Grand Valley film premieres

Michael McCallum plays a vagrant who finds a cell phone
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Michael McCallum plays a vagrant who finds a cell phone
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Grand Valley will premiere its Summer Film Project, “Message Sent,” Friday, April 27, at 8 p.m. at Celebration Cinema North, 2121 Celebration Drive NE, Grand Rapids. The box office opens at 7 p.m. Admission is $5. DVDs, on sale in lobby for $10, include “Message Sent,” plus “The Making of Message Sent.” The screening will be followed by a question-and-answer session and a making-of showing. Cast and crew members will be in attendance. View a trailer here.

The plot of “Message Sent” involves a vagrant, played by Michael McCallum from Lansing, who begins to receive emergency messages on a cell phone he found and becomes compelled to find the owner. The cast also includes, among others, 15-year-old Kaitlyn Squires, from Byron Center, who recently played the role of Helen Keller at Grand Rapids Civic Theatre.

The original screenplay of “Message Sent” was written by Angelo Eidse of Vancouver and selected for the university’s 17th annual Summer Film Project. The project was established in 1995 to offer junior and senior students an opportunity to work side-by-side with professionals to produce a short film. More than 25 students enrolled in the six-week practicum course that shot the film in late July and early August. Post-production was done during a 15-week fall course.

Director John Harper Philbin and cinematographer Jack Anderson reunited for their fifth summer film. Philbin is associate professor of film and video in Grand Valley’s School of Communications. Hollywood veteran Anderson is now a professor at California State, Long Beach. The producer is Carian White, a 2011 graduate of Grand Valley’s Film & Video Program. Megan Soderberg, art director, and Adam Rock, camera operator, are also 2011 graduates.

Thanks to a generous grant from Panavision and Fuji Motion Picture Film, the production was once again shot on 35mm film, as it was the first year of the project. “In the past we’ve shot on Super-16mm, a format more common for independent and college films because 35mm is too expensive,” said Philbin. “This summer, students were able to experience making a movie on the same camera and film that Hollywood uses for feature filmmaking.”

Past films have been selected for screening at film festivals throughout the country and have won many awards. The 2003 film “Flickering Blue,” by the same screenwriter as “Message Sent,” won First Place Short at the East Lansing Film Festival and the Audience Award at the Crested Butte Reel Fest, in Colorado.