“The minute they walk out the door, the camera starts rolling!”
It was a bit of hyperbole (no cameras rolled at all) but in terms of the 10-10-10 Student Filmmaking competition, the movie-making started on Tuesday afternoon after a brief press conference at the Canary Hotel.
Michael Stinson of Santa Barbara City College ended the announcement with the above words, flanked by his partner, Guy Smith of Antioch University, and the 19 high school and college-aged contestants.
They now have until the end of the Film Festival on Feb. 9 to shoot and edit a 10-minute film.
The competition, now in its 11th year, randomly chooses one director and one screenwriter to work together, for a total of ten pairs. The resulting films, all romantic comedies, will all be 10 minutes long.
Until Tuesday, the scriptwriters and directors have been in pre-production, casting actors, grabbing locations and preparing storyboards. They’ve also been working with a stable of mentors, including Glenn Leopold, Mashey Bernstein, Victoria Riskin, Ralph Thomas, Peter Seaman, Perry Lang, Artie Schmidt, Brent Sumner, Joanna Kerns and others.
“What was nice was they could all do light comedy,” said Mr. Bernstein, commenting on this year’s scripts.
The competition insisted on comedy last year after previous competitions went too far into melodrama and suicide.
“It was Harold and Maude every year,” Mr. Leopold recalled.
“There weren’t many kids who came into the competition thinking ‘I want to be a comedy writer,'” explained Josh Conviser, executive consultant on “Rome” and a science-fiction writer. “This was new to almost everyone and they were nervous about it.”
The high school contestants in directing are Spencer Saltzman of Carpinteria High School; Patrick Hall and Harrison Gilman of Santa Barbara High School; Sydney Black from San Marcos High School; and Ankush Khemani of Dos Pueblos High School.
In the college category, the directors are Shane Ainsworth and Filippa Nilsson of Santa Barbara City College; Julian Barragan of Allan Hancock College; Boson Wang of UCSB; and Ayasylla Ghosn.
For screenwriting the high school contestants are Daniel E. Feinberg and Harrison Gilman of Santa Barbara High School (Mr. Gilman was accepted twice); Derek Tilton of San Marcos; Kaitlin Eng-Denbaars of Dos Pueblos; and Nicoletta Neighbors of Laurel Springs Private School.
In the college category, the screenwriters are Elyse Craig, Keenan McGuckin and Nicholas Hornung of UCSB; and Riley Sailer and Skye Morse-Hodgson of Brooks Institute.
Ms. Craig, 22, is one of the oldest writers in the competition. She worked with Rob Sternin (“Who’s the Boss” “The Nanny”) on her film “Attached,” which is “what happens when you wake up handcuffed to someone and you don’t know how it happened. You know, that ol’ thing.”
She went through a few revisions, she admits, adding “I don’t have a very organized process.”
Nick Hornung, 19, is working on “Love Hurts,” the story of a “young married couple who become disenchanted with each other,” he says.
Mr. Leopold worked with him on “minor tweaks to make the jokes pop,” as Mr. Hornung calls it.
The toughest part was the ending, he says, as “I’m really good with beginnings and middles but then it’s like, how is it going to wrap up in a satisfying way.” His director is Ms. Barragan, who he says he “trusts completely.”
The only director from UCSB, Mr. Wang, 19, is working with writer Mr. McGuckin on their film.
“I realized his script didn’t take us to many locations so me and my producer just changed it,” Mr. Wang said. “A lot. It’s going to be everywhere. I think it will be OK. Ten days doesn’t seem like a lot but you can do a lot in a day.”
The final screening, with its cash prizes and its family and friends in the audience, has proved so popular it’s now moving from the Lobero to the 2,000-seat Arlington.
“So invite all your friends,” urged Guy Smith with a wink, “and your enemies. It’s going to be exciting.”
The screening of the 10-10-10 finalists starts at 2 p.m. Feb. 9. The Arlington Theatre is at 1317 State St.