ALPENA — The first 15 applicants for this Introduction To Film Series are in for a real treat, and a chance to showcase their own creative talents.
Dynamic Alpena duo Kara Bauer LeMonds and Zachary Irving are teaming up to present this seven-week series at Art in the Loft, starting April 6.
Alpena native Irving owns and operates Irving Entertainment, which he started about three years ago. His studios of him are on Water Street in downtown Alpena.
“We are a video production company,” Irving noted.
He said the business has been growing, thanks to local interest and support.
One of his highly esteemed mentors is Mary Ellen Jones out of Harrisville, he said.
“Now, we’re so busy that I’m bringing on more people,” Irving said. “We have about six to 10 people at a time that’ll be working on different projects around the country, right now.”
Writer and producer Kara Bauer LeMonds is originally from Alpena, but spent two decades pursuing her career in Chicago and Los Angeles, working on production projects before returning to Alpena to settle down and build a family. She now works at the Community Foundation for Northeast Michigan, but her love of screenwriting and film production will never rest, no matter where she calls home.
She graduated in 1997 from Michigan State University with a degree in literature and history, and she did some film study there.
“But it isn’t like it is today, it’s not this comprehensive film program,” Bauer LeMonds explained. “It was more theory, and just, sort of, film appreciation. But I’ve always loved movies.”
After college, she moved to Chicago.
“I’m a writer, and I’m a voracious reader,” she noted. “I’ve always loved how the medium of film can tell a story. I’ve always found that very exciting.”
She was planning to become a professor, then she tried out law school, and decided that it wasn’t for her, either.
“I ended up in events planning during the dot-com era, and I ran this large-scale event on the ground in Silicon Valley, and I loved the production part of it, but the subject was totally outside of my wheelhouse,” Bauer LeMonds recalled. “I remember a friend of mine saying – I was 25, contemplating a change – ‘Why don’t you go into film? You love film.’ And I was like, ‘I can do that. Might as well.’”
She said she worked her way up “the old school way,” making tons of phone calls and knocking on doors until she got the jobs she wanted. Oh, and she worked a lot for free, too. You can expect to do that to prove yourself in this industry.
But it all paid off, eventually. Bauer LeMonds’ resume includes over 20 years of production experience in television commercials, music videos, movie promos, and high fashion shoots. She has had the opportunity to work with many “A” list talent and best crew in the industry.
“I’ve done over 350 commercials in my career,” Bauer LeMonds said.
Bookending the start and end of her career in Chicago, with 10 years in between in Hollywood, Bauer LeMonds has worked with production companies like MTV, Stardust Visions, Backyard Productions, Park Pictures, Smuggler, Anonymous Content, @radical media, Paramount Pictures, and RSA, to name a few. The indie short “SOAP” she wrote and directed, was accepted into seven film festivals, including the LA Short Fest and Palm Springs Festival of Shorts (which was Oscar-qualifying). The web series she wrote and directed, “Destined to Fail,” was featured on the Funny or Die website.
Irving has been Emmy-nominated and is an international award-winning filmmaker who has worked on multiple projects from feature films, documentaries, commercials, and TV work with PBS, FedEx, and more.
Irving is also contracted with the “US Army Futures Command.” You may recognize his name from him from “Fresh Waves,” “Michigan Micro Adventures,” or as a judge for the NOAA “Thunder Bay International Film Festival.”
Irving Entertainment is a multimedia company that creates professional quality videos in various assortments, completed with a state-of-the-art editing bay, sound stage, and light studios. This professional group employs over 10 very talented digital media related artists. Visit irvingentertainment.net.
The cost for the series is $300 per person, which breaks down to less than $42 per session. Scholarships will be considered.
In this in-depth series, you will meet for five consecutive Wednesdays from 6 to 8 pm, where you will learn:
¯ Character development and using the medium of film to tell a story
¯ Shooting style
¯ Production basics
¯ Chain of command
¯ Art direction
¯ Musical scoring
¯ Sound effects
And so much more!
You will then work in collaborative groups with personal guidance from Bauer LeMonds and Irving. Apply these freshly acquired skills into reality by shooting your own mini films on May 7, followed by an afternoon of editing on May 8.
If that’s not enough, we will follow up with a Red Carpet Premiere and bubbly toast at 6 pm on May 21.
To ensure creative integrity, we must limit this project to the first 15 applicants. Payment is required in advance to ensure your inclusion. Because life happens, a waiting list will also be available in the event of a cancellation.
“Film, at its greatest, is a collaboration of incredibly talented people,” Bauer LeMonds said. “You’re surrounded by professionals. So, if you’re hiring your crew, you just give them the room to do what they do. And when that happens, as they say, ‘Movie Magic,’ or ‘Lightning in a Bottle.’ It’s a beautiful thing.”
After a decade in Hollywood, she returned to Chicago to be closer to family, then came all the way back up north.
“In the end, northern Michigan called, and I wanted my kids to grow up in a garden, not a pot,” she said of why she relocated back home to Alpena.
She said despite her travels, she finds the most kind, interesting and creative people to be right here in her hometown. Many Alpena natives have gone on to be very successful in the film industry as well, she noted.
“Having someone with hard work and determination, and talent, and wherewithal, is so important,” Bauer LeMonds said. “There are several luminaries that were born and raised in Alpena, Michigan, that are doing great work in Los Angeles right now. Brandi Kalish is an award-winning production designer; Tait Fletcher is a stunt man and an actor, and he’s doing incredibly well right now. We’ve got Joel Potrykus, who’s like super, mega horror indie-god. And he refuses to go to the big places, and is still doing extraordinarily well.”
She added that Joel Ferguson moved down to Atlanta, Georgia, to work on gripping and gaffing, with which he has been very successful. Gripping and gaffing both have to do with the electrical components on a set, particularly the lighting.
“I always told my PAs, the two things you need to be in this industry are smart and reliable,” Bauer LeMonds said. “And if you’re smart and reliable, that will take you everywhere.”
She sees so much talent in Alpena.
“We have, just, untapped potential here,” she added.
She looks forward to helping new filmmakers tap into their potential.
“I have 20 years of experience, and I just want to be able to share that with new artists and inspire them to be filmmakers,” Bauer LeMonds said. “We’re looking to help somebody start their reel.”
“Basically, we’re giving them the knowledge and showing them the tools they can use,” Irving added. “We show them step by step.”
“From the very beginning to the very end,” Bauer LeMonds added.