The first-annual Isla Vista Digital Film Festival was held last Saturday night to showcase a new brand of film by a new breed of filmmakers.
The festival exclusively screened works created by UCSB students and SBCC students — so long as they were shot with digital video, rather than film celluloid. The event’s creator, fourth-year film & media studies major Sami Abdou, said he wanted to establish a venue for the growing number of students who are turning to the digital medium.
“The only film festival is Reel Loud, and it’s really limiting for students, because shooting on film is really expensive,” Abdou said. “I wanted to make a digital film festival because most student filmmakers shoot on digital video, and it’s the focus of our generation.”
The films competed for prizes in four categories: short short, long short, animation and music video/experimental. Awards were also given out for best director, cinematography, screenplay and editing and sound.
Abdou said the festival was selective in its screening choices, and only showed 17 of the 29 films that were submitted. However, Abdou also said the selection committee was impressed by the technical mastery apparent in the student projects.
“A lot of what went into the selection process was based on achievement,” he said. “We really wanted to highlight the work that went into creating these films.”
A panel of four judges of varying film backgrounds judged the festival’s entrees. UCSB film & media studies undergraduate advisor Joe Palladino, SBCC professor and local filmmaker Ted Mills and UCSB graduate students Jeff Scheible and Meredith Bak compared the films and then selected the event’s winners. Abdou said that he tried to gather a broad base of judges with different filmmaking perspectives to fairly assess the digital pieces.
“With the judges. we wanted to be as well-rounded as possible,” Abdou said. “The grad students have a strong knowledge of film, but still understand the student filmmaking process.”
Following the screenings, the winners were announced. “Bubbles and Seashells” won for short short, and “Chimes of Gaviota” took the prize for long short. The experimental/music video category went to the music video “Monie$” — a video submitted by Abdou. A short comedy titled “Ass-Scratcher” won the animation category.
Awards were also given to “Titan Sting” for best directing, “Chimes of Gaviota” for best editing and “Bubbles and Seashells” for best screenplay.
The contest winners received gift certificates for I.V. restaurants La Cantina and McMaster’s Steak and Hoagie.
Additionally, first-year film & media studies major Will Dennis said he attended to see how other students projected their ideas onto the big screen.
“It’s cool to see whether people go for comedy or drama, because drama is a lot harder to pull off,” Dennis said.
Abdou said that although it was a new event, he considers it a big success.
“I think that the event went really well and really smooth,” Abdou said. “We had a good turnout, and everyone was supportive and respectful.”