It was a night for first-time award winners and a few surprises at the 2017 Eclipse Awards which took place Thursday, May 18, at the CityFlats Hotel in Grand Rapids.
The annual awards are designed to celebrate West Michigan filmmakers and the films they create. A call for entries was made at the end of March with judges from around the globe narrowing the entries down to a record number of nominees, which was more than 90. Past Eclipse winners were selected to place their votes for the best contenders in each category with those winners being announced last night.
For many, being nominated was a huge accomplishment and, in fact, all the nominees were honored at a special event at the JW Marriot earlier in the week.
“For me it is a great honor,” said first-time winner Andy Behm, who tied with Kyle Misak for Best Direction (Feature or Short.) Behm’s film is Hold On, which is about a couple and the trying times they face over a short period of time.
“I just graduated from college last week so it is a great way to start a career and for my film hopefully this is the first of many. It is a great honor just to be nominated and then to win is just awesome.”
“This is the first thing I have ever submitted into anything at all,” Haney said, adding that he feels winning will help him to continue to build connections with those in the West Michigan film industry.
Deb Havens knows much about building connections as she was one of the leaders behind the development of the West Michigan Film and Video Alliance, one of the sponsors of the Eclipse Awards. Havens was honored for her leadership with the 2017 Hyperion Award.
“It is an award that really comes after a number of years of leadership,” Havens said. “But you are not a leader if no one is following or part of what you are leading toward as part of the goal and of the effort put into achieving that goal. And as I have mentioned, we have had over 50 people serve on the board and hundreds who have been members and we couldn’t have done anything without those folks.
“As you see tonight with all the people in the room, we made a difference and that is so huge.”
Receiving recognition for a film, any recognition, does help a project, said filmmaker Todd Lewis who won for Best Sound Design for the film The Rotation. Lewis said that it was “wonderful to be apart of this community,” but to be recognized in a room full of incredible artists from Grand Rapids and throughout Michigan only added to that honor.
Presenters for this year’s event were John Philbin, Jessie Hollett, Sophie Bolen, Josh Reed, Michael McCallum, Mallory Patterson, Randy Strobl, Noah DeSmit, Amy Sherman, David Baker, Glen Okonoski, Anthony Griffin, Girbe Eefsting, Barb Roos, Jen Shaneberger, Rich Brauer, Stephen Tanner, Derk Baartman, Judy Bergsma, Gretchen Vinnedge, Stuart Poltrock, Sherryl Despres, and Todd Lewis.