Media Sandbox Michigan State University

An Evening with Academy Award Winning Producer & Director Damon Russell!

April 27th, 2017

This Thursday spend time with Academy Award winning producer and director, Damon Russell! 7:30pm in the Main Library (4th floor, W449). There will be a screening and discussion of the short films Curfew and Cul de Sac.

INOCENTE Documentary Film Screening

April 20th, 2017

A screening of the film INOCENTE followed by a Q&A with Inocente and Academy Award winning producer Susan MacLaury.

Presented by the Department of Media and Information, the Film Studies program, the School of Journalism, the Chicano/Latino Studies Department, the Julian Samora Research Institute, Media Sandbox, the College Assistance Migrant Program, the College of Communication Arts and Sciences, and the College of Arts and Letters

Questions? Email

Screening and Q&A with Academy Award winner Elise Conklin April 19th, 2017


Elise Conklin has become a popular name around campus within the past year. The MSU senior and WKAR student-intern made an impact by winning a 2016 Student Academy Award for her documentary: “From Flint: Voiced of a Poisoned City.”

Come hear how Elise won one of the film industry’s most prestigious awards on Wednesday, April 19th from 2 p.m. until 3 p.m. in ComArtSci room 145.

Watch the film and join Elise, her crew and advisor Bob Albers while they answer your questions and talk about the filmmaking process.



“Chasing the Moment” Bob Albers’ Documentary World Premiere

April 8th, 2017

Bob Albers’ documentary “Chasing the Moment” will have its world premiere at the Capital City Film Festival on Saturday, April 8, 2017, 12 noon, at the Lansing Public Media Center, 2500 S. Washington Ave. Lansing, MI 48910.
“Chasing the Moment” deals with the intensity of experiences reported by athletes, musicians, chefs, and even the rest of us at the peak moments in our lives. It uses the tools of documentary filmmaking to look deeply into the experience, to describe and measure its impact, and to try to explain the training, preparation, and discipline that make it possible. More on the film and a trailer are available at

Presale tickets are available here for $5 and at the door as well: The full CCFF schedule is available at

Capital City Film Fest

April 5th, 2017

The Capital City Film Festival (CCFF) is a multimedia showcase of independent films and live touring bands with engaging audiences in Michigan’s capital city. It celebrates artists from around the world who share their craft while promoting and building on the cultural assets of our diverse locale. Save the date for the seventh annual Capital City Film Festival taking place April 5-9, 2017 in Lansing, Michigan.

Visit for more information.

Award-winning MSU film student pursues passion in New York City

February 10th, 2017

Liv Larsen had an extraordinary senior year at Michigan State University — to say the least. The former journalism student, with a minor in documentary film studies, along with her crew produced a documentary called “From Flint” that won a student academy award in 2016.

In May, Larsen moved to New York City to fulfill her passion of working for a production company at 4th Row Films. As a production intern, she was assigned three documentaries to work on. She came up with different ideas for the director and tried to put her spin on the little details when she saw an opportunity. She even got to attend a few of the shoots.

“I really got to see first hand how different people interview,” Larsen said. “The director’s style was different from my style and I was able to see how to set up the whole production in the real world.”

She excels at the logistics behind the shoot, “Whether it’s applying for grants, setting up the location or making sure everyone’s on the same page; I really enjoy these aspects,” said Larsen.

Larsen claims that her favorite part of the internship was collaborating with other interns.

“The interns pretty much got free reign to give ideas,” Larsen said. “It was great to have that group and connection, in case we wanted to collaborate on future projects together.”

To her surprise, after completing her internship in New York City, Larsen found herself wanting to try her hand in independent filmmaking. After completing her award-winning documentary in Professor Bob Albers’ class, she thought she wanted to work for a large production company, shooting films, but realized that she had a desire to pursue her own personal film style.

“I don’t think I would be where I am today if it wasn’t for my student film,” Larsen said. “After it won a Student Academy Award, our crew filed to work with an actual distribution company, which is amazing.”

Larsen said no member of her crew had actually been to Flint before creating this film. The main task of the film was to see how they could get involved with the community of Flint and make an impact.

