On the final afternoon of this year’s Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF), a near-sellout crowd assembled at the Arlington Theatre to screen 10 student films and find out who would take home a coveted 10-10-10 award. When the award for best director among the college finalists was announced, Santa Barbara City College film student Will Hahn was given the top honor.
This year’s theme for the competition was “Satire.” Hanh’s film, titled “The Goatman,” (written by Troy Wullbrandt, another SBCC student) takes a tongue-in-cheek look at the horror film genre and the trials and tribulations of a student film crew trying to film an entry for a film festival.
Hahn was drawn to Wullbrant’s script from the start. When considering how best to bring it to the screen, he commented, “I was influenced by the cinematic techniques of ‘Stranger Things’ [the Netflix original series]. We wanted to go for that kind of quality. For satire, we drew inspiration from 'Saturday Night Live' – after all, who does that better than SNL?”
When asked about his biggest challenge in making the film, Hahn replied, “Over half the film took place outside, at night in an avocado orchard. It was about 40 degrees, pouring rain and there was no power. But the cast and crew were amazing. They kept on going above and beyond the call of duty.”
The heart of the annual SBIFF 10-10-10 Screenwriting and Filmmaking Mentorship and Competition is in connecting aspiring screenwriters and filmmakers with respected and successful industry professionals. Those professionals serve as mentors to each of the 10 film crews through all stages of planning and production. The most rewarding part of the process for Hahn was working with his two mentors, Tracy Trotter and Leslie Ekker. “First of all, the experience they’ve had in the industry is incredible. Tracy is a three-time Emmy award winner and Leslie has created visual effects for 'Titanic,' 'Apollo 13,' 'Bladerunner' and 'Star Trek: The Motion Picture' to name a few. Both of them were available whenever I had a question or needed advice. I’m so grateful for how generous they were.”
Going forward Hahn plans to earn his bachelor's degree and has applied to several of the top film schools in the country. Eventually he would like to make films that tell the stories of people in America's small towns; stories about people who feel forgotten and left out. If he ever achieves the same success his mentors achieved, he expressed this desire: “I want to do what my mentors did for me. I want to give back.”