How To Make The Most of An Indie Film & Music Festival on Historic Hell’s Half Mile

Today, guest blogger Blair Giesken gives us some tips for making the most of Hell’s Half Mile Film & Music Festival happening in Bay City September 25-29, 2014! 

The name “Hell’s Half Mile” started in the late 1800’s when a stretch of Bay City’s riverfront was peppered with rowdy saloons and seedy hotels where loggers and shipmen would go to “blow off a little steam.”  Then, locals came to call it Hell’s Half Mile.  Today, they call it home to one of the most collaborative and inspiring film and music festivals around.

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Photo courtesy of Go Great Lakes Bay

As a writer and director of 4 films showcased over 2 years at Hell’s Half Mile Film & Music Festival, Rider Strong (yes, 80’s babies— we’re talking former Boy Meets World actor Rider Strong), sees the irony in it all.  “’Hell’s Half Mile was the strip of waterfront where lumberjacks used to go boozing… Now, a bunch of us from Hollywood go there for a film festival. Not much has changed.”’

Jokes aside, Hell’s Half Mile does more than satisfy those who live for great independent films and music.  It’s a movement.  A grassroots effort to grow and celebrate a community that hasn’t lost (and will never lose) its love for the arts.  And in its 9-year history, HHM has been bringing independent filmmakers, actors, and musicians from across the country to experience how truly alive with the arts the Great Lakes Bay Region is.

If you love independent film and music even half as much as the artists, directors, actors, and musicians who attend Hell’s Half Mile Film and Music Festival each year, you’ll want to plan ahead so you can soak up the total experience when it returns to Bay City, September 25-28.

Here are a few tips for taking in all the great film & music that spans this all-out 4-day festival:

Don’t just sit there!

Photo courtesy of Go Great Lakes Bay

Photo courtesy of Go Great Lakes Bay

HHM isn’t about plopping down mindlessly in a seat to watch a movie or squishing into seat number 2,001 at a sold-out arena concert.  If you’re looking for that type of passive experience, this isn’t your jam.  It’s about connecting people to true, raw independent film and music.  Connecting musicians to filmmakers, filmmakers to festival-goers, filmmakers to film students, and so much more.   Our suggestion?  Get involved.  HHM makes it easy for you to sit in on panel discussions from the film directors and actors themselves, attend workshops to learn more about the art of filmmaking from the pros, or mingle with the musicians you came to see firsthand.  You can even volunteer at the festival to get behind-the-scenes access (and in some cases, entry into the opening night party & premiere film!)

Get Your Bearings

While HHM Film & Music Festival takes place primarily along… you guessed it… Hell’s Half Mile… there are other venues and festival hotspots you’ll want to explore between films and performances.  Check out HHM’s festival venues & hotspots map ahead of time so you know how to hop from venue to venue (and where to stop for a cold brew or a bite to eat along the way!).  And be sure to pay special attention to the list of restaurants, bars, and coffee shops on the list of festival hotspots – many of them host special dinners and live music performances during the festival to round out the total Hell’s Half Mile experience.

Do Your Homework

Photo courtesy of Go Great Lakes Bay

Photo courtesy of Go Great Lakes Bay

Hell’s Half Mile Film & Music Festival is a totally hands-on, involved experience for independent film & music lovers.  So if this is your first time attending, you might want to get in the spirit of the festival by revisiting some past classics.  Get your hands on films from past years of the festival, or download a few tracks of some musicians who have graced the Hell’s Half Mile Stage.  Though the lineup changes each year, it’ll give you a feel for the types of film and music that flood Hell’s Half Mile during the 4-day celebration (and will get you familiarized with many of the writers, directors, and actors who are repeat visitors to HHM).

Don’t View & Run

With so many great films and performances packed into just a few short days (this year, September 25th-28th), you’re not going to want to miss a minute.  So find a place to cozy up, and do it well in advance.  Hell’s Half Mile has put together a list of hotels near the film and music venues, or you can book your stay directly at the new GoGreat.com.

Blogger- Blair GieskenBlair Giesken is the Founder & Creative Director of Brandscape, a boutique branding and marketing firm based in Grand Rapids.  She was born and raised in the Great Lakes Bay Region, and loves to come back often to visit family, friends, and the place that will always still feel like home.

Behind the Scenes Shots from the Pure Michigan 400 2014

It was a great weekend for a race at Michigan International Speedway! With the excitement of the Pure Michigan 400 just behind us, we wanted to share some of our favorite behind the scenes shots from the race. For more on the Pure Michigan 400 2014, visit the Pure Michigan Facebook page.

See fans enjoying race day and catch more racing action in the videos below!

Were you at the Pure Michigan 400 this past weekend? 

