"10- The Michigan Daily Weekend Magazine - Thursday, April 9, 1998
Student filmmaker does 'Final
Cut' of ambitious horror film
Th Michigan Daily Weel
D Weekend, etc. Column
LET THE SUN SHINE IN
By Elizabeth Lucas
Daily Weekend, etc. Editor
"As a kid, I saw 'E.T.' when I was 7.
Then I picked up my dad's 8-millimeter
camera, and me and my brother made a
four-minute 'Return of E.T.'"
For LSA junior Mike Stern, the rest
is history. Stern has spent several years
creating his own films.
"I made short films in high school.
I'd always be doing a video project and
trying to get away with not writing
papers," Stern said.
After attending Michigan State
University for a year, Stern transferred
here "because there was no film com-
munity there." He said the situaiion at
the University is quite different.
"It's pretty exciting. It's got some tal-
ented people, Stern said. "Between the
Michigan Theater and the different stu-
dent film festivals, it's a pretty good
place to be. And the interest in student
filmmaking keeps getting larger and
Last year, Stern created the film
"Thief" and worked as a cameraman on
"Scratch," both of which won awards in
student film festivals. This year, Stern's
major project is an ambitious 30-
minute film called "Final Cut."
"We're using film - it's not like you
just pick up a video camera and start
making a movie," Stern said. "We're
using Panavision cameras, which is
what the studios use, there's a 30-per-
son crew and about 100 extras"
A project of this size is unusual for a
student film, Stern said.
"It's not a Hollywood production, but
the breadth of production is definitely
Hollywood in scope," Stern said. "We're
doing the same amount of work that a
studio puts into making a two-hour
Production on "Final Cut" will take
almost three months, although making
a film usually takes much longer.
"We've been killing ourselves" Stern
said, pointing out that the cast and crew
work for 12 hours at a time, on average.
The film's cast and crew are largely
composed of students. Stern said he had
been "lucky enough to work with really
"Final Cut," which stars LSA seniors
Robbie Simon and Dana Swinehart.
Engineering sophomore Stacey
Waxtan, and Music sophomore Charlie
Jett, is a horror movie involving a group
of student filmmakers.
"It's about our film group and how
we're making a self-reflexive horror
film," Stern said. "The events in the film
start to happen in real life, and there's a
race to edit the final film." The "final
cut," Stern explained, is a Hollywood
term for the final editing on a film.
Though Stern conceded that "it's
kind of easy to do a blood-and-guts
-movie,' he said he would like to work in
other film genres as well. "I'd like to do
a romantic comedy next," he said.
As might be expected, Stern had def-
inite opinions on his favorite films.
"'Field of Dreams' is my favorite movie
of all time," he said. "It makes me weep
- it's a touching movie. And 'Back to
the Future'- as a comedy, I always go
back to that:'
Perhaps surprisingly for an indepen-
dent filmmaker, Stern said the colossal
Hollywood epic "Titanic" was his
favorite movie of the past year.
"The film department would say it's
Hollywood crap, but I like Hollywood
crap" Stern said. "And I'm a big James
Cameron fan. I just didn't realize how
big a geek he was till he got up there
and made a fool of himself"
Will Stern someday rise to Cameron's
prominence in Hollywood? He said he
plans to move to Los Angeles after grad-
uation and "get to work."
"I'll probably en~d up working in
development - the story department,
reading screenplays," Stern said.
But it's probably safe to say that Stern
will eventually return to his roots in
"I like the collaborative part of film-
making," Stern said. "I'd call myself a
storyteller before I called myself an
artist. With film you can work with
actors and create visual movements
with the camera and tell your story. If I
can share a smile with someone
through my films. then im a happy
It's four o'clock in the morning.
The sky is pitch black, and you'd prob-
ably be able to see the stars if the lights of
Ann Arbor weren't drowning them out.
Maybe the night is cold, and you're
pulling your jacket as tightly around you
as possible to keep out the chilly winter
air. Maybe the night is warm, and you
unbutton your shirt a little so you can
feel the warm breeze on your skin.
