Thomas Friedman has said our age is marked by “the democratization technology” – i.e. the profusion of complex yet affordable technology to the masses. To UCSB’s Digital Video Association, this “democratization” has come in the form of small, handheld digital cameras that make creating one’s own movies as easy as pointing at a subject and pressing record.
Artsweek got the chance to sit down with Amaris Crouch, senior film studies major and organizer of the Digital Video Festival, to ask her about the upcoming event. Her sister and fellow digital enthusiast, sophomore film studies major Joy R. Crouch, also contributed to the interview.
Artsweek: What led you guys to organize the first ever Digital Video Festival?
A. Crouch: Well, the reason why we organized the festival is because we started a group called Digital Video Association at the beginning of this year because I had taken a class in the summer with Roko Belic, the producer and filmmaker of “Genghis Blues.” We did documentaries in that class, and we realized that it was so much easier and faster to make a quick film and edit it on FinalCutPro and Premier on one of the computers in Kerr Hall and put all the cuts and fades in – anything we wanted to put in – and not have to worry about film and all the costs that come with that with 16-millimeter film. For students, a 10-minute film would probably be thousands of dollars, so we just figured it would be an easier way for students to make films.
J. Crouch: Rather then spending a lot of money to make a film on 16 millimeter – if they don’t do well then they don’t break even. It’s maybe not a waste, but it’s money that’s not well spent because 16 millimeter is really expensive, making it an elitist art form. Digital video allows most people to make their own film. That’s what the Digital Video Festival is going to do – allow people to show their short films and movies.
A. Crouch: It’s not to say that film is bad or anything, because if I had the finances to make a film I would make the film, and I think it’s a really good medium to work with. … Reel Loud is a really great outlet for students to show their work; it’s just that for people who cannot afford something like that, digital video is the way.
Are the people who are making these films buying a handheld camera at Circuit City and just going out and making a movie? Is it really that easy?
A. Crouch: Yes, it really is that easy.
J. Crouch: It’s the lightweight of the camera. All the information of the film can be stored on a small disk. … There’s a way that you can make digital video look like 35-millimeter film.
How much are digital cameras? Are the cameras that students are using their own?
A. Crouch: The majority of the people have their own cameras. A lot have one-chip cameras, and it runs from $700 to $1000. The higher-end cameras are the three-chip cameras. … Some students have the really good ones. Still, buying a camera is still cheaper than making a 16-millimeter film. … You can make films for as long as you want.
How many shorts are there at the festival? What are they about?
There are approximately 22. They range from a minute to 10 minutes. It’s a variety of comedy, drama, suspense, documentary, mockumentary. There’s one animated short. There’s something for everyone. If people aren’t really into one thing they’ll find something 10 minutes later that will maybe fit their interest.
Are most of the shorts script-based, or are they just point and shoot and let’s see what happens?
Most are script based and most that we saw were well organized and it seemed that people put a lot of time into making their films, writing the script and editing. It didn’t seem like anything was just thrown together and turned in.
What else is going on at your festival? You’ve got the Sherwood Players, a deejay …
It’s gonna be hopefully two and a half hours the way we planned it. The Sherwood Players are going to kind of lead us into the films, really short introductions to sets of films. There’s going to be a 15-minute intermission and a second act, and then you’ll see the Sherwood Players just getting the audience into the film. The deejay is going to be at the beginning, when people come in, and intermission and after when people leave. … We want people to feel that they’re interacting in a special way.
When does the Digital Video Association meet?
We meet every Monday at 8 p.m. in Ellison 1714.
The Digital Video Festival is Wednesday, May 30, 7:30 p.m. at I.V. Theater. $3 in advance; $5 at the door.