After taking their best shots at President George W. Bush in a 30-second TV commercial, two Isla Vista residents have been selected as finalists in an online contest that drew 1,500 nationwide entries.
Penny Little and Nik Green, a married couple who have lived in Isla Vista since 1991, are headed to New York this weekend to attend an award ceremony for the “Bush in 30 Seconds” ad contest. A celebrity panel of judges including Michael Moore, Margaret Cho, Moby, Jack Black, Janeane Garofalo, Eddie Vedder and Michael Stipe will select the winner Jan. 12 at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York.
The contest, sponsored by the nonprofit MoveOn.org Voter Fund, sought submissions by independent filmmakers that are meant to expose “President Bush’s failed policies.” The MoveOn.org Voter Fund will purchase TV spots nationwide during the week of Bush’s upcoming State of the Union address to display the winning commercial.
“I was in shock when they wanted us to go to New York,” Little said. “There are going to be a lot of big names there. It doesn’t matter if we win. It’s the exposure to them that will be inspirational.”
The video by Little, an artist, and Green, a recording engineer, is titled “An Army of One.” It was produced in conjunction with Micheal Stinson and Julie Sigwart from takebackthemedia.com. The group’s ad, which parodies the U.S. Army’s “An Army of One” recruitment commercials, depicts images of wounded American soldiers and American flag-draped caskets while a narrator discusses Bush-approved funding cuts to veteran healthcare benefits and soldier combat pay.
Little, who compiled the footage and edited the video clips together, said the ad intends to show what he believes the Bush administration is hiding about the war in Iraq, namely the high number of American casualties and alleged lies told to convince the country to go to war. The idea to model it after the military’s “An Army of One” commercials came from Stinson, an award-winning animator and military veteran who was drafted in 1971 and did not see Vietnam combat but has worked in numerous veteran hospitals.
“We wanted to show that our soldiers aren’t going into Iraq on skateboards,” Little said. “We wanted to get it as close as we could to the army’s commercial. People have to be hit within 30 seconds to make an impact.”
Stinson said he recently sold his house in Carpinteria to fund production of his videos. He was thrilled to be a finalist in the “Bush in 30 Seconds” competition.
“Michael Moore, Janeane Garofalo, me and Nik and Penny, we’re all literally on the same page,” Stinson said. “When we were chosen as finalists, I turned to my wife and said, ‘We’ve made it.'”
While the filmmakers behind the “An Army of One” parody do not agree with Bush, they said they support the troops 100 percent.
“These guys are just doing their jobs,” Stinson said. “They are forbidden to speak out against the president, so it’s up to us to defend these people. The military’s ‘Army of One’ commercials make war look like a sport.”
Stinson and Little agreed that the large number of entries to the “Bush in 30 Seconds” contest was encouraging for independent filmmakers who are struggling to compete with mainstream media to put out alternative viewpoints and news coverage.
“All those 1,500 entries had access to the video equipment necessary to submit an entry, which probably means that this is only about 1 percent of the people who heard about the contest and said ‘Yeah, I should do that,'” Stinson said.
Little is one of the original creators of “People to People TV,” a Santa Barbara-based public access cable television show that helped fund the production of the “An Army of One” finalist video through a grant of several thousand dollars from the Fund of Santa Barbara. She said the show is gaining interest with many independent filmmakers outside of Santa Barbara .
“If we all got together, we’d be a force to be reckoned with,” Little said. “And we need to be because [senior White House adviser] Karl Rove is a force to be reckoned with. We always need to be accurate, because the Bush administration is not.”