Photo credit, Mary Lou Chlipala
On Tuesday, April 19, at the Michigan Theater, Department Chair Caryl Flinn (top left)  moderates the Q&A given by SAC Honors Students Andrew Day and Joseph Biglin after the screening of their original films, Night Watch and February 14, 1992; (top middle) Day's supporters show off their Night Watch posters before the screening; (top right) Day and Biglin address questions about their creative process; and (bottom) SAC students, faculty, family, and friends gather at a pre-screening reception to celebrate Day's and Biglin's achievements
David Marek's Somewhere West Premiere
Tuesday, April 26
Now available for viewing on iTunes, Amazon, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Vudu, X Box, and Play Station 

After battling a terminal illness, Ian decides to forego treatment and head West in search of solitude and a beautiful place to spend his final days. Despite his best efforts to isolate himself, however, Ian becomes the center of a makeshift family of kind-hearted characters who help him in the redemptive process of letting go, opening his heart and finally reaching his undetermined destination. Somewhere West is a journey of forgiveness and friendship that travels 3000 miles across some of the most revelatory landscapes in the US, including Michigan's Upper Peninsula, The Badlands, Black Hills, Devils Tower, Yellowstone, The Great Salt Lake, and Bonneville Salt Flats. 

Shot in 31 consecutive days while traveling 4982 miles in an RV with a cast and crew of 9, Somewhere West is a triumph of filmmaking ingenuity and collaboration. The cast and crew slept wherever they parked, ate and rehearsed while driving, showered in campgrounds, and did laundry on the rare occasion they stopped in town for supplies. Shot chronologically, the Somewhere West team lived the story of the film in real time, which is evident in the authentic performances, as well as the visual innovation of this unforgettable film.

