While businesses were closing during the pandemic, Paige Irene Bruns was opening her own.
She is the founder of Affinity Insight Pictures, a West Michigan-based film production company. She opened her company in May 2020 after graduating from Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida, during the heart of the pandemic.
Bruns has since created and directed projects including “Fent,” a drama series; “That Ain’t No Joke,” a documentary; “Anchor,” a short film; and “Void,” a short film.
Since establishing her company and releasing several projects, she has garnered numerous awards and her work has been featured at festivals including Sunset Grove Film Festival, Indie Short Fest, Dumbo Film Festival, Cannes International Independent Film Festival and San Francisco International New Concept Film Festival.
Bruns’ success as a director and screenwriter almost didn’t happen, however. She always knew she had a passion for entertainment, but she realized she wasn’t going to find success in acting after performing numerous auditions in Michigan and Chicago.
“For a while, I was completely focused on a different side of the industry,” she said. “I was intrigued by acting. I chased that for a few years but as I started going through the process of doing auditions, I very quickly realized that I was not cut out to be an actor.
“Being in a room full of people or on a set where their eyes are on me at all times is something that I was never going to get comfortable with, so I decided to take a step back from pursuing it professionally. I was still very heavily involved in my high school theater program because I was very passionate about acting, just not in high-pressure situations.”
Once Bruns got the opportunity to direct a high school play, she never looked back. Before her senior year of high school, she transferred to Interlochen Arts Academy. There she was taking film and storytelling-based classes.
After graduating from high school and Ringling College of Art and Design in 2022, Bruns said her plan was to go to Los Angeles immediately and work her way up in the entertainment industry. The pandemic forced her to revamp her plan, however.
She moved back home and found a way to use her talent and passion to make an impact in West Michigan.
“We really don’t have a lot of film or TV around here, so people are really interested in the process,” she said. “They’re eager to learn how it works. I wasn’t sure when I started if there was really a market here or not, but as I’ve gone through the process, I see that there is. I think it’s important to bring that. We have a lot of art in West Michigan, in general, but we don’t have film and TV, so I think it is an important thing to add to what we have going on.”
Bruns is currently working on a multi-season drama series called “Sent,” which she said is about the opioid crisis and how it trickles down and infiltrates small towns in America. The series is being filmed in Whitehall where she grew up and it is expected to debut this year.