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The Film Industry
in Michigan

Welcome to the only film school in Michigan that will actually connect you to the film industry! The Film Connection in Michigan creates opportunities that no other film school can offer. Instead of placing you in a college or trade school classroom with a bunch of other students, we put you in the heart of the action, in a real film production company, where you will learn one-on-one from a real film professional.  Your classes occur on-the-job and on the set, giving you the chance to connect to the film industry while the other film school students are still sitting in those classrooms. Whether you want to work in film as a cinematographer, editor, producer or screenwriter, or whether you want to go all the way to Hollywood to pitch your own film, the Michigan Film Connection is the place to start!

If you think Michigan offers no opportunities to connect to the film industry, think again.  Thanks in part to generous incentives offered by the state, major film productions come to film on location in Michigan on a regular basis! 

Here are just a few examples:

  • Gran Torino (2008)
  • 8 Mile (2002)
  • Road to Perdition (2002)
  • The Ides of March (2011)
  • Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
  • Grosse Pointe Blank (1997)
  • The Five Year Engagement (2012)
  • Oz the Great and Powerful (2013)
  • Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014)

This partial list doesn’t even speak to the many local film and television productions happening in Michigan at any given moment.  Whether you live in Detroit, Lansing, Grand Rapids, Alpena, Traverse City or anywhere in between, the Michigan Film Connection can get you close to the action where other film schools can’t.

With our film training program, you’ll follow a structured curriculum—you’ll even have homework—but instead of studying in a classroom, you’ll be studying as an apprentice (extern) under a working film professional, learning one-on-one.  The curriculum can be tailored to your interests in film, whether cinematography, directing, editing, etc.  And if your dream is to make your own films in Hollywood, your mentor will guide you step-by-step as you develop your own film idea—and then we’ll arrange for you to pitch your film in Hollywood to REAL FILM EXECUTIVES!  We’re not kidding.  No other film school on the planet offers this kind of opportunity.

But there’s the question of price.  How much does a one-on-one film apprenticeship (externship) cost?  You’ll be surprised: it costs about 75% LESS than most film schools cost!  Why? Because we know that student debt can kill your film career before it starts, and we want to help you launch your career.  That’s why we keep our costs at a minimum, so you can focus on your career and not on your tuition bills.

Anyone in this business knows you need connections in order to break into film—and anyone with common sense knows you can’t make those connections sitting in a classroom.   If you’re serious about launching a film career, your path to Hollywood starts with the Michigan Film Connection.  If you’re ready to get started, APPLY NOW FOR FREE!  We’re ready to help. 

Programs

You will study inside a real film production company in your city as you develop your movie idea with a legendary to filmmaker. Then you will fly to Los Angeles or New York to pitch your idea to an executive that could buy or get your movie idea made.

Director / Producer / Screenwriter Details

The screenwriter is the person who creates, takes, or adapts an idea and formulates a screenplay. Without the writer, there would be no movie. Period. He or she is the starting gate. He or she is the person that starts the ball rolling down the hill.

Screenwriting Details

In many ways the film editor is the most misunderstood of all film professionals. Often considered just a film technician, a good editor is, without doubt, much more than that. He or she is also a qualified storyteller of the highest order.

Film Editing Details

The cinematographer is literally the set ‘magician.’ DPs are responsible for the technological wizardry to help create the needed light, while at the same time also having the keen sensibility to shape the light for the greatest artistic effect.

Cinematography Details

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Meet our Faculty

Why learn from teachers when you can learn from the professionals?

Sebastian Triscari Film Connection Mentor

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Sebastian Triscari Film Connection Mentor

Background

“Young people are the future of this industry. Mentorship programs like The Film Connection are the most efficient and effective ways for anyone who has a passion to gain the information and experience necessary to be successful!”

