The Muscogee County Film School was established in 1984 on a cheap patch of formerly fallow land about 20 minutes outside of Hopewell. It was the beneficiary of state largesse that Governor Blanchard hoped would create jobs and attract tourism, much like his support of Six Flag AutoWorld in Flint. And, like AutoWorld, it was a colossal fiasco.

For one, the MCFS was located very close to Southern Michigan University, which had a small film program under the auspices of its Department of Communications, as well as a small Theatre minor attached to Liberal Arts. Incensed that Blanchard’s money went to a new entity rather than SMU, and that his administration and trustees hadn’t been consulted, then-SMU president John Henry Brand refused to support the MCFS. Faculty and students were duly warned that associating with it would mean dismissal.

The MCFS was therefore forced to offer highly subsidized tuition to undercut SMU and attract students from the rural parts of Michigan as well as out of state. It was a money sink, but nevertheless managed to attract both students and teachers, graduating its first class in 1985. There were modest sets, editing suites, and state of the art equipment and film stock. Student entries successfully competed in the Ann Arbor Film Festival, and indie filmmaker J. H. Crofthume brought some notice to the school when he was shortlisted for an Oscar in a technical category.

But it soon began to fall apart thanks to a short film that was completed and screened in 1987: Kashish Is Everywhere. No copies are known to survive, but a newspaper clipping indicates that there was an outbreak of violent nausea and headaches when it was unspooled at a Hopewell grindhouse. The students whose names were on the film claimed to by mystified by the content, which they said they did not remember filming. The title–Urdu for “attractive”–was a mystery as well, as none of the students were from India or spoke Urdu.

Nevertheless, the phrase Kashish Is Everywhere soon began appearing throughout other films, in audio recordings, and even scrawled on chalkboards in the classrooms. MCFS teachers blamed it on an elaborate practical joke by students, or sabotage by a vindictive President Brand. Either way, the films in which the phrase appeared reportedly had the same nauseating and migraine-inducing effect on the students working on them, and even those who were unaffected were deeply unnerved.

Enrollment plummeted for the 1988 season, but despite half the number of students and half the teachers consequently on furlough, Kashish Is Everywhere continued to appear throughout every medium that the school made, taught, or used. Due to a lack of students and teachers, the 1989 season wound up being the last for the MCFS. The classes were suspended pending an infusion of cash from the state government, but with Governor Blanchard’s 1991 electoral defeat, the funds were not forthcoming. The school was quietly abandoned without a formal closure or sale.

Thanks to this abandonment as-is, the Muscogee County Film School became popular with urban explorers in the 2010s. But attempts by filmmakers to take advantage of the site have so far failed due to corrupted files on digital cameras, and explorers report that the school is overwhelmed with Kashish Is Everywhere graffiti.

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