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Ferris Student Tests Her Skills Prepping for Traverse City Film Festival

Sara MillerBIG RAPIDS – Besides the thrill of meeting Academy-Award winning director Michael Moore, Ferris State University senior Sara Miller of Traverse City is rubbing shoulders with film producers, directors and actors from around the world as a public relations intern for Traverse City Film Festival.

Miller, a senior public relations major and honors student, is in the midst of all the hubbub surrounding the kickoff of the sixth annual film festival on July 27, featuring more than 100 films created by independent filmmakers from a myriad of countries, including Iran, Cuba and Vietnam.

“Working at TCFF has been an amazing experience. It’s fun, fast-paced, career-oriented work. Nothing beats a job you love. It’s not your typical job. I get to do something new and exciting every day, whether it’s working on press releases, press kits, talking to the media, setting up interviews or helping out at the office. I’ve learned to expect the unexpected,” Miller said.

In addition to a full lineup of movies, film forums and social events, this is the second year for the TCFF Film School for students interested in pursuing careers in the film industry or for others who wish to deepen their appreciation of film.

Ferris and its colleges of Education and Human Services, and Arts, Sciences and Education are sponsoring all eight film school sessions taught at Northwestern Michigan College’s Scholars Hall and each featuring a unique aspect of filmmaking, including a new master class with world-renowned animator Bill Plympton.

“The Traverse City Film Festival is becoming one of the most widely recognized independent film festivals in the country and the perfect venue for bringing visibility to Ferris State University and its nationally recognized Television and Digital Media Production program, in particular, which is housed in Ferris’ College of Education and Human Services,” said Michelle Johnston of Traverse City, COEHS dean.

Miller said her internship has given her a glimpse of how public relations is applied in the “real world” and what she can expect in her future as a public relations professional.

“I think I’ve applied just about everything I have learned from my public relations classes, as well as skills I have acquired in other classes, ranging from journalism to accounting and sociology,” Miller said.

Two other Ferris students, Dani Breuker, a public relations major from Muskegon, and Ashley King, a music industry management major from Benzie, are also interning in the TCFF office this summer.

Working at TCFF has shifted Miller’s initial notion of doing public relations for a non-profit organization to working in the entertainment field. “I think it would really be interesting to help build the Michigan Film Office and the film industry in Michigan,” she said.

With the festival only a few days away, Miller can’t wait to see everyone’s hard work pay off and how the public reacts to the festival. “Everyone at TCFF has been working so hard that it’s really going to be exciting to see the result of our combined work.”

TCFF is a charitable, educational, nonprofit organization founded by Michael Moore, festival director and president of its board of directors. TCFF’s initiatives have included the renovation of the historical State Theatre, a year-round, community-based, mission-driven and volunteer-staffed art house movie theater in downtown Traverse City.