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Monday, October 18, 2021

UC Davis Film Festival showcases student films

Look out, Quentin Tarantino – UC Davis is bringing you some new competition. Student filmmakers will be showcasing their latest creations at the 10th annual UC Davis Film Festival, from May 26 to 27 at the Davis Varsity Theater.

The show starts at 8:30 p.m. on both days. Tickets are $5 and available at the Davis Varsity Theater box office.

“It’s student work on the big screen,” said Pamela Orebaugh, a junior English and film studies double major and student producer of the festival. “At Davis, we aren’t a huge arts community, but it’s really fascinating to see what we’re making, and what’s unique to our voice in this region and the students here.”

Students from a variety of majors submitted over 50 films for consideration this year. A panel of UC Davis faculty members will choose a selection of films to show at the festival. The only requirement was that films be no longer than 10 minutes.

From the films selected to be screened at the festival, the judges will choose winners in categories such as Best Editing, Best Director and Best Sound Design. The prize is usually a trip to the television or film set of a faculty member currently working in the entertainment industry.

Meredith Sward, a sophomore technocultural studies major, submitted a film for the first time this year. She created Oh Dear out of found footage from the television shows “Toddlers and Tiaras” and “Little Miss Perfect,” as well as from online film archives.

“I used found footage because I’m not very skilled with cameras and I thought it would interesting to see how different footage can be put together to hopefully make a piece that appears whole,” Sward said in an e-mail interview. “Also, I used found [film] instead of creating my own because there is real footage of children getting dressed and made-up already available. I think the impact using the footage of children that actually take part in the pageants is more disturbing.”

For amateur filmmakers, the festival is an opportunity to show their movies to a large audience – a rare experience that is as rewarding for the directors as it is for the viewers.

“I decided to submit my movies into the festival this year because I want people to see them,” said Andrew Blalock, a senior film studies major in an e-mail interview. “My inspiration behind making movies is to create an experience for other people, whether it is evoking empathy for a little clay blob as in my movie Needed, laughing at my dog taking a joy ride through Davis in Ollie Goes to Davis, or reflecting on their own obsession with technology in The Future of Twitter.”

By creating films to submit to the festival, students gain hands-on experience in the entire filmmaking process. Most of the students act as writer, cinematographer and editor of their own films.

“The process of creating movies is very exciting – once I come up with an idea for a movie, I try to throw together some actors and shoot it as quickly as possible while I have my creative inspiration,” said Blalock, who submitted five films this year. “A lot of the movies I make I shoot and edit all in a single day because as soon as I finish shooting, I’m so excited that I go home and edit until it is finished usually without taking a break. “

For students who participated in the festival in the past, this year’s festival is an opportunity to improve their filmmaking. Collin Davey, a graduate student in English, said he wanted to correct his mistakes on last year’s submission with his new film, Apartment 9.

“The script is so incredibly important and it’s something that often times people don’t pay a lot of attention to so I prided myself on doing that right first before moving on to even talk to actors about it. Performances are so often overlooked but they were something I set out to really do right this time,” Davey said. “We ran a really tight set because I worked with the same people from last year and corrected a lot of the mistakes to make it go more smoothly. We were better organized and better prepared.”

Orebaugh said that for the audience, the festival is a unique experience and an enjoyable way to support local filmmakers.

“You’re seeing something that no one else has ever seen and you’re pretty much the only audience that will ever see this particular group of films in this particular fashion,” Orebaugh said. “For a lot of people it become really social; the theater doesn’t clear out right away and it’s a very fun experience. It’s the kind of thing you only really have when you’re in college.”

ERIN MIGDOL can be reached at arts@theaggie.org.

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