DETROIT — The students of the Michigan Creative Film Alliance have launched their first major fundraising campaign on Kickstarter, an online funding platform for creative projects.

Their goal is to raise at least $12,500 by Sunday, July 29, to fund location production costs associated with their 2012 production, “Downriver.”

Donations can be made at

“Downriver” is the third project of the MiCFA. Each summer, the MiCFA brings together top students and recent graduates from the film-related programs at Wayne State University, Michigan State University and the University of Michigan. These students share their expertise as members of a production team dedicated to making a high-quality film, employing real-world professional standards and practices.

Their first two projects, “Appleville” and “Beauty Queen,” premiered at the Detroit Film Theatre to large and enthusiastic crowds of film supporters. When “Beauty Queen” debuted, Michigan Film Office Director Carrie Jones called it “one of the best films I’ve seen this year.”

“We’re determined to make our 2012 project ‘Downriver’ our best production yet,” said producer Tinisha Brugnone, a senior media arts and studies major at Wayne State University. “Our three universities have made substantial investments in our training and preparation. Now it’s up to us to prove that we can be the professionals we intend to be.”

“Downriver” is a 30-minute narrative film based on an original screenplay by Brandon M. Verdi, who received a 2012 Hopwood Award for screenwriting from the University of Michigan. In “Downriver,” a socially awkward 15-year-old, Alex, is forced from his posh suburban lifestyle into life with his estranged older sister in working-class America, following their father’s untimely death.

“It’s a comedy, but it’s also a story about loss, anger, grief and family,” Verdi said.

“Our Kickstarter campaign is a way for individuals and businesses in our communities to support emerging Michigan filmmakers,” says Matt Wrobel, a 2012 graduate of Michigan State University’s film program and an assistant director on “Downriver.” “It’s an all or nothing concept. We either reach our goal, or we get nothing. And failure is not an option.”

Donations to the MiCFA’s Kickstarter campaign will cover:
• Rental of camera mounts, waterproof housing, dollies and crane
• Rental of a generator to provide electricity for outdoor lighting requirements
• Location fees
• Location travel for cast and crew during the 14 days on location
• Costumes, makeup and scenic materials • On-set meals for cast and crew during long production days

“The community’s support will enable the us to complete a movie in which passionate students gain real-world, hands-on experience,” says “Downriver” director Billy Jackson, a senior screen arts and culture major at University of Michigan.

Contributions to “Downriver” will be administered by TechTown, a Detroit-based nonprofit business incubator and accelerator and fiscal sponsor for the Michigan Creative Film Alliance. The “Downriver” Kickstarter campaign ends on Sunday, July 29. To donate, visit

Video from the Kickstarter campaign is available at

The Michigan Creative Film Alliance is the first creative arts collaboration among Michigan’s three top public research universities — Michigan State University, the University of Michigan, and Wayne State University. In 2010, these universities launched this historic, innovative collaboration in support of an indigenous film community across the state. The MiCFA provides a unique professional platform for student filmmakers to develop, create and distribute high quality films.

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