For the second year in a row, students from the Savannah College of Art and Design’s School of Entertainment Arts have won Coca-Cola’s Refreshing Film Competition.
This year’s entry, "Let Loose," was created by writer and director Elina Itugot (B.F.A., film and television, Houston, TX), along with co-director/animation supervisor Henry Zhinin (B.F.A., film and television, Poughkeepsie, N.Y.) and associate producer and post-production supervisor Olivia Schneider (B.F.A., film and television, Gainesville, Fla.).
With a diverse cast and crew of over 100 SCAD students, Itugot and her creative team were able to produce an effervescent 35-second short film featuring a seamless blend of live-action and cutting-edge CGI.
"It was an absolutely incredible experience," said Schneider, who worked on last year’s winning film and was able to lend her experience to this production. "The fact that at SCAD you can work with so many different majors and everyone has their own specialties, is incredible. We had costume designers, we had production designers, we had industrial designers, we had furniture design, sound design, film and television, the effects, all these people came together to make this commercial that I think we are all extremely proud of. I got to meet new people, but I also got to learn about all these other disciplines, and you really learn about every single part of the film making process."
Itugot, who was majoring in animation, rose to the challenge of working in film and really enjoyed the process.
"I didn’t know at the time I would be involved with such a huge film production," Itugot explained. "I was only minoring in film, but as I worked more closely with ‘Let Loose’ I realized that I actually enjoy film making more. I enjoy being on set with people and seeing all these different departments working together to create ambition and reality. To me this is amazing, even though it is awesome to build a world digitally, it’s also really great and surreal to see people making a physical film set."
"Let Loose" was Zhinin’s second attempt at the Coca-Cola competition.
"Two years ago, I was trying to enter the Coca-Cola competition," said Zhinin. "Unfortunately my original idea wasn’t ‘the taste of popcorn and Coke.’"
When Itugot presented her script this year, Zhunin leapt at the chance to co-direct, meet the many challenges, and help bring her vision to life.
"It really influenced my imagination in terms of visual effects with live-action elements, and I thought this is a great way to tell the story," said Zhinin. "This is beyond what we imagined, and despite the frustrations and time limitations we had to work with, it challenges us to learn these struggles and find our weaknesses while we can do the work as a team."
Itugot and the others learned of their win from a Zoom call with representatives from Coco-Cola.
"I sort of knew that we won because when I saw my film on YouTube, I just had this confidence because I knew how hard we worked on it it and I knew the talent of my crew and that’s all that mattered to me," said Itugot.
As this year’s winners, Itugot and Zhinin will receive a RED DSMC2 Gemini camera package, ZEISS Milvus Superspeed lens kit and an additional $15k in prize money to launch their careers.
"I really want my crew’s hard work on this film to shine through and show other young film makers this could be you," said Itugot. "You can be successful. What’s really important is that I am very open about my mental health – I have depression, anxiety, and ADHD. I also have other intersectional identities. I’m a Filipino immigrant, I am openly LGBTQ, I am all these things and I want every filmmaker who feels like their identities have held them back, I want them to know that these identities can also be a source of strength. It really sets them apart in the film industry and they could be really successful."
Having ended their partnership with Regal Cinemas, Coca-Cola is currently looking for distribution for "Let Loose," but in the meantime, the film can be viewed on YouTube.