In the fall of 2016, I wrote a brief abstract and grant proposal for the URCA (Undergraduate research and creative activities) grant at the University of California, Santa Barbara. I received the full award amount of $750 to go towards funding the art department for my film, Albino Black Sheep.
The project seeking funding via the URCA grant is a surrealist art film titled Albino Black Sheep. Albino Black Sheep is a student-produced film organized through the UCSB Film and Media Studies department. Over the course of fall and winter quarter, a crew composed entirely of student filmmakers will go through the pre-production, production, and post-production phases of creating Albino Black Sheep. The film is both an educational and creative endeavor. It will serve as a learning platform for students to experience and mimic firsthand the logistics of creating a short film as done in the professional world. It will also expose students to the incredibly collaborative nature of filmmaking and the process of sharing an artistic vision and transferring it from script to screen. From this project, we hope not only to benefit as individuals working on the film, but to present a thoughtful, provocative, and visually fresh approach to existentialist themes.
PROPOSAL & PROJECT PLAN
Albino Black Sheep is an entirely student-funded, student-produced short film that is being produced through courses Filmst 106A and 106B at the Film and Media Studies Department. It is a surrealist art film that explores the contradictory nature of human beings and their desire to function within social parameters whilst holding onto the idea of free will-- a modern day The Exterminating Angel meets Waiting for Godot. The synopsis is this: Four men find themselves stuck on a rooftop even though the door is unlocked and they can leave at any time they wish. They have no real physical barrier that is hindering them from leaving, other than their unwillingness to be the black sheep of the group. The illogical discord between their desire to leave but inability to do so drive them to extremes, and we see how the various characters behave when confronted with the paradox of individual will and social expectations. The goal of Albino Black Sheep, and the goal of film overall in the views of the director, is to leave its audience with a fresh, thoughtful, and provocative perspective on subjects they know to be true in their own lives.
Pre-production for the film has been underway since late September. Pre-production encompasses everything necessary before filming. This means preparation for the script, cast, storyboard, art, props, costumes, set design, shot list, locations, permits and insurance, and budget for the film prior to the actual shoot days. Production (filming days) is scheduled for Veteran’s Day weekend in November, and three consecutive weekends in the month of January. Post-production is the process where the film is stitched together to form a narrative via editing and sound mixing and composing. It will commence as soon as the shoot days wrap, from the beginning of February, until March 17th, 2017 when the final product must be delivered to the class. The film is set to premiere at the Pollock Theater on March 24th, 2017.
Film is a visual medium. This film in particular is an incredibly abstract and visually expressive piece, where the most is said in scenes with little to no dialogue and rely solely on the picture to convey complex ideas. Thus, a sizable portion of the Albino Black Sheep budget is devoted to the art department. The film itself has a projected budget of $6,000, all of which must be self-funded via the students’ efforts. Of that sum, $1500 is devoted to the art department, meaning it will be used for the props, costumes, and various art items on set to achieve the particular visuals that this film requires.
The set pieces, props, backdrops, etc. are vital to Albino Black Sheep. The story itself is set in the late 90’s, thus the art department requires acute attention to detail to make the story setting seem real and accurate of the time period. The particular visuals are what drive the surrealist and philosophical aspects of the film, and our film’s unique look and feel requires a wide range of different art. Some of the unorthodox costumes and props include a full-size adult sheep costume, a Rambo-esque military outfit, a biblical shepherd costume, a life-size cutout of the Monopoly Man, a wooden staff, a prop machine gun, a surplus of raw eggs, and many other quirky items that allow the film to realize its artistic vision. These items have significant and symbolic meaning to the narrative and having a well funded art department will allow the crew to produce high quality work that is parallel to the high standards they hold themselves to. The URCA grant is crucial in this aspect, as it meets half the budget for art, significantly lightening the burden of financing the art department off the shoulders of the individual students so that they can focus their efforts on the production and the quality of the film.
The Albino Black Sheep crew is comprised of talented and driven individuals at UCSB with diverse backgrounds and passions in filmmaking. For these students, Albino Black Sheep provides them the opportunity and space to learn, experience, and mimic the filmmaking process as it would be done in the film industry. It is the ultimate learning platform and it is one that fills the gap for most students at UCSB who are interested in film, as the department of Film and Media Studies maintains its focus on film criticism and theory rather than film production. Currently, the crew is made of up 30 students at UCSB, and Albino Black Sheep is an enormous step forward towards their career goals in filmmaking. The director and writer, Grace Kim, is an English major with a passion for literature and storytelling, who also has internship experience in media and post-production and has directed a variety of her own small video projects. Suna Gedik, the head producer, is a Film and Media Studies major with a wide variety of production experience, including but not limited to TVSB, Reel Loud Film Festival, and other student films . Andrew Han, the associate producer, is also a Film and Media Studies major who has worked on numerous sets and has directed the Reel Loud Film Festival for the past two years. AJ Martinez, the Director of Photography, has a strong and diverse background in camerawork, and most recently worked as the DP of a documentary film set in Tanzania called Kipawa.
Filmst 106 has a highly competitive and selective process where a tribunal of working industry members of the film industry select the most promising scripts to be worked on during the school year. The members of the crew were carefully and thoughtfully considered and recruited on the basis of their previous experience and enthusiasm to work and learn alongside others. The crew members themselves were not selected by professors, but by the Producers and Director, all of whom are students. While the class gives some structure to Albino Black Sheep, the professors provide overall guidance and general concerns and do not take any part in the actual production of the films. Thus, the crews are given free reign in the production of the film, meaning that all scheduling, logistics, funding, and marketing are done solely by the crew members. This underscores the passion, drive, and motivation that the Albino Black Sheep crew has displayed and continues to be fueled by in the production of the film. To each of these individuals, Albino Black Sheep provides them with an unique learning opportunity to experience firsthand what filmmaking can be and what the process is like in the professional world.
Albino Black Sheep is a conglomerate of varied fields. It combines art, film, music, philosophy, literature, history, and psychology into a beautiful and visually and metaphysically enticing final product. It speaks of what groundbreaking works can be done and what the creative process can produce when individuals come together to work towards a shared vision.