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VIP Night at SCV Film Fest

Posted: January 14, 2009 10:25 p.m.
Updated: January 15, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Reena Newhall, Danielle Jacobs, Ben Staley and Jeri Jacobs at the VIP night Jan. 8 to kick off the fourth annual Santa Clarita Valley Film Festival. The event was held at the Repertory East Playhouse on Main St. in downtown Newhall.

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It may not have had the glitz or glamour of Cannes or Sundance, but the fourth annual Santa Clarita Valley Film Festival offered SCV residents the chance to view the works of emerging filmmakers in the comfortable setting of the Repertory East Playhouse in Newhall.

The festival opened Thursday, Jan. 8, with a VIP evening that brought filmmakers and the invited audience together to view three short films, three animation shorts and a short documentary.

After the screening of each film those involved with the film were invited on stage to talk about their movie and answer questions from the audience.

Among those who participated in the event were Danielle Jacobs and Ben Staley who presented their short film "Boy/Man."

Jacobs, daughter of Jeri Jacobs, owner of The Travel Bug, grew up in the Santa Clarita Valley before embarking on her acting career.

She said it was a great opportunity to have her film shown at the SCV Film Festival.

"I'm very excited to have a festival here in my hometown, my backyard, and there's no better place to show something than with your friends and family around you," she said.

Danielle Jacobs decided to begin making films after being exposed to the craft during her acting stints.

"Ben and I both started making films after being on set in acting jobs - you can't help but be interested in what goes on behind the camera as well," she said.

The film was shot on location in Idaho where Jacobs and Staley were visiting friends.

Jacobs was the writer, producer and director of the film with Staley performing in the movie.
Staley gave Jacobs most of the credit for the film.

"She did everything. She was the writer, director, producer, ran the camera - all the while working with a child actor. That's insanely hard," he said. "She also did all the editing."

"Attack of the Sea Slugs" was made under challenging conditions by Champ Williams of Ventura. The fascinating undersea documentary examined the closed ecosystem of the sea pen and the nudibranchia arminina, or sea slug.

After the film, Williams, an experienced diver, described diving in the chilly 45 degree waters of the Pacific Northwest to obtain the film footage.

"Sebastian's Voodoo," an animated film about self-sacrifice, took 10 months to make, said filmmaker Joaquin Baldwin of Sherman Oaks.

The short has won a host of awards at film festivals across the country and is currently nominated for the prestigious "Annie" award by the International Animated Film Society.

Other films screened included "Struck," "His Good Will," "La Lune" and "Catharsis."

Also attending the VIP night was Councilwoman Laurie Ender.

"I love the arts. I'm a film person and this is kind of our Golden Globes," she said. "This is an example of another thing we do well in Santa Clarita."

Founders of the SCV Film Festival are Ramon Hamilton and Jennifer Fischer.

"We're thrilled to have the Repertory East Playhouse hosting us again. This is a great turnout and we're very happy," said Fischer. "We have all short films this year and suitable for all audiences, so that's new this year.

We have many more local youth featured this year, too."

The VIP night attract nearly 70 guests, one of the largest crowds in the four years of the festival.

"We enjoy having the film festival here," said REP artistic director Ovington Michael Owston. "We expect there will be several hundred visit the festival over the weekend."

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