Tate Larrick's winning team takes a moment to celebrate backstage. Left to right: production assistant Maxwell DeGruy, actress Kaya Marable, actor Chris Riel, and director Tate Larrick.
Avery Hardy

The 10-10-10 marathon ended Sunday afternoon at the Lobero Theater, where each of the ten 10-minute films were screened for the public. With only 10 days to film and produce the entire short film, each student filmmaker-screenwriter team experienced challenges that would have made any pro rip out his hair. The comp was split into college and high school groups, with $500 awards presented for both screenwriting and filmmaking in each.

For college, the filmmaking award went to the standout superior Brent Rumble of Brooks Institute, whose production of Katherine Waskul’s script, “The Dissolution,” was shockingly professional and well-done. Waskul’s script told the story of a Middle Eastern scientist at UCSB who faced cruelty from his peers post-9/11 — tough material for a 10-minute movie, but covered with ease by Rumble and his posse of Brooks students and local filmmaking friends.

The college screenwriting award went to Mary Jane Johnson of SBCC, who worked with Matthew Oquendo to produce her film. As Oquendo explained while shooting, Johnson’s script posed a unique challenge in that the protagonist, Mercy, was a coke-snorting, smoking, and deaf violinist. The end result was beautiful and extraordinary; Johnson’s talent as a writer shone through even though Mercy only spoke four words in the entire film (a resounding “you can’t hear me” she shouts at her mom in the climax).

College screenwriting winner Mary Jane Johnson signs her giant check
Courtesy Photo

The shocker of the presentation was the high school scriptwriting award, which was presented to Aija Mayrock of Laguna Blanca — the youngest competitor in the competition. At just 14, Mayrock penned a social-justice script on a teenage girl living in the aftershock of her older sister’s suicide. She starred in the film (titled “A Heart’s Journey”), which was directed by Ally Shiras of San Marcos.

But the coup d’etat — the winner of winners — was Tate Larrick, who won the high school filmmaking competition despite a slew of backbreaking difficulties. Larrick was matched with Wyatt Krutsch of Dunn School, whose script was about a suicidal 20-something writer coming home to Santa Barbara. Larrick said that even though they were separated by distance — Krutsch attends Dunn School and lives in Solvang — they shared a vision of the film and a love of Wes Anderson movies.

As Larrick, a 17-year old member of SBHS’s MAD academy, explained backstage, things didn’t go so smoothly. While most of the other competitors saw their challenges in the first few days of filming, Larrick’s trouble kicked in Monday, when, after two days of eating nothing but pizza and a 19-straight-hours filming binge, he got really, really, sick.

Struck down with a high fever, Larrick let lead actor-cum-editor, Chris Riel, and everything-else-production assistant Maxwell DeGruy take more control. Then, he got poison oak. Then his grandfather ended up in the hospital. Riel snickeringly displayed a video of an ill Larrick, valiant to the end, asleep on the ground during editing; he had insisted on coming by to monitor Riel and DeGruy’s work. The trio laughed as they rehashed their all-nighters — Riel recalled rendering DVDs at four in the morning of their deadline — and long hours of work.

As for winning? It’s hard to focus on stage when you have a 102 degree fever, said Larrick, who explained he was hallucinating from illness while we talked. Nonetheless, the happy-go-lucky teen was nothing but smiles on-stage, where he signed his giant check with a large, black X.

In the end, the old adage of “everyone’s a winner” proved true. To have been kicked out of your shooting location, been bailed on by your actors, to have faced “technical difficulties”, illness, bad weather, and all the other problems encountered by these students and still finish a film is incredible. 10-10-10’s not really about the filmmaking. It’s about the endurance and the patience you need to stay focused for the brutally short 10 days you have, and to stay true to your creative vision even so. Now that their mental Olympics are over, the normal shooting procedure is nothing short of easy peasy — until next year, of course.


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