“After doing basic internet research, we met with a few people, which turned into more people,” Larsen said. “The film started to unfold and the community of Flint embraced us with open arms. Our crew just took it one step at a time. The whole thing was a puzzle we put together, since we only had a semester to do it. It was so rewarding at the end.”

Currently, Larsen is still living in New York City, pursuing her dream of independent filmmaking. She’s doing freelance work, which involved working on a project for Netflix, and currently producing another independent documentary film.

Her interest in documentary filmmaking evolved over time as she added new skills and learned more about the field.

“I have always been involved in the arts as a kid,” Larsen said. “Then I came to MSU and I had my journalism major, but I wasn’t completely satisfied with just that. After joining Telecasters and SideShow, I wanted to get more involved.”

Larsen always liked documentaries because they went further into telling stories and resonated with people a little more. She enjoys how one documentary can cover so much and bring out the layers of an issue.

She said the difference between her crew’s coverage of Flint and every other major news outlet was their angle. The networks were covering the city of Flint based on the government. Larsen and her crew covered Flint based on the people.

“Everybody can relate to someone else,” Larsen said. “You can emphasize with someone and try to understand their tragedy. Everyone has a story worth telling. So to me, it’s a mission to find these stories that are untold and tell them in a way that’s never been done before.”

By Meg Dedyne

“The Lost Arcade” Documentary Screening

January 10th, 2017

Written and produced by Irene Chin and directed by Kurt Vincent, THE LOST ARCADE, is an intimate story of a once-ubiquitous cultural phenomenon on the edge of extinction, especially in New York City, which once had video arcades by the dozen. These arcades were as much social hubs to meet up and hang out as they were public arenas for gamers to demonstrate their skills. But by 2011, only a handful remained, most of them corporate affairs, leaving the legendary Chinatown Fair on Mott Street as the last hold-out of old-school arcade culture. Opened in the early 1940’s, Chinatown Fair, famous for its dancing and tic tac toe playing chickens, survived turf wars between rival gangs, increases in rent, and the rise of the home gaming system to become an institution and haven for kids from all five boroughs. A documentary portrait of the Chinatown Fair and its denizens, THE LOST ARCADE is a eulogy for and a celebration of the arcade gaming community, tenacity, and Dance Dance Revolutionary spirit.


“Part Scrappy, part sweet and wholly enjoyable, “The Lost Arcade” is a love letter to a vanished piece of New York, and a little wish for the future. This documentary, directed by Kurt Vincent, recounts the golden years (the 1980s and early ‘90s of New York City arcades, when teenagers slid countless quarters into video games. They were doing more than playing, though — an underground culture formed with its own rivalries, heroes and friendships, particularly among those who specialized in fighter games.”
– The New York Times

“It touches on something that’s being lost in the age of technology that’s much bigger than video-game arcades: the feeling that there’s a reason — driving and inescapable and romantic — to leave home.”
– Variety

“Vincent descends on his subject like an angel of mercy, casting light on the disenfranchised denizens that found in the arcade a home away from home.”
– San Diego Reader

The Lost Arcade website:

TCFF spotlights women in film, female directors react

August 9th, 2016

Women in the film industry were front and center at the 12th annual Traverse City Film Festival (July 26-31). All of the films in the U.S. selection were directed, co-directed or written by women.

DSC_6656Academy Award-winning director and founder of the film festival Michael Moore made the theme “100 years of the CineMAN.” The theme acknowledged that only two of the highest-grossing movies in recent history have been directed by women, and underscored the necessity of recognizing women’s talents.

Of the five films by MSU students and filmmakers screened at the film festival, two were directed by women. A third, the feature film, had a female director on a team with four men.

Jennifer Berggren is the director of Run, Jump, Paddle, a film about three extreme sports and the athletes who do them.

As a 2014 ComArtSci Media and Information grad, Berggren has been in the field for a few years, but started full time as a freelance filmmaker about a year ago. She described the film festival’s decision to highlight women filmmakers as “a really big push to get women into the forefront.”

“To me, it means a lot because I’m a woman in the film industry, specifically in the documentary industry, which we have a little more of a presence in,” said Berggren. “I think women bring a new perspective and just have different issues that we care about. That’s not to say men don’t care about them because they do, but sometimes we’ll push them a little bit more because we know what it’s like … because we have different concerns, and because we have different issues we face every day.”

