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Summer film project 'Realizism' gets under way

  • Director Mitch Nyberg prepares actors for a scene on the set of Realizism.
  • Cinematographer Darius Mathis ('94) discusses scene framing with director Mitch Nyberg ('83)
  • Camera crew gets direction from art director
  • Joe Anderson (Jake) listens as director Mitch Nyberg lays out the bar scene for actors
  • A gold bird bath is a plot factor in "Realizism"
  • Camera crew sets up on location
  • Red Scarlet Camera is used for filming "Realizism"
  • Director Mitch Nyberg oversees setting an outdoor shot

Posted on July 26, 2012

A home foreclosure drives a sheltered suburban family into the thick of the urban jungle in the film “Realizism,” currently filming in Grand Rapids. The 30-minute film is being produced by students at Grand Valley State University, working with industry professionals, as the School of Communications’ 18th annual Summer Film Project. Past years’ films have been selected for screening at film festivals throughout the country and have won many awards.

Director Mitch Nyberg, a 1983 Grand Valley alumnus, is working with cinematographer Darius Mathis and a crew of nearly 30 students to complete filming in two weeks, wrapping up August 2. Post production will be done during the fall and a premiere screening is planned for spring.

The film, written by Nyberg, features Grand Rapids actor Joe Anderson and Saugatuck actress Melissa Anschutz in the lead roles of Jake and Cheryl. They play a married couple who must deal with downward social mobility after foreclosure ousted them from their cushy home in the suburbs and into the gritty reality of the urban jungle and a vast real estate conspiracy.

“I’m really proud of the crew – they are working hard as a team and solving problems on the fly,” said Nyberg, a native of Coopersville whose career includes work as a tour camera operator for Eric Clapton, ‘NSync, the Dixie Chicks and the Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli. The Michigan Film Incentives encouraged him to return to Michigan in 2008. The Hart Township resident has worked on several films shot in Grand Rapids, including as production manager for “The Steam Experiment,” staring Val Kilmer, and as location manager for “Touchback,” the 2011 film starring Kurt Russell and Barry Sanders, which included football scenes filmed at Coopersville High School. Nyberg also worked on the 1995 Grand Valley Summer Film Project “Factory.”

Mathis, a Detroit native who grew up in Southfield, came to West Michigan to attend Grand Valley, graduated from the Film and Video Production program in 1994 and has stayed in the area since, working as assistant cameraman on the 2011 film “Setup” starring Bruce Willis, and as a camera operator in the 2012 action/drama, “7 Stones.” Mathis was the cinematographer for the award-winning documentary "Up From the Bottoms: The Search for the American Dream."

“The Summer Film Project started after I graduated from Grand Valley,” said Mathis. “I’m amazed at the caliber of talent and hard work each and every student puts into this production. It is a testament to the program.”

For more information about the 2012 Summer Film Project "Realizism," visit


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