Wednesday, 01 March 2017 10:10

Small Budgets, Big Screen Results: North By Midwest Micro-Budget Film Festival Featured

Written by  Josh Spanninga
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Still from the short film Lemon Eyes, a period piece that takes place in 1920s Detroit.  Still from the short film Lemon Eyes, a period piece that takes place in 1920s Detroit.

It doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg to make a movie. 

While big studios continue to pour millions into each of their films, there’s another style of film that has kept a steady presence in the shadow of big blockbusters: micro-budget films.  

The Public Media Network (PMN) of Kalamazoo hopes to take this uniquely frugal style of filmmaking and put it in the limelight with the third annual North By Midwest Micro-Budget Film Festival. 

“Well, we are a community access center, so part of our mission is to give a voice to people who don’t normally have a voice in media,” said Nick Eppinga, PMN public coordinations and outreach manager. “So we think that giving micro-budget filmmakers an audience is an important thing to do. It’s not only important for the artist, but for the audience as well, to be able to see movies made with more heart than budget.”

The rules for this year’s festival are simple — filmmakers from around North America are invited to submit films to the festival, but only if the budget is less than $10,000. Then audiences get to come see the results (for free) on March 3 and 4. 

Ashley Morris, PMN marketing and promotions coordinator, assures audiences that they won’t be disappointed. 

“Everyone that comes is just amazed by the content in general, and they really love how the festival is organized,” she said. 

Aside from a special screening of Buzzard at the Alamo Drafthouse, the entire festival will all take place in various rooms throughout the Epic Center on South Kalamazoo Mall. Those planning to attend are encouraged to register online, though organizers also welcome any last-minute additions to their audiences. 

The mix of short and feature films being shown at this year’s festival run the gamut from drama to comedy, animation and everything in between. One particular entry that’s not to be missed is Lemon Eyes, a period piece that takes place in 1920s Detroit. With full costumes and set decorations, it’s hard to believe the film cost less than $5,000 to make, but Morris says that’s part of the fun of watching these films. 

“It’s people who have day jobs, and they love doing this on the side,” Morris said. “And they’ve grown from that and are super talented, because with less of a budget, you have to figure out creative ways to use your story.” 


North By Midwest Micro-Budget Film Festival

Epic Center, 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall, Kalamazoo

Saturday, March 4, 12-10 p.m., FREE


Special Screening of Buzzard (with Q&A with director Joel Potrykus after the film)

Alamo Drafthouse, 180 Portage St., Kalamazoo

Friday, March 3, 8 p.m.

$3 advance, $5 day of

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