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Mitch Kaufman Film Connection Mentor

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Mitch Kaufman Film Connection Mentor

Background

A native of Atlantic Beach, Mitch Kaufmann has been offering video services to area businesses and residents since 1984. He started Atlantic Video Productions by shooting weddings, business seminars, and sporting events.

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Eero Johnson Film Connection Mentor

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Eero Johnson Film Connection Mentor

Background

“I’m Eero Johnson. I’m a film and video producer living in Bellingham, Washington. For over ten years I’ve been creating commercials, corporate videos, web videos, sales DVD’s, music videos … whatever it takes to get your message to your audience. I have a great group of clients and I love what I do.”

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Chris Varner Film Connection Mentor

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Chris Varner Film Connection Mentor

Background

In a career spanning nearly 20 years, Chris has worked in almost every facet of video production, from lens to post. His credits include EPK work on “Sleepy Hollow”, “Under The Dome”, “The Longest Ride”, “We’re The Millers”, “Iron Man 3”, “One Tree Hill” and more.

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John Raffo Film Connection Mentor

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John Raffo Film Connection Mentor

Background

John Raffo started as a photographer in New York before turning his attention to screenwriting. Over the last twenty years he’s worked on a variety of credited and uncredited projects (including, DRAGON, THE BRUCE LEE STORYTHE RELIC, and THE INTERPRETER”). His original screenplay RENKO VEGA AND THE JENNIFER NINE appeared on the 2011 Black List. THE 7TH SWORD is his first story written directly as a graphic novel.

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Shawn Hamer Film Connection Mentor

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Shawn Hamer Film Connection Mentor

Background

17 time Emmy award winning DP/Camera Operator, Producer and Director with over 20 years of experience in the Film, Television and Audio business. Extensive professional experience for top clients across the country from Miami to Anchorage, from New York to San Francisco. International production experience in South & Central America as well as China for both documentary and commercial production. Well versed in handling both low and high budget production ($1k to $3.5m). Professional still shooter as well with full ProFoto strobe lighting and speedlight kits. Lots of contacts in the Detroit metro area and in major cities across the globe for every type and size production – full cinema production, 3D production, aerial shoots, camera car, crane/jib, etc. I also have shot, explored, camped and lived all over Michigan – I know the state EXTREMELY well, particularly it’s remotest regions.

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Ivan Alzuro Film Connection Mentor

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Ivan Alzuro Film Connection Mentor

Background

“Unlike the local University, Film Connection sends us committed and focused students. We have turned 1 student into full-time contractor – that says it all!”

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Daniel Lir Film Connection Mentor

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Daniel Lir Film Connection Mentor

Background

Dream Team Directors is a prestigious directorial team founded by Bayou Bennett and Daniel Lir. Their company motto, “Let our dream team manifest your dream”, symbolizes the expansion and positive attention they win for their celebrity and high-profile brand clients and collaborators such as Adidas, MTV, Coldplay, P. Diddy, Smashbox Cosmetics, Atlantic Records, Chrome Hearts, Oscar De La Renta, Oscar nominee Mark Ruffalo, Golden Globe nominee Anthony Mackie, Matt Bennett of the “Big Bang Theory” and Lea Michele of Fox’s “Glee.”

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Horacio Jones Film Connection Mentor

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Horacio Jones Film Connection Mentor

Background

Award winning director, Horacio Jones is a multi-faceted Video Producer, Director, and Editor. He has turned CinemaViva into one of the leading video production studios in San Diego. In addition to making outstanding corporate video productions, he is committed to making socially conscious and inspiring films and documentaries that bring magic into peoples lives in fun and colorful ways.

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Deen Olatunji Film Connection Mentor

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Deen Olatunji Film Connection Mentor

Background

Deen’s most recent film is “Warfare”, which was screened at the heart of Dallas and several other cities across the United States. Deen has also worked on several feature, short films and other content, which include “Kanaani” (Popular TV Series”), “The Call”, “King Sacrifice”, “Who Am I” , and “Dancing With The Docs-Texas”. (TV Series). He is currently working on his next projects “The Alarm Clock” (Short Film) and “Eze Back To School”  (Feature Film) all coming up in fall and winter 2016.

