This year the Traverse City Film Festival will introduce its latest educational effort, the TCFF Film School. Past years have seen a single seminar, where festival founder Michael Moore would meet with around 30 film students to present a film-related topic and answer questions. The workshop has taken on a whole new flavor as it has grown into the Film School.

One class has become five, with one workshop each day, July 29 through August 2, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Also, filmmakers with work in the festival will head these classes, a set-up that brings expert teachers to the classes and takes some strain off an overstretched Moore.

The topics? Screenwriting (which has already sold out, sadly), documentary film, women in film, short films, and American comedy. Look forward to stimulating, personal, maybe even funny presentations and the chance to ask questions of some talented filmmakers.

There looks to be enough here to appeal to everyone, and everyone (12 and up) is welcome, a radical departure from the application-based admissions of the smaller past seminars. And the ticket fee? Just a nominal $3.

Film School organizer Scott Tompkins talked excitedly about the festival’s educational push. He made a compelling case for each of the workshops, and talked about the one that has caught his eye.

“I am drawn to Women in Film. It’s a personal story; I like things that are personalized,” said Tompkins, an art and photography teacher at Suttons Bay High School. “I like the whole idea of celebrating women as directors and producers.”

Tompkins said that the ideal would be to further expand the Film School, adding more teaching about film to the more common festival practice of just watching them. He mentioned more intensive film classes at other festivals like Ann Arbor, or the month-long student film camp at the Austin Film Festival as possible models.

Either way, this year’s classes gives filmmakers the chance to talk about their films, fans the chance to learn about the films and their creators and students of all ages the chance to pick the brains of a creative group of film-savvy professionals.

“People may feel that it’s a cliché but it’s kind of a win win win win win situation,” Tompkins said. “It’s a good thing.”

TCFF Film School classes will be held in the 100-seat auditorium of Centerpointe, at 12935 S. West Bay Shore. Visit or call 231-946-3731 for a complete film festival schedule, tickets and more information on the classes.

Find Out More About the Traverse City Film Festival:

Click on the 2009 Traverse City Filmgoer Guide: Make the most of your Film Festival Week! 

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