A swarm of chanting students descended on Storke Tower Saturday morning to protest coastline development and, while their cause was real, their cries of “Gaviota lives!” were actually scripted for a mockumentary.
The mockumentary, “Chimes of Gaviota, or: I’ve Got the Real Estate Blues,” drew participants interested in playing poster-waving, slogan-shouting protesters in a movie independently produced by several undergraduate students in UCSB’s Dept. of Film & Media Studies. Extras paraded from Storke Tower to the roundabout near the science buildings, concluding at the entrance to Highway 217. The project will premiere in mid-March.
The mockumentary supports Save Naples, a coalition fighting to preserve the Gaviota Coast, which is the last substantial portion of undeveloped coast in Southern California. According to the Save Naples Web site, www.savenaples.org, the developer and new owner of the Naples property, Vintage Communities of Orange County, has proposed to build homes on the property. The Gaviota Coast extends all the way from west of Goleta to Point Conception, and serves as the transitional area between northern and southern California’s environments.
Producer and art director Lisa Shapiro, a second-year film & media studies major, said the mockumentary revolves around issues concerning coastline construction and the opposing conservationists.
“The script is based on real individuals and groups of people who are involved in this conflicting debate between development and environmental activism,” Shapiro said.
Writer and cinematographer Steven Ray Morris, a third-year film & media studies major, said he saw the mock protest as an opportunity for the campus to get involved with the protection of the Gaviota Coast from real estate corporations.
“By inviting the students to come out, I see it as a jumpstart,” Morris said. “This is just a movie, but the issue is really happening right now.”
According to the film’s director, Evan Koehne, a third-year film & media studies major, it was difficult to film within the Gaviota community, as developers privately own most of the land.
“We had to film mostly in the bluffs of Snowy Plovers because most of Gaviota is private, which is basically the problem,” Koehne said. “We couldn’t get onto most of the land there.”
Although the demonstration was staged, Koehne said he hoped the participants’ enthusiasm for the cause is real.
“While everyone is marching across campus, I want people to realize that this is a real protest,” Koehne said.
Crew member and second-year film & media studies major Jess Deprest said students should educate themselves regarding the issues of Gaviota development.
“It’s really important that people look at each case,” Deprest said. “You can’t just brush off one problem.”