As part of the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts (UICA), the Local Director Series is a reoccurring event that is sure to bring in crowds from all over west Michigan. Each year, the UICA hosts the Local Director Series to showcase feature-length films created by independent directors who reside and work within the Grand Rapids community. On Wednesday, Nov. 28, the UICA featured a one-time screening for “The Incantation,” directed by Grand Valley State University alumnus Dan Campbell.
The Local Director Series is a platform for directors to showcase their work publicly, as these films illustrate the advancement of the west Michigan film industry. The intention of hosting the series is to increase public awareness about independent film-making and how Grand Rapids serves as an established location for just that.
Before the film became a reality, Campbell graduated from GVSU in 2010 while working in freelance film for the last decade. He averages about two films per year, occasionally acting as a film production manager.
“This is my first film I produced from start to finish,” Campbell said. “Typically when I work on films, I work on a limited time capacity but mainly during production. I’ll break off and go from project to project; it’s all about how you get involved.”
“The Incantation” is a horror film and is considered a paranormal-thriller. The film is the first to be branded as complete original content by Blue Falcon Productions, the studio behind the project.
The film is about a young American girl who receives a notice that one of her distant relatives had recently passed away in France. After hearing the news, she has to attend the funeral, deep in the countryside and heart of France in a small town called La Guerche.
“Even if you aren’t a big fan of the drama, I’d still go (or watch) for the swooping vistas and the architecture we capture,” Campbell said. “This genre is a genre that can appeal to any age group; however, it’s about a spooky location where eerie events happen to people within the location. I picture ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ meshing with ‘The Shining.’”
Campbell continued to discuss how the main structure featured was built in the 1890’s and illustrated various degrees of Gothic architecture. The (chateau) serves as part of the local culture, acting as a monument for the area and natives feel connected to it.
“We had a lot of local support, we even met with the mayor,” Campbell said. “We filled some b-roll footage with the locals to incorporate those bits and pieces into the film.”
Campbell noted that he can attribute a lot of his success to GVSU’s film program, stating that the pinnacle of the program was the Summer Film Project which offers students first-hand experience working on a professional film set.
“I completed two Summer Film Projects when I attended, and I’d highly recommend it to film students; it’s an amazing opportunity,” Campbell said.
With any job, it’s important to have on the ground experience, and Campbell stated that GV’s program does just that.
“I still keep in touch with professors and I’m always learning,” Campbell said. “I stop in to various levels of film classes because you should never stop asking questions and learning, that’s just general in life. This career is a craft and in a craft career, it’s essential to fall back on others and support one another. I wouldn’t let that discourage students practicing a craft career because teamwork is essential in film-making.”
“The Incantation” can be found on Amazon Prime Video, Vudu and Fandango.
For all film students alike, “Never give up on your dreams,” Campbell said. “Keep up with it, be persistent. Never pass up on an opportunity; film is alive and well.”