Sundance Film Festival

January 17, 2012 by staff 

Sundance Film FestivalSundance Film Festival, The Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah is an American institution that each winter draws filmmakers and movie fans from all over the world and this year a local firm has earned the chance to show a short film it produced.

Sleeping Bear Films of Bloomfield Hills will show the film “Henley,” which was one of 32 American-made short features selected to appear at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

Nancy Johnston, one of Sleeping Bear’s principals, said during a recent interview it was quite an honor for Sleeping Bear to have “Henley” selected to appear at Sundance. Overall, The Sundance Festival organizers received 7,675 short films from around the world and fewer than 2 percent will make it on the screens in Park City.

“It’s very exclusive list. This is very exciting,” she said, adding she plans to attend the festival, which opens this week, with friends and family.

Moreover, the 11½ film has already won the top award in its category at Clint Eastwood’s Carmel Film Festival last fall.

Phil Foster, Sleeping Bear’s co-founder and co-executive producer with Johnston of “Henley,” said he first started fooling around with the idea of producing independent films nearly 10 years ago. Finally, he decided if he was actually going to produce he needed his own company, said Foster, who also is a creative director at the Campbell Ewald advertising agency in Warren.

“I’ve been pursuing film since 2004 as a side business. We realized at some point in 2009 we need to figure out how to make a business out of it,” Foster said. At this point, he had reached out to Johnston, whom he had known since his school days at Bishop Gallagher High School in Harper Woods.

Johnston also had worked at Campbell Ewald and had spent a decade in England where she worked in film before moving back to the Detroit area with her family. “I knew I wanted Nancy involved,” Foster said.

After organizing Sleeping Bear, Johnston and Foster said one of the first things they did was begin looking for a project for their new firm. One of the people they reached out to was Craig Macneill, a New York filmmaker who was also embarking on a project that would eventually Henley.

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