MSUToday
Published: April 24, 2017

Student-created independent film to premiere April 25

Students in the fiction filmmaking minor have been hard at work all year creating a short film that will premiere next week. The film, titled, “On the Way Up,” tells a touching story of a woman who, after the attempted suicide of her boyfriend who has bipolar disorder, is forced to reevaluate not only her life, but their relationship. 

“On the Way Up” was written, produced and created by 16 students in the College of Arts and Letters and the College of Communication Arts and Sciences during the two-semester long Fiction Filmmaking Capstone course. 

Each student pitched a movie idea and the class as a whole voted on the final product.

“One of the first draws to the script was the idea of taking the focus away from mental illness in general and focusing on the effects it has on other people beside the person with the mental illness,” said student co-producer Ryan Basel. “The writers who pitched it were so passionate about it. That was all I needed to hear to put my faith in them, and they definitely delivered.”                               

Students campaigned for the production roles they wanted, including director, production manager and marketing director, and were chosen by popular vote in class.

"The best part was learning the gritty ins and outs of independent filmmaking,” said media and information and film studies student Amy Wagenaar. “This taught me how to excel in a setting where everything can, and often does, go wrong, and it gave us the ability to practice our on-the-spot troubleshooting skills.”

This collaboration between the filmmaking students in two different colleges was led by Jeff Wray, professor of English in the College of Arts and Letters, and Bob Albers, senior specialist in the Department of Media and Information in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences.

“The beauty of this collaboration is there are students from two different colleges and both groups bring in different strengths,” said student co-producer Dominic Aldini. “Some students are better at the creative side of filmmaking and some are better at the technical side of it; we need both types of people.”

The film was planned, filmed, and assembled by the 16 students, but the final product will showcase the work of many other individuals, including from acting students in the Department of Theater and the score by students in the College of Music. And although students created the production, the class does not consider its final project a “student film.”

“From the very beginning, our professors made it clear to us that this is not a student film,” Basel said. “This is an independent film.”

“On the Way Up” is set to premiere today at the Meridian Mall’s Studio C! Following the premiere, a special behind-the-scenes film will showcase the students’ journey in creating the movie.

“The premiere is the culmination of the last two semesters of hard work,” Basel said. “Not only do we get to see it all put together, but we literally get to see everyone else see it, so I’m really looking forward to that.”

More information on the production of the film can be found on the On the Way Up website.

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