The harsh reality of competition is that there will inevitably be winners and losers. Last Saturday, as directors and patrons alike paid 10 entrance fee, everyone knew that by the end of the night there were going to be only two winners. Granted, this competition was not totally fair. Technical problems forced movies to be stopped and replayed or only partially seen, while others played flawlessly; it was a competition nonetheless. Only two people were taking home the two 3,000 prizes. The films ranged from dramas to comedies to Westerns, all exhibiting technical levels unexpected from these rookie filmmakers.
Expecting something that resembled my bar mitzvah video diary, I was pleasantly surprised by the sophistication of the high school-level films. Particularly impressive from such young directors was “Unstuck,” a film that exhibited a non-linear style of editing, a la “Memento.” The winner in the high school category was Nico Constantides. His film, the appropriately titled “The Meaning,” chronicled the story of a young man who follows step after ridiculous step from a manual in order to build a device that will show him the meaning of life. By the end of the film, he realizes that the instructions have actually been leading him not to the completion of the device, but rather to the girl of his dreams. This film was not the crowd favorite, but it had the most circular self-contained story, which is lauded in short film.
As was expected, the college-level films were technically superior to the high school contestants. With few exceptions, however, their plots didn’t seem much more sophisticated. UCSB freshman Rickey Mizun pulled together a sinfully hilarious, but college-humor-based, 10-minute comedy titled “Sweet Jesus.” There was a tough break for the crew of “The Almighty Dollar,” whose film was cut in half by technical problems and was heard but not seen, effectively knocking it out of the running. Far and away the best film of the night was “The Unfortunate End of Six Gun Bill Sutton.” Santa Barbara City College student Mark Legaspi was responsible for this, the night’s only black-and-white entry and Western film. The effort put into the film’s conception and technical prowess nearly has Six Gun jumping off the screen. Yeehaw!
Congratulations to both winners and condolences to all of the participants. There’s a great while left before next years 10-10-10 contest, so all you prospective Spielbergs out there better get moving because the competition is going to be harsh.