Deen believes the RRFC program is great because it’s one of the few reputable schools that teach you on the field which he states is a great way of learning.

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Rex Piano Film Connection Mentor

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Rex Piano Film Connection Mentor

Background

“The Film Connection allows aspiring writers to work with professionals.  The students not only learn theory, but practical applications to screenwriting.  I wish it was around when I was a student.” — Rex Piano, Producer/Director, Impact Earth, Fall of Hyperion, Rome: Rise and Fall of an Empire, Murder Dot Com, Hope Ranch, The Month of August

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Matt Kaczkowski Film Connection Mentor

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Matt Kaczkowski Film Connection Mentor

Background

Matt Kaczkowski graduated from Winona State University with a BA in Mass Communications Broadcasting. He spent three years as a DJ and produced an award-winning radio production.  Prior to starting SilverWater Productions, Matt was an event planner and A/V services coordinator for 4 years. Matt’s passion for film and video is a catalyst for SilverWater’s success.

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David McClain Film Connection Mentor

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David McClain Film Connection Mentor

Background

Credits: Coca Cola, Google, Dateline, Travel Channel, NBC

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Demetria Kalodimos Film Connection Mentor

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Demetria Kalodimos Film Connection Mentor

Background

In 2000, Demetria established Genuine Human Productions, writing, directing, shooting and editing true stories about real people…genuine humans. Demetria Kalodimos has anchored and reported television news for more than 30 years. She’s won some of journalism’s most prestigious awards including 15 regional Emmys, 2 National Headliners and 2 Investigative Reporters and Editors Awards.

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Rocco Michaluk Film Connection Mentor

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Rocco Michaluk Film Connection Mentor

Background

Michaluk has been creating award winning Film & TV productions for over 15 years. His Film Clients include Columbia Pictures, Indian PaintBrush, PBS, NBC, American Empirical Pictures and Fountainbrush Films. His Television clients include NBC, Television Academy / Emmy’s, MTV, Viacom, E! Entertainment, CBS, ABC, Travel Channel, Leftfield Pictures, PETA, and others.

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Alejandra Huerta Film Connection Mentor

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Alejandra Huerta Film Connection Mentor

Background

Alejandra Huerta specializes in On-Screen Promotions, Executive Presentation Tapes and Sizzle Reels. She started her career with Andromeda in Miami offering Production Services to MTV Latin America as an editor for on-air promotions. She then relocated to New York where she became a successful producer and editor for Viacom and NBC Universal. After her professional experience in NY she relocated to Florida where she continues to manage, produce and edit projects at Andromeda Productions.

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Joaquin Palma Film Connection Mentor

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Joaquin Palma Film Connection Mentor

Background

“The thing I admire most about the program is that it pairs you with people doing the job that you are aspiring to do. In doing that, I feel it gets rid of the “glamour” that people associate with this business, and helps them realize that it is, in fact, A JOB. It takes hard work, a lot of practice and a sincere courtesy towards one’s colleagues to get ahead and stay relevant; not that tired stereotype of the suffering artist that won’t settle for anything less than his vision of perfection! I don’t think they teach you that at traditional film schools.” — Joaquin Franco Palma

Joaquin Franco Palma was born and raised in Los Angeles and is a first-generation American. Having started his career as a production assistant, Joaquin has gone on to become an award winning writer and director of both independent features and TV; most notably, as a staff writer on the Emmy nominated HULU series, EAST LOS HIGH. Aside from writing for the screen, Joaquin is also a published author of fiction and is a youth writing volunteer for the NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND and NOSOTROS ORGANIZATION programs.

