Alpena videographer shares his dream on screen

ALPENA — Alpena resident Zach Irving started Irving Entertainment in 2009 and has used his experience to launch Michigan Micro Adventures and Michigan Basement Tapes. Irving has experience in producing, videographics, directing, editing, and drone operating.

Irving, 24, knew he wanted to go into film so he attended Tribeca Flashpoint Media Arts Academy in Chicago where he learned cinematography. Irving moved back home and made timelapse videos and wrote scripts to short films to start his career. His career officially started when he was contacted by Mary Ellen Jones, a producer from Los Angeles who is now a resident of Harrisville.

“She saw my videos and found me and I then got contracted to do a video package for the US-23 Heritage Route and the (Besser Museum for Northeast Michigan) with her,” Irving said. “It was a grant-funded package that created this idea of finding our heritage through the heritage of Native Americans that used to live here.”

In May 2017, Irving reached out to Alpena Area Convention and Visitors Bureau President and CEO Mary Beth Stutzman and asked to create a package of shows about the City of Alpena.

“I made a budget and what the videos should be about and Mary Beth helped me write a grant and we got the grant,” he said. “The grant was $4,000 for four episodes and we started Michigan Micro Adventures.”

Filming for MMA started in June and went until November. Irving then edited the videos from November to January. MMA is four episodes that highlight local hidden gems and give people a step-to-step tour on what they can find and how they can go on the adventure.

“I got over 15 local people to help work on these films,” Irving said. “I found two other videographers, Oliver Van Asshe and Jack MacDonald, to come help and work on set.”

Irving said the mission of MMA is to promote the thought of people going on their own adventure and the adventures start with just stepping outside. He is working toward the second volume of videos and looking at grants and sponsors from local businesses so he can update equipment and pay people who help on his set.

“I want to start creating an industry of multimedia, music, and film, and focus on the people who thrive in the area and show that if they want to do their work towards what they want then they can build it,” Irving said. “I would love to see MMA be picked up by Pure Michigan or go onto PBS as a Destination Michigan kind of show and show these hidden gems that so many people enjoy.”

Michigan Basement Tapes is another set of videos Irving launched. MBT is videos of local musicians or artists playing their original work at a local business or area around Alpena and Irving so far has completed eight videos of musicians and artists.

“It started out as a podcast and it was my friends and I was just hanging out playing music,” he said. “After a while, I wanted to highlight what inspires me the most, which is the people of Alpena and also work on my craft.”

A big thing that Irving feels about film that is important is the audio and the music, so MBT gives him the practice so he can learn about recording people the right way and how to produce the right away.

“It just went off and people are coming to me now,” Irving said. “I have had people helping me to make this bigger.”

To give his videos another perspective, Irving has used drones to help him with shots. He works with Nick Stephan, owner of Aerial Alpena, and Stephan helps with the drone operation on the sets of Irving’s videos.

“He worked with me on MMA where he was the drone pilot,” Irving said. “He flew his drone and I flew my drone so some of the shots are his and some are mine.”

Irving said flying drone gives people a birds eye view of the area that no one ever sees, especially in rural areas like Alpena.

“Drones give people drone aerial footage of the area and people are amazed of what this area is,” he said. “It also gives them this recognition of where they’re at.”

Irving said one thing he wants to do with his productions is mentor younger people in Alpena who want to learn about film, producing, and editing, but feel secluded from the outside world.

“We have all the technology, and technology is becoming cheaper as we go where we can make a movie off our phone and we can figure out how to have these options that we felt that we were deprived of,” he said. “I want to go to Alpena Community College and see if they will do an internship program where you can get credit for working on set and I’ll teach them about working on set and the film industry.”

Besides ACC, Irving would love to take MMA into high schools and do assemblies and talk to people at the high schools.

Irving said through his films, he wants to promote the area and from his videos, he wants people to go out and highlight the area and the people who influence them.

“The long-term goal is that I want to make features,” he said. “I want to have my own production company where we can make features. With the world of technology and where technology is going, we need to start capitalizing on it now.”

Julie Goldberg can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5688.