The Lightworks Festival, a showcase of student films from Screen Arts & Cultures production courses, took place over this past weekend. Below is the list of festival award winners. 
Congratulations to all of you -- and thank you to all who supported the festival.
BEST OF FESTIVAL: Stuck in the Middle, Co-Directors, Abby Buchmeyer and Kelsey Fox
Created as a SAC independent study (Abby Buchmeyer), Stuck in the Middle is pre-teen soap web series that explores the glamorous world of middle school, braces, and bat mitzvahs. It will be released officially online in late May.
Best Ensemble: Stuck in the Middle (Co-Directors, Abby Buchmeyer and Kelsey Fox; SAC 499, Abby Buchmeyer's Independent Study) 
Best Screenplay: Danielle Jacobson (SAC 423, The Dejects)
Best Director: Claudia Fuentes (SAC 423, The Dejects)
Best Cinematography: James Boyd (SAC 304 - Cinematography; Hypokeimenon)
Best Sound Design: Play (SAC 300; Composer, Alton James; Sound Editors, Anita Koltun, Catie DeWitt, and Gabriel Wolfe)
Thinking Outside the Box Award: Stayer (SAC 405 - Screendance; Director, Spencer Harvey)
Judges' Honorable Mentions 
Assistant Professor Candace Moore: Degenerate (SAC 405 - Screendance; Director, Sage O'Brien)
Assistant to the Chair, Mary Lou Chlipala: Present Day (SAC 423; Director, Ryan McDonough; Screenwriter, Carly Keyes)
SAC Doctoral Candidate Josh Morrison: Materiality (SAC 405-Screendance; Director, Molly Paberzs)
Animation/New Media Practice 
Best Animation/New Media Practice: Till Death Do Us Part (SAC 306; Director, Shudi Zheng)
Animation/New Media Practice Runner-up: Thanksgiving Feast (SAC 306; Director, Gabriel Wolfe)
Animation/New Media Practice Honorable Mention: One Star Yelp Review (SAC 306; Director, Lauren Wood)
Best Comedy: Stuck in the Middle (Co-Directors, Abby Buchmeyer and Kelsey Fox; SAC 499, Abby Buchmeyer's Independent Study) 
Comedy Runner-up: The Sandwitch (SAC 304 - Cinematography; Director, Fahim Rahman)
Comedy Honorable Mention: The Green Detective (SAC 304 - Shorts from Short Stories; Director, Courtney Carroll)
Best Documentary: Counting Signs (SAC 301; Filmmakers: Shir Avinadav, Laura Caruso, and Sibella Dowad)
Documentary Runner-up: #HASHBASH (SAC 301; Filmmakers: Alex Gaggino, Danny Kahn, Zach Wall, and Emma Winowiecki)
Documentary Honorable Mention: Alter Road (SAC 301; Filmmakers: Nicole Buccaol, Julian Carmona, Brittney Evans, and Marie Monark)
Best Drama: The Dejects (SAC 423; Director, Claudia Fuentes; Screenwriter, Danielle Jacobson)
Drama Runner-up: Play (SAC 300; Director, Gabriel Wolfe)
Drama Honorable Mention: My Monster (SAC 300; Director, Karsyn Backus) 
Best Conceptual: Self-Portrait (SAC 301; Director, Nicole Buccalo) 
Conceptual Runner-up: Resistance Looks Like You (SAC 405 - Screendance; Director, Katie Colosimo)
Conceptual Honorable Mention: Modern Love (SAC 405 - Screendance; Director, Clare Higgins)
FVSA Co-Presidents Pass the Torch
A big thank you to Eric Frankel and Kristen Batko (left), FVSA Co-Presidents, 2015-16; a warm welcome to Catie DeWitt and Gabriel Wolfe (right), FVSA Co-Presidents, 2016-17.
Photo credit, Mary Lou Chlipala
Hopwood Award Winners and SAC Screenwriting Faculty take a moment before the ceremony to gather for a photo. Pictured from left to right (front) are Kristen Batko and Clare Higgins; (middle) Daniel Plagens, Jim Burnstein, Dan Shere; (back) Eric Frankel, Alex Bernard, Graham Techler, and Oliver Thornton.
 (Not pictured - Warner James Wood and Lauren Wood) 
SAC Faculty Spotlight: Director of Screenwriting Jim Burnstein
Jim Burnstein finds it hard to believe he is finishing up his 21st year teaching screenwriting at Michigan. Though he returned to his alma mater to teach only one class, he soon found himself building a screenwriting program while continuing his career as a Hollywood screenwriter. Currently, Jim and his Los Angeles based writing partner, Garrett K. Schiff, are writing a screenplay about how American Samoa became a dominant force in the National Football League for producers Colin Hanks and Sean Stuart along with Ryan Kalil, All Pro center for the Carolina Panthers; Troy Polamalu, the now-retired All-Pro safety from the Pittsburgh Steelers; and retired former Panthers tackle Jordan Gross. It’s a fictional origin story with the spirit of two of Burnstein and Schiff’s favorite films, Whale Rider and Local Hero. UTA Independent Film Group is packaging the project and will rep distribution rights. Long known for their work in comedy and drama, Burnstein and Schiff have recently completed Orlando, a supernatural horror/thriller that explores gender identity in children and the ways we fail to “see” one another. Burnstein and Schiff are also developing a “millennial comedy” pitch with producer Sean Robins based on the true story of a young woman writer in Los Angeles working in the brave new world of digital media. In addition to serving as Director of the Screenwriting Program, Burnstein serves as a board member of the Knight Wallace Fellowships; as a member of the Hopwood Awards Committee; and as a Faculty Advisor to the Bicentennial Office.
Professor Amanda Lotz Quoted in The Christian Science Monitor about Amazon's New Streaming Service
In the article, "Is Amazon's monthly pricing really a challenge to Netflix? (+video)," staff writer Max Lewontin explores the potential impact of Amazon's new streaming service on rival companies like Netflix and on competing services like cable television. Amanda Lotz offers her perspective: "While streaming services are [...] often held up as a competitor to cable TV, consumers concerned about the cost of ballooning cable packages may see them in a similar manner to the smaller bundles, as a means to 'shave' their cable bill rather than cut it entirely." Read the full article, with more insight from Amanda Lotz, here
SAC Doctoral Student Joseph DeLeon Presents Paper at Conference in Chicago
Joseph DeLeon recently presented  a paper entitled, "The Off-Screen Detonation: A Slow Aesthetics of Environmental Crisis in Night Moves" at the 2016 Cinema and Media Studies Graduate Student Conference at the University of Chicago on Saturday, April 23. The conference, "Still Walking, Still Sleeping, Still Life: Slow Aesthetics and the Moving Image" was based on Tarkovsky's idea that "Cinema, like no other art, widens, enhances, and concentrates a person’s experience—and not only enhances it but makes it longer, significantly longer," and set out to explore the contextual, circumstantial valences of slowness in order to expand upon, complicate, and inflect the discussion of slow cinema. Read an abstract of DeLeon's paper here
SAC Undergraduates Receive Multiple Hopwood Honors This Year
Hopwood Screenplay 
Kristen Batko
Alexander Bernard
Clare Higgins 

Hopwood Undergraduate Non-Fiction
Graham Techler
Lauren Wood

The Frank and Gail Beaver Script Writing Prize 
Daniel Plagens (Short script)

The Kasdan Scholarship in Creative Writing 
Eric Grant-Frankel (Play)
Warner James Wood (Screenplay)

The Dennis McIntyre Prize
Graham Techler (Play)

The Leonard and Eileen Newman Writing Prizes in Dramatic Writing 
Daniel Plagens  (Screenplay, full-length script)
Graham Techler (Play)

The Naomi Saferstein Literary Award
Kristen Batko 
The SAC Department is so proud of all of you -- Congratulations on your achievements!
SAC Students Nominated for 2016 College/University Production Awards from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, Michigan
The SAC 400 production Good Company (Director, Claudia Fuentes; production team, Emily Browning, James Reslier-Wells, Hannah Noel, Katie Wedemeyer, and Thomas Chabalier) has been nominated in the Long Form-Fiction Category of the NATAS Student Production Awards. The ceremony will be held on April 30, 2016, at Detroit Public Television.

The Michigan Regional Student Production Awards for excellence, which promotes best practices to university/college and high school students, is intended to be an incentive for the pursuit of excellence in television journalism and focus public attention on outstanding achievements in television produced by university/college and high school students.

Entries are judged by the Michigan Chapter’s broadcast professionals. Best of luck to our Good Company crew!

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