Entertainment professionals from Los Angeles, New York and Michigan created the Waterfront Film organization in 1999 to provide a "middle coast" venue for independent filmmakers eager to show their work to sophisticated audiences. Since that time, Waterfront has been bringing unique film experiences, education and opportunities to Michigan.
Based on the shores of Lake Michigan, Waterfront founded one of the leading destination film festivals in the Midwest, screening many premieres of Academy Award-winning and nominated documentaries. Recognized as a top five film festival, the Waterfront Film Festival is a volunteer event committed to celebrating the Independent Filmmaker and promoting their works of art while further enhancing the cultural draw of West Michigan.
Waterfront also operates a year-round screening and event venue created to further their mission and help raise awareness of arts, education and philanthropic causes.
Waterfront is a non-profit organization. All donations and proceeds from ticket and merchandise sales go directly to the operational budget. All donations are fully tax deductible and allow us to continue the tradition of supporting quality projects, artists and opportunities. We thank all sponsors and attendees for their help in this mission!
Advisory Board & Co-Founders
Adam Herz - Screenwriter and Producer, "American Pie" franchise, founder of Terra Firma Films
Andrew Ruf - Talent Agent, Paradigm Talent Agency
Bob Brown - Film Producer / Co-Founder of Purple Rose Films with Jeff Daniels and Founder of Charity Island Pictures
Bruce Campbell - Actor, appearing in numerous television and film projects; including acting and producing the "Evil Dead" trilogy with Sam Raimi
Chris Gore - Speaker and Writer on the topic of independent film; Creator of FilmThreat.com, and Author of the "Ultimate Film Festival Survival Guide"
Craig Kestel - Talent Agent, William Morris Endeavor Agency
Dan Mirvish - Award-Winning Director, Screenwriter, Producer and critically-acclaimed Author as well as Co-Founder of the Slamdance Film Festival
Ericka Frederick - Academy Award nominated Producer, currently working for Kodak in their motion picture division
Patrick Sheane Duncan - Award-Winning Screenwriter, penning numerous screenplays including "Mr. Holland's Opus" starring Richard Dreyfus (in his Oscar winning role) and "Courage Under Fire" starring Matt Damon and Meg Ryan.
Jay Froberg - Founder and Partner of ROAR, a production and talent management company
Jennie Frankel - Co-Founder of Magnet Management and Former Vice President of Literary for Zide/Perry Entertainment ("American Pie" trilogy).
Jim Bernstein - Screenwriter, Producer and Professor of Screenwriting at University of Michigan
John Sloss - L- Leading Entertainment Lawyer, Sloss Eckhart Law Co., provides counsel on business transactions for clients in all aspects of motion picture finance, production and distribution, including high profile motion picture producers, directors, writers and the Independent Film Channel
Jon Fitzgerald - Founder and CEO of CineCause and Former Executive Director of AFI Int'l Film Festival and Santa Barbara Int'l Film Festival as well Co-Founder of Slamdance Film Festival
Joseph Beyer - Associate Director of the Sundance Institute Online.
Lynda Hansen - Independent Producer and Consultant, serving on the advisory board for numerous highly respected film festivals
Mary Jane Skalski - Award-Winning Producer of numerous critically-acclaimed films
Robert Hawk - Founder and Consultant for the Independent Consultation for Independents
Robert Forster - Actor, nominated for an Academy Award for his role in Quentin Tarantino's "Jackie Brown" and most recently seen in the Academy Award-Winning film, "The Descendants"
Sean Elliott - Talent Agent, William Morris Endeavor Agency
Todd Hansen - Executive Director, Central Standard Film Festival; former programmer, Los Angeles Independent Film Festival.
Tom Bernard - Co-President and Co-Founder of Sony Pictures Classics, distributing and financing many Academy Award winning films.
