Recipients of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s Variety Artisans Award, seen during during a live-streamed event on Monday evening.
Recipients of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s Variety Artisans Award, seen during during a live-streamed event on Monday evening.  (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

Twelve honorees were recognized Monday evening for their efforts in the filmmaking process with the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s Variety Artisans Award during a live-streamed event.

Variety’s seventh annual awards celebrated those who have exhibited the most innovative and exciting work of the year in their respective fields, film festival organizers said.

“We celebrate this evening, below-the-line talent at the heart of filmmaking,” SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling told viewers who watched the event from the festival’s online streaming platform. “Below-the-line. I have never quite liked that term.

“It’s a term derived from the top sheet of a film budget for motion pictures,” he added. “And the ‘line’ in below-the-line refers to the separation of production cost between script and story writers, producers, directors, actors and casting above-the-line. What I love about this evening is that it erases that idea of anything being below.”

This year’s honorees are editor Alan Baumgarten for the film The Trial of the Chicago 7; sound designer Nicolas Becker for the film Sound of Metal; costume designer Alexandra Byrne for the film Emma; visual-effects supervisor Sean Faden for the film Mulan; production designers Donald Graham Burt and Jan Pascale for the film Mank; hair and makeup stylist Mia Neal for the film Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom; Leslie Odom Jr. and Sam Ashworth for the original song “One Night in Miami” for the film One Night in Miami; composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for the original score for the films Mank and Soul; and cinematographer Joshua James Richards for the film Nomadland.

“We are flattered to have the recognition,” Reznor said. “It’s strange for us, and it does feel good to see the work that you are just trying to do your best has resonated. We appreciate the recognition here sincerely.”

The award winners participated from remote locations.

The event featured a 90-plus minute conversation with the honorees about their work this year, as well as their insight and advice for people aspiring a career path in the film industry.

“The best way, number one, is to start with an education,” Neal said. “Juilliard has an amazing kind of behind-the-scenes apprenticeship program that runs for the length of nine months. I did that program and it was life-changing.” 

For those with ambitions of becoming a singer-songwriter, Ashworth said, “It has got to be a passion. That’s the first thing. It’s incredibly hard to make a career out of making music, so that passion has to be there, and the conviction has to be there.”

Richards said that “in any craft, it’s going to be about how long you focus on it. It better be something you love and are passionate about, because it is going to take all of your energy and focus to kind of get there. It has taken all of mine.”

The Variety Artisans Award gives artists like cinematographers, costume designers, composers, editors and others “a spotlight in the process of filmmaking, which filmmaking is all about collaboration and community,” Durling said. 

“In a year like we have just had, 2020, it’s great that we are able to emphasize that aspect of filmmaking, of community and connectivity,” he continued.

Variety’s Senior Artisans Editor Jazz Tangcay moderated the virtual event.

The 36th Santa Barbara International Film Festival, presented by UGG, will run through Saturday, April 10, with online events and free in-person screenings at two oceanfront drive-in theaters at Santa Barbara City College, 140 Loma Alta Drive in Santa Barbara.