Maybe you've just spent a long
evening studying for a history or chem-
istry midterm, trying to catch up on two
months of reading you just never really
got around to doing. Maybe you're drunk
and coming back from a party on a
Saturday night. Maybe you're with a
friend, returning from a long conversa-
tion at Rendezvous that lasted until they
kicked you out to sweep the floors and
mopped up the table.
Whatever you're doing, whatever the
weather is like, you know one thing: It's
late, you're in college, on your own and
you've never felt more alive in your
You think back to when you were in
high school, and every once in a while.
you'd go to bed at one or two in the
morning on a "school night." Back then.
staying up until one or two in the morn-
ing was quite an event. You'd only get
about five or six hours of sleep, and how
insane was that"
Your mom would shake her head in
disappointment and crease her brow in
worry. "You ' e got to get more sleep:'
she would sa\. "You're going to get si'ck.
But that was then, and now you're in
collgCe. You can do whatever you want.
Sick? You're yonni.- -you don't et
sick. Or if yoii do. vou get over it. Sleep'
You're young - you don't need sleep.
There are too many fun or important
things to waste a lot of time sleeping.
Now you stay up almost every night
until at least 3:30. Maybe even four or
five. You don't have class until noon,
anyway. You can still get some rest, you
just have to sleep through most of the
day. If' you have class in the morning,
you skip it. Or maybe you take a nap dur-
ing the afternoon.
manage it, you find
some way to stay
up late almost
every single night.
College is about
nights. That's when
all the real living
when everyone has
CHRIS fun - when every-
FARAH one dances, or
._, drinks, or talks, or
v hangs out. Staying
up late is as funda-
mental a part of school as expensive
books or eccentric professors.
Late nights are just as large a part of
my college experience as anyone else.
My average bedtime is probably about
three, at best.
I love to stay up late talking with
friends in the library (come on - like
anyone really studies in the library). I
love hav ing all that untapped time in
front of me. being able to lounge in good
company on the edge of being asleep and
awake, when bits and pieces of dreams
swirl together with reality. I love to rem-
iniscee to share the great stories of the
Dist. or talk about the uncertainty of the
But as much as nights are an essential
part of life, I realized a little w hile ago
that I was missing out on something. I'm
not talking about missing out on sleep, or
better study habits, or anything like that.
I'mn talking about mornings.
Unfortunately, with late nights came
late wake-up times. Often, I wouldn't
even see daylight until early afternoon. It
wasn't like there was much I could do
about it, of course. If I was staving up
late, there was no way I was going to
wake up early to see the dawn. It just
wasn't going to happen.
Then I took ajob that changed all that.
In one of the more foolish decisions of
my college career, I decided to start
working on the Michigan Daily Online
staff. I've always been a busy person, and
I'm pretty good at juggling a lot of dif-
ferent activities at one time. So why not?
I asked myself. I soon realized why not
- the hard way.
Starting to work at midnight or one in
the morning to put The Michigan Daily
on the Internet is no treat. Unless you
really enjoy talking to yourself, or you
have some very interesting and loyal
imaginary friends, working by yourself
for upwards of three hours is far from
Then, of course, comes the
working with computers. N
figured out why computers
to work when vou need
Somehow, they just knoxw he
you over in the best way poss
most critical time.
Yet we put up with it. We
shoulders or breathe a sigh o
tion. "The computer crashes
And then we start over. No
seems to say, "Why the hell
things work?!" If you buy a
just stops for no good reason
die of the highway during rus
don't just shrug your shoulde
"Whoops, there goes the
You buy a new damn car
doesn't just stop working rand
that actually does what it's s
Not so with computers -
only products in which peri(
The final word on "The Final Cut"
Courtesy of Mike Stern
Mike Stern directs and stars in the horror film, "The Final Cut."
I i 1
* Starring: Music sophomore Charlie Jett, LSA senior Robbie Simon, LSA junior Mike Stern, LSA senior Dana Swinehart
and Engineering sophomore Stacey Waxtan
* Crew members: LSA seniors Chris Chung (cameraman), Gordon Eick (special effects), Jeremy Horelick (producer)
Robert Lundy (cinematographer) and Max Thompson (sound)
Afth , MMMMMMM
* Screening date: Saturday, April 25 in East Hall Auditorium; time TBA.
___________________________________________________ U I
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