Vicky Jenson - Director of Animation whose works include "Shrek" and "Shark Tale"
Dana DePree-Minter - Dana has been involved in many areas of behind-the-scenes filmmaking from producing and casting to finance. Having earned her MBA in Finance from Michigan State University , she worked with the Entertainment Financial Services company, Fulton & Meyer, in Los Angeles handling artist and film finance. She has since moved back to West Michigan to help run the non-profit Waterfront Film Festival. Since a very young age, Dana has been passionate about the arts, in particular, the art of filmmaking and has always approached it as a hobby. She currently travels to various film festivals seeking out new and exciting films and filmmakers to bring to the Waterfront Film Festival in Michigan , in an effort to expand the opportunities of the regional artists who otherwise may not get a chance to meet these visiting artists and view their works.
Dori DePree - Dori earned a Master's Degree in Labor & Industrial Relations and began her career as a Human Resource consultant writing policies and procedures and employee handbooks. After realizing a need by Michigan non-profit organizations and school districts for grant writing, she branched out to become a freelance grant writer. For enjoyment, Dori became involved with independent filmmaking, which grew into executive producing two award-winning independent films and, more recently, casting films for directors Dustin Lance Black and Marc Forster. She helps run the Waterfront Film Festival in order to provide a Midwest forum for independent filmmakers and a venue for Midwest residents to see high quality films.
Hopwood DePree - Named as one of “20 PEOPLE TO KNOW” by The Hollywood Reporter, Hopwood has been a strong advocate for bringing the film industry to the State of Michigan. A graduate of the University of Southern California, Hopwood has two decades of experience working in all areas of the entertainment industry. He has produced, written, directed, and starred in two award-winning independent feature films, Rhinoskin, and The Last Big Attraction; sold and/or written scripts for Sony, MGM, Weinstein Company, Neal Moritz and Lionsgate; created, executive produced, and starred in a pilot for Warner Bros Television; held a first-look directing deal with 20th Century Fox; and co-created, executive produced and directed a pilot for National Lampoon. Virginia (starring Jennifer Connelly & Ed Harris) is his most recent film, in which he served as an on-set producer. Additionally, Hopwood was officially appointed by The Governor of Michigan to serve as an Advisor to the Michigan Film Office to continue to help grow the film industry in his home state. Currently, Hopwood divides his time between Los Angeles and Michigan, where he helped co-found the non-profit Waterfront Film Festival in 1999.
Kori Eldean - Kori, an avid supporter of the arts and producer of an award-winning independent feature film, has a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology. Having consulted many West Michigan artists, she became passionate about launching a film festival in the area to help fill a void. She has traveled to many film festivals around the world, and continues to consult artists and filmmakers on a regular basis. She currently resides in New York City.
Judy Smith - Judy is a community volunteer with many years of experience in fundraising. She has sat on many non-profit boards including, Holland Area Arts Council, Holland Civic Theatre and Holland Chorale. Her interest in movies, and particularly independent films, grew into the desire to become a part of the Waterfront Film Festival.
Showcasing hundreds of Midwestern and World Premieres:
- Midwestern Premiere of Academy Award Winner Man on Wire
- Midwestern Premiere of Academy Award Winner of March Of The Penguins
- Michigan Premiere of Academy Award Nominee Murderball
- Michigan Premiere of Academy Award Winner Born into Brothels
- Midwestern Premiere of Academy Ward Nominee The Story of Weeping Camel
The best Midwestern venue to premiere new films:
- Napoleon Dynamite, The Descent, Open Water, Pittsburgh, Riding Giants, Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle, Word Play, Memories of Tomorrow, The Sasquatch Dumpling Gang, Dakota Skye, The Linguists, Chapter 27, Waiting for Ophelia, Women in Trouble, Peter and Vandy, World's Greatest Dad, Senna, Hot Coffee, Blackfish, Muscle Shoals, Ghost Team One, Empire of Dirt, Whitey: The United States of America vs. James J Bulger, This May Be The Last Time, The Bounceback, Sake-Bomb, White Reindeer, Sister, Last Days In The Desert, Night Owls, Sundance Grand Jury Winner American Splendor, Sundance Grand Jury Winner Primer, Sundance Grand Jury Winner Eagle vs. Shark, AFI International Film Festival Grand Jury Prize Winner St. Nick, Sundance Best Directing Award Winner and Grand Jury Prize Nominee The Queen of Versailles, Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winner for World Cinema A River Changes Course, Slamdance Grand Jury Prize Winner Bible Quiz, Sundance Grand Jury Prize Nominee World Cinema Love Child, Slamdance Grand Jury Prize Best Narrative Rezeta, Slamdance Best Narrative Feature Nominee The Sublime and Beautiful, SXSW Grand Jury Award Nominee Wild Canaries.
