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Action! Tax break could bring more filmmakers here by Stephanie Esters | Kalamazoo Gazette Saturday June 27, 2009, 12:01 AM KALAMAZOO -- The band has just finished a silent improv of a rock number when the crowd at Bell's Eccentric Cafe erupts into loud applause and cheers. A camera zooms in on the slender, pregnant girlfriend of one of the guitarists as she invites a couple over to a lakeside house.

Photo courtesy of Bill Davis Indie movie 'The Lake Effect,' is being shot in Southwest Michigan. Here photography director Brett Juskalian, along with writer and director Tara Miele, and Western Michigan University professor Dr. Jennifer Machiorlatti stand outside the South Haven hospital Thursday while filming. There is a break in the action. "Listen up, everybody," Tara Miele says to the others assembled inside Bell's. "On the take, do not talk. Don't talk. So nobody's gonna talk this time, and we'll be all done with this take." Miele is writer/director for the film "The Lake Effect," a dramedy about a father suddenly facing the prospects of caring for his estranged, pregnant 18-year-old daughter, who shows up with her rocker-boyfriend. A scene from Miele's script, being produced into a movie by former Kalamazoo resident Jennifer Westin, was being shot Wednesday at Bell's, a club in downtown Kalamazoo. More scenes shot in southwestern Michigan may be showing up on movie screens as producers and aspiring filmmakers try to take advantage of a state tax incentive for films made in the state. Before Gov. Jennifer Granholm signed legislation in April 2008 for a tax incentive of up to 42 percent for movies made in Michigan, the state registered a handful of movies made

here each year, according to the Michigan Film Office. In 2008, that figure mushroomed to 29 movies, it said. "The film incentives have opened the door to the production community, inside and outside the state, to take a closer look at Michigan (for) their projects," said Rick Hert, executive director of the West Michigan Travel Association in Grand Rapids and film commissioner for its West Michigan Film Office. Hert said he is currently involved with 30 productions, which are in varying stages of production, from those involving just a script or still seeking funding, to those that have begun filming or are being edited and prepared for distribution. One such project involves a film producer who wanted to find a replica of a Nicaraguan rain forest. Hert said he submitted a few possibilities, including the forested areas in Fort Custer in Augusta and an area near Ludington. Though Hert said he had no hard numbers on how profitable the state's mushrooming film industry has been or will be, he does think southwestern Michigan's efforts pale in comparison to those on the east side of the state. "Don't blame them, blame us," he said. "Blame us for not being more aggressive in getting more films to the west side of the state." Westin, a film producer from California who grew up in Kalamazoo and always wanted to make a movie in Michigan, said the tax incentive definitely factored in her filming "The Lake Effect" here."When I tell people I'm from Michigan, I get a lot of 'that's so cute,' which is really annoying," she said. "People just don't know that much about Michigan. They think cars, corn and cold. "So I wanted to set a movie here that would say a little bit more about the Michigan that I know -- the amazing beauty, the lake that's incredible and the vibrant life that goes on," Westin said. As shooting wrapped up this week in Kalamazoo, South Haven and Fennville for "The Lake Effect," it's a few weeks from beginning for another movie, "Shaken Daddy Syndrome." Filming is scheduled for July 25 to Aug. 23 for that comedy about a college graduate who hears a bombshell announcement from his estranged father -- the same person who winds up living with him. Auditions for the movie are being held 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and Sunday at Holiday Inn West, 2747 11th St., in Oshtemo Township. Crew positions are still available.

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WMU students help make independent film July 15, 2009 KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University students in communication, theatre, creative writing and business got a glimpse of independent filmmaking this summer by taking part in an innovative film project shot in Kalamazoo, Covert and South Haven. The film, titled "The Lake Effect," features the talents of writer and director Tara Miele and producer and Kalamazoo native Jennifer Westin. Various area landmarks were featured in the film, including Heritage Guitars, Bell's Eccentric Cafe, Fenn Valley Winery and Sherman's Ice Cream. The film was shot from mid-June through early July. Current WMU students who took part in the film and their hometowns are:        

Elizabeth Quinlan, of Fraser, Mich. Lisa Bridenstine, of Galesburg, Mich. Ryan Michael Besch, of White Lake, Mich. Brian Lane, of Ann Arbor, Mich. Phillip Wright, of Fremont, Mich. Michael J. Markel III, of Waterford, Mich. Megan Stokes, of South Haven, Mich. Andrew O'Reilly, of Beverly Hills, Mich.

