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Compass College Faculty Wraps Production on Grand Rapids' Latest Feature Film

Richard Karn walked through the doors to Compass College wearing a gray blazer, vest, button down shirt, cargo shorts and a pair of New Balance running shoes. It was his first day on the set of Grand Rapids' latest feature film, Carrie and Jess Save the Universe.

Most know him better as Al Borland, the beloved and unflinching sidekick to Tim the Tool-man Taylor on ABC's hit show Home Improvement.

Karn played the role of "Computer Face", which required him to be shot only from the waist up.

"It was delightful to see his professionalism, his ability to improvise--just his straightforward talent." said Phil Worfel, assistant director and faculty member at Compass College.

Karn was just one of many actors on the set of Carrie and Jess Save the Universe! Written and directed by Compass College's own Joshua Courtade, the film is a throwback to the science fiction comedy era of the 80's and early 90's.

carrie and jess girls
Samantha Berends (left) and Lydia Keen (right) as Carrie and Jess

Lead actresses Carrie and Jess are portrayed by Samantha Berends and Lydia Keen, respectively. Berends' first acting gig came from 2011's Dreamscape while is enjoying her first experience with the silver screen.

"I want so badly for my niece to love this movie, "Courtade said. "She's 13 and a huge nerd like her uncle, and she has a great sense of humor. I want her to have the same sort of experience watching this movie that I had growing up watching Bill and Ted and Back to the Future and those kinds of films.

The movie was filmed entirely in Grand Rapids, with the majority of scenes shot in the sound stage at Compass College.

GR at night
Grand Rapids Michigan skyline along the banks of the Grand river. Photo by Cory Smith

Grand Rapids, MI continues to be a popular city for filmmakers, with notable entries such as Why Him, 30 Minutes or Less and The End of the Tour filming here in the last 10 years.

Courtade is hoping for an early 2022 premiere at Celebration Cinema, then it is off to find a distributor.

"We're going to do festivals with the film. The goal is to try and find a small independent distributor that is interested in genre films, science fiction comedy, nostalgia, that kind of stuff." Courtade said.

The crew for Carrie and Jess Save the Universe! features Compass alumni, faculty, and current students.

Joshua Courtade - Writer/Director/Faculty
Whitney Hemmes - Line Producer/Alumni
Nathan Hyde - Cinematographer/Alumni
Gavin Johnson - Second Assistant Director/Student
Jacob TInnin - Second Assistant Director/Alumni
Phil Worfel - First Assistant Director/Faculty
Shelby Ayers - Set Dresser/Alumni
Julie Dugger - Set Dresser/Alumni
Derek Smith - Art Department Production Assistant/Student
Andrew Ramaker - Sound Mixer/Alumni
McKena Boos - First Assistant Camera/Alumni

ABC affiliate WZZM 13 recently posted an article on the feature film. Check out the full story here.

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