Creative Film Alliance's 'Downriver' screens at Uptown Film Fest 11/9...

The Michigan Creative Film Alliance's short film, Downriver, returns to the big screen November 9 at the Birmingham 8 Theater. It's nominated for a Michigan Film Award in the Michigan Shorts category at the Uptown Film Festival. It is first to screen in the Michigan Shorts block that begins at 12:45p: The Birmingham 8 is located at 211 S. Old Woodward Avenue, Birmingham, MI 48009.

Congratulations to WSU media arts and studies major, Tinisha Brugnone, producer of Downriver, and to the following WSU students and alumni who were members of the production team:

Kristi Chesney (film '13), 1st assistant director/post production supervisor
Alex Petrylka (film '11), casting director
Kyle Kruse (film '12), associate producer
Brii Hall (WSU art), art director
Katie Casbolt (theatre '12), makeup
Tony Eggert (film '12), first A.C.
Angela Moreira (M.A., media arts '12), 2nd A.C. and media relations coordinator
Litong Zhen (media arts and studies '13)
Tembi Muna (media arts and studies '12), grip
Kwesi Reynolds (media arts and studies), sound utility
Carmen Garcia (media arts and studies), marketing director



The Michigan Creative Film Alliance's third annual movie project, Downriver, landed six awards at the Blue Water Film Festival on September 28. The Blue Water Film Festival is a showcase for Michigan independent film. Awards were presented to members of the creative team as follows:

2013 FILM SELECTION COMMITTEE FAVORITE:  Downriver, Tinisha Brugnone, producer (WSU)
Silver Award:  Downriver, Tinisha Brugnone, producer (WSU)
Direction:  Billy Jackson (UofM) 
Screenplay:  Brandon M. Verdi (UofM)
Best Actress:  Katie Oliver as Crystal
Best Actor:  Nick Skardarasy as Alex

Members of MCFA's DOWNRIVER production team at the Blue Water Film Festival: Left to right: Director of Photography Ryan Sundberg (MSU), Producer Tinisha Brugnone (WSU), Director Billy Jackson (UofM) and Production Designer Erica Menchl (UofM).



The Oakland Press, April 24, 2013

"Michigan Creative Film Alliance premieres student-made film Downriver"

by Malissa Martin

Students from three of the largest research universities in Michigan joined under the Michigan Creative Film Alliance umbrella to create the organizations third independent film “Downriver.” The MiCFA is a partnership between Wayne State University, Michigan State University and the University of Michigan. The union was formed to organically enhance students’ film-related performance and create networking opportunities to prepare them for a successful career in the film industry after graduation. Thirty students and recent graduates from WSU, MSU and U-M served as crewmembers for the film. The premiere of “Downriver” will be at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 25, 2013 at the Detroit Film Theatre at the Detroit Institute of Arts. Admission to the Detroit Film Theatre for the film tomorrow night is free.


World premiere of “DOWNRIVER” movie by Michigan Creative Film Alliance debuts on April 25th

The Michigan Creative Film Alliance (MiCFA) will premiere its eagerly awaited new movie Downriver on April 25th. Doors will open at 6 p.m. at the Detroit Film Theatre (DFT) located at 5200 Woodward Ave. Admission is free and open to the public. The 7:00 p.m. program and screening will be followed by an afterglow at the historic Scarab Club located at 217 Farnsworth St. Donations of $7.00 or more will be accepted for admission to the afterglow, featuring DJ Sean Deason.

Downriver is the result of the efforts of over 30 crew members, 164 kickstarter supporters and numerous Michigan based companies, organizations and businesses. “Without the continuous support of our sponsors, this project would not have been possible,” said producer Tinisha Brugnone, a senior in Wayne State University’s media arts and studies program. “We can’t wait to show our audience all of the hard work and sweat equity we put into this project to make it come to fruition.”

Downriver is a short narrative film, based upon an original screenplay by Brandon M. Verdi, a recipient of the 2012 Hopwood Award in 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,” noted Verdi, “but it’s also a story about loss, anger, grief and family.”

“Production and post-production were intense, but it was worth it,” said Downriver director Billy Jackson, a senior screen arts and culture major at UofM. “Downriver is the best project in which I have participated.”

Downriver is the third project of the MiCFA. Last summer, top students and recent graduates from film-related programs at Wayne State University, Michigan State University and the University of Michigan began production. The budding filmmakers shared their expertise and dedication to make a high-quality film, employing real-world professional standards and practices. The alliance’s first two productions Appleville and Beauty Queen also premiered at the DFT to audiences of over 850 enthusiastic film supporters.

Downriver features Nick Skardarasy, a screen arts and cultures student at UofM, Jordan Trovillion, a recognized SAG/AFTRA actor, Katie Oliver, Chris Newman and Ethan Knoth, natives of metro Detroit's downriver area.

The Michigan Creative Film Alliance is the first creative arts collaboration among Michigan's three top public research universities — Michigan State University, 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. For more information about the Michigan Creative Film Alliance, visit