I haven’t walked much lately. Have you noticed the empty calendar? I would apologize, but I’m not really sorry. I might not have been walking Lansing but I was deeply entrenched in Lansing. I was asked to be the photographic coordinator for the TEDx Lansing conference and The Capital City Film Festival. Together these events started April 12 and ran through April 15. I usually hate reading about something in the media that has already happened, but I’m afraid that’s what I’m going to do here. I only do this so people will understand the hugeness of these two events and be more compelled to not miss it next year. A unique group of volunteers converged to create these events. They range from business owners to dedicated entrepreneurs to work from home house wives. They communicated through emails, texts, tweets, meetings and posts. They encouraged each other, promoted each other and supported each other. None of them were paid for the time they took, away from their normal lives, to put together these events. Now don’t get me wrong, they were not unrewarded for their labor; many received food, t-shirts, pins, event passes, kudos, high fives, high tens, photo credits, blog traffic, advertisements, fun times, and experiences. We all felt enriched by these events.
And this was the final product:
A Red Carpet event (free to the public) with a true red carpet walk, stop and pose area, where multiple photographers, myself included, captured gorgeously dressed attendees. The setting was Troppo who graciously donated their space and superb delicacies. Those gathered enjoyed networking, quality appetizers and discounted drink specials including a delightful red raspberry martini for $4, of which I rewarded myself with after hours of photographing.
Feature Films:. The Capital City Film festival hosted 10 feature films at three locations; Temple Club, Lansing Public Media Center and The Lansing Center. All locations were decorated with flowing black curtains encapsulating the viewing areas, moody, blue lighting and appropriate food ranging from popcorn and candy bars to wine and beer.
Movie Shorts:: There were 46 short films presented. These intense movie bites included professional, student, long form comedy and AFI directing women showcase.
Documentary:: There were 2 documentaries including one covering the Bath School Disaster, one of the most deadliest acts of terrorism on US soil.
Feature Bands: Not only was CCFF about film but it was so much more. Lansing isn’t new to music concerts and having an incredible music line up as part of the Film Festival just seems natural. This year’s talents included 4 headliners; Greensky Bluegrass, Murder by Death, William Elliott Whitmore and Lights. All had incredible turnouts and Lights was officially sold out.
Musical Guests: Not only was there incredible featured bands, but each feature had their own guest musicians. There were 10 guest musical performances throughout the event.
TEDxLansing: This year’s TEDx (Technology,Entertainment, Design) was Lansing’s third. The location was changed to the Lansing Public Media Center and rolled into the CCFF festivities. In fact, if you bought your $50 CCFF ticket, you automatically gained entrance into TEDxLansing, which included (a $10 value) lunch from either Purple Carrot or King of the Grill. Due to an extra 50 attendees at TEDxLansing there was a delay in volunteers being able to get their lunches. Each time I walked through the doors out into the newly created outdoor dining area with black and white linen covered tables, the smells from the food trucks almost made me cry. When I was told I could collect my meal ticket and choose my lunch, I raced to my chosen truck and was overjoyed by the meal.
Presentations: TEDxLansing featured 11 presenters with topics encompassing creating potable water supplies to villages in Ecuador, teaching how to survive the Zombie Apocalypse, comic books and life, combating the obstacles for poverty stricken Uganda, technology and creativity, using technology in storytelling, and team work. These all highlighted the idea that ideas are worth spreading. After lunch the show continued right into the Media Sandbox Series, a CCFF and MSU collaboration to “explore visual communication through the lens of design, business and technology”.
Performers: On top of having extraordinary presenters, there were also three extraordinary performers. First was Kinetic Affect, a Kalamazoo twosome who use their traumatic life experiences to create heartfelt, inspirational responses to their spoken word art. Their performance of “The Michigan Poem” left me desperately needing a tissue.
The next was the mosaically adorned, diversely populated band Lansing Unionized Vaudeville Spectacle. If the name sounds familiar they also played at the very mysterious Vacant Lansing. This, however, was my first experience with this band and I sat mesmerized by the style, the rhythm, the unique kazoo style instrument and the outfits. The last band to perform was Othello and the Pocket Change Band. With the lights dimmed low and bright colored spot lights casting brilliant lighting around them, they created the mood for the lunching TEDxLansing crowd and an upbeat anticipation for those attending the Media Sandbox Series.
Fortnight Film Contest: On Sunday afternoon the Lansing Public Media Center sat brimming with movie goers watching the 19 entries for this year’s first Mid Michigan 14 day contest. Each team was given four elements; an umbrella, the question “Where are we going?” or “Where are you going?”, a body of water, a dancer or dancing, to put into their less than 10 minute creation. The grand prize winner received $1500, second place was given $1000, and third was given $500. Due to the creativity level, the organizers decided to add two more winners to the pile. Finally the audience, through the use of a decibel meter, determined who the winner of audience choice (another $500 winner) was. It was an exciting chance for creative film makers, actors, directors and producers to have some fun, invite their family and friends out to watch their movie on the big screen.
It was four days of inspiration, creativity, art, music, photography, dedication, participation, education and community. Lansing needs everyone to be involved, whether you’re one of many volunteers, or a cheerleader helping promote or even the one who buys the ticket. These type of events can only make Lansing a better place. I hope to see you there next year.