Quinlan, Bridenstine, Lane, Wright and Stokes are majoring in film, video and media studies. Besch is a creative writing and marketing student, Markel is specializing in public relations and O'Reilly is a business major. The students worked as interns in pre-production and on the set as the film was being made. Students assisted in everything from casting and coordinating extras to working with sound and camera units. Several other people with WMU ties also took part in the project. 

Graduates Andrea Flader, of Flushing, Mich., and Emily Pignataro, of Battle Creek, Mich., took on significant production and production design responsibilities. Dr. Arnie Johnston, who retired in 2008 as professor and chair emeritus of the WMU Department of English, had an on-camera


speaking role. Matthew Runyan, a former WMU student, also participated.

"Working on this film provided an incredible professional opportunity for students, recent alumni and faculty. We were welcomed into a unique professional situation, which provided experience in all aspects of cinema production. The Los Angeles based producer, director and director of photography were incredible mentors and inspiring professionals," says Dr. Jennifer Machiorlatti, WMU associate professor of communication in the film, video and media studies program and first assistant director on "The Lake Effect." "It was a unique experience for students to partner with professionals on a film project. I hope this can be a regular summer learning experience for students, faculty, community and professional partners in cinema production," adds Machiorlatti. The film, a "dramedy," tells the story of a father suddenly facing the prospects of caring for his estranged, pregnant 18-year-old daughter, who shows up with her rock musician boyfriend. "I've been looking for a project to bring back home for a long time and I finally found the right script," Westin says. "I'm thrilled to be able to showcase the natural beauty, local landmarks, and tremendous artistic talent of Southwest Michigan." The film is currently in post-production. Media contact: Mark Schwerin, (269) 387-8400, WMU News Office of University Relations Western Michigan University Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA (269) 387-8400

601 John Street Kalamazoo, MI 49007 (269) 341-7654 News Release

PR Contact Mike Markel

Sept. 29, 2008

Bronson’s Children’s Center takes a “step” towards healthy lifestyles KALAMAZOO—Bronson’s Children’s Hospital in collaboration with Together for Kids will host a 5k walk on Sunday, October 5th to promote healthy lifestyles for children and raise money for youth who are injured or sick. The Children’s Hospital and its member hospitals are sponsors of the walk as an extension of Bronson’s national fundraising campaign: Walk Across America. The walk will take place from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Bronson’s downtown campus in the John Street Lot on the corner of John and Lovell streets. “All of the funds raised locally go straight to the Children’s Hospital; it really makes a difference in the quality of life for these children and their families, “ says Deb Carpenter, Bronson coordinator, childhood injury prevention and school outreach. “ We expect a great turn out as the community has always been supportive of Bronson and its affiliates. ---MORE---

Bronson Children’s Center takes a “step”….

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Children across the nation face challenges to their health as more and more families find themselves uninsured. Meanwhile, childhood obesity and related illnesses remain on the rise, as funding for children’s healthcare is shrinking dramatically. Together for Kids brings communities together in an effort to solve these problems on a local and national spectrum. The Children’s Hospital as a member of Together for Kids, hopes the 5k walk will serve as a step forward in obesity prevention and awareness as well as jumpstart for future fundraising in the local community. Participants are asked to register online at To register, log on and click “Join the Walk” then select The Children’s hospital at Bronson as your primary provider. A $25 minimum donation per participant is encouraged although any amount will be accepted. For additional information please contact Deb Carpenter, Bronson Coordinator at (269) 341-7654. For media information please contact Mike Markel at (248) 4966140.

### Together for Kids is a national, not-for-profit foundation, serving as a distributor for fundraising to help member hospitals across the country tackle childhood illness and bring better healthcare to America’s children. For more information about Together for Kids, please visit


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