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

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.

“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:

Sandbox professor documents medical students in Flint

September 1st, 2016

Geri Alumit Zeldes, an associate professor and graduate studies director in MSU’s School of Journalism, has a documentary in the works. “Flint Med,” the tentative title, is about third and fourth-year medical students in the College of Human Medicine who are participating in the Leadership in Medicine for the Underserved Program (LMU) in Flint.

Zeldes says, “The film will capture the students as they engage with the community and with residents devastated by the lead water crisis.”

The inspiration for the film, Zeldes said, came from it being a “unique opportunity to bear witness to MSU students who are on the ground and fulfilling our university’s land grant mission to serve Michigan’s vulnerable populations.”

This story hits home for Zeldes. As a Flint native, she exclaimed that Flint isn’t just a place that’s home to her family, it’s a place “rich in storytellers.”

Some of the students who will be featured in the film were discovered on a “Windshield Tour,” a bus tour of Flint narrated by a Flint local. The film crew was present, making it easier to observe and gauge interest in the opportunity. Three LMU students were chosen based on their charisma, recommendation and the interest they expressed in the film project.

The documentary will consist of sit-down interviews of LMU students, Flint residents and MSU faculty and staff. Additionally, the documentary will include footage of students in action with accompanying interviews.

Although the LMU students will be in the film, they will also be asked to keep a weekly video diary to keep track of their experiences and to learn some film production skills.

Zeldes said the biggest challenge in making the film has been distance since the travel time to Flint has to be worth it to cover the expense. To help fund the project, Zeldes said she will be “pitching units and organizations to help defray production costs.”

Zeldes hopes the documentary will reach a general audience interested in the subject of the film.

“I want to document this part of Flint’s history, and I hope the film will move its viewers,” she said.

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.”

Timothy Busfield joins ComArtSci as artist in residence

May 24th, 2016

Emmy award-winning actor Timothy Busfield will join the College of Communication Arts and Sciences at Michigan State University (MSU) as an artist in residence, effective June 15.

In this new role, Busfield will co-teach courses that emphasize acting and fiction film production, provide insights based on his experience as a professional in theatre and film, and bring noted industry professionals to campus for workshops. He will also be the director of national content for WKAR, where he will develop original content for major networks, cable networks, movie studios and new media.

“I’m looking forward to sharing my experience with the students,” said Busfield. “I’ve learned much in my career and I love helping those that are also eager to learn. My goal is to help their transitions into the major (and not so major) film and theatre communities when they graduate.”

Prabu David, dean of the College of Communication Arts and Sciences, shared his enthusiasm on having Busfield join the college, stating, “Tim brings a wealth of experience in acting, directing and moviemaking, which will add new energy to the Media Arts Collaborative, a new collaboration for creative work between the College of Communication Arts and Sciences and the College of Arts and Letters,” said David. “We are also excited about collaborating with Tim to create compelling content for WKAR.”

A native of East Lansing, Michigan, Busfield was eager to rejoin the mid-Michigan community, specifically MSU, stating “I grew up in East Lansing. My dad taught speech and theater at MSU and my mom and stepfather retired after many decades with the MSU Press… so in short, I’m all Green and White. Then, in January my heart jumped when President Simon announced that she was interested in WKAR producing more original content. I felt I was a perfect fit to help execute her vision of seeing WKAR and MSU move into the market of major television and film.”

Susi Elkins, interim director of Broadcasting and general manager of WKAR, is looking forward to having Busfield join her team. “It’s so exciting for us that Tim is returning home to East Lansing, eager to give back to the community and to join our team at WKAR.  His creativity, experience and enthusiasm for engaging audiences is unmatched and we’re thrilled to be working with him,” said Elkins.

BusfieldAnother aspect of Busfield’s new role for MSU will incorporate promoting experiential learning opportunities for students interested in acting in fiction and nonfiction productions. This work will include the Theater2Film Project, dedicated to transforming student theatre productions into film, and Busfield’s Performing Arts Warm Up, a weekend performing arts camp for kids.

“All of our participants will act a little, sing in a group, dance in a group, as well as learn how to create and make their own stories on film,” Busfield said of the Performing Arts Warm Up. “We believe this will help give them the confidence to ‘try out’ for school plays and clubs, and hopefully make theatre and film their extracurricular activities during this next school year.”

This year’s Performing Arts Warm Up will be presented by the East Lansing Public Library and MSU and will take place on Saturday, September 10 and Sunday, September 11 from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. in the WKAR studios on MSU’s campus.

Busfield has been working in the theatre and film industry for 37 years. He is most recognized for his work in thirtysomething, Field of Dreams and The West Wing. Most recently, Busfield has sold seven pilots to major networks and has directed four others, including ‘The Fosters’ which is currently still on the air.

WKAR and MSU receive Regional Emmy® Nominations

May 20th, 2016

The 38th annual Emmy® nominees have been announced by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences – Michigan, and both WKAR and Michigan State University (MSU) have received nominations.

Six original programs from WKAR received recognition, including Forte (3 nominations), Curious Crew (2 nominations) and 31st Silver Bells in the City.

In addition, MSU faculty from the College of Communication Arts and Sciences brought in nominations for the film Spare Parts and the documentary Living History. Joining them are the Communications and Brand Strategy team with 4 nominations and MSU athletics with 6 nominations.

The Michigan EMMY® represents the most experienced and talented television professionals from all disciplines of the industry and from all of Michigan’s 11 television markets.

The 2016 Emmy® Awards will be presented June 18 at Motor City Casino in Detroit by the Michigan Emmy® chapter of Television Arts and Sciences.

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.

WKAR Offers Student Hands-On Experience

December 7th, 2015

During a class taught by Media and Information Instructor Lisa Whiting Dobson, Elishia Johnson took a tour of the WKAR studios and students were encouraged to apply for positions with the network. Johnson filled out an application that night and now is an intern for WKAR-TV where she does set staging, runs cameras, edits TV promotions and floor directs.


“Being able to travel and work staging for live productions like Silver Bells in the City and the Michigan Blues and Jazz Festival are a few of the most interesting things I have done at WKAR,” said Johnson, a Media and Information senior. “Being involved in these productions from set up to tear down prepares me to be able to do these things on my own for future jobs.”

After graduation, Johnson hopes to attend graduate school and find a job in video production.

“I am especially interested in documentaries and nonprofits,” she said, “I want to be able to tell the stories of people whose stories need to be heard. I also would like to instruct classes on video production. Most of all, I hope that after graduation I will be able to use my skills to give back to the community.”

But first Johnson is getting the opportunity at WKAR to work on real sets and experience the flow of real productions. She said the WKAR staff is committed to students and take the time to help guide them.

Before working at WKAR, Johnson had a video production internship at Peckham Inc.

She says her Communication Arts and Sciences classes have helped with her internships by giving her hands-on experience in the classroom.

“The coursework in ComArtSci classes mock real life situations,” Johnson said, “and our professors and instructors push us to strive for no less than professional standards.”

Johnson has long had a love for media and technology and was involved with media and technology activities all throughout high school. She says she enjoys the connection of expressing yourself while telling a story and provoking emotion from an audience.

“I like video production because it allows you to express yourself in many ways,” she said. “You have to be able to think logically, critically, analytically, but you are also able to tap into your inner creativity at the same time.”

WKAR offers opportunities for student employment and internships in media production (TV, radio and online), fundraising, marketing and promotion, and office administration. More than two dozen students are employed or hold internships each semester.

For more information on internship opportunities at WKAR, contact the WKAR main office, Communication Arts and Sciences Building Room 212, at 517-884-4700.


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.