Pure Michigan September 2014 Events Roundup

September will soon be upon us, and with it, the sights, sounds and smells of fall. From great events like Grand Rapid’s ArtPrize to the ever popular Grand Haven Salmon Festival, there is something for everyone to enjoy in the month of September. 

Below is a roundup of some of the many events going on around the state in September. Visit michigan.org for a complete listing of Michigan events.

Week of September 1-7

Arts, Beats & Eats
August 29-September 1, Royal OakArtsBeatsandEats
Oakland County’s premier entertainment festival which draws nearly 400,000 people to experience more than 200 juried art exhibitors, 50 restaurants and 200 performances on 10 stages downtown Royal Oak. 5K/10K and Zumbathon events on the morning of August 30 presented by Priority Health.  Admission fee for festival and events..

Labor Day Mackinac Bridge Walk
September 1, Saint Ignace
Join thousands of walkers and make the 5-mile trek across the Mighty Mackinac Bridge! Walkers can begin walking at 7am and can start up until 11am. The annual trek across the 5-mile long Mackinac Bridge occurs on Labor Day, the only day of the year pedestrians are allowed on the bridge. Walkers begin in St. Ignace at the north end of the Bridge and walk south. The walk is one-way, and bus transportation is available to return you to St. Ignace until 2:30pm. You can also park your vehicle in the parking lot of the Little Bear East Arena and be shuttled to and from the start line for the bridge walk. For additional information, visit the website link.

Hispanic Festival
September 5-6, Grand Rapids
Join the celebration of the Hispanic cultures with continuous entertainment for all ages, delicious food from many regions, beverage tent, a mercado featuring traditional and artisan wares, a 3v3 Futsal tournament (Saturday), and children’s crafts and activities.

The Super Run
September 6, Ann Arbor
The Super Run is a super hero themed family friendly fun run coming to Ann Arbor! There will be activities, giveaways, and lots of fun! Each participant receives Super Hero Swag with their registration including a Super Run cape, Super Run silicone bracelet and temporary tattoo.

Selfridge Air Show
September 6-7, Harrison Township Blue Angels
The highest-flying free show in the Motor City returns to the skies of Macomb County this September. The U.S. Navy Blue Angels, led by Clinton Township native Commander Tom Frosch, will headline the 2014 Selfridge open house and Air Show at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Michigan, Saturday and Sunday, September 6-7. The show will feature a wide assortment of military aircraft and equipment displays, along with a number of civilian acrobatic aerial performances. Admission to the show on the military base is free and the parking is free.

Week of September 8-14

Motown Summer Cruise
September 10, Detroit
Savor the sweet sounds of Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross & The Supremes, The Jackson 5, The Temptations, The Four Tops, and Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, here in the city where it all happened! Dance the night away while enjoying classic cuisine and cocktails as we cruise between the Detroit and Windsor skylines. Join our crew this summer for an absolutely unique Detroit experience. Event will be featuring the KGB Motown Review.

Beerfest at the Ballpark
September 12, Lansing
The fall festival will be held on Jackson Field at Thomas M Cooley Law School Stadium under the stadium lights. Attendees will have the opportunity to taste more than 250 craft beers, ciders, and meads from over 50 Michigan breweries all while enjoying the ballpark’s atmosphere. The festival will feature live music. Tickets are $30 in advance and $35 at the door and include entry, a logoed tasting glass, and 10 tasting tickets. Special VIP Tickets may be purchased for $40 in advance and include early entry to the festival at 5pm, a logoed tasting glass, and 15 tasting tickets. Additional tasting tickets will be available for purchase on the day of the event. A $10 designated driver ticket may also be purchased.

Grand Haven Salmon Festivalsalmonfestival
September 12-14, Grand Haven
The 11th Annual Grand Haven Salmon Festival features live jazz music; Michigan tasting pavilion (ID required for wine/beer tasting) featuring Michigan’s top wineries and grape stomping; gourmet salmon cook-off contest; fall harvest beer & entertainment pavilion; downtown merchant market; fine art fair on the waterfront; Big King Salmon fishing contest with weigh-in/awards ceremony; mouth-watering food and beverage treats at the Fresh Catch Fish Boil; Grand Haven historic displays through the Tri-Cities Museum; hands-on children’s nature-themed arts & crafts activities; and educational, environment-focused exhibits, displays, workshops—and more!

Dirty Dash
September 13, Mount Morris
The Dirty dash is a mud-run obstacle course where a military boot-camp meets your inner five-year-old’s fantasy and subsequently converts boy to man and then man to swine. You’ll need endurance to trudge up mountains of sludge, courage to overcome uncompromising obstacles, a complete lack of shame to wallow in pits of mud, and a smile to show through at the end! Go solo or with some of your dirtiest, filthiest, and uncouth friends.

