M-agination heads unveil film series

BY BLAKE GOBLE

Published April 12, 2006

With a slight uneasiness, the co-presidents of M-agination Films sat down for what must have seemed like an unlikely event: an interview.

Two filmmakers accustomed to controlling the spotlight as it shines on others, Engineering junior Jamie Shenk and LSA junior Tom Gehani are finally stepping in front of the lens as heads of the student film group and presenting "Kind of a Big Deal," a selection of nine short films from various members of the club that will premiere tonight at 7 p.m. at the Michigan Theater.

The two were eager to drum up support for their student film showcase. With it, they hope to introduce a new audience to one of the University's most overlooked groups.

"We are all about making student films as well as high-quality films," Gehani said. "We're looking to fill a very eclectic grouping while bringing some reputation to this group."

With these artistic works, M-agination aims to be seen as something more than a ragtag group of students with too much free time and too much pop-culture minutiae.

"We recognize the stigma of student films not being too avant-garde and only making fun-oriented work," Shenk said. "But we are about promoting student filmmaking to majors and non-majors. We like to give students an open script policy, which gives people an opportunity."

For many students, part of the appeal of M-agination and its work is its accessibility. "If you want to get involved in filmmaking, we'll get you involved in some way or another," Gehani said.

University students are able to enter the group and bring themselves into the creative process. From direction to acting to catering, the entire gamut is covered.

Included in tonight's lineup are several dramas, comedies and even a documentary. The films showing aren't the typical slew, but legitimate filmmaking. M-agination prides itself on using real studio equipment and techniques. Several of the films have even won awards in various film festivals and are currently shopping around for distribution.

Films of note include "Dorm Room," an awkward yet earnest observation of residence hall life. Also noteworthy is "Silent Footsteps," an absurdist satirical documentary chronicling the struggles of the American ninja.

M-agination doesn't shy away from lampooning itself. "Casting Call" is an examination of the nightmarish process of casting and starting a movie.

The short films have a spectacular venue in the form of the historic Michigan Theater, a fact that Shenk and Gehani hope will help M-agination break out of small-time screenings. "We have this big showcase. . It goes with establishing M-agination as a presence, not just some lecture- hall features," Gehani said.

"Fight Like Hell," a documentary digging into the history Michigamua, will screen as part of "Kind of a Big Deal" in hopes of drawing a larger audience.

"We have such a variety of genres, we can reach more students," Shenk said.

Shrek and Gehani said the group hopes to achieve respect among the film-loving Ann Arbor community while avoiding the pretentiousness that can scar student film. They want to use tonight's showcase to prove themselves.

"This is our chance to be viewed not just as students with cameras, but student filmmakers," Gehani said.

Kind of a Big Deal
Tonight only at the Michigan Theater
M-agination