Can We Take the Student out of Film?

Everytime I hear student and film used in the same sentence I can't help but cringe. To me, student film rings a negative connotation, as if the fact that a film made during an educational period lacks the quality, originality, or substance to be considered a decent piece of work. 

I didn't go to a traditional film school, instead I attended a four year university and made the most out of their broadcasting program. During my time there, I noticed while we were encouraged to create content, it was usually for the purpose of getting a good grade or adding to a demo reel we'd have to replace as soon as we started working in the real world.  Upon graduating, I wondered how different my professional journey could have been if I made content with the intent of having it compete out in the real world.

Yes, college is a time of learning, but it's also a pivotal point of creation. It's a period to find your voice under the safety blanket of GPA's and supportive audiences. Just because you're in college doesn't mean you have to limit your creative abilities to midterms and assignments. You can make the most out of tuition-paid equipment and like-minded people surrounding you in order to make something bigger than you ever dreamed. 

I believe it's important for young minds to set their vision high and to highlight the ones that do. For this reason, I am very excited to share a piece of Bailey Durham's story. An award-winning Central Michigan University alumna, Durham took the initiative to direct, co-produce, and co-write a short film during her college experience that ended up placing in several film festivals, Royal Starr being one of them. 

'Follow Me' is a thriller that follows three college students in route to a holiday party. After a glitch occurs in their GPS, they are forced on a new direction where their circumstance becomes a bit strange. 

Watch the trailer below:

Q&A With Bailey Durham

Where did you get the idea for ‘Follow Me?’

Bailey: The original concept was written by Eliza McGowan-Stinski, who I worked alongside with at CMU. She gave me a script with five alternative endings, however my co-producer Ryan Swindlehurst and I decided to go with an ending we had story boarded which ended up changing nearly the entire script.

The film made good use of lighting, shadows, and contrast. How did you go about these aspects?

Bailey: Majority of the lighting and shadows were natural. We were fortunate enough to film in a home that we were able to dim the lighting to give it a ‘spooky’ feel. We did make use of some LED lighting in certain scenes, and the contrast was mainly done in post.

What challenges did you face making the film? 

Bailey: What challenges didn't we face? Like they say, whatever can go wrong during production, will go wrong. From changing the script, losing an actor at the last minute, or technical difficulties in post; it was not an easy process. No matter how much we planned or prepared, there was always something unexpected that happened. At the time it was extremely frustrating, but now I look back and smile because I can use the experience to help me with future projects. It definitely taught me patience, but it also taught me that nothing in this industry is perfect. Nothing ever goes smoothly, but you can't let that discourage you. Everything good you want to achieve in this industry takes time, patience, and trust. 

What’s your favorite part about this film and why?

Bailey: I love the recognition that this film got. The feedback from friends, professors, family members and the general community was so amazing. I was able to submit it into multiple film festivals and have screened it in front of many people. It is such a rewarding feeling knowing that you made something people actually enjoyed watching. It was thrilling to see my film, with my name on it, on the big screen at the Emagine theater. I was thankful to be there and showcase something I worked so hard on.

Is there anything you’d go back and change if given the chance?

Bailey: There are always things that can be changed after watching a film you made. You start by picking out the little things, but it's important not kick yourself down about them. Because of that I try not to think about the finished product in that way.

What advice would you give to someone just starting off?

Bailey: I would tell anyone who is just starting off that it is going to be tough and frustrating but if this is your true passion, do not give up on it. Nothing in life comes easy and this industry will test your patience but if you can dream it you really can achieve it!

What's Bailey up to now?

Bailey Headshot.jpg

Currently, the director is working for National Geographic, but that doesn't mean we won't be seeing another film out of her. We know the Novi native has great goals and expectations for her future and we are very excited to see what she comes out with next.

If you'd like to keep up with Bailey, check out her website or follow the film's social media site. 

To watch the completed the entire film 'Follow Me', please click here


Monjoa Likine