Harbor Springs Fall Cycling Classic
September 13, Harbor Springs
For over 20 years this ride has been a favorite of cyclists from all over the state. The semiannual tour, held in spring and fall, has three distance routes to choose from (20 miles, 44 miles, or 60 miles), great refreshment stops, and a great lunch at the finish. Registration and admission fee required. Weekend lodging packages are available.

Week of September 15-21

Frankenmuth Oktoberfest 2014
September 18-21, Frankenmuth
Head to Frankenmuth for the annual Oktoberfest celebration! A fun and memorable German festival with a large wooden dance floor for dancing and demonstrations. Great food, drinks, and souvenirs. Located in the Harvey Kern Pavilion in Heritage Park.

Toyota Bassmaster Elite Series Angler of the Year Championship
September 18-21, Escanaba
The culmination of the Bassmaster Elite Series season, this tournament will determine the 2014 Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year. Surrounded by a full slate of fan activities, from daily takeoffs and weigh-ins to Bassmaster Elite Series Expo.

Old Town BluesFest
September 19-20, Lansing
The Old Town BluesFest is a two-day free music festival that brings national, regional, and local acts to an audience of roughly 7,000 people from across Michigan and nearby states. The Old Town BluesFest takes place in the streets of Old Town Lansing, at the intersection of Turner St. and E. Grand River Avenue. Lansing Metro Marinas will be giving half-hour tours of the Grand River on Friday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Porcupine Mountains Trail Run – Half Marathon & 5K
September 20, Silver City
The Porcupine Mountains are one of the largest tracts of wilderness east of the Mississippi River. The Porcupine Mountains overlook Lake Superior, the largest fresh water lake on Earth. The coastline is remote and rugged. The marathon course includes some of the most remarkable single track in the idwest and takes runners past tranquil and remote Mirror Lake and along the classic Escarpment Trail where you can almost reach out and touch soaring hawks as you overlook Lake of the Clouds. This event completes a trio of deeply inspiring trail marathon hosted by Great Lakes Endurance (Waugoshance, Grand Island, and Porcupine Mountains) offering runners the best of what Michigan and the Upper Great Lakes have to offer.

Civil War Muster
September 20-21, Holland
Make your way to Holland to remember the Civil War through a weekend re-enactment including professional re-enactors making camp and recreating battles.  This year’s all-new free admission event features two days worth of music, impressions of historical figures, performances, medical scenarios, period-style vendors, and (of course) battle. Event held at Van Raalte Farm.

Week of September 22-28

ArtPrize 2014
September 24-October 12, Grand RapidsArtPrize4
ArtPrize is the world’s largest international art competition open to any artist and decided by public vote. Take 11 days to explore over 4500 artists at 515 venues in Grand Rapids and vote for the entries you think should win.

DlectriCITY
September 26-27, Detroit
Detroit’s newest nighttime festival of art + light, returns this fall to present 35 local, national and international artists whose cutting edge works of art, lighting design and performance will illuminate the historic architecture of Midtown. For two electrifying evenings, Midtown Detroit will be enveloped in a sea of light as a number of artists converge on Detroit to “light up” buildings and city spaces in Midtown using various mediums that meld sci-fi technology with Victorian spectacle on a grand scale.

South Lyon Area Pumpkinfest
Pumpkinfest
September 26-28, South Lyon 
This year South Lyon’s much anticipated community event celebrates its 30th anniversary. Over the years, the event grew from a craft and antique show to a weekend-long celebration of crafts, music, community, and of course, everyone’s favorite fall product; the pumpkin.

Color Vibe 5K
September 27, Mount Morris
Get ready Flint for the most colorful fun-filled day of your life! You’ll have more color on you than your happy levels can handle! So get your friends and family stretched for this amazing color blast event where you’ll get blasted with color while you run the Color Vibe 5K. Color Vibe is here, and you’re about to get tagged! You’ll be blasted at every color station throughout this awesome 5k run.

Mighty Mac Bridge Race
September 27, Saint Ignace
The Mighty Mac Bridge Race is a certified 11 kilometer course that begins in Mackinaw City, crosses the Mackinac Bridge, winds through downtown St. Ignace, and ends at the Star Line Railroad Dock parking lot. Free busing from Star Line Railroad Dock to race start in Mackinaw City. The $40 entry fee includes Samuel Adams party and SWAG noon until 6pm, medals and division trophies, “Time to the Top” photo on bridge, free busing and local shuttle, long sleeve running shirt, Kewadin Casino package, and chipped bib timing.

Which events do you plan to check out in September?