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Great Advice Given at Motion Picture Dialog Series Panel

Posted February 14, 2011 in Events



"If you want to make it in the film industry, get yourself adopted by Michael Douglas or George Lucas,” joked George Bradshaw, Kendall Faculty at the Motion Picture Industry Panel at Kendall on Feb. 10, 2011.


If that doesn’t work out, you gotta work really hard.


This was the sentiment of all eight panelists at the program.  While optimistic about the industry in Western Michigan, they said there's a lot that still needs to be done to make Michigan a major destination for the film industry.


For example, we need direct flights to L.A


This comment also got a chuckle from the audience but unfortunately it isn't something that students can probably impact.  Instead panelists shared specific things students can do to promote the industry in the area and themselves.  


Deb Havens, Chair of the West Michigan Film Alliance, encouraged students to check out their database. “When a company comes here they want to know that we have people with skills and talent to do the work.”


Part of her presentation was a demonstration of StarMap, the well-organized, peer-reviewed database of anyone who wants to work in the industry in Western Michigan.


She encouraged students to get on it.  “The bigger the database, the more attractive it will be for companies to come here.” It is free to students.   


Go to WMFVA.org for Starmap.   


She also encouraged students to contact their legislators to make sure that the tax credits continue.   "We're in a very fragile place. Tell your legislators that you are students and that you'd like to stay in Michigan when you graduate.  Let them know you exist.”  


All the panelists encouraged students to work for free to get a foot in the door. They were told to “Hang around what you love to do. And then be flexible and easy to work with.  You will be the one to get the paid job when one is available.”


"Always be double ready for whatever anyone asks you to do," said Aaron Smith, Producer at locally based Gorilla Pictures.  "Think of yourself as a problem solver."  


George Bradshaw, who has a long history in the advertising industry in New York, said, "Remember it can take ten years to get discovered overnight."


Everyone on the panel agreed with him that opportunities exist in Michigan for people know the fundamentals, know what they want to do and work really hard.    

~Susan J. Smith 


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