You’re sitting in the Big House, it’s graduation, and you are leaving your home of the last four years. And in the midst of all the tears and commencement addresses, a video plays — one filled with all of the things that made being a Wolverine over the past four years so special, one filled with the inside jokes that only students at the University share. Professionally done, and over five minutes long, this video, and many of the others you’ve seen throughout your time at the University, was made by Filmic Productions, Michigan’s premier student run video production group.
Filmic is a group filled with a diversity of students, who range in ages, majors and passions. From Ross to Anthropology to Creative Writing, they all share one passion — making and producing films. As a group, they consider themselves “cinematic problem solvers” and strive to make students, alumni and professors alike “feel something” from the videos they put out year after year.
LSA senior Michael Boctor, Filmic’s lead director, was passionate about Filmic from the moment he was accepted to Michigan. “I opened up my acceptance letter to the University of Michigan, and there was this little video attached beneath the ‘CONGRATULATIONS—You’re IN!’,” he said. “I watched it and had chills running through my veins. The video made me more passionate than ever about becoming a Wolverine. It evoked excitement and emotion in me, and I could tell that the University must have had to hire some serious professionals to get that done. I wasn’t wrong. That video was Filmic Productions’s “The Letter M.” Behind the camera were a bunch of individuals with a combination of talent and passion that created a dominant force in the market they were in, and I couldn’t help but be drawn towards that.”
The students who join Filmic do so because they have a passion for film and creating art that sends a message to a larger group. They are driven by the desire to create, but also by the larger desire to share stories. “Film is a reflection of our society, but film also helps define society,” said LSA senior Michelle Kim, Filmic’s producer.
Filmic plays a big part in defining the society at the University. Between Bicentennial address videos, graduation videos, acceptance videos and countless others that have racked up thousands upon thousands of views, they are no doubt the head media group on campus.
What’s even more important than the work they do, though, is the community they build doing it. They consider themselves a very tight-knit group — and more than just friends, they are family. They split meetings into general team meetings and project specific meetings to keep organized.
“If it’s early in the production timeline, the producer will normally give the update and talk about about how to have conversations with the client and what we’re brainstorming,” Rachel Hurwitz, LSA senior and producer, said. “If it’s in the production stage, normally the director will talk about the shoots we have lined up, what is working and what’s not and how we are planning to move forward. Finally, if it’s in the post-production stage, the editor will discuss how it’s all coming together.”
Though a lot of fun, the team of Filmic has a lot of weight on their shoulders as well. With the University enlisting them to work on projects for publicity and special events, there’s a lot of pressure to succeed. “Being so professional really puts on the pressure to perform,” LSA senior Leah Hirsh, another producer, said. “It makes a project more than just something you make for your own satisfaction. It’s an opportunity to really say something and have a voice to a larger population. So often as college students, our voices feel unimportant. These larger projects give Filmic, a group of college students, a powerful platform to tell stories.”
Filmic prides themselves on their focus as a storytelling group. This makes their art more personal and more influential on the society of Ann Arbor, Michigan.
“You’re taking something that never existed and forming something out of it, something that makes people feel different after,” said Kim. “It’s storytelling at its best.”
By being such a large part of the University, Filmic reaches a diverse group of people — and it’s really important to the team that they continue to do so.
In a world where people need to relate to and understand art, Filmic is more needed than ever. And the work that they have done, and will do going forward, is extremely important to telling the stories of every person who walks through the Diag, sits in the Big House and attends a lecture in Angell Hall.
“We brand ourselves as creative problem solvers and I think that is really true,” Hurwitz said. “Being in Filmic has caused me to start looking at the world differently, not only in how to frame a shot, but how to interact with the people and the world around me and influence them in a positive light. It’s not just about how to make the video look professional, but how to make something people are going to feel connected to and want to watch again and again.”