PREVIOUS CELEBRITY / VIP GUESTS
Click the guest's name for updated credits
Adam Herz - Screenwriter of the box-office smash hit trilogy, "American Pie", "American Pie II", and "American Wedding"
Alanna Ubach - Actor ("Meet the Fockers") and Founding Member of Velcro Troupe
Ameena Matthews - Senior Violence Interrupter at Ceasefire in Chicago Illinois who puts herself in the front lines to mediate conflict and put a stop to violence. Was the subject of documentary "The Interrupters"
Andrew Ruf - Talent Agent, Paradigm Talent Agency
Andy Frasco - Energetic singer/songwriter named Musician of the Year at the Sundance International Film Festival
Aram Rappaport - Writer/Director for film ("Syrup", "The Crash")
Brad Beyer - Starred opposite John Torturro in TNT's "Monday Night Mayhem"
Bradley Wisk- Operatic Tenor who notably appeared on TV's "The Bachelorette"
Brendan Fehr - Star of TV and Film (" Roswell ", "Disturbing Behavior", "Final Destination")
Brian Dannelly - Director and Writer of "Saved!", starring Mandy Moore
Brian Vander Ark - Lead singer "The Verve Pipe"
Bruce Kampbell - Burn Notice
Craig Kestel - Talent agent, William Morris Agency
Chris Gore - Author of "The Ultimate Film Festival Survival Guide"; Creator/Editor of FilmThreat.com - the number one most popular movie web site with over 10 million hits a month. Gore has also been a featured film reviewer on many television shows including CNN, MTV and Fox
Christine Elise - Star of TV and Film ("ER", " Beverly Hills 90210"); has written several scripts that have been produced for TV, as well as for "Seventeen Magazine"
Daryl Hannah - Actress, filmmaker, and environmental activist who has appeared in countless films, including "Splash" and the "Kill Bill" series
David DeLuise - Star of TV and Film ("Jessie", "3rd Rock From the Sun", "Wizards of Waverly Place")
David Gallagher - Star of TV and Film ("7th Heaven")
Emerson Hart - lead singer of Tonic
Erik Palladino - Star of TV and Film ("ER", "Finder's Fee")
Frank John Hughes - Star of TV and Film ("Band of Brothers", "24", "Sopranos", "Righteous Kill")
Garret Clayton: - Star of TV and Film ("Teen Beach Movie", Virginia", "The Fosters")
Gedney Webb - Music Supervisor for many films for Director Ron Howard, as well as Academy Award Winner "Chicago"
Gill Holland - Producer ("Spin the Bottle", "Desert Blue")
Guy Ferland - Writer/ Director ("Delivered", "The Babysitter", "Telling Lies in America ")
Grant Show - Star of TV and Film ("Six Feet Under", " Melrose Place ")
Jacques Thelemaque - Co-Founder/ President of the Filmmaker's Alliance
James Karen - Star of TV and Film for over 50 years
James Marsden - Star of TV and Film (starring as "Cyclops" in the "X-Men" trilogy, as well as "Disturbing Behavior," "Gossip," and "Alley McBeal")
Jay Froberg - A former Vice President of MGM; Co-founder of ROAR, a production and talent management company
Jay Kenneth Johnson - Star of Daytime Television as "Philip Kiriakis" on "The Days of Our Lives", also starred in the Aaron Spelling pilot "HOTEL," and "North Shore"
Janet Lockwood - Director of the Michigan Film Office
Jason Lewis - Star of TV and Film (series regular "Smith Jerrod" on the final season of HBO's smash hit "Sex in the City")
Jason Ritter - Star of TV and Film ("Joan of Arcadia", "Parenthood", "The Event")
Jennie Frankle - Vice President of Literary for Zied/Perry Entertainment ("American Pie" trilogy)
Jennifer Howard - Spokesmodel and Actress (Comedy Central's "The Sweet Spot" with Bill Murray )
Jeremy Coon - Producer of "Napoleon Dynamite" and "Sasquatch Dumpling Gang"
Jess Weixler - Independent film star best known for her role in Teeth
John Putch - Writer/Director for TV and Film ("Cougar Town", "Route 30 Trilogy", "Mojave Phone Booth")
