“Stars Wars” Cinderellas aside, digital cinema remains the bastard redheaded stepchild of the film world. Even champions of local student cinema like Reel Loud have a no-pixels rule that excludes some scrappy and creative contenders. Luckily, there is an alternative.
Today’s Digital Video Festival at 7 p.m. in I.V. Theater will showcase 13 shorts brought to you by the Digital Video Association of UCSB, a two-year-old student group short on everything except a name and know-how. Today’s featured shorts go heavy on animation and humor while keeping mindful of the digital generation’s non-existent attention span; none are longer than 20 minutes.
DVA Vice President Mike Plescia turns his “All Before Six” short into a franchise with a brand new sequel, “All After Six.” He-Man, She-Ra and other action figures reprise their roles in Plescia’s action adventure parody, which relied on computers to paint out the puppeteers.
“The first one is quite fluffy and was much more of an aesthetic exercise,” Pelscia said, “We wanted to get into the characters this time; just go nuts with a real story.”
Audiences can also look forward to the premier of Doug Bessler’s “Nick and Haig,” a flash animation short featuring the director and another talking about college and various other topics.
DVA President Joy Crouch said “Nick and Haig’s” clean flash style could be MTV or Comedy Central. “It looks really good and is very funny,” she said. Other live-action digital shorts include “Mr. Wonderful,” the heartwarming tale of a serial killer who has to put his psychosis aside to deliver a baby, directed by Chris Meagher.
Crouch said, at $3 a ticket, today’s show will cover the cost of renting I.V. Theater and help the DVA fundraise for new equipment. Currently the group’s 20 members produce their work through sharing personal gear, and Plescia said the DVA can’t count on the Film Dept. for support, they just don’t have the goods.
“Our film department is really, really horrible about equipment,” he said. “It’s pretty pathetic.”
The Film Dept.’s annual film festival, Reel Loud, also eschews the binary business of making films, something Crouch is disappointed in.
“To me, its unusual that they would restrict digital considering there are features like ‘Star Wars Episode I,’ like ‘Dancer in the Dark,’ that have been treated as films.”
Often derided for their unnatural pixelation and lack of richness, digital video has become undoubtedly the cheapest way to realize movie dreams. Data storage is hundreds of times cheaper than film and, Plescia said, “It really isn’t a cost at all, you can go out and spend that money elsewhere on the set.”
Plescia said “All After Six” came in under $500 with an eight-person crew. With budget concerns gone, the challenge became one of taking the shots and making them look as clean as 16-mm film. There’s also unexpected expenditures, Plescia said, “Try buying an antique He-Man, having to track that thing down.”
He-Man and crew, along with the other binary stepchildren, open at 7p.m. in I.V. Theater.