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Film starUA student wins Best of Arizona in the Arizona International Film Festival

By Rebecca Missel
Arizona Daily Wildcat
April 29, 1999
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Arizona Daily Wildcat

photo courtesy of Chris Gaines Chris Gaines films over the intersection of Scott and Congress for his film, "Direct Objects," which won an award at the recent Arizona International Film festival.

Next time you're walking to class and you see Chris Gaines, ask him for an autograph because someday it might be worth more than a $70 textbook at the ASUA bookstore buyback.

Gaines, a Media Arts senior, recently won the Best of Arizona category at the Arizona International Film Festival with his short film, "Direct Objects."

In the movie, a couple gets a second chance at love following a painful occurrence. Yet in the end all their efforts come up short of letting them truly reconnect.

"It's not really a happy ending," Gaines admitted, "but it's interesting to watch them try."

The entire film was shot in Tucson, and even the two actors are local residents. Mark Hampton, the male role, is also a teacher at Tucson High School; he was spotted by Gaines in another play. Linda Andresano, also a Tucson theater veteran, played the female role while still working as a nurse at St. Mary's Hospital.

Gaines managed to get $1 million worth of camera equipment donated by the Camera Warehouse in New York City. The rest of the money required to make the movie came from financial aid, Gaines's own pocket and his friends and family. "I hit up everyone for cash," he said of the high cost to make a movie.

In the wave of success of several independent films such as "Shakespeare in Love," many filmmakers see independents as becoming too mainstream. However, Gaines believes that the recent popularity represents a sort of renaissance. "It's good to support other people's visions, because they are telling honest stories in an intelligent way."

He also pointed out that among the almost 5,000 movies made each year by independent filmmakers, only 60 to 70 actually get distributed. In order to produce enough 35mm copies of a movie to disperse around the nation, a director needs at least $5 million. This is where large studios come in; they produce the film and give the creative staff the necessary funds. However, with new digital technology, movies are becoming cheaper to make, which means audiences will have more opportunities to see independent films.

Now that "Direct Objects" had its premiere at AIFF, Gaines plans to travel to Telluride, Colorado for their film festival. Then he wants to attend "any and all festivals I can get it into." Gaines will graduate from UA after the first summer session, and he plans to stay in Tucson.

As for his career, Gaines is currently working on a feature film and a documentary on the life of his grandmother during and immediately following World War II. As a young Japanese woman, she married a German-American soldier, and then came to the United States with only $50 in her pocket.

"It's important for me to tell her amazing and unusual story," Gaines said.