GI Film Festival highlights local Spring Valley filmmakers

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Photo courtesy "From Russia With...Meh" filmmakers

The GI Film Festival San Diego debuted its permanent home here in 2015, established in Washington D.C. in 2006. This festival features movies by, for, or about the military, that will be streaming the entire festival virtually this year May 18-23. In partnership with KPBS and Film Consortium San Diego, the festival has 38 films. The San Diego Local Film Showcase is a collection of films made here in San Diego County.

A Spring Valley couple created films for the local showcase since the festival’s arrival in San Diego. Jeanne Scott, a writer and producer, and her husband Devin Scott, a director, have produced award-winning films for the festival. Jeanne Scott is a U.S. Army veteran, stationed most of her career in Nuremberg, Germany as a personnel specialist with the 1st Armored Division. and This year they created a dark comedy short, “From Russia with…Meh,” in a new concept in filmmaking.

“We call it found footage,” said Jeanne Scott. “You think that it would be easier than hiring a crew, find a location and set everything up, but actually, the found footage is pretty difficult. First, you have to find the footage. Second, you must look at all of it. Sometimes we had 50 to 60 reels to look through. They are from all different areas. Sometimes they are from different families, so we had to figure out what would work with what, and then how to put it together and make a story out of it. It is not an easy thing to do, but it is interesting because there is a different style to it. And then, we shot a few things to help transitions. You can come up with any story that you want to, like writing a script.”

Jeanne Scott said this is their first comedy, “per se,” and wanted to do something different. She called the technique unique, the film a little artsy, and a bit avant-garde.

“We just hope that people are entertained,” she said. “There is not lesson, just something that will capture your attention. It took us a little more than three months to put this together. We sought our and found film, reviewed and logged everything, then transferred everything that we liked. My husband Devin came up with an idea for a plot, wrote the script and we worked back and forth with it. The editing process is long. We first had a voiceover person come in, then matched the film with the voice, added the transitions, and then the music is the last thing that goes in. All in all, the editing takes the most time, but the skill is in the writing.”

Film Consortium San Diego Founder and President Jodi Cilley said she started the Consortium in effort to connect the San Diego community of filmmakers, producers, actors…underneath one umbrella, to bring up the production, quantity, and quality in San Diego. A film teacher since 2003, she said ultimately, she got “sick” of film school graduates having no local opportunities.

“No opportunities here to continue to grow their skillset, their professional resumes, really having to move to Los Angeles to work in the film industry. It has been growing and going strong since,” she said.

Cilley said the Consortium began with KPBS in 2014 with many projects but targeted the GIFF to create San Diego Local Film Showcase.

“The goal of that was to make sure we had a strong presence of local films, made for, by, or about the military as part of the GI Film Festival San Diego,” she said. “The partnership here is that we are a military town, we have many veterans here coming out of the military and moving into the film industry. There are times that my classes have been filled up with only veterans. There is a natural connection between military service and the rigorous stress and organization of a movie set. People out of the military are great to have on the set, being able to get along with everybody, knowing what hard work is like, working well on a team, show up on time, doing what needs to be done, and do it with a positive attitude. We have had a lot of great veterans on set through the Consortium since we started. It was a great match to take what we were doing fusing it to festival.”

Cilley said GIFF has a family friendly movie night, films about women in the military, PTSD, healing and health, the Black experience, films that talk about conflicts throughout history.

“This is not only for the military, by the military, or about the military,” she said. “It is a great educational tool to teach people these stories that you will never learn anywhere else about all of the aspects of the military. It is both historical and very present.”

“From Russia with…Meh” streams on Friday, May 21 at 6:15 p.m. in the Shorts Block | Local Dramas . For more information about the GIFF, visit www.gifilmfestivalsd.org.

GI Film Festival highlights local Spring Valley filmmakers