Traverse City Film: Treefort’s Terrific Trailer at the State Theatre

Traverse City Film: Definition of a policy trailer: a short film that theaters play telling people to turn off their cell phones, remember to buy popcorn, so on. Definition of a BRILLIANT policy trailer: the State Theatre’s, which skitters in a sketchy, coloring book–like romp through snippets of 40-some classic cinematic moments, delivering policy along the way. (“Be respectful and don’t say anything.” “Seriously, turn off your phone.”) Three of the four men who made the trailer—Matthew von Dayton, Steen Wichmann and David Marek—have started a film production company called Treefort Collective, and they office in a basement on Front Street in Traverse City. The fourth, Max Fisher, works at his company FishSoup Films. We talked with Matt von Dayton about how hundreds of Traverse Citians unboxed their Crayolas to make Colorbook.

Check out the Colorbook here, and consider it inspiration for your own efforts at trailer-making—the deadline for the 2013 Traverse City Film Festival trailer competition is July 1. Competition prize: $1,000.

Where did the idea come from? We had been talking about doing a community-oriented project, and then a few days later we heard that the State Theatre wanted a new policy trailer. They sent us a sample of something they liked. It was single artist, lots of hand-drawn stuff that would morph and change. We figured we could put these things together—wanting a community video project and the State wanting a new policy trailer.

We’re guessing it took a lot of time to decide which films to include. Yeah. When we first came together, we each had a list of over a hundred movies. Lots of brainstorming followed. Talking sessions. Late night sessions. It was an ever-changing list. We started with the most iconic films and started whittling down.

Then scene selection … Right. Then we watched film clips to see if the images we remembered were even in the movies, because often an iconic image was actually something shot for a poster or something and isn’t even in the film. But think of a film, say Jaws. There might be a thousand different shots, but only a handful say, “This is Jaws.”

Your favorite scene? I’d always been a fan of classic monster movies, so King Kong. But I also like Stanley Kubrick, so Clockwork Orange and The Shining, too.

Did Michael Moore have any scene picks? He wanted something with Bob Dylan, so we have Don’t Look Back.

Tell us about getting the community coloring for you. We had various ways. We’d get some groups to help, like Girl Scouts or high school art classes. We went to the senior center, Kidz Art, had coloring parties at the library, at cafes. And Facebook. We’d send an alert out: “Show up at Brew tonight with crayons.” Some artists colored several. Like Glenn Wolff did 40. And people could download pages online. I colored at least 200 pages, so I’ve got my fill of coloring for a couple years.

How much total time when into it? We figure we put in at least a thousand hours and then there’s no telling how much time the community put in coloring.

What’s next for Treefort Collective? We are mainly doing commercial work now while laying the groundwork for doing feature length movies. We want to keep doing diverse work—music videos, short videos. Just creating cool work.

Cue the credits:

Recent TC high school grad Luke Kelly composed the sound track; Angela Josephine organized coloring parties and handled social media; Lauren Beachum ran quality control. Begonia Charitable Foundation provided grant funding.

This article is also featured in the March 2013 issue of Traverse, Northern Michigan's Magazine. Get your copy today!

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