Starting positions, everyone! The 12th annual 10-10-10 Student Competition kicked off yesterday at a press conference at the Canary Hotel, a day before the 12-day Santa Barbara International Film Festival begins. High school and college students get the span of the festival to shoot and edit a film to be screened on the final day of the film fest, with cash prizes and summer workshop scholarships going to the winners.
This year the competition has brought on a new sponsor, Relativity Education, part of Relativity Media, which is also hosting tonight’s opening film, “Desert Dancer.” According to programmer Mickey Duzdevich, the media company runs a summer workshop for film students and was seeking to partner with a film festival nationwide that ran a similar competition. The sponsorship may continue through the following years with the possibility of equipment loans during the week.
The competition has been run by founders Guy Smith of Antioch and Michael Stinson of SBCC, the former of whom said, “We’re really proud not only of the (competition’s) evolution but the quality of the films that the students have been producing over those years, and it seems to get better every year.”
In November and December, the 10 who have been selected for the screenwriting competition meet with a group of selected mentors from the film industry to polish their scripts and rewrite over and over. The 10 directors who make it into the competition then receive a script and must spend time prepping the upcoming shoot that starts today, finding locations and actors, and lining up their post-production.
The five high school screenwriting students are Alex Zauner of San Marcos High; Anthony Nisich and Gordon Dawson of Dos Pueblos High; and Graham Collector and Hana Antrim of Santa Barbara High. The college students are Cristina Carrasco, Cynthia Escamilla and John Blascoe of Santa Barbara City College; and Isabelle Carasso and Joe Arciniega of UCSB.
They are teamed up with the high school directors Daniel Dewan of San Marcos High; Sira Eriksen of Dos Pueblos High; Patrick Hall and Julia Kupiec of Santa Barbara High; and Kylan Tyng of Laguna Blanca School, and their college counterparts Aleksandar Adzic of Brooks Institute; Steven Boyd of Allan Hancock College; Benjamin Brown of SBCC; and Elvis Metcalf and Marvin Nuecklaus of UCSB.
Rules say films must be humorous, as they have been for the last several years, “but any kind of humor,” said Mr. Stinson. “It can be dark humor, really dark humor, physical comedy, slapstick, romantic comedy. Basically any flavor of comedy across the spectrum, but it has to be funny.”
That might be a challenge for several of the directors and writers who may enjoy comedy but have never really created in that genre.
“I normally work in dramatic kind of action things,” said Kylan Tyng, one of the high school directors. “So when I was given a comedy on the first day it kind of threw me off. It’s going to change the way I shoot to make it less dramatic and more funny.” His script, written by Gordon Dawson, is called “Misdirection.” Before the competition they had never met. Now they are collaborators.
Isabelle Carasso has written scripts before but that still does not make it easy. Her film, to be directed by Marvin Nuecklaus, is called “Grounded,” about a stressed-out guardian angel of a ragin’ frat brother. Her mentor was Mashey Bernstein from UCSB’s writing program. He helped with plot and character and “basic things I didn’t understand,” she laughed. “I usually write dramas, but this was a good exercise.”
“Comedy is really hard to direct,” said her director, Mr. Nuecklaus, speaking from experience. “It’s probably one of the hardest things I’ve done.”
The final films will screen on the final day of the festival.