Filming of 'Message Sent' is underway

Screenwriter Angelo Eidse on the set with Director John Harper Philbin
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Screenwriter Angelo Eidse on the set with Director John Harper Philbin
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A vagrant finds a cell phone full of trouble in the upcoming Grand Valley State University film “Message Sent,” now in production. The original screenplay was written by Angelo Eidse of Vancouver and selected for the university’s 17th annual Summer Film Project.

The Summer Film Project was established in 1995 to offer junior and senior students an opportunity to work side-by-side with professionals to produce a short film. More than 25 students are enrolled in the six-week practicum course that will shoot the film in late July and early August. Post-production is done during a 15-week fall course, with a premiere screening in the spring.

The plot of “Message Sent” involves a vagrant, played by Michael McCallum from Lansing, who begins to receive emergency messages on a cell phone he found and becomes compelled to find the owner. The cast also includes, among others, 15-year-old Kaitlyn Squires, from Byron Center, who recently played the role of Helen Keller at Grand Rapids Civic Theatre.

Director John Harper Philbin and cinematographer Jack Anderson are reuniting for their fifth summer film together, though Philbin has done nine and Anderson has worked on seven. Philbin is associate professor of film and video in Grand Valley’s School of Communications. Hollywood veteran Anderson is now a professor at California State, Long Beach. The producer is Carian White, an April 2011 graduate of Grand Valley’s Film & Video Program. Megan Soderberg, art director and Adam Rock, camera operator are also 2011 graduates.

Thanks to a generous grant from Panavision and Fuji Motion Picture Film, the production will once again be shot on 35mm film, as it was the first year of the project. “In the past we’ve shot on Super-16mm, a format more common for independent and college films because 35mm is too expensive,” said Philbin.  “This summer students will get to experience making a movie on the same camera and film that Hollywood uses for feature filmmaking.”

Past years’ films have been selected for screening at film festivals throughout the country and have won many awards. The 2003 film “Flickering Blue,” by the same screenwriter as “Message Sent,” won First Place Short, at the East Lansing Film Festival and Audience Award, at the Crested Butte Reel Fest, in Colorado.

“Walter’s Wife” (2008) - nominated for Best Short, Great Lakes Film Festival; “To Live & Die in Dixie” (2007) - won Best Feature, Flint Film Festival and won Best Thriller at Illinois International Film Festival; “The Gospel According to Roy” (2005) - won Best Short, Utah Film Festival.

For more information contact: John Harper Philbin, director, at (616) 331-3608, or Carian White, producer, at (989) 640-9470.