'Absurd comedy' to premiere as next Summer Film Project release

Update on July 31: The film, "Unemployees," will be part of The Criterion Channel's August 2023 lineup .

The latest Summer Film Project release set to premiere this week is an "absurd comedy" filmed entirely on the Allendale Campus.

"Unemployees" will be screened at 7 p.m. April 27 at Celebration Cinema North, said Joel Potrykus, the assistant professor of film and video production who helms the Summer Film Project and was the film's script writer and director.

The Summer Film Project gives students an opportunity to film alongside industry professionals. Students in fall classes did post-production work in editing and sound design, Potrykus said.

This year's project is a 27-minute film, filmed in one week during the summer, takes an absurdist approach to two aimless young people who think the easiest way to money is unemployment, but find that no matter how poorly they perform, they cannot get themselves fired from their jobs, he said.

MORE: Watch a trailer for "Unemployees."

A duck on a pond with a person sitting on a tiered area is the foreground to a building.
The Summer Film Project release was filmed on the Allendale Campus, with a bedroom set built in the basement of the Kirkhof Center.

"It's a critique on everybody," Potrykus said. "It's critiquing the workforce and it's critiquing the people who are employed in the workforce as well."

Professional actors Dani Parker and Kandy Kappelle were in the lead roles. The crew included recent graduates A. Riley as producer and Breana Malloy as co-producer. Potrykus said 22 students were involved with filming, which also included a professional cinematographer and sound recorder, giving the students great opportunities to absorb the work of those in the industry.

Potrykus said he limited filming to only the Allendale Campus, using golf carts to get around, to keep the shooting focused and efficient. The cast and crew members worked with campus settings as they are, with a few additions such as signs; the biggest undertaking was creating a bedroom set in the basement of the Kirkhof Center.

"I look at the campus of Grand Valley as one big backlot," Potrykus said. "It's a Michigan version of a Hollywood backlot where we have offices and parks and ponds and food courts."


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