Detroit-Film-Society

Detroit Film Society Provides Support for Local Film Community


There’s a phrase you’ll hear a lot on the set of any film production: “Quiet on set!”

It alerts everyone on the set that recording is about to begin. It’s an important aspect of production that ensures an optimal setting for recording (especially where audio is concerned). As much as any filmmaker requires their cast and crew to adhere to that three-word command, no filmmaker wants it to stay quiet on set forever.

After the cancellation of the film incentives program for Michigan, many wondered what would become of the once burgeoning industry in the Great Lake State. Many wondered. A few decided to do something about it.

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Enter the Detroit Film Society, the brainchild of independent filmmaker and University of Michigan alumnus Sultan Sharrief. Detroit Film Society was established about a year ago with the goal of providing resources and connections to fellow filmmakers in Michigan to bolster the film industry as best they could. Given Sharrief’s connections and experience in the film industry, the producer/director/writer was poised to create something Michigan needed if a film industry was to continue existing here.

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Taken at the Detroit Film Society launch event. Photo courtesy of DFS.

To get things started, Sharrief threw a kick-off event at Ponyride, an entrepreneurial incubator in Detroit.

“Many people showed up and everyone seemed to have something to contribute,” Detroit Film Society co-director Ted Houser said. “After a couple more meetings we had a creative direction and never looked back!”

At its core, Detroit Film Society offers hands-on support and access to critical resources to local filmmakers. Some of those resources come in the form of connecting productions with actors/crew and vice versa. It also comes in the form of a screenwriting workshop to help screenwriters of all levels of experience hone their craft.

“These groups are made up of 4-7 screenwriters who meet monthly to work on productions that will be produced locally,” Houser said. “Once the script is written, we connect the production to local actors, crew and equipment facilities through our partners.”

This screenwriting group is such a core tenet of Detroit Film Society that Houser recommends those who are new to the film industry (or film production entirely) and want to find a way to break in attend the beginner screenwriting group. (Those interested can contact Detroit Film Society through its Facebook page).

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Members of Detroit Film Society. Photo courtesy of DFS.

“Some of these first-time writers are actors who want to write for themselves or photographers or artists who want to work in film,” Houser said. “Some just come to listen to the pitches.”

In its first year, Detroit Film Society has worked with multiple local film festivals, namely Freep Film Festival and Cinetopia Film Festival. This past spring, they hosted their own series of film screening/networking events called Takeover. Each night of Takeover consisted of a film screening, drinks, concessions and conversations with like-minded auteurs.

One year since forming Detroit Film Society, Houser said they want to strengthen their support of non-fiction/documentary films, providing resources to those productions in the same way they do for narrative films.

“There is a lot of amazing non-fiction filmmaking going on in Detroit right now,” Houser said, pointing to the documentary films featured at the Freep Film Festival.

However Michigan’s film industry decides to continue on, folks like those at Detroit Film Society are who we have to thank. Lights are shining. Cameras are rolling. And actors are playing. One thing’s for sure: Michigan’s film industry doesn’t plan on staying quiet anytime soon.

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