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Drew Mason Film Connection Mentor

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Drew Mason Film Connection Mentor

Background

I started getting serious about making videos during summer backpacking trips with my friends between college semesters at Central Michigan University. Shortly after graduating, I was asked to produce a local TV show. I jumped at the opportunity and never looked back. Since then, I’ve produced videos for documentaries, national ad campaigns, and commercials for multinational companies. Recently I was part of a team that produced videos for Lansing’s Silver Bells in the City, and we received an Emmy Award for special event coverage.

My introduction to the business wasn’t with videography; I was a wedding DJ for nearly 8 years. Through this experience, I discovered that weddings are not only among my favorite things to be a part of, but also to film. I love capturing the excitement, love, and energy surrounding them.

When I’m not editing videos – haha, funny joke – I like to make music. In fact, I serenaded my wife Amanda with my ukulele for our first kiss. True story! I also try to get out to the backcountry wilderness with just a backpack from time to time, especially in beautiful northern Michigan.

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John Lafia Film Connection Mentor

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John Lafia Film Connection Mentor

Background

John Lafia is a director and writer, known for Child’s Play (1988), Child’s Play 2 (1990), Man’s Best Friend(1993) and 10.5 (2004)

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Brian Dryden Film Connection Mentor

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Brian Dryden Film Connection Mentor

Background

Clients: The North Face, Cherokee Sports, LSU

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Grant Salisbury Film Connection Mentor

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Grant Salisbury Film Connection Mentor

Background

Over fifteen years post production experience in Orlando—Grant has provided video editorial, 2D & 3D animations, and motion graphics for a multitude of media clients through his post production company, GFX Creative.

Short & Long Format Video Editorial, Event & Theme Park Animations, Infomercials, Broadcast Commercials, Corporate Communications and Interactive Media for The Walt Disney Company, Universal Studios, Sea World, Lockheed-Martin, AAA Insurance, 3M, Siemens, Honda, A&D Medical, Toyota, FedEx and others.

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Jae Macallan Film Connection Mentor

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Jae Macallan Film Connection Mentor

Background

Jae Macallan is the owner, producer, and lead editor for Yoyostring Creative in Seattle, WA., with satalite offices in Portland, OR and San Diego, CA.  Yoyostring produces traditional video as well as animation, 360 VR, live video switching and video mapping. 

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Ron Osborn Film Connection Mentor

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Ron Osborn Film Connection Mentor

Background

“Simply put, there is no better or more effective way to teach anything than one-on-one, mentor to student.  This is what the Film Connection does.” — Ron Osborn

A writer/producer in television for 35 years, Ron has been nominated for 7 Emmys, 3 Cable Ace Awards, and 2 Writers Guild Awards on shows like MOONLIGHTING, THE WEST WING, and the adult animated DUCKMAN.  He has written pilots for every primetime network, numerous cable networks, as well as movies like MEET JOE BLACK; and has developed feature projects with Steven Speilberg, Ron Howard, and George Lucas, among others. .

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Sam Borowski Film Connection Mentor

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Sam Borowski Film Connection Mentor

Background

“The Recording Radio and Film Connection is such an effective program, because it takes the student out of the classroom and puts them in the very field they seek to be a part of. With mentors that actually work in the student’s respective field, they get first-hand knowledge of how everything works and just what to do. I think it’s the best way to get hands-on experience and the lessons learned are very valuable. I also think that the interview process helps to match a student with a mentor that will be right for them.” – Sam Borowski

Directed and produced the feature film, Night Club starring Oscar-Winner Ernest Borgnine, Natasha Lyonne and Paul Sorvino. Wrote and produced the feature-length documentary Creature Feature: 60 Years of the Gill-Man with Oscar-Winner Benicio Del Toro and narrated by 2-time Emmy-Winner Keith David. Also directed and produced the film Maniac.

