Big screen 101

Like a relentless flock of Alfred Hitchcock’s birds, movie mania has invaded southeast Michigan. It seems like, every few weeks or so, a locally produced independent film has its premiere somewhere in metro Detroit. Meanwhile, the digital revolution in cameras, sound and editing equipment is having a major impact on production values, making it possible for low-budget films to sport a highly professional look.

Movie buffs familiar with the folklore of American independent cinema know that directors Martin Scorsese and Spike Lee started small and funky, with minimal cash and streetwise scripts that reflected their family and neighborhood roots. So it should come as music to the ears of greater Detroit’s aspiring filmmakers that the Detroit Filmmakers Coalition (DFC) is inaugurating its new digs in downtown Detroit by offering a whole slate of classes geared to the budding filmmaker and ciné-enthusiast.

First off, for 16- to 18-year-old high school students living in the city of Detroit, DFC’s Summer Youth Program kicks off Monday, July 14, with a three-week immersion in the fundamentals of 16mm filmmaking, digital video production and nonlinear computer editing. The class runs Monday through Thursday 10 a.m.-3 p.m. and includes hands-on visits to local film and video production houses, as well as instruction from established media artists. Each student will plan, shoot and edit his or her own short video by the time the class ends. Registration is limited to 12 students (early applications are necessary). Cost: only $50 (made possible by a grant from the state arts council). For more info, see

Adults planning their first dip in the celluloid pool can sign up for DFC’s class in film production, an intensive 13-week course covering 16mm production, loading and unloading film, exposure, metering, lenses, filters, depth of field, editing, processing and more. Participants will plan, shoot and edit their own 16mm film — and a group screening caps off the three-month class that starts Wednesday, July 9, 7-10 p.m. Cost: $450 or $425 for DFC members.

Aspiring movie scribes with plenty of ideas but not a lot of experience can sign up for screenwriting, an eight-week class in how-to-get-going-and-keep-on-going taught by industry veteran Robert Dyke. It starts Thursday, July 10, 7-10 p.m. Cost: $275 or $250 for DFC members.

The wilder psyches among us will want to check out the one-time-only experimental workshop taught by Chicago filmmaker Emily Vey Duke on Saturday, July 12, 2-5 p.m. The three-hour intensive, focused on writing for experimental film and video, is part of the DFC’s New Cinema Screening Series. Cost: $30.

And finally, for those polishing up their endgames, a 4-week workshop called final cut pro starts Saturday, Aug. 2, 2-5 p.m. It’s a chance to learn the basics of digital video editing by means of the leading desktop software. Students will learn to import and export footage, editing, mixing sound, creating titles, color correction, batch capturing, media management and more. Cost: $200 or $150 for DFC members.

To register, call 313-961-9936 or go to

And if that just wets your whistle, more classes are coming in the fall: advanced film production, music video production, PhotoShop, Super 8 experimental, etc.


The Detroit Filmmakers Coalition is at 1227 Washington Blvd., Detroit. Call 313-961-9936 for information.

George Tysh is the arts editor of Metro Times. E-mail [email protected]
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