Platt College, a premiere digital media design school in San Diego’s Rolando area, graduates its kids at rates well above the national average at similar places.
San Diego has five video game design schools. Big brother and world film capital Los Angeles has four.
As the world digitizes itself before our eyes, and amid greater demand for spectacle among moviegoers, our region holds its own as an educational and commercial industry center. It was only a matter of time before a local resource picked up on the idea of a public film event that speaks to the changing tastes that accompany the digital revolution — and Thursday, April 24, marks its opening.
Give it up for the inaugural Filmatic Festival, a four-day excursion into the changing face of cinema, in which lines between artist and audience are far less distinct and thus encourage everyone’s creativity. ArtPower!, an artistic development arm at UCSD, conceived and oversees the festival, which will center at the university’s Qualcomm Institute through April 27 and features interactive screenings, karaoke jams, lectures and media workshops in charting the course. The festival is the first of its kind in the state.
It’s kind of a mini Comic-Con, an immersive object lesson that curator Rebecca Webb sees as a marker in film’s next step.
Audiences, she said, are looking beyond the divisions between patron and provider — standing on the sidelines isn’t enough as technology drives the masses to movies playing on items as innocuous as their cell phones.
“I’m really interested,” Webb said, “in creating a relationship between spectator and spectacle. It’s this idea that the audience can be creative and artistic in the way they’re participating with the end product. It makes them artists. It’s collaborative. It’s not isolationist. [Audiences are] taking advantage of what’s going on in social media trends and bringing them to a theater space, a collective space.
“There’s also this idea of taking a passive traditional moviegoing experience, which is becoming antiquated on some level. Ticket sales have gone way down. I’m really interested in creating this interactive experience.”
Webb said she plans to make the Filmatic Festival an annual event.
By comparison, live theater seeks its own interaction with audiences — it’s been said that anyone who’s ever seen a play is as vital a participant as the cast. Why attend Filmatic when plays (which pepper the UCSD campus to boot and incorporate their own technological advances) are just as interactive?
Webb said Filmatic’s stress on physical participation is designed to address that.
“Even just walking within these walls and being open to a variety of possibilities,” she explained, “leaves you open to the festival’s intent. In a live theater, you’re often not engaged with the person next to you. In the festival, you are. Both of you are manipulating and relating to the two-dimensional image in front of you.
“And the technical people who are orchestrating this behind the scenes are very present,” Webb continued. “They are participating with the audience as well as the two-dimensional [film]. It’s a layered experience, even more so than live theater, because you’re playing with all these various dimensions.”
The schedule features gaming museum tours (games get a museum already?), technology that captures images at several thousand frames a second, a language invention seminar and media works by students, faculty and international artists. Meanwhile, no surprise that the festival’s subtitle is “Movies of the Future.”
Tickets range from single-event admission ($5-$25) to four-day passes ($50-$175). One-day passes are priced at $21 to $53. For more, call (858) 534-TIXS or see filmaticfestival.com.