Michael McCallum’s first competition festival film entry ‘Foreword’ garnering praise

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Michael McCallum has been honing his skills since he started his filmmaking company Rebel Pictures in 1999.  Since then,  he has garnered numerous awards for his twenty films.   Winning 117 major awards, receiving 91 nominations and having  played in 223 film festivals nationally and internationally,  he thought he would test his skills and enter his first competitive film challenge.

Although his filmmaking team did not win,  they were recognized for the creative use of a prop.   Since then,  his film has been entered, been accepted and has won a number of different awards internationally.

Michael permitted me this interview on his experience in this competitive film challenge.

You recently competed in a film challenge in which you completed a short film in 48 hours. Tell us about this experience.


I made my first competition festival film, “Foreword,” this past July. I have acted for many years in other filmmaker’s competition films (Project Twenty1, Capital City Film Festival’s Fortnight Film and other 48/5’s) and had some recent experiences at the beginning of this year that really made me want to take a stab at directing/producing one of my own. Foreword, was that result for the 48 Hour Film Project: Detroit.

Is this the first such film challenge in which you have competed? In how many others have you competed?


This was my first, but I have acted in many others, that were noticed for the acting in particular, and even helped produce a few, that had a lot of success.



Of the film challenges through out the state, how did you choose to participate in this one? 


It came down to two things: time and recognition. The 48 Hour Film Project: Detroit was happening at a time that would work with my schedule and the schedules of a small talented team that I assembled and it was also one that is nationally recognized. It goes from major city to major city. There were 51 teams competing in the one I did in July. Most have a 1/3 of that amount of teams involved.

Was there an entry fee for this challenge? What was the grand prize for the winner? 

There was. I didn’t sign up for this challenge because it was cheap. It was $198 at the late deadline of signing up and I had someone who was supposed to help Produce the film with me that backed out because of personal reasons at the last second. That, for an independent filmmaker is a chunk of change. But, as they say “the show must go on”.

There were awards for different categories and 1st, 2nd, 3rd Place winners as well as an Audience Award. The big prize was that the overall winner would be played at the Cannes Film Festival. We didn’t take that prize, but were awarded Bes5 Use of Prop and more importantly we made a film that I’m extremely proud of. We also had a great time making the film, which doesn’t always happen under these circumstances of a competition.


Were you accompanied to this challenge by a cast and crew of friends? Who was part of this group? Which actors appear in your film? Who did the cinematography? Was there a score written for this short and who wrote the score?

I hand selected a small talented group for this project. I knew before we even signed up that an agile bunch were needed. This was going to be a project truly fighting the clock from the get-go and they had to be not only great at what they do, but also understand the time crunch element.

Crew wise I asked Scott Baisden to shoot and edit the film with me. He is extremely talented and proficient and we work really well together. Anne Cope is a fabulous make-up artist as well and someone I’ve been privileged to work with in the past. Daniel Hogan is a naturally gifted actor and someone I’ve wanted to work more with. Kristian Bringedahl is a young, hungry sound recordist that only gets better each time we work together. Angela DeGarmo has been my Production Supervisor on a few recent projects and I needed her organizational skills as well as her acting ability on this.
I also had my Father, William C. McCallum, as a Producer and my usual rock through a shoot. He wasn’t able to be there for the actual shoot, but his support is always there.
I asked a small group of actors as potential players, depending on what the story ended up being. Rachel Mender was one of those actors and the story fit for her to lend her talents in front of the camera for me again. (We worked previously on another Rebel a pictures’ film, Deadbolt, which is in post production.)
The music was created by a talented composer/musician/DJ friend, John Beltran. I knew John’s music would fit and he sent over some songs for me to listen to once post had started. Again, one of those creative folks that I’ve wanted to collaborate with for some time. This project allowed for many of these things to finally happen.
It’s all about the team.
So your father, William C. McCallum did not appear in the film,  however he did participate in this film challenge?  What part did he play? 
My Father, William C. McCallum, was not a part of this particular production on set. He did help me figure out some much needed props, locations, etc. and overall did what he does on every film for our company, Rebel Pictures; he Produces.

Your finished film was a sci-fi thriller which you titled “Foreword.” Although you did do another sci-fi film, what was it last year, this is a departure from what you normally do. Were you assigned this genre, or was this something you chose? 
We drew our genre, like all of the other teams, from a hat. You were given two and you had to use at least one of them or combine them both. We received “Time Travel” and/or “Western”. Time Travel was what we went with.
The short film that was shot last year was, “Reverb.” We are still currently in post production for that film which is a sci-fi story about a guilty conscience of a man that is slowly unraveling after a hit and run accident.

Do you like working in this genre, sci-fi?  Do you find it an easy genre in which to work? 
I love working in sci-fi and have wanted to expand the genres I usually work in, but always need the right project and story. For me, other than this competition, the story dictates the genre. Not the other way around.

Tell us about the story line for this film. How did you come up with this idea? Did you have help writing the script? 
Synopsis: A famous author is struggling to finish his next novel and discovers a postcard he has mailed to himself from the future warning of an upcoming danger.
We received our genre and elements and came up with a kick-ass story, Foreword, on the way back from Detroit.

Once you had the finished script did you launch immediately into production? How were your days divided until you had things complete? 

Well, there was only 48 hours, so taking the time to type out a script was more hurtful than helpful. Myself, Anne Cope (Make-up), Daniel Hogan (Actor), Scott Baisden (Cinematographer/Editor) and Kristian Bringedahl (Sound Recordist) all went down to Detroit together to receive the elements. Once we received everything, we started driving back and kicking ideas around. Once we arrived in Lansing we had a full fleshed out story and I had already made calls to our Production Supervisor, Angela DeGarmo, for locations, etc.

How many other filmmakers competed in this film challenge? 

51 teams total competed.

How long after you had submitted your film were you and the other filmmakers notified of the results? 


It was fairly soon. The competition was July 14th-16th and July 25th was the showing at the Main Art Theatre in Royal Oak. The awards ceremony was held at Club Orchid in Ferndale on Aug. 8th.


Although you may not have won, you were recognized for your use of your prop. What was it? Was this prop given to you to be included in your film and how did you use it? 

We were and I was honored for us to receive any recognition. There were a few really well-done films that we saw and the ones that won the top awards definitely deserved them. With us being awarded Best Use of Prop, it really comes down to the story and writing and I was thrilled that we won that.

The prop, a postcard, was integral to our story and was woven through out the seven minute film.
Since the competition the film has done extremely well. I couldn’t be more proud of what we accomplished and look forward to future competition films.
2nd Place Sci-Fi Short-Indie Suspense Horror Sci-Fi Film Festival-2017
Best Writing-Independent Horror Movie Awards-2017
Best Use Of Prop-48 Hour Film Project: Detroit-2017
Best Original Concept-Independent Horror Movie Awards-2017
Best Short-Top Indie Awards-2017
Best Music-Top Indie Awards-2017
On what else are you presently working?
There is a lot of work in post.  Finishing “Deadbolt” and working on “Reverb.” Rebel Pictures also shot two music videos this summer, “Song For the Moon” for Lansing musician Alex Mendenall and “Love & Kindness” for Grand Rapids based band Four Lincolns. Scott Baisden and myself are working on those currently and Rebel Pictures is gearing up to help produce a short film for Mr. Baisden, “Fifty/Fifty, ” that he’s writing/directing.
I’m also in preproduction and production for a good many projects, but that’s for another interview.
Michael McCallum is the owner of Rebel Pictures, and also an award-winning director, writer, actor, editor and Lansing native who makes and promotes Michigan-made films.

Michael was honored to receive the “Michigan Independent Filmmaker Of the Year 2012” by the Uptown Film Festival in Detroit.

To follow Michael, here is his Facebook page.

For more on what he has done,  here is his IMDB page

Here is the Rebel Pictures Facebook page

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