2014 Summer Film Web series now available online

Michael McCallum plays professor Jay Calder in the 2014 Summer Film Project Web series, "Lucky Jay."
Michael McCallum plays professor Jay Calder in the 2014 Summer Film Project Web series, "Lucky Jay."

Grand Valley’s 2014 Summer Film Project, “Lucky Jay,” is now available online for global audiences to enjoy. The entire seven-episode comedy-drama Web series can be viewed at www.luckyjayseries.com.

The series spotlights a young film professor pursuing tenure who finds himself in hot water when his carousing, eccentricities and commitment issues stand in the way of his ultimate goals. Season One follows assistant professor Jay Calder, his colleagues and a host of challenging students throughout one semester at a fictional Midwest college as Jay's tenure review quickly approaches. 

The film’s crew consisted of 22 members, including Grand Valley faculty, students and local industry professionals. The cast includes award-winning actors from the Screen Actors Guild, as well as young actors from university theater programs in Michigan. Filming for “Lucky Jay” took place at multiple locations on Grand Valley’s Pew Grand Rapids and Allendale campuses as well as private homes in Grand Rapids and Fenian’s Irish Pub in Conklin.

The film’s producer and Grand Valley alumnus, Brian Gotberg, ’15, said this experience helped him become an enhanced leader while learning how to manage a large team.

“This was my second time working on the Summer Film Project and this is the pinnacle of learning experiences that the film program has to offer,” Gotberg said. “I am now proficient at budgeting, accounting, processing, purchasing, procuring, managing, marketing, and project management among many other skills.”

Gotberg added that working on the summer film helps students grow an invaluable trait: confidence. 

“It allows students to know what to expect when they walk onto a film set,” Gotberg said. “The project forces you out of your classroom comfort zone and makes you work hard toward a common goal. Film set experience is everything when it comes to landing a job in film production and the Summer Film Project is the best course offered by GVSU to teach students how they need to communicate on a film set.”

John Harper Philbin, associate professor of film and video production at Grand Valley and “Lucky Jay” director, wrote the script, along with collaborators John Dufresne, a novelist and creative writing professor at Florida International University, and Angelo Eidse, a Vancouver-based screenwriter.

Philbin said when audiences watch these final films, many are surprised they have been produced by students.

“Our goal has always been to make the final product look as good as anything a professional crew could produce, it just takes a little longer since students are learning as they go,” Philbin said. “I like to avoid telling audiences that these films were made with a student crew before they see the film, so they don’t go in with any caveats. Once they see the film and find out it was made with a student crew, you can see their jaws drop."

Watch the below video for behind-the-scenes highlights, as well as additional reflections from students working as cast and crew.

For more information about "Lucky Jay," contact Brian Gotberg at (248) 767-5591.