THE BLOG
12/31/2013 04:11 pm ET | Updated Mar 02, 2014

Support the Next Spielberg: The Michigan Student Film Festival and DAFT

The following was originally posted on Kevin's blog, MyMediaDiary.com.

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"Monsters University" director, Dan Scanlon chats with former instructor, DAFT longtime board member and cinematographer for "Roger and Me," John Prusak.

Not a bad vibe. A room full of students who had just been honored at the 45th Michigan Student Film Festival talking with a past winner, soon to be premiering Pixar's latest hit, Monsters University.

In May, Dan Scanlon, of Clawson High School, flew in from Hollywood carrying with him a special showing of Monsters University -- nearly a month before its release. Pixar allows its directors to select a charity for a special screening benefit and Dan selected three non-profits: the Assistance League, Friends of Detroit Film Theatre and Digital Arts - Film & Television (DAFT).

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1992, Dan Scanlon with DAFT instructor, Vic Spicer.

Mr. Scanlon was only nine when DAFT first recognized his gifts of storytelling and animation. Julie Hinds of the Detroit Free Press noted:

DAFT board member John Prusak, an award-winning cinematographer, was one of Scanlon's early teachers. Prusak and another instructor, Jeff Bloomer, taught the young animation whiz at the William D. Ford Career Technical Center in Westland.

Prusak says Scanlon's mother would drive him to evening workshops twice a week after he completed his school day in Clawson. (source)

You can see the talk-show with the students filmed at the Motion Picture Institute of Michigan in May, 2013.

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Four decades of Programs from the Michigan Student Film Festival

As a video production teacher, I became aware of DAFT through my colleague Dick Rockwell of Royal Oak Dondero High School. Dick along with founder John Prusak (cinematographer for Roger and Me) steered the early years of the Michigan Student Film Festival, helping to find its longtime home at the Detroit Institute of Arts' beautiful Detroit Film Theatre which celebrates its 40 year anniversary on January 11t with founder and host, Elliot Wilhelm:

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Best of Show winners and their families gather in the DFT's Crystal Gallery Cafe in April 2013.

"An Affair to Remember." Tickets are $150 per person and the party features a strolling dinner, open bar, valet parking, special guests, live music, door prizes and a presentation by film curator Elliot Wilhelm, who has been with the DFT since its inception. (source)

"America's Longest Running Student Film Festival" and Past Winners...

DAFT was recently recognized by the American Film Institute as America's longest-running student film festival. Past winners, in addition to Scanlon, include:

  • Doug Chiang (Oscar-winner for Death Becomes Her, Star Wars Episodes 1-3, The Polar Express)
  • Doug Blush (Oscar-nominated in 2013 for The Invisible War) see YouTube interview
  • Daniel Casey (screenwriter, Sundance Writers Workshop),
  • Drew and Brett Pierce (the cult zombie comedy on Netflix, Deadheads),
  • Kasey Bell (American Dad, Family Guy),
  • Aaron Lebovic (Oz the Great and Powerful, Detroit 1-8-7)
  • MyMediaDiary contributor Kale Davidoff (Iron Man 3, Transformers 4)
  • Adam Cooper, Daniel Cooper, Jordan Lederman and Chris McClellan producers of The Case of Amber Gram honored in June 2013 for high school excellence in film production at the Los Angeles Film Festival.

Students, educators, professionals and fans of film are encouraged to join DAFT.

  • $35 for Student Membership (includes screening events, workshops and an entry in the 2014 festival)
  • $50 for Individual Membership (non-student filmmakers, educators, fans) includes screening events, workshops and an entry in the 2014 festival
  • $150 Institutional Membership (schools, film organizations) includes 3 3ntries for screening events, workshops and 3 entries in the 2014 festival
  • Film Festival Corporate Sponsorship:500,2,500 or5,000 (see details)

For more on DAFT, please visit the website at www.daftonline.org. You can also see more below: