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Wednesday, November 17,2010

The Screening Room

Capital City Film Festival kicks off in April

by James Sanford

You don’t need to tell Dominic Cochran that film production in Michigan is booming. When he was shooting a Miley Cyrus video in August, he had trouble getting help.


“There were 14 features being shot in Michigan simultaneously, so we couldn’t find crew,” he said. “We had to bring in people from Chicago. But, you know, that’s a great problem to have.”


With Michigan caught up in movie mania, the time seemed right for the launch of a new film festival. So Cochran, director of Lansing’s Office of Community Media, and his partners launched the Capital City Film Festival, scheduled for April 14 to 17. Submissions are being accepted.


It’s an event designed to complement the long-established East Lansing Film Festival. “We’re exactly six months apart from East Lansing Film Festival,” Cochran said. “So it’s not like we’re competing.”


Nor is the Capital City Film Festival going to limit itself to just screening movies. Cochran said music and food will also be prominently featured. “We want to focus on that word ‘festival,’” he said.


The event will be held in multiple locations over the course of the weekend. “One day we’ll be in Old Town, one day we’ll be in REO Town,” Cochran said, adding that the festival will showcase the neighborhoods of Lansing as well as the films on the schedule.


The Capital City staff is already looking at “re-purposing spaces,” such as the South Washington Armory, to serve as temporary theaters for screenings.


Despite the name, the festival is not limited to filmmakers from Lansing. “We’ve already got entries from all over the country,” Cochran said, “and we’d love to have one of those features shot in Michigan to have its premiere at our festival.”


As far as what kinds of films Capital City is looking for, just about anything goes. “We’re open to all genres: features and shorts and student films.” Digital 10 Network of Farmington Hills is providing more than $7,000 in prize money for student filmmakers, including a $3,000 grand prize scholarship.


Cochran’s team includes Jason Gabriel, Cochran’s associate at Aphtic Film and Digital; festival programming director Heidi Gustad; festival coordinator Nicole Szymczak; Jake Pechtel, who is handling the music side of things; Andrea Ragan, director of Linking Lansing and You at the Lansing Economic Development Corp.; and Project Traction owner Camron Gnass, whose firm designed the festival’s website. The Office of Community Media is “the main push behind this,” Cochran said. “But I also give a lot of credit to the mayor’s office. They said, run with it — they knew we had a great team.”

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