Archive for the ‘Apple’ category

“Shorttakes” – The Film Festival for Everyone

February 12, 2007

By Pete Stone 

Back when I was an undergraduate student at UCLA (almost 20 years ago!), the School of Theater, Film and Television had a film festival for its students (still does for that matter – here’s the link to the School of TFT festival home page ). Only undergraduate and graduate students from the School of TFT could enter, however.

Restricting entries to School of TFT students only seemed appropriate as these students were (and are today) working specifically towards a degree in theater, film and, or television. A showcase for these students was (and still is) necessary in order to provide potential employers a venue to evaluate talent. At the time (c. 1990), there were many gifted and unheralded artists and film-makers not in the School of TFT, however.* This under-served community was identified by Campus Events and through this insight the UCLA Shorttakes Student Film Festival was born.

* (This continues to be the case by the way.)

In 1992, UCLA Campus Events (which is the student run organization that hosts on-campus concerts, speakers and movie nights among other activities; and is a part of Associated Students UCLA – the student government) started a little film festival that was unique for the following reasons:

1. The festival was open to any UCLA undergraduate, graduate student and, or recent alumnus (within 1 year of having graduated from UCLA).

2. Entries were short subject films (less than 10 minutes running time) in one of two categories – traditional film narrative, or animation/digital media. The unique thing about the festival’s format is that all the finalist films could be screened in one night – as opposed to over several nights/weeks for feature length films.

3. The festival was democratic in its principles – The Film Festival for Everyone. The organizers, participants and audiences (for the most part) were the UCLA students themselves. UCLA obviously provided “in-kind” resources such as catering, services (audio-visual, etc.), facilities (Ackerman Grand Ballroom) as well as promoting the event via the Campus Events student staff to the rest of the UCLA community.

The end result was an energetic and decidedly “un-Hollywood” short-subject film festival which has now run annually for 13 consecutive years.

For the past several years, the finalists’ films have been reviewed and judged by a panel of distinguished entertainment industry professionals. Past industry judges include: Jeff Probst – host of “Survivor” and writer/producer of “Finder’s Fee”; Rich Wilkes – screenwriter of “xXx – State of the Union” and “Punk Like Me”; Steve Evans – VP of Sundance Channel; Peter Abraham – Producer of “I am Trying to Break Your Heart”; Bob Dohrmann – “Little Miss Sunshine” and “Thank you for Smoking”; Charles Schner – cinematographer/director of photogoraphy as well as many others.

This year (2007) marks the 14th year the UCLA Shorttakes Student Film Festival will be organized and hosted by UCLA Campus Events. With the rise of inexpensive digital cameras and digital editing on pc’s (Apple Final Cut for example) the festival now receives entries from undergraduate, graduate and recent alumni from UCLA as well as from around the world. If you have a short-subject film and are an undergraduate, graduate, or recent alumnus of a 4 year college, or university, send in your film!

Here is a link to last year’s festival site

The festival also welcomes sponsor interest. Past sponsors include Kodak, Theta Chi Fraternity,, Sundance Channel, iFilm, Indie 103.1 Radio, Clif Bar, Entertainment Weekly, Campus Circle Media and TimeWarner Cable.

If you are in Los Angeles the last week in May 2007, make some time to spend a few hours at the screening event. Typically the finalists’ screening event is the last Thursday of May. The screening generally runs from 7PM to 10PM with refreshments provided.

Hope to see you at the movies!


Life and Death of an iPod

January 15, 2007


Much like the classic American play/novel by Arthur Miller, this story is one in which the American Dream (or its facsimilie) is literally run over and smashed despite the main character’s good intentions.

Please also note that some of the images contained herein are of a graphic nature. Do not continue unless you have a strong constitution.


Our story opens in the Spring of 2006… Provenance had recently smiled upon me in the form of winning a brand new 30 gb Video iPod from KROQ 106.7 FM in Los Angeles, CA. I called in to the morning show during the “What is Your Deal” segment of the program. I was totally surprised to have 1) gotten through on the phone line, 2) gotten past the screener (the fact that the screener was a UCLA student and I am a UCLA alumnus perhaps had something to do with it, truth be told) and 3) gotten on the air.

I know it sounds cliche, but I truly had never won anything from a radio contest/call-in segment. I did win a new, leather basketball at an awards banquet as a freshman in high school. In comparison to a brand-spankin’ new 30 gb Video iPod the basketball was/is “mice nuts”, however.

Notwithstanding my previous history of prize-winning (not-winning?) I was understandably grateful and stoked at the prospect of having a full-fledged iPod to enjoy and tinker with. Up to that point (April 2006) I had only purchased an iPod Shuffle which my older son had pretty much run off with. 30gb is a lot of storage space and I was looking forward to downloading some podcasts as well.

So, I picked up my iPod from KROQ’s studios in Culver City, CA. Visiting the studios was an adventure in itself (maybe that will be another blog at a later date?), but when all was said and done, I had the iPod and a new iTunes gift card to boot. Very cool to get free music along with the iPod. Thanks KROQ and thank you Apple.

Flash forward to December 2006… I was heading out with my two sons to the UCLA Football game and decided to bring my iPod with me. By this time, my iPod had become a regular accessory in my travles – comfortably co-existing with my Palm Treo. Since we were driving to the Rose Bowl with the convertible top down, my younger son wanted to climb through the window to the back seat of my Jeep Wrangler. He needed a little help, so I put down my iPod on the bumper of my Jeep.

Bad move, sucker.

You probably guessed it, after giving my son a boost into the backseat of the Jeep, I FORGOT MY IPOD ON THE BUMPER! AGGGGGHHHH!!!!

Of course, I blithely drove off to Pasadena for the UCLA Football game and didn’t realize my tragic mistake until after parking my Jeep in the Rose Bowl parking lot.

How did I realize my mistake? I found my mangled iPod earphones wedged into my rear bumper (with nothing else attached!) when I got out of the Jeep.

Despite the tragic boneheaded-ness on my part, I still hoped that perhaps the iPod would be safe when I returned home. I allowed my emotions to imagine the joy of finding my iPod in the driveway, or even on the corner safely protected from major damage by its travel case and perhaps some lucky bounces.

I think it was the high expectations that made my return home that much more savagely crushing. As I turned onto my street, I did find my iPod, but in the gutter. My heart sank. My carelessness had ended with the death of my beloved iPod. 

I think perhaps the most astonishing thing about the end of my iPod was the grotesque disfiguration of the iPod itself (see attached images). I can’t quite figure out how the iPod fell from my bumper and ended up in folded at a 90 degree angle. Perhaps the headphones held the iPod in place just under the wheel long enough for my rear wheels to inflict the deadly “roll-over”. Or perhaps the iPod fell, was safe for a time in the street, but was then destroyed by another car turning up my street.

Either way, I’m to blame for this sad ending to a truly marvelous consumer device.

Crushed iPod Photo #1       Crushed iPod Photo #2       photo_120106_005.jpg