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February 5, 2007

UCSC film grads shine again in major indie film awards

By Scott Rappaport

UCSC alumnus Aaron Platt has been nominated for a 2007 Independent Spirit Award in the category of "Best Cinematography" for his work on the feature film Wild Tigers I Have Known--written and directed by fellow alum, Cam Archer.

Photo of Aaron Platt
Aaron Platt

Executive- produced by Gus Van Sant, the film was an official selection at last year's Sundance Film Festival.

The Independent Spirit Awards are considered to be the "Oscars" of the independent film world.

Platt will be competing against such cinematographers as Guillermo Navarro, who shot the acclaimed film Pan's Labyrinth.

The awards ceremony will be broadcast live from Santa Monica on February 24 on the Independent Film Channel (IFC) with an edited rebroadcast airing later that evening on American Movie Channel (AMC).

Last year's Independent Spirit Award winners included Brokeback Mountain, which won Best Feature and Best Director (Ang Lee); Capote for Best Screenplay and Best Male Lead (Philip Seymour Hoffman); and Crash for Best First Feature and Best Supporting Male (Matt Dillon)—as well as UCSC alumnus Ian Olds (a 1998 graduate in film/video and anthropology) who received the Independent Spirit Award in the “Truer than Fiction” category for Occupation: Dreamland, his documentary feature about the Iraq War. (See UCSC Review magazine story.

Platt graduated from UCSC in 2003 with a bachelor’s degree in film and digital media. He said he was truly honored to be nominated and acknowledged out of so many people in the film industry. 

“Making Wild Tigers felt like everyone involved was participating in something that would go beyond anything we had ever made before,” Platt noted. “I think the hard work, spirit, and creativity is what gets recognized in the film ultimately...we were trying to create something amazing, and weren't worried about the degree of success the movie would have in the end.”

“Our (Cam and my) low-fi style has always felt like true independent work in the making, and to be put side-by-side with movies made for over $15 million just goes to show that anyone can make a lot with very little,” he added.

Eligible films for the Independent Spirit Awards must be at least 70 minutes long, and the cost of the completed film--including post-production--must be under $20 million. Films also need to have been shown in a commercial theater for at least one week between January 1 and December 31, 2006, or shown at one of the following festivals in 2006: Film Independent's Los Angeles Film Festival; New Directors/New Films, New York; Sundance, Telluride, or Toronto.

UCSC assistant professor of film and digital media Irene Gustafson was not surprised to hear about the nomination. Two short films that Platt and Archer made as projects in her film production class were chosen in 2004 to be part of the prestigious Sundance Film Festival (see UCSC Review cover story.

“Aaron is an excellent cinematographer and his work on Cam Archer's Wild Tigers I Have Known was stunning,” she said. “He deserves this nomination and I hope he wins.”

“Aaron and Cam began collaborating as undergraduates in the UC Santa Cruz Film and Digital Media Department, and that creative relationship has really been one of the key elements in their success,” she added.

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