Thousands of films are produced each year, but the majority of them never make it to the big screen. In an industry where it pays to be a big fish in a small pond, it can be difficult to break into the cinematic world. The East Lansing Film Festival (ELFF) and the East Lansing Film Society (ELFS) are a local event organization dedicated to bringing independent films, short films, documentaries and student-directed films to the greater Lansing area.
The ELFF was founded by Director Susan W. Woods in 1997, and the first festival took place in 1998. The ELFS came to life in the summer of 1998 shortly after The Odeon, an art house, closed.
“We created the ELFS as an outlet for independent films,” said Woods.
A film selection committee chooses films for the ELFF. Films picked by the film selection committee are shown in addition to films that have been successful at other film festivals or are up and coming.
“Another important feature within the ELFF is the Lake Michigan film competition,” said Woods. “The Lake Michigan film competition is a great opportunity for first-time directors. It’s a stepping stone into the big times.”
The Lake Michigan film competition was originally meant for filmmakers in Michigan. However, the competition has now expanded to filmmakers in four surrounding states. Contestants compete for cash prizes; winning films have been shown at other festivals, and some have even appeared on Showtime.
The ELFS recently partnered with Celebration Cinema’s Studio C! to produce an indie film series, which features six films in four weeks. The series ran during the months of January, February, March, September, October and November, and is coordinated by Woods. The goal of the indie film series is to bring attention to independent films in the area.
“Whatever screen the film series is playing on is always the top grossing screen,” said Justin Ziegler, general manager at Studio C! The indie film series is not a typical Hollywood blockbuster; it is cultured, and offers something that cannot be experienced anywhere else in the area.
The ELFS has chosen Studio C! to host the event. The theater has modern decor that gives off an upscale and classy appeal that matches with the festival’s unique appeal. Studio C! offers a full restaurant and bar, premier seating and in-theater wait staff.
“The indie film series is a good fit for Studio C! due to the theater’s unique atmosphere,” said Ziegler. “Watching a movie at Studio C! is not in any way like going to another movie theater, except that we serve popcorn.”
The ELFF runs Nov. 5 — 12, and films will be shown at Studio C! all eight days. For more information on the festival visit: elff.com/festival. To find out more about the ELFS and Studio C! visit: celebrationcinema.com/indie.
Emily Murray is a senior majoring in professional writing and minoring in public relations. She loves fashion, especially writing about it, and enjoys working with VIM Magazine, CollegeFashionista and keeping up with her own blog, From Me to Hue. Emily is also a member of the MSU Dance Club.