While many of the films at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival may take months or years to produce, the makers of “Fear and Loathing on Del Playa” only have 10 days to shoot and edit before their film’s premiere.
The film, directed by first-year film & media studies major Ryan Turner, is part of the SBIFF’s 10-10-10 program, an annual competition in which 10 screenplays, each totaling 10 pages, are given to 10 filmmaking teams to turn into 10-minute short films in 10 days. According to SBIFF 10-10-10 Coordinator Tara Perillo, the filmmakers and screenwriters are all students at local high schools or colleges who were asked to produce films exploring an old adage – “those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.”
Turner’s film is based on a screenplay written by first-year film & media studies major Hunter M. Daniels, whose script was randomly assigned to Turner.
Daniels said true-life experiences inspired his story, which with the help of two Hollywood producers, he was able to transform into a script.
“[My script] was based on almost getting killed by Nazi skinheads twice in a four-month period,” Daniels said. “I was walking home from a movie theater, and I was mugged by skinheads. I pressed charges, and the guy got off on a technicality.”
Daniels said he also encountered Nazis at a New Year’s party he attended shortly thereafter. These experiences were incorporated into the film, which he said centers around a character’s past mistakes, and his meeting with a hitman sent to kill him.
According to Daniels, he and Turner originally had two very different visions for the film, which were reconciled throughout the creative process.
“The initial revision was frustrating,” Daniels said. “I wrote a dark comedy screenplay about death and existentialism, while [Turner] was going for a family-friendly movie.”
Turner said a compromise was eventually reached, and filming went ahead over three days at a house on Del Playa Drive. The film is now in post-production, and the group has until Friday to finish the movie.
Additionally, film & media studies Undergraduate Adviser Joe Palladino said the purpose of the program is to expose student filmmakers to the pressures of working under deadlines similar to those of the real film industry.
“What seems like a hardship helps a lot of films get made,” Palladino said.
First-year film & media studies and business economics major Will Dennis, who acted as producer for “Fear and Loathing on Del Playa,” said the project effectively emulated the real world of filmmaking.
“I’m pretty surprised with how much of a simulation it was,” Dennis said. “I was supposed to be the liaison between writer and director, but I also set up auditions and managed props as well.”
Turner also said that the time limits increased the pressure he felt when working on the project.
“It’s intense,” Turner said. “The deadline pushes you to make a movie.”
The process for the 2008 10-10-10 film festival dates back to September ’07, when 50 screenwriters and directors submitted samples of their work for approval. The applicants were then narrowed down to the final 10, with five from the high school level and five from the college level. The films will premiere Sunday at the Marjorie Luke Theatre at 1 p.m.
Additionally, the filmmakers are forbidden to use sound or visual effects and are required show the logo of the contest sponsor, Sotheby’s International Realty, in the film.
Two other UCSB screenwriters have also submitted their work to the festival. Filmmakers are currently adapting the screenplays of fourth-year history major Tom Clarke and first-year English and film & media studies major Zoe Braverman into films.