Keeping alumni and friends connected to U-M

Alumni’s filmmaking startup showcases Michigan businesses

By Erika Nestor
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It begins at home

The three U-M grads behind an Ann Arbor filmmaking collective have launched their careers by capturing the stories of local and regional Michigan-based clients.

The success of Snowday, a new filmmaking company based in Ann Arbor, illustrates the ways in which a growing local economy can motivate U-M grads to invest their talent in the state of Michigan.

The three founders of Snowday met as first-year students in a U-M film production class. They all graduated in 2013; founder  Josh Buoy holds a degree in organizational studies;  co-founders Roddy Hyduk and Chris Duncan hold degrees in screen arts and cultures.

Although Snowday only officially started Sept. 15, 2014, the Ann Arbor-based production company already has a number of films and clients under its belt. Creative content showcases the most powerful stories of its Michigan-based clients.

“It’s important to get the word out for companies that are local and growing,” Hyduk says.

Inspiration

Snowday’s portfolio of work includes a commercial film clip for Trerice, a Detroit-based pressure gauge and temperature instrumentation manufacturer founded in 1923.

The founders of Snowday say that client work is their most meaningful motivation.

“I don’t think that we take on client work as something separate from a personal project,” Duncan says. “We invest our personal energy because we wanted to be invested in the stories that we’re telling for others.”

When the rough cut of the Trerice commercial was finished in late 2014, Snowday brought a Trerice employee in to screen it. The employee “teared up a little bit,” Buoy says. “She said ‘this is the company that I’ve been part of for 30 years.’ It’s cool to see our work resonate with the people that it’s for; we want an authentic approach.”

From Filmic to Snowday

Buoy says their U-M background provided an ideal atmosphere for experimentation and growth as student filmmakers, in and out of the classroom. “As students, we realized that we wanted to do more video work and gain experience outside of the classroom and we loved working together,” Buoy says.

In their sophomore year at U-M, Buoy, Hyduk, and Duncan founded Filmic, a student film production organization. Filmic has produced more than 20 short videos as commercial creative branding for U-M, including “The Letter M,” an admissions film for the University of Michigan’s Class of 2017.

Despite their success as Filmic in branding for U-M, the trio had no set plans to continue working together after graduation. After spending a year at other career opportunities across the country, the three decided to reunite in Michigan and found Snowday to see what they could accomplish together. Their first project as a company was for their alma mater: the official introduction video for President Mark Schlissel.

One of Snowday’s current projects, a new video for the Alumni Association, features dozens of U-M alumni across the country, demonstrating the wide reach of the U-M alumni experience. Buoy, Duncan and Hyduk are excited to produce a piece that reflects their experience as Michigan alumni, just as they used to produce videos with Filmic reflecting their experience as Michigan students.

The whole ecosystem

Snowday’s choice of southeastern Michigan as a home base has been instrumental in their success. Snowday’s current projects include a documentary-style film for SISU, a high-tech mouthguard company based in Saline, Michigan. The filmmakers are focusing on getting local athletes involved in the video.

“On the micro level, it’s cool to see that some of the companies we work with are Ann Arbor start-ups, and we’re an Ann Arbor start-up too. It’s great to be connecting to that community, the whole ecosystem,” Buoy says.

Two out of the three founders of Snowday are Michigan natives, and all three emphasize the importance of investing in the state.

“Southeastern Michigan is a great place to be standing out and forging relationships with players in the space,” Hyduk says.

Buoy adds that the Detroit-area economy has a palpable energy.

“It’s a city on the rise, with so many opportunities growing. It’s exciting to be part of that movement, that community.”

Erika Nestor

ERIKA NESTOR is an undergraduate student in U-M's College of Literature, Science & the Arts. She is studying English and history, and is an intern at the University Record.

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