The 2015 Reel Loud Film Festival Promises to Celebrate and Inspire


Coleman Gray
Arts & Entertainment Editor

The University of California, Santa Barbara Film & Media Studies department gets a fair amount of flack for its lack of production courses. While it may be true that the department offers more theory-based courses than actual filmmaking ones, that does not mean that UCSB students are left without the opportunity to hone their craft. One such way to experience the thrill and pressure of making a film is by creating one to show at the annual Reel Loud Film Festival. This year’s 24th-annual Reel Loud will take place on Friday, May 22, at 8 PM in Campbell Hall.

Reel Loud originally began in 1991 as a festival for student-made, silent, 16mm films that harkened back to the dawn of cinema. Since then, the festival has made the move from 16mm to digital, but the feeling of the festival, and the fundamentals of the filmmaking, have remained.

The festival allows for students to write, shoot, and edit a short film that will premiere in front of a packed crowd at Campbell Hall. For many, Reel Loud serves as the first opportunity to make the film that you want to make, without any prompts, rules, or teacher oversight. This allows for an eclectic and interesting collection of films that come form the heart of the filmmakers. And, when you watch these films, you can really tell that they are a labor of love.

I had the pleasure of being able to see all of the films that will be in the festival, and while there are some ups, downs, and in-betweens, the crop of 12 films that span all genres—including science fiction, comedy, realism, and even stop-motion animation—is sure to entertain all those in attendance.

However, Reel Loud is more than just a showcase of silent films. Each film features an original musical accompaniment performed on stage, creating a unique atmosphere that blends the composed and lasting nature of film with the ephemerality and energy of a live performance. The film and the musical accompaniment usually play off one another beautifully, creating a memorable and immersive experience for the performers, filmmakers, and audience.

In addition to the films, there will also be an art show featuring original, student-made works, a variety of acts in between films, and a silent auction. This year’s silent auction includes signed scripts by UCSB lecturers Alison Anders and Cheri and Bill Steinkellner, original artwork by acclaimed alums Kazu Kibuishi and the Oscar-nominated Don Hertzfeldt, as well as a Jack Johnson-autographed guitar.

This edition of Reel Loud is particularly special, as it is one day removed from the anniversary of last year’s tragedy, which occurred during the festival one year ago. All of the proceeds from the auction will be donated to the Isla Vista Remembrance Garden, and the festival will also feature a commemorative short film of the tragic events of a year ago, which highlights the strength and resolve of our community.

While this year’s event will be different than in the past, it is sure to be a unique celebration of students, art, and the UCSB community.