It’s always fun to celebrate talent and hard work, and that’s what happened Monday evening when WKTV feted many of The Eclipse Award nominees at a soiree (aka ‘Eclipse Lounge’) held at Rockwell’s in Grand Rapids. It would have taken far more than mere rain leaking through the roof to dampen the excitement as attendees enjoyed appetizers, refreshments and kudos.
We spoke with several nominees to find out what, if anything, they felt upon hearing of their nominations. Emotions ran the gamut.
Nominated for Best Actor for her performance in shehimher, fledgling actor, Heather Baker-Jackson, said she felt honored to be nominated. “It was an amazing project,” Baker-Johnson said. “It’s actually the first time I’ve ever acted and I loved the experience of being involved with filmmakers. It’s a nice, creative outlet and I’m open to it. I’m having a blast!”
Also nominated for Best Actor, for her work in Two for the Show, Liz Nolan is on the other end of the spectrum–she’s been acting since she was six years old. “Being nominated is quite an honor,” Nolan said. “It’s for all of us, the greater good, and for the good of the industry. It was exciting to work with a good actor (Michael McCallum, who wrote, directed and acted in the film) who is present and focused. It was synchronicity. It’s my most favorite role so far, the most challenging and the most interesting.”
Charlotte Rinderknecht attended the soiree in honor of the late Larry Lauria, with whom she co-produced the animated film, Pete’s Odyssey, the story of a female bird who must spread her wings and leave her parents’ nest. “I’m here to honor Larry’s memory and talent,” said Rinderknecht. “The project was Larry’s brainchild and it is his legacy. He worked with Bloomfield College’s fledgling animation program. The students worked full time on the project for four weeks. They worked so hard, and Larry pushed them as far as he could.”
Harper Philbin’s web series, Lucky Jay has already garnered a plethora of awards, but greatness knows no bounds. “I was very happy to see the series get Eclipse noms for producing, writing, directing, editing and acting,” Philbin said. “When I finished the series, I thought it might only play to college professors as sort of an in-joke, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised that the series has found a broader audience–enough good feedback that we decided to shoot a second season this June!”
Science fiction aficionado and Indiana native Kelly Loughlin was nominated for Best Producer for her work on Interference. The Grand Valley State University senior had pitched the script to her fiction class. “I produced, wrote and directed it,” Loughlin said. “It’s about a kid with a ham radio in the 1960s who communicates with a cosmonaut as he is re-entering the earth’s atmosphere. There were only two actors, and we translated the lines for the cosmonaut from English to Russian. The film is about connecting with someone who doesn’t speak the same language–how do we do that? The Eclipse Award is a great honor, especially while I’m still in school. It affirms that I am on the right track.”
Former WKTV intern, Andrew Behm was nominated for Best Narrative for his work on the film, Portrait, a story that follows the relationship of a photographer and her significant other. “When I cast the film, the role was open for any gender,” Behm said. “I didn’t want it to fall into any stereotype.” The Eclipse Award is Behm’s first big award. “I was so honored to be nominated. I felt validated. I worked very hard on the film.”
Dave Purnell received a nomination for Best Original Score for the film, INK 180. The story follows an inner-city tattoo artist who removes or covers tattoos for free for victims of sex trafficking. “The music plays a crucial role in the film,” said Purnell. “I’m excited and it feels wonderful to be nominated.”
Josh Reed’s film, My Personal Pink Time, was nominated for Best Documentary. The film follows the life of a friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 33. “She wanted everything documented,” said Reed. “Treatments, chemo, radiation, all of it. It meant a lot to me because cancer has affected my family. You can’t really know what it’s like until it happens to you or someone close to you. I wanted to get the word out.” Reed said it felt cool to be recognized for his work.
Michael McCallum is in a league of his own. The filmmaker has won so many awards over the years, we’re certain that he must have lost track by now. (OK, so we lied. He knows. His films have won 75 major awards on the film festival circuit and received 132 nominations.) His film, Two for the Show was nominated for Best Direction, Best Editing, Best Writing in Produced Content, and McCallum was nominated for Best Actor as well. “I was confident in the film that people would have an opinion about it,” McCallum said. “Having it be honored with nominations is just icing on the cake. I’m incredibly proud of the film and everyone involved in helping create it.”
Sherryl Despres, nominated for Best Actor for her work in Rodeo Girl, said getting the nomination was a pleasant surprise. “But it is also an affirmation. I’ve been acting since I was a child growing up in California and quit for a few years. But I’ve seen as good or better talent here in Michigan than I ever saw there. I can’t think of any greater honor than to be recognized with the likes of my fellow nominees by these talented people whose work I respect and admire.”
Sporting three Best Cinematographer nominations–for Alaskan Adventure, It’s Your Move, and The Million Dollar Nickel–Reid Petro said the news really made his day. “I was extremely honored–honored to be nominated along with all of these other amazing artists that I admire and am inspired by. I know it’s cheesy but I was definitely in awe.”
Congrats to all of our nominees and we look forward to seeing you Thursday night for The Eclipse Awards ceremony. Great work, everybody!