Free Trip to Hollywood this Saturday–Join Talented Young Filmmakers at the Michigan Student Film and Video Festival


You know their work.  And they all started right here in Michigan.

  • If you’ve seen the Star Wars prequel trilogy you’ve seen one–Oscar-Winner, Doug Chiang
  • If you’ve seen the recent Oz the Great and Powerful you’ve seen one–Aaron Lebovic
  • One worked on Iron Man 3 this past summer–Kale Davidoff
  • Two of them wrote and directed the cult zombie/comedy/road-trip/buddy Deadheads that’s been doing great on Netflix right now–Brett and Drew Pierce
  • One works for the gaming division of a prestigious LA Agency–Blake Rochkind
  • One of them just sold a screenplay after being selected by Robert Redford to attend his Sundance Writers Workshop–Dan Casey
  • This Summer, one of them from Clawson, Dan Scanlon, has directed the May’s Monsters University from Pixar and you can meet him at a special benefit screening

This Saturday, for free at the DIA’s gorgeous Detroit Film Theatre, you’ll have a chance to welcome more students into the ranks of the alumni of the 45th Michigan Student Film Festival–recognized by the American Film Institute as the longest-running festival of its kind in the country.

Nine years ago, Aaron Lebovic was a senior in my Beginning Video class at West Bloomfield High School and he featured a colleague of mine in a spoof of MTV’s Cribs.  We decided to enter and we found out that it was going to be featured on the Best of Show reel at the DIA.  


It was our first time at the event, sponsored by DAFT (Digital Arts Film and Television–formerly Detroit Area Film Teachers) and we were dazzled by the class of the venue and the thrill of seeing on a giant screen with a laughing crowd what we had only seen before on our little TV screens in the editing rooms.

Aaron went on to graduate from the University of Michigan and has worked in the industry in production ever since, staying local most of the time including stints on the crime drama Detroit 1-8-7 and most recently we saw his name in the credits as Assistant Production Coordinator for Sam Raim’s Oz shot in Pontiac.  

I was fortunate enough to be asked to join the board of DAFT a few years ago, and now have even more respect for this non-profit that is able to put forward this amazing event on donations, entry fees and grants.  The grants have been drying up, so this year we launched a month-long Indiegogo campaign that helped raise over $5,000 to keep the bills paid.  You can see our 6-minute pitch video that highlights what DAFT does here (including an interview with John Prusak–DAFT founder, lifetime educator and cinematographer for Roger and Me).

Last year I retired from West Bloomfield High School and the toughest part was leaving behind some amazing students, including Adam and Daniel Cooper, Chris McClellan, and Jordan Lederman who produced a short film that will be shown in excerpt on Saturday, The Case of Amber Gram.  


You can see this amazing work here in its entirety and understand why it was selected just last week for the Los Angeles Film Festival.  Daniel starts at NYU Film School this fall and Adam, Jordan and Chris will be attending Columbia College in Chicago.  The psychiatrist, Brian Baylor, will also be attending NYU.

Dreams have to start somewhere–and Saturday, at no-cost, you can join students from all across the state as they start that journey.  

The K-8 winners reel starts at 10 AM and the 9-12 reel plays at 12:30 PM.  More information, as well as how to join this great organization and receive discounts or free workshops as well as movie screenings is on the DAFT website (or


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About Kevin Walsh

Kevin began in 2013 as an experiment that was as simple as "What's a blog?" and ended up becoming a forum for fellow writers. He's been a high school teacher for 28 years and worked as an administrator and instructor in colleges for 10 years since then. Contact him at: He is also the producer of the web-series and blog, www.DiggingDetroit, founder and producer for MMD Productions at which offers quick, professional photography, video and multimedia solutions for individuals, organizations and businesses. His high school media production text, "Video Direct," has been used in 40 states--and he occasionally still sells a few. He is the current president of the non-profit DAFT (Digital Arts Film and Television) which sponsors the Michigan Student Film Festival. He lives in Royal Oak, Michigan, is married to Patrice and is tolerated by his two kids Aidan and Abby who have all graciously allowed him to write about them on occasion.

One Response to Free Trip to Hollywood this Saturday–Join Talented Young Filmmakers at the Michigan Student Film and Video Festival

  1. Dick Rockwell says:

    Very impressive student film!