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Birmingham deli plays host to student film exhibition

July 17, 2012

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Local animator and CCS alumna Melissa “Mel” Miller has worked on films such as “Spy Kids 4” and “The Littlest Angel.” This cell she created, from the film “Caravan,” will be on display at the CCS showcase at Old Woodward Deli July 28.

BIRMINGHAM — Watch out Hollywood, Michigan’s making its mark on the movie map. At least that’s what they think over at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit.

CCS, along with The Stratton Foundation, will present a student and alumni showcase July 28 at the Old Woodward Deli in Birmingham. The restaurant will play host to CCS students past and present, along with samples of their impressive film and animation work. According to Doug Stratton, president of The Stratton Foundation, the event is meant to show people they can get a world-class arts education right their own backyard.

“It’s an opportunity to bring out into the public the art and artists from CCS’s entertainment arts program. We want to give the public the chance to see what’s here in Detroit for those who will work in the entertainment arts industry.”

The Stratton Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing scholarships and grants to exceptional students at CCS. William and Mary Stratton founded the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts in 1906, which later evolved into CCS. Mary Stratton also founded Detroit’s famed Pewabic Pottery.

The exhibit will feature live and animated films playing on a loop for guests to see, along with animation cells from students’ animated films. The cells, or individual drawings, are drawn by the thousands and are then composited to make the animations. Stratton said that animation artists are more desirable than ever before, with the popularity of animated films, as well as the booming video game industry.

“Gaming is just growing at an amazing rate. It’s a billion dollar industry that’s continuing to grow. Filmmakers are turning their content into gaming, and that requires animators.”

Michael Winn is one of the graduates of CCS’s entertainment arts program who has made a career as an animator. He’s the founder of the studio Alpha Omega Animation Design, which is currently working to complete a short film titled “The ARMSmasters Project.” He said that with the help of his training at CCS, he’s been able to make a place for himself in the state’s growing film industry.

“It’s such a rewarding career — the number of people you meet and the environment you’re immersed in. There’s definitely ups and downs, long hours and just work in general, but for those who are dedicated artists who want to leave their mark out there, who want to have their names in lights, per se, this can be something very fulfilling.”

The showcase will coincide with the Birmingham Principal Shopping District’s Day on the Town event, where merchants in the city’s downtown area will bring their wares outside for a massive sidewalk sale. Stratton said he hopes plenty of event visitors — and perhaps some high school students contemplating college — will stop into the deli to see the artwork, where they can talk with artists, as well as CCS faculty, about what it’s like to train and work in the entertainment arts.

“I think people that go in will enjoy looking at the art. It’s a topic of conversation, and it’s a source of pride to look at the output from people right here in Detroit. It’s a statement about the talent that’s in the area.”

The exhibition will be open 9 a.m.-9 p.m. at Old Woodward Deli, 768 N. Old Woodward in Birmingham. For more information, visit or

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