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Ryan E. Heppe Film Connection Mentor

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Ryan E. Heppe Film Connection Mentor

Background

During his tenure at CCH, Heppe was hired by legendary producer David Foster (The Getaway, Short Circuit, The Mask of Zorro) and quickly climbed to the position of Head of Development where he became involved with Foster’s productions: Collateral Damage starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Hart’s War starring Bruce Willis and Colin Farrell, and The Core starring Aaron Eckhart and Hilary Swank.

As a hyphenate Producer/Director/Writer/Actor, some of Heppe’s work includes: Production of the docu-drama The Magic Was In The Music, a remake of Short Circuit, adaptations of the 80’s television mini-series V and cop series T.J. Hooker, among others. As an actor, he’s starred in such stage productions as You Can’t Take It With You, Life On The Bowery, Dracula and Picnic at Hanging Rock – several of which he directed. In the world of VO, he’s lent his voice to numerous commercials, both national and regional, and performs several characters on the animated series DaGeDar.

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Wade Marshall Film Connection Mentor

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Wade Marshall Film Connection Mentor

Background

Since 2007, Millennium Studios has been servicing productions in Shreveport and throughout Louisiana.

Credits: True Blood, The Expendables 3, Olympus Has Fallen

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Peter Foldy Film Connection Mentor

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Peter Foldy Film Connection Mentor

Background

“For a fraction of the price of a university course, students of the Radio, Record and Film Connection receive one-on-one consultation and mentoring from a seasoned film professional. It is an opportunity for an exchange of meaningful ideas and for some, even a chance to network, an essential requirement to make an in-road in the film business.”

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Eric Abrams Film Connection Mentor

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Eric Abrams Film Connection Mentor

Background

“Unlike many programs that stress theory over doing, our goal is for our students to have completed a 1st draft of a screenplay or be well on their way in 10 sessions.”
 
Credits I’m proud of: “Married…With Children,” “Gary & Mike,” ‘Live & Maddie,” and an unaired Muppet pilot.

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Monty Mickelson Film Connection Mentor

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Monty Mickelson Film Connection Mentor

Background

Freelance Journalist, Financial Writer, Corporate Communications Copywriter, Writer of Corporate Training and Life Skills Videoscripts, Public Relations Account Manager, Special Events Promotion and Media Wrangling, Award-Winning Published Novelist, and Feature Film Screenwriter.

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Daniela Larsen Film Connection Mentor

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Daniela Larsen Film Connection Mentor

Background

Daniela Larsen is the former CEO of Creative Media Education. She created and expanded education & certifications in Digital Media, Film, Cyber Security, Leadership and Technology. She also developed strategic partnerships in the private and public sector to make this education and training accessible to the public. Finally, she used digital media, documentaries and non profit experience to create opportunities for cause marketing, tell the stories that have real impact and increase the reach of online education to the remotest places in the world. She is currently the Executive Director & Founder of Small Candles Education & Economic Development, the CEO of the Navanas Institute and a Certified Partner for Infusionsoft.

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“I learned more about the history of film today and how people used to film videos and movies and clips with still photography. I met some more filmmakers and editors who were really nice and fun to be around”

Day 1

Brett Wilson, San Diego, CA Majored in Editing / Production

Tuition
Comparison

Film Connection’s unique mentor-style education is far more cost-effective than trade schools or traditional colleges and on average, requires less financing (based on national averages). Compare the true costs of education.

 

Learn More About Tuition

 

View BBB A+ Rating for Film Connection Film Institute
$12,200 Tuition
$0* Loan Interest

Trade
School

$44,000 Tuition
$61,000 Loan Interest

2-Year
Junior College

$22,000 Tuition
$20,500 Loan Interest

4-Year
Traditional College

$88,000 Tuition
$122,000 Loan Interest

Average Accrued Interest Charges
Sources: Sallie Mae student loan calculator - Nerd Wallet - Best Value Schools - Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

What is the Next Step?

We get it. This isn’t your normal four-year college or trade school. We’re different, even innovative and you need to understand more before you apply. Here’s how you can get more info:


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