As the Santa Barbara Film Festival drew to a close Saturday, local students were given their time in the spotlight during the 15th annual 10-10-10 Student Filmmaking Contest.
There was no shortage of variety on display from high school and college student screenwriters and filmmakers. Whether it was a message of hope and chasing your dreams, overcoming anxiety and perception, bringing a dead dog back to life, or falling in love with a robot campus guide ó short films in this year’s contest took on multiple genres and subjects.
In the end, two high school students and two college students received one year of free admission for them and a guest at the Riviera Theatre. The winners were: Spike Miller (Alta Vista Alternative High School) for writing “Test of the Dead”; Santiago Bailey-Musacchio (Santa Barbara High School) for directing “Object Permanence”; Aashka Pandya (UCSB) for writing “Quarter”‘ and Stephanie Foster (UCSB) for directing “Here to Help.”
Pre-production work for the films started in November as writers and directors teamed up and worked with mentors on their scripts and shoots.
Spike’s film was about a high school student that wins a bet with a demon after achieving the perfect score on her SAT.
Santiago, 16, directed and wrote his film, a story of a young boy who witnesses the death of his dog. The dog is resurrected only to have the boy kill the dog again.
Santiago told the News-Press he was motivated by the Frankenstein books and was thrilled to be awarded.
“This is going to look awesome on my desk,” he said, as he held his trophy outside the Arlington Theatre.
Santiago credited his mentor, Perry Lang, who helped him cut the film down to 10 minutes.
“I think he’s been helping with 10-10-10 for the last 15 years and he’s had eight previous winners and I’m the ninth,” he said. “I don’t think that’s a coincidence, Perry is amazing.”
The film written by Ms. Pandya was the story of two 25-year-old sisters who work to mend a rift between them during a quarter-life crisis. Ms. Pandya told the News-Press she has a little sister and used the film to project her own life and see what it would be like if she were to fail at everything she aspired to do.
The 21-year-old has directed and written several other short movies but this was the first time she was paired with another director.
“I’ve really learned what it’s like in the film world where the director has all the authority and the writer just has to go for it,” she said.
Ms. Pandya, who will graduate in a few months with degrees in communication and film and media studies, said her dream job is to write her own TV show while also working in marketing.
Ms. Foster’s film told the story of a college student who falls in love with his robot campus guide. She explained that she wanted to normalize LGTBQ relationships within new genres and used a sci-fi theme to tell the story.
She credited the film’s writer, UCSB student Cameron Leingang, for working with the film’s characters to create authenticity.
“I really believe that if you’re trying to represent an identity that isn’t yours, you really need to have authentic sources for that,” she said.
Ms. Foster will be graduating in the spring with a degree in film and media studies with a minor in professional writing in UCSB’s Technology Management Program.
She plans on taking Mr. Leingang to the Riviera Theatre over the next few months to brainstorm and find inspiration for their next project.