Student films return to the big screen next week as the ninth annual UC Davis Film Festival will take place on May 27 and 28 at 8:30 p.m. at the Davis Varsity Theatre. Tickets are $5 and available for purchase at the Varsity Box Office.
The festival – which accepts film submissions from all students regardless of their major – has seen a spike in popularity this year as over 60 films have been submitted, up from just 30 last year. All of the films are unique and represent a wide-range of genres and concepts from music videos to documentaries.
Last year’s “Best Comedy” winner Michael Sun, a fifth-year senior biology major, will be submitting three more films for this year’s festival: Flight, Tell It Like It Is and Monday Morning Graduate.
Flight tracks a relationship from start to finish by following the flight path of an origami crane that has come to life, Sun said. The idea to follow an object through a relationship came to Sun while studying.
“I was listening to Explosions in the Sky and thought it would be interesting to shoot something for the song,” he said.
Soon enough, Sun gathered a few friends in Central Park and worked through the logistics of the camera work and acting.
“We decided to do it in one shot, so the director of photography and myself did a few walkthroughs and choreographed the whole thing,” he said.
This choreography resulted in Sun and fellow actress Andrea Manners, a senior technocultural studies major, running from spot to spot in order to be ready for the camera. After an hour and half of shooting, the project needed only to be edited into a finished product – a process that Sun said took around four hours. The completed film is just over six minutes and includes an instrumental post-rock track by Explosions in the Sky as its soundtrack.
Randall Wilson, a senior English major who directed four films that were submitted, said she sees the UC Davis Film Festival as an event that brings together the local filmmakers.
“I think the festival is a great idea for student filmmakers to express themselves and appreciate other students’ works,” she said. “It also builds on a community that exists in Davis but isn’t always recognized.”
Wilson said that her most involved submission is the short drama Happenstance, which follows the correspondence between a boy and a girl who leave objects for one another in a secret nook.
“Happenstance explores the same themes that most of my films have,” she said. “It is a whimsical story about two strangers trying to communicate.”
At the festival screenings, Wilson said she will be watching to see how other students combine film and narrative.
“I like to see how others creatively frame a story – the cinematography and how that conveys the story, that’s the part I get most excited about,” she said.
John Iacovelli, a Theatre and Dance professor and one of the festival’s three faculty directors, said that he founded the festival nine years ago in order to help students.
“There is a great interest in filmmaking among the students on this campus [and] I feel that film is a natural outgrowth of work in the theatre and many other disciplines,” he said in an e-mail. “I wanted a place where all the disparate filmmakers on campus could be celebrated and promoted though the visibility of this festival.”
Iacovelli emphasized the success of the festival as demonstrated both by the quality of the submissions and by the success of UC Davis students who have entered and subsequently found careers in media.
“I have seen students that have worked on this festival be launched into careers in Hollywood, where some of the faculty and I [have been] involved in this work regularly,” he said. “It is quite satisfying to know that we have students who have had short films in this festival and now have jobs as editors, art directors, producers and agents in Hollywood.”
ZACK FREDERICK can be reached at email@example.com.