John Vesely - Lead singer of Secondhand Serenade
John Woodward - Academy Award Winning Writer/ Director of "Disciples of the Crow"
Jonathan Silverman - Loved for his role in "Weekend at Bernie's"
Joseph Beyer - Assistant to Director of the Sundance Film Festival
Joshua Leonard - First garnered attention for his role in Blair Witch Project
Justin Long - Star of "Sasquatch Dumpling Gang" and "Dodgeball"
Kip Pardue - Star of "Remember the Titans" and "Farewell Bender"
Kirsten Haglund - Miss America 2008
Kristen Minter - Actress ("ER", "Myopia")
Lisa Linde - Actress on "Days of Our Lives"
Maggie Lawson - Star of TV and Film
Mary Lynn Rajskub - Best known as a co-star of Kiefer Sutherland on the popular television series 24
Melanie Lynskey: - Star of TV and Film ( "Rose" on hit comedy "Two and a Half Men", "The Perks of Being a Wallflower", "Up in the Air")
Morena Baccarin - Star of TV and Film (FOX's "Firefly", "Way off Broadway")
Nancy Rainford - Talent Manager, Producer and former Agent; author of "How to Agent Your Agent"
Norman Reedus - Star of TV and Film ("The Walking Dead")
Patrick Sheane Duncan - Award-winning screenwriter, penning numerous screenplays including "Mr. Holland's Opus" starring Richard Dreyfus (in his Oscar winning role) and "Courage Under Fire" starring Matt Damon and Meg Ryan
Perrey Reeves - Star of TV and Film ("Mrs. Ari" on hit HBO show "Entourage")
PJ Posner - Critically acclaimed Director; Co-created "Getting In", which helped launch the careers of Matthew Perry and Calista Flockhart
Richard Speight Jr - Star of TV and Film ("Band of Brothers", "Jericho", "Thank You for Not Smoking")
Rick James' Original Stone City Band - the legendary band providing the sound that has been heard on recordings by Rick James, The Temptations, and Smokey Robinson for over 30 years
Robert Forster - Actor, Nominated for an Academy Award for his role in Quentin Tarantino's "Jackie Brown"
Robert Hawk - Independent producer and consultant credited with discovering and nurturing the talents of such filmmakers as Kevin Smith (Clerks), Ed Burns (The Brothers McMullen). He has served as a member of the advisory selection committee for the Sundance Film Festival since 1987.
Ruth Buzzi - Golden Globe Winner who gained worldwide fame as a key cast member on the TV comedy show Laugh In
Ryan Devlin - Host, ET on MTV
Sean Elliott - Talent agent at one of LA's top agencies, Endeavor, whose clients include: Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Drew Barrymore and Dustin Hoffman
Sebastian Gutierrez - Screenwriter best known for "Snakes on a Plane" and "Gothika"
Shaggy - Grammy-winning recording artist best known for his 1995 mega-hit single "Boombastic"
Shane Carruth - Director and Writer of Sundance Grand Jury Winner, "Primer"
Skyler Stone - Star of Comedy Central hit "Con" and Founding Member of Velcro Troupe
Steve Pink - Screenwriter ("Grosse Pointe Blank", "High Fidelity") and Co-Founder of New Crime Productions with partner John Cusack
Tom Bernard - Co-President and Co-Founder of Sony Pictures Classics, distributing and financing many Academy Award winning films
Vicky Jenson - Director of "Shrek" and "Shark Tale"
Wendie Malick - Two-Time Emmy and Golden Globe nominee who is most well known for her widely acclaimed role as Nina Van Horn in the NBC hit comedy, "Just Shoot Me"
William Ward - Talent Agent representing clients including Aisha Tyler ("Talk Soup" and "Friends") and 2004 Academy Award Nominee Ken Watanabe ("The Last Samurai")
Yeardley Smith - voice of Lisa Simpson on Fox's award winning show, "The Simpsons"
Lt. Governor Dick Posthumus
-- And many, many more Directors, Producers and Actors attending with their films.
