Andy Gilbert ('04) and Mikel Wisler ('04)

As a philosophy student turned filmmaker, Mikel Wisler (’04) likes to think deeply about life. Perhaps that’s why his films focus more on the gritty nature of humanity than glossed- over ideals. As a freelance writer-director for Runaway Pen Productions, a company he started with friend and fellow Bethel alumnus Andy Gilbert (’04), he produces independent films designed to make people ponder.

“Filmmaking is a great place to ask questions,” he says.

Wisler learned a lot about asking questions during his time at Bethel through philosophy professor and mentor Chad Meister, Ph.D.

“I’ve always been curious about life and understanding other people’s perspectives,” he says. “At Bethel I developed a critical mind and learned to dig deeper.”

His college experience laid the foundation for the way he approaches filmmaking. In his films, rather than telling the audience what to think and pushing agendas, he prefers to portray real-life situations that will cause audience members to think for themselves.

“Filmmaking asks: What  is ethical? What is right? What is beautiful?” Wisler says.

In 2003 Wisler spent a semester at the Los Angeles Film Studies Center in Los Angeles, Calif., and really fell in love with film. He roomed with Gilbert, and the two spent a great deal of time writing together and collaborating ideas for projects. Now, more than six years later, they are producing films together as a profession.

When looking for projects to pursue, Wisler gravitates toward compelling stories that evoke strong emotion. This past

(Top Row, L-R) Stacy Bone ('04), Mikel Wisler ('04), Andy Gilbert ('04), Chester Shepherd ('11), Ryan Yoder ('09), Lisa Staples and Erin Bryant ('04); (Bottom Row, L-R) Dan Kirkman ('06), Zach Gibson ('09) and Sarah Bussard ('04)

summer, he served as the producer and cinematographer for “Evaluating Kaitly,” a short film he and Gilbert wrote together and Gilbert directed. The film, starring Bethel Production Manager and Adjunct Faculty Lisa Staples, focuses on one woman’s struggle with cancer and the child who gives her hope.

Though Runaway Pen Productions is currently producing small, self-bankrolled independent films, Wisler’s hope is to one day make a full-length feature film.

“We have a full-length script. We just need to find investors,” Wisler says.

Through entering the independent films into film festivals and sparking interest in investors, Wisler hopes to produce more films that, true to the craft, make people ponder.