Media and Information senior Elise Conklin directed From Flint: Voices of a Poisoned City, which tells the stories of families from Flint affected by the water crisis. The film was recently selected as a finalist for a Student Academy Award.

As a woman in film, Conklin said she realizes some barriers exist in the industry. She added it’s important for film festivals to continue to support films created by diverse perspectives – including those of women.

“At film festivals, it’s not going to be the (films) that you necessarily see in the theater. It’s not going to be the (films) that are getting the spotlight or the big mainstream media attention,” Conklin said. “It’s really important for festivals to make sure they’re still being progressive and inclusive and making sure that they’re still giving opportunities to people who may not have opportunities elsewhere.”

Conklin pointed out that while there can be challenges, opportunities abound as well. She said that if a young woman or individual has a passion for filmmaking, they will succeed.

“Have you ever actually sat and watched the credits for a huge budget movie? It’s like 10 minutes of just names,” she said. “Those are all jobs and you may not be the next gigantic, breakout, Oscar-winning director. You may not make hundreds of millions of dollars, but that’s fine. If you’re going into it because you want to tell stories and because you want to make films and you’re passionate about it, that’s all you need. Just don’t ever take no for an answer and just make films.”

Entering the new job scene with Telecasters

April 11th, 2016

Telecasters, the second largest student run organization at Michigan State University, is made up of students who conceptualize, write, film and produce seven different television shows from scratch. The shows range from comedy to drama, satirical journalism to journalism, and live-production to film style production..

Founded in 1954, the main goal of the organization is to provide an environment that allows for students to help other students grow professionally and socially. Telecasters alumni are now all over the world and can be found in many successful media-related jobs.

Every Spring Semester for the past seven years, the alumni relations director and professor Bob Albers invite Telecasters alumni to speak at a panel. Panelists are chosen based on their proximity, their success, and the nature of their positions.

The 2016 panel featured WXYZ-TV Reporter Shelly Childer, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Social Media Specialist Jack Crawley, WKAR-TV Station Manager Susi Elkins and CSG International Technical Supporter Andrew Sobotka. Each panelist had an executive role in Telecasters during their MSU college careers, either hosting and producing their shows, or serving the executive board.

Two out of the four panelists are in social media—a growing source of jobs in media production—and two are in broadcasting.

“This made the panel responsive to the new job market trends and to those interested in television,” Albers said.

Albers added that this year’s panel emphasized “soft skills”—a topic that hadn’t been present in years past. Panelists also discussed the growth and job potential of social media at length.

Current Telecasters, journalism senior and MSU&U Co-producer Matt Smith remarked that events like these are very important to him as well as other students. Having attended every alumni panel since he joined the organization his freshmen year, Smith says networking with alumni is more key than ever as he searches for a job post graduation.

It was also interesting for attendees to see generations of people who were part of shows that they are currently on, and to see the people who helped made Telecasters what it is today.

“It’s nice to network with people who have a connection with me through Telecasters,” he said.

The panel also focused on how students can get a job right out of college. One of this year’s panelist Crowley said he still keeps in touch with other fellow telecasters, and that the far-reaching Telecasters’ network can help students out after graduation.

Capital City Film Festival | Red Carpet Premiere Party

April 7th, 2016

Throw on your party dress and join us as we celebrate the sixth annual Capital City Film Festival with the FREE Red Carpet Premiere Party! Enjoy drink specials, delicious appetizers, and live music. You’ll walk the red carpet alongside featured filmmakers, musicians, and artists as part of the 5-day festival lineup. Lansing’s hottest new spot, Lansing Brewing Company, will host the event offering a selection of craft beers, wine, and spirits on tap.

After the celebration, the Capital City Film Festival’s opening night film will take place around the corner at the Lansing Center, followed by Peanut Butter Wolf performing a live set at the Loft. Watch for the full festival lineup coming soon at

Michigan State UniversityCollege of Communication Arts and Sciences


MSU Media Sandbox is a creative CURRICULUM and COMMUNITY in the College of Communication Arts & Sciences at Michigan State University.