NOTABLE WFF PAST SCREENINGS
Man on Wire - Midwest Premiere - 2009 Academy Award Winner
March of the Penguins - Midwest Premiere - 2006 Academy Award Winner
Murderball - Michigan Premiere - 2006 Academy Award Nominee
Born Into Brothels - Michigan Premiere - 2005 Academy Award Winner
The Story of the Weeping Camel - Midwest Premiere - 2005 Academy Award Nominee
Napoleon Dynamite - Midwest Premiere - 2004 Smash Hit!
Primer - Midwest Premiere - 2004 Sundance Grand Jury Winner
American Splendor - 2003 Sundance Grand Jury Winner
My Flesh and Blood - 2003 Sundance Documentary Winner
The Accountant - Midwest Premiere - 2002 Academy Award Winner
Helicopter - Eastern US Premiere - 2001 Academy Award Winner
By Courier - Eastern US Premiere - 2003 Academy Award Nominee
Winged Migration - 2003 Academy Award Nominee
The Next Big Thing - 2001 World Premiere
Ellie Parker - 2001 Midwest Premiere - starring Naomi Watts
Shaolin Soccer - 2003 Miramax Midwest Premiere
City of Ghosts - 2003 MGM Michigan Premiere- directed by/starring Matt Dillon
Things You Can Tell Just By Looking At Her - 2000 MGM Eastern US Premiere- starring Glenn Close, Cameron Diaz, and Holly Hunter
The Claim - 2001 MGM Michigan Premiere starring Wes Bentley, Milla Jovovich, Natassja Kinski
Barenaked in America - 2000 Midwest Premiere - directed by Jason Priestley, starring The Barenaked Ladies
Wildflowers - 2000 Midwest Premiere - starring Daryl Hannah and Clea Duvall
On Edge - 2001 Eastern US Premiere - starring Jason Alexander
The Last Waltz - 2002 MGM Re-release 25th Anniversary of Martin Scorsese's classic film
The Interrupters - Official Selection Sundance Film Festival, Official Selection Slamdance Film Festival, and Winner of the Independent Spirit Award for Documentary
Imperial Dreams - Sundance Best of Next Award Winner
This is Spinal Tap - 2000 MGM Re-release
Location & Venues
Waterfront Film Studio
479 Columbia Ave, Holland, MI 49423
Ranked in the “TOP 5 FILM FESTIVALS” -- SAGIndie, Screen Actors Guild Magazine
Named One of “Ten Really Cool Things To Do” -- Chicago Sun Times
Named One of “Top Ten Film Festival Vacations” -- Chris Gore, FilmThreat.com
“Saugatuck Fest like a laid-back Sundance – in Michigan, great indie film
is on the Waterfront. If you couldn’t make it to Sundance this year, never
fear, for the Midwest’s own lil’ resort-town film fest is just around the corner.”
-- Ellen Fox, Chicago Tribune
“No competition. No suits on cell phones brokering distribution deals. No Tom Cruise. What you will find at Saugatuck’s annual Waterfront Film Festival is a melding of independent-minded film fans and filmmakers that makes it one of the most refreshingly laid-back film events in the country.”
-- John Monaghan, Detroit Free Press
“Sharing beer and ice cream (or perhaps a beer float?) with filmmakers and indie icons - it all sounds almost impossibly idyllic, particularly since Waterfront takes place in the sleepy lakeside berg of Saugatuck, Michigan, with screenings at a weird variety of non-traditional venues. The Sundance comparison also might come off as a charming ploy to overlook a small-town film fest's provincial offerings (kind of like using the word "cozy" to describe a tiny apartment) if only Waterfront didn't know exactly what the hell they were doing.”
-- Richard Sharp, ChicagoFilm.com
“Saugatuck’s Annual Film Festival should turn heads with an exceptional line-up. If you like movies, this will be the place to be.”
-- John Douglas, Grand Rapids Press
“Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm recently initiated a ‘Cool Cities’ grant program to raise the state’s cultural profile, and when you end up watching docs next to Sundance winner Shane Carruth, eat brunch inches from Open Water star Daniel Travis, and find the post-screening Q & A’s going long because viewers are hungry for yet more insights into the filmmaking process, one suspects Saugatuck’s more than qualified for the ‘Cool’ label. By Saturday, the weather had cleared up, but the lines remained long outside each screening from start to finish. Travis declared the day of his film’s Waterfront premiere ‘one of the best days of my life,’ and if the filmmakers are feeling the love on America’s ‘Middle Coast,’ then the Great Lakes State is building more indie-film cred than anyone could’ve expected.”
-- Alan Speer, FilmFestivals.com
From the Grand Rapids Press - The Waterfront Film Festival in Saugatuck is over as of last Sunday and while I didn't see everything it had to offer, I did experience enough of the festival to know that it is turning into a real class act. It is such a class act, in fact, that it may well have a chance of being an important international festival for filmmakers and movie-goers.
I was impressed at the quality of the films that were brought to town to be shown to film buffs, but beyond that, the people from the film industry who attended and participated in the seminars were first rate.
I went to the seminar on writing for films and I can't imagine a stronger panel than the one the festival people put together. In fact, I was inspired to begin thinking again about an idea I have for a screenplay. It, of course, involves bringing back Hopalong Cassidy to once more ride the range and battle the forces of evil with his pals Johnny Nelson and Red Connors of the Bar 20. I think the time is right for just such a movie.
Anyway, I would like to send out congratulations to Dana DePree, Dori DePree, Hopwood DePree, Kori Eldean and Judy Smith, founders of the Waterfront Film Festival, and to those who volunteered to work on the project over the three years it has been in existence. All these folks are doing West Michigan proud by providing the entire state a chance to see some fine movies and hear from people about the process of becoming part of the creative activity of making short and feature films.
The sponsors who helped out on this year's festival also deserve some credit and that includes all the businesses that participated in making the festival a success. Those who picked up a program for the festival should look inside at the list of businesses who gave time, energy or money and see what you can do to support them when it comes to making a purchase.
On a crass note, I hope when all the smoke clears the folks who put on this wonderful show will have a little money in their jeans that can be applied to making next year's festival as good as this year's.
|2017 Press Releases|
|Waterfront Film volunteers make final preparation for Kick-off Event||June 15 2017|
|Film announced, tickets on sale for Waterfront Film Festival June 22 event||May 16 2017|
|Waterfront Film Festival announces new facility, summer Grand Opening||April 11 2017|
|2016 Press Releases|
|Waterfront Film Organization Awarded Grant for New Facility||March 17 2016|
|2013 Press Releases|
|Public invited to meet celebrities and talent scouts at Waterfront Film Festival networking event||June 7 2013|
|Waterfront announces lineup of premieres, award winners, audience favorites||June 4 2013|
|Waterfront Film Festival to open 2013 event with high-energy performers||May 30 2013|
|Waterfront Film Festival offers summer preview||May 16 2013|
|Waterfront Film Festival wins arts grant||April 11 2013|
|Oscar® Experience announces special guest||February 20 2013|
|Waterfront Film Festival hosts Oscar® Experience||January 29 2013|
|2011 Press Releases|
|Tickets on sale for 2012 Oscar Night® America party||December 12 2011|
|Waterfront Film Festival wins 'Arts Alive!'||October 28 2011|
|Waterfront Film Festival has something for everyone!||June 6 2011|
|Waterfront Film Festival to screen long list of premieres||June 3 2011|
|Rasta-rapper Shaggy to open Waterfront Film Festival||May 17 2011|
|Waterfront Film Festival receives state arts grant||May 11 2011|
|13th Annual Waterfront Film Festival passes on sale||April 21 2011|
|Biggest Night in Entertainment Comes to Grand Rapids||February 17 2011|
|West Michigan’s Official Oscar Night® America Celebrates Film and Performance at Red Carpet Affair||January 17 2011|
(269) 767-8765 / WATERFRONT FILM FESTIVAL, 479 COLUMBIA AVENUE,