Ten’s the Magic Number

You know we don’t have to use actual champagne flutes.”

“Do we have any martini glasses?”

“Paper cups would work just fine.”

The cast and crew of Death and Don, one of the entries in the 2006 Film Fest’s 10-10-10 competition, had a single brandy snifter available. The competition has 10 young directors each scrambling to finish a 10-minute feature in 10 days. To UCSB senior Phillip Lindsey, the necessity of props like champagne flutes becomes entirely debatable when he’s looking at how much production he must cram in before the deadline.

“We just have the one glass,” crewmember Dustin Dugre concludes.

“Do we have any straws?” asks Brittany Bordman, the actress playing the film’s love interest.

At last, Dugre emerges with a pair of slender glasses. Lindsey can resume the scene. The cameras roll. The apartment-turned-set falls quiet and Bordman delivers her line: “Are you ready to celebrate?”

As if the prospect of quickly completing a Film Festival-worthy feature weren’t taxing enough, the 10-10-10 organizers have constructed a few more hurdles for this year’s batch of directors to overcome. Most notably, they must obey the conventions of Dogme 95, a Danish film movement intended to simplify the shooting process. For example, if a director wants a certain prop, he or she must film where the prop is available. Dogme 95 films also only feature sounds captured naturally—with nothing added in. And while most of the directors agree the restrictions helped to level the playing field among a group of directors with differing amounts of experience and technical resources, the news of Dogme 95 conventions was initially met with some grief by some.

“If you’ve seen one Dogme 95 movie, you’ve seen them all,” said Lindsey, who is careful to describe the rules being as “inflicted” rather than merely “imposed.” “The restrictions really limit what you can do with a picture, and most of them end up focusing on melodramatic family stuff.”

But Santa Barbara High School senior Shea Peinado said she saw the rules as a creative catalyst. “You have to find ways to creatively get around the rules and do what you want,” she said. “I usually like limitations.”

Perhaps one of the directors who most benefited from the imposition of the Dogme 95 rules was Andrew Dunn, a senior at Dos Pueblos High School. Though he works at his high school’s televised morning news and filmed a full-length feature last summer, his school has no official film program. However, even Dunn said certain aspects of Dogme 95 he could have done without. “After the Film Festival, I’ll probably go back and edit sound back into the film, even if it’s just to distribute it to my friends,” he said.

Ten young scribes penned the scripts as part of a separate, new 10-10-10 screenwriting competition. The scripts—each of which retell one of Aesop’s fables—were randomly assigned to the directors, and Dunn was lucky enough to receive one written by his younger brother, Alex, who said being on-set has been fairly convenient. “I don’t have to go far to find the director,” said Alex. The film, Finding the Exit, translates the story of the tortoise and the hare into one of high school puppy love.

The slow and steady director may not win this contest, however. As this week draws to a close, each must complete his or her film by 10 a.m. on February 10. Judges will be awarding a $3,000 prize to winners from both the high school and college divisions. That goal—plus the screening of the winning films at the festival’s closing ceremonies—may be enough to make quibbles over champagne flutes seem insignificant.

“We just have to believe in the quality of our work,” Lindsey said.

Dugre agreed. “Our moms have faith in us,” he said.

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