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Ferris Students Collaborate to Win at Grand Rapids Film Festival 36-Hour Challenge

Ferris State University
PHOTO CAPTION: Ferris State University students (from left,) Mariah Iltis, Cody Schlampp, Jonathan Eaton, Instructor Nick Kuiper, Morgan Radners, Lauren Stefl, and Ashton Gillett, as well as John Barber, Abby Sample, Ray Heinlen, Damon Whitman, and Josh Monroe (not pictured) participated in Grand Rapids Film Festival’s 36-Hour Challenge. The contest took place late January in Grand Rapids, Mich. (Courtesy Photo/Nick Kuiper)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – College students are known for going without sleep, but 10 Ferris State University School of Digital Media students and one Music Industry Management student pushed their limits to script, shoot, edit, and submit a film in 36 hours. Their film, “Periphery,” won awards for Best Editing and Best Sound, at the Celebration! Cinema North screening to complete the Grand Rapids Film Festival, on Feb. 3 in Grand Rapids.

Nick Kuiper, an assistant professor in the College of Education and Human Services’ School of Digital Media, acted as executive producer on the project, and said instructions for the film were provided at 9 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 27.

“The festival rules said we had to create a six-minute film, featuring the theme of ‘transformation,’ with the use of a ‘key’ as a prop,” Kuiper said. “From 9 p.m. to 2 a.m., the students formed a story, found a cast, began composing music, created a shot list and prepared for production. On Saturday, the 28th, at 7 a.m., we began shooting the film in downtown Big Rapids. The shoot lasted 12 hours. At 1 a.m. the next day, we had a rough cut, which eventually turned into a final cut. That was submitted at 6a.m. Sunday morning, the 29th.”

Students from across Michigan, who worked on the film, include: John Barber IV, Northville; Jonathon Eaton, Fremont; Ashton Gillett, Fife Lake; Ray Heinlen, Holt; Mariah Iltis, Big Rapids; Josh Monroe, Holland; Morgan Radners, South Lyon; Abby Sample, Imlay City; Cody Schlamp, Johannesburg; Lauren Stefl, Plainwell; and Damon Whitman, River Rouge.

Stefl said while the team gathered their footage, she edited the content.

“I think the best part of the challenge was working with new people and people I had previously worked with before, in a different setting,” Stefl said. “Oftentimes, our program calls for collaboration, but it is generally for a prolonged period. We were all forced to change our personal styles, to get a project done in 36 hours, and it was really awesome to see everyone come to complete the work.”

“Collaboration was a big part of our success,” Iltis said. “I learned that a lot of what we deem as impossible is because we don't try. The 36-hour challenge has definitely prepared me to work with a lot of different people, who present different skill sets.”

“I think that these competitions teach a lot about preparation, time management and dedication,” Stefl said. “One of the hardest, but most obvious, parts of the challenge was the lack of sleep. There was no time to step away, we just had to power through and that was really beneficial to learn, especially whilst working with deadlines.”

“It was a really great experience, and I’m really happy that I participated in it,” Stefl concluded.

The Challenge involved teams of three to 12 students. ;Film festival CEO Jennifer Shaneberger said of the 17 participating teams, eight were from universities, six were professional, or alumni filmmakers and three were high school teams.

Ferris’ College of Education and Human Services was among the sponsors of the festival.

The film can be viewed online.