Mickey Matson movie premiere in Grand Rapids


We had the privilege of being VIP guests of director Harold Cronk and Executive Producer Edgar Struble last Thursday during the premiere of the motion picture “Mickey Matson and the Copperhead Conspiracy.” The red carpet event was held at Celebration Cinema North in Grand Rapids. The movie was almost exclusively filmed in Mason and Manistee counties.

I remember sitting at Redolencia Coffee Shop in Ludington last spring when Cronk approached me and pitched his idea for the film. As an artist, he starts his ideas by drawing them out. He talked about the adventure of Mickey Matson and his friend Sully as they find clues that help them find pieces of a machine that will make silver out of anything. As with all great film, the movie has a nemesis, played by Dr. Rick Plummer, director of West Shore Community College’s cultural and performing arts. Rick is among other local actors who do an amazing job in the film.

The stars of the film are 15-year-old Derek Brandon from Middleville, Michigan and 14-year-old Francesca DeRosa of California. Judging from their outstanding acting in this film, these two kids have great futures ahead of them. The “big” names in the film were Christopher Lloyd and Ernie Hudson. Christopher Lloyd is best known as “Doc” from the “Back to the Future” trilogy. Ernie Hudson, a Benton Harbor native, is best known in his role in the “Ghostbusters” films.

I spent time on the filming locations in both Manistee and Ludington and also photographed the cast and crew when they visited Devos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids last week. This is a first class operation which reflects the values of western Michigan. It is a family friendly movie with great cinematography, a good story and top notch acting.

For more photos, check out Alway Photography’s Facebook page. To read more about the movie, check out www.MasonCountyPress.com and www.MickeyMatson.com.

The movie is now playing at all Celebration Cinema sites in Grand Rapids. Please check it out!

– rob


Jessica – Ludington High School Class of 2013; Senior Photographer

The school year is almost halfway done and we are happily still photographing Class of 2012 high school seniors. But, we also wanted to take advantage of the fall weather to hold our first modeling session. Jessica is a junior at Ludington High School and will be representing Alway Photography this year. As our student model she will serve as a liaison between her classmates and us.  We got some great pictures of her during a recent visit to downtown Muskegon.

Making movie magic, Mickey Matson; Manistee photography

As many of you are aware, I am not only a photographer but I am also a writer. Most of my stories are human interest stories that appear in the Ludington Daily News. They are typically stories of local people. I love these types of stories.

One of my very first interviews back in 1989 — when I was a stringer for the Daily News — was of Edgar Struble. Edgar is from Scottville and at that time he was Kenny Rogers’ music director. What I admired about Edgar then and now, is that he never forgot where he came from. During that time he owned several buildings in Scottville and Ludington and he returned frequently to visit his father. Even with his father gone, Edgar still returns to Mason County often. In California, where he now lives and works, he writes and produces music. Often, he will hire musicians who also have Mason County roots, including Luke Rangel (a producer) or drummer Brian Burwell. When he comes home in the summer, he puts on free concerts in Scottville and Ludington featuring several local musicians.

Another person who I admire is Harold David Cronk. Cronk grew up in Scottville and majored in art in college, earning an education certificate. But, the teaching gig wasn’t his thing. He wanted to create movies. So, he and his wife, Amy, moved out to California. After-all, that’s what you have to do if you want to make movies, right? Wrong. After several years there, the Cronks made their way back to Mason County and Dave and a business partner opened 10 West Studios in Manistee (reference to U.S. 10 highway that runs west to east through the heart of Mason County). It hasn’t been easy, but 10 West has produced a few films in this area and is committed to filming more.

The last few days I have had the privilege to observe, photograph and write about the filming of 10 West’s latest production, “Mickey Matson and the Copperhead Conspiracy.” This movie is being exclusively filmed in Mason and Manistee counties. Once again, Edgar has seen something in a “local boy” and has invested in the film, giving him the title of Executive Producer. A wise investment, indeed.

As a writer, I need a quiet, neutral place to sit and create. For me, that place is often Redolencia Coffee in Ludington. It is also one of Cronk’s creative outlets. This past spring he pitched the movie idea to me over a Diet Coke and latte (I had the latte, can’t stand Diet Coke). It is a great story. I won’t give too much away, but pretty much imagine “National Treasure” meets “The Goonies.”

The crew on the set, most whom are basically freelance or contracted, are saying this movie is going to be the big time for 10 West. I got to see a trailer today and I have to agree.

Good job guys! I can’t speak for everyone but I am proud of our Scottville boys.

– rob


undefined Above, shooting on Manistee Fifth Avenue beach. Below, Cronk, left, talks with Struble during filming in Manistee.


Manistee sunset

undefined I have to admit, my patience is wearing thin on the cold, rainy/snowy weather we are having in mid-April here in northwestern Michigan. In late March, I can accept it, but I am ready for 50- to 60-degree days. However, as a photographer I appreciate dramatic weather. Sunday’s high winds looked like there was a chance of some drama along Lake Michigan’s shoreline. So, I decided to head up to Manistee to check out what Lake Michigan was doing there. As sunset got closer, the clouds went away (photographers like clouds, they are our friends). I was with my friend/mentor Ron. We drove to First Street beach first and then to Fifth Avenue beach on the north side of Manistee. We almost didn’t get out of the car, because there was no drama. But, a few moments before sunset, we decided we’d give it a try anyway. I actually was pleased with the colors of this sunset which had the character of a summer sunset with a little wave action.