Summer Film wraps production in West Michigan

Photo by Jess Weal
Photo by Jess Weal

The 22nd annual Summer Film Project has officially wrapped production in West Michigan.

Since 1994, the Summer Film Project has provided students with the opportunity to work alongside industry professionals while producing a feature length film.

This year, the crew and cast, comprised of more than 20 Grand Valley students, along with about 15 professional actors from Los Angeles, Chicago, Dayton, Detroit and West Michigan, filmed the second season of the comedy-drama "Lucky Jay."

In 2014, "Lucky Jay" was produced in an episodic format a la Netflix as the Summer Film Project. This year, students are producing six episodes of "Lucky Jay Season Two: Here's Looking at Hugh."

Filming took place June 2-17 at various locations around West Michigan, including Grand Valley's Allendale and Pew Grand Rapids campuses, the Blue Bridge in downtown Grand Rapids and Grand Haven.

"Lucky Jay Season Two: Here's Looking at Hugh" follows the continuing antics of a young film professor named Jay Calder. While Calder is away on sabbatical writing his book and wooing his love interest Kate, professor Hugh Anderson is left running the fictional university's film department with a hostile administration led by new college president Chip Throne.

While season one focused on Jay's pursuit of achieving tenure, John Harper Philbin, associate professor of film and video production and “Lucky Jay” director, said season two will focus on Calder's older counterpart, Anderson.

"Professor Hugh Anderson is 60, nearing retirement and fighting a new administration that is dismissive of arts programs, like film and theater," said Philbin. "One of the new administrators is his ex-wife, Kerri, which complicates matters, but Jay returns in the nick of time to help Hugh fight the good fight."

Senior film and broadcasting major, Ryan Kearney, served as the art director this year for her first experience working on the project. She said that hearing positive testimonials from Summer Film Project alumni convinced her to enroll in the project.

"Students who have worked on the summer film in previous years always seem to know so much more about filmmaking than what I was learning in my classes," Kearney said. "I thought the fact that I could work on a professional set with industry professionals, while still maintaining my student status to learn and ask questions without being reprimanded was invaluable."

Students will now use the final months of the summer semester to edit the film, with a premiere planned for a to-be-determined date before the end of 2016.

For more information about the Summer Film Project, contact Brian Gotberg,'15, "Lucky Jay" producer, at (248) 767-5591.

Season One of "Lucky Jay" can be viewed at