15,000 grant from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and Screen Actors Guild Magazine's SAGIndie hailed WFF as one of the top five film festivals in the world, rubbing shoulders with Sundance and Cannes.

Twenty programmers nationwide field, watch and forward film submissions to a semi-final pool of senior programmers and trusted industry professionals, who deliberate and agree on what films make the final cut.

Revere calls Waterfront the "laid-back Sundance," and we're going to say he's right; because what's more laid back than an opening night BEACH PARTY KICK-OFF?! Complete with food, drinks, live entertainment and an after-dark screening that sounds spookier on paper than it actually is in real life, the first night of this festival could be getting close to being off the chain.

"I am constantly amazed -- never surprised, but always amazed -- at the quality of films selected for the festival," Revere said. "From start to finish it's always a worthy grouping."

For ticket information or to see this year's lineup, visit


This month, Grand Rapids' Compass College of Cinematic Arts hosts its week-long film and acting day camps June 24-28 for ages 13-18.

Stephanie Bergman, admissions and marketing coordinator for Compass, said during the first half of the week, film camp students take classes in screenwriting, camera and lighting techniques, editing and sound, storyboarding, distribution and marketing, directing and producing while developing scripts based on short synopses provided by camp organizers. Meanwhile, acting campers take classes that arm them with techniques for film and television, monologues, role-playing and tips on how to do well in casting calls or auditions. The second half of the week brings both camps together – casting campers from the acting camp in the film campers' projects, scouting locations on campus, rehearsing, and shooting and editing projects.

Throughout the week, the film campers' brains are expanded by CCCA 's Writing & Directing Instructor Joshua Courtade, alongside Los Angeles Filmmaker Christopher Lowe. Alumnae Danae Postma assists local actor and producer Joseph Scott Anthony in leading CCCA's acting camp, though Bergman said the camp wouldn't be possible without the entire CCCA staff.

"Our other instructors are available for consultation and equipment check-out, the staff helps with crafty and building needs, current students stop in to encourage the camp participants," she said. "It really is a community effort."

Bergman said without many camp options for the fledgling artists among us, what CCCA is trying to do is give students an affordable opportunity to grow not only into their craft, but also into themselves.

"Past camp students have said that the camps really opened their eyes to what filmmaking and acting is all about, what roles they most enjoy and whether or not this is a vocation they would like to pursue as a future career," she said. "It also provides students with a great opportunity to hone their skills and learn new ones. If they are trying to build portfolios, they'll walk away with two new films to add in to their arsenal. They'll get to practice with lots of great equipment and learn how to use it correctly. They also build a network of fellow filmmakers and actors. Some of our former camp students are still making movies together today."

Contact Bergman at, or visit for more information.

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