What was your favorite Michigan film production released in 2021? Were you part of its cast or crew? Did you attend its premiere, or as many did, did you watch it on one of your favorite streaming platforms?
2021 in Review
While under lockdown during the pandemic, many of the world’s biggest film festivals chose to stream their programs rather than expose their audiences to potential infection. Even with masking, and or vaccination, there was still a very real risk of becoming ill with Covid 19 or one of its emerging variants.
We had all hoped and prayed that life would return to normal as we entered 2021. Instead, it seems acceptance of this bug that had claimed so many lives was the new normal. And much to everyone’s shock, Michigan ranked toward the top of the states for new infections.
Although streaming is a viable alternative for catching our favorite programs, it was a real option for presenting many film festivals’ programming in 2021. Among the biggest film festivals to stream their content in 2021 were film festivals such as SXSW, Sundance, Berlin International, Venice, TIFF, among others. Film festivals did this for the first quarter of 2021 until April or May, or they presented a hybrid festival, which was in part digital with a limited in-person audience. Until April and later, many theaters were closed because of the lockdown. So, many Michigan producers, as well as the larger studios had few options but to release their movies online.
Then in August, we were placed on alert again as a new pandemic wave visited the country. This was the Delta variant. Then we were hit with the Omicron variant. These waves and there were four of them, of viral infection no doubt had a tremendous impact on Michigan’s film industry. Nonetheless, Michigan filmmakers persevered.
While the number of films produced in 2021 was smaller, what was exciting to see was how the Michigan film industry is establishing itself on the international stage. This can be attributed to the improving quality of the movies being produced. Yes, there has been an improved quality in what is being seen and the world is taking note. Not only is Michigan receiving the distribution that they had desired, which is opening doors for Michigan filmmakers, but they are really accumulating the laurel wreaths from an increasing number of bigger film festivals, and they are being awarded in every category from Best Picture to Best Actor/Actress.
During the lockdown, Michigan filmmakers did not rest on their laurels. Instead, many of them were busy with post-production work which, if you are not familiar with the term, includes everything from editing, sound mixing, color grading, special effects, adding music, dubbing, sound effects, and VFX just to mention a few. So, before lockdown, while many of Michigan’s filmmakers working on their projects finished their filming, and when the lockdown was mandated they isolated and started their post-production work, this did not include every filmmaker. By February there were others who had continued filming, although they did so in full compliance with CDC guidelines. What this meant was that everyone who came onto a film set was tested, their temperatures were taken, they wore masks if they weren’t in front of the cameras, and everyone observed distancing. When they weren’t on set, they isolated in their individual cars until needed. This continued until March or April before compliance became much laxer.
Talking Michigan actors/actresses, while Michigan has always made a significant contribution to the Hollywood story from the early days of the silver screen to the most recent television programs, shortly you will see new faces emerge who can claim their Michigan roots. Without giving anything away, follow the Weekender and you will read of it as it happens.
The Weekender looked back at 2021 and based upon the number of views that each article written received, this is how things ranked. Do your favorites appear on this list?