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Filmmaker signs distribution deal

A film shot and produced in Grand Rapids is now available to global audiences.

Compass College of Cinematic Arts in downtown Grand Rapids said this month one of its film professors, Joshua Courtade, signed a distribution deal with Nandar Entertainment.

The school said the deal has led to Courtrade's film “Alone in the Universe” being available for streaming purchase or rental at Amazon Prime Video and Nadar's platform, as well as in DVD form at Nandar’s website

“Alone in the Universe” is a romantic comedy about a charismatic, commitment-phobic young woman, who meets a socially awkward web cartoonist, and the pair must “overcome deep personal wounds” to be together.

Written, produced and directed by Courtade, the film stars Courtade, Dana Blackstone, Kaitlyn Squires, Evan Koons, Robert William Ford, Jennifer Jelsema and Michael Gordon.

“This is a dream come true,” Courtade said of the distribution deal. “‘Alone in the Universe’ played at Celebration! Cinema Woodland in 2015 and in film festivals, but having a distributor is huge.

“The process has been stressful, terrifying and wonderful — sometimes all at once. I’ve licensed my projects non-exclusively to distributors, and I’ve done self-distribution through film festivals and Vimeo on Demand, but to have a film acquired exclusively (for distribution) is brand-new for me.”

Courtade credits family, friends and colleagues, as well as the film’s cast and crew for the film’s success. 

“No one works in a vacuum, and this is their success as much as it is mine,” Courtade said.

Compass College

Established in 1997, Compass College of Cinematic Arts is dedicated to teaching the art of film, acting and multi-media production.

Classes are set in a working studio environment, where students learn from both faculty and extensive on-set experiences. Students have the opportunity to build connections with Hollywood advisors, while learning digital production techniques for a growing industry. 

(Story courtesy of Grand Rapids Business Journal, Feb. 21, 2017, written by Rachel Watson)

Students and Alumni Relish Working with Big-Name Film Director, Vocalist

Compass College of Cinematic Arts, a film college in Grand Rapids, recently collaborated with internationally recognized film director Harold Cronk to create "Never Been a Moment," a music video for vocalist Micah Tyler, of Texas. 

Tyler was named the Gospel Music Association's Male Vocalist of the Year in 2013.

Cronk's credits include the movie "God's Not Dead" and "God's Not Dead 2".

Brandon Patterson is a Hudsonville High School graduate, Compass College student and Hudsonville resident who served as the first assistant director for the project. 

"This was a remarkable opportunity for Brandon to work closely with a director whose films have grossed millions of dollars," said public relations spokesperson Jessie Hollett.

Patterson helped form a group in Hudsonville which last spring teamed with area businesses and churches to collect more than 400 cases and 100 gallon jugs of water for families in Flint, where public water had been contaminated with lead.

Kevin Sytsma, a 2013 Compass College alumnus from Hudsonville, served as a camera operator on set. 

"It was great to see the Compass community come together with working professionals to create something really beautiful," Sytsma said of the project. "I usually don't get to see projects I've worked on, but it was a delight to see this."

The music video has been public exclusively on since Monday, Dec. 5, and was live on on Dec. 9.

(Story courtesy of Mlive, posted December 16, 2016 and written by Cathy Runyon)

Film and Acting Summer Camps at Compass College

(June 10, 2016) – This June Compass College of Cinematic Arts will open its campus for an action-packed week of filmmaking and acting summer camps.  These fast-paced, hands-on camps give high school students a glimpse into the real world of multimedia production.

film and acting summer camps for High School students in Grand Rapids MichiganBoth camps run June 20-24, and registration is open to teens ages 13-18.  In the film camp, students work with industry professionals and state-of-the art film equipment to write, direct, and edit their own short films.  Meanwhile, students in the acting camp are cast in these films, and spend the week refining their on-camera acting skills.  At the end of the week, the films are screened for friends and family in the theatre at Compass College.

“Film camp was a great first look at the industry,” said John LeFan, former film camper and 2013 Compass College alumnus.  “It’s a great starter program to get your feet wet.  I was immediately hooked.”

The camps are designed for students with little to no film and acting experience. The instructors at Compass College work to make the process fun and as similar to a real-life production set as possible.

“It’s a great opportunity,” said Joshua Courtade, film camp instructor and award-winning screenwriter, “The film students get to collaborate with the acting students and the results are some very fun short films.”

Over the years, campers have had the opportunity to Skype with Hollywood actors and producers like Beau Wirick, Mark Clayman, and Ralph Winter who have worked on the sets of shows like NCIS, The Office, and Arrested Development, and produced feature films like, Pursuit of Happyness, X-Men, and X-Men Origins.

Space in the camps is limited so early registration is recommended.  For more information, call Compass College at 616-988-1000, or visit online at

Compass Students Uncover A Big League Story… 70 Years In The Waiting

  CHICAGO, IL -- There's nothing like the thrill of a big league ball game to make a grown man feel young again.

Tony Gianunzio, a 92-year-old World War II veteran and Kalamazoo resident, said throwing the ceremonial first pitch Sunday at Wrigley Field took him back to 1942 when he was a 19-year-old, up-and-coming pitcher, being recruited by the Chicago Cubs.

"I thought it would just be an echo of the excitement of 1942, but it was like a roar. It went so far beyond what I could have imagined," Gianunzio said.

Gianunzio was set to have a tryout with the Chicago Cubs when the the draft age was lowered to 19, and he was called upon to serve in World War II. After several years as Coast Guard gunner's mate on the USS Machias, his opportunity to play pro ball slipped away.

But more than 70 years later, Gianunzio got the chance to live out his dream.

Wearing a Chicago Cubs cap, he threw from just in front of the rubber of the mound and tossed the ball over the plate on a single bounce, Gianunzio said.

"When I took the mound, I felt like I owned the place. I used the same form that I used to. I threw it, and it took one bounce. ..." Gianunzio said. "If I had a few more practice sessions, I think I could have made it without a bounce."

He said the crowd roared after the pitch.

"I had a rapport with that crowd like nobody's business," Gianunzio said. He got onto the field again in the fourth inning for a special salute.

Gianunzio met many of the Cubs players and shook "hundreds" of fans' hands.

"They couldn't believe I look so young and move so young," he said. "It gave them a joyful shot in the arm. They realized it's possible to grow old and still be young."

The opportunity came about after students from Compass College of Cinematic Arts in Grand Rapids contacted the Cubs organization about Gianunzio, whom they are profiling in a documentary film about World War II veterans. When the Cubs confirmed the details, they invited him to throw out the first pitch.

The film crew was at Wrigley to document the experience for the documentary. The cameras caught an exchange between Gianunzio and a young boy during the game.

"Don't stop playing baseball," Gianunzio told him.

(Story Courtesy of MLive 6-1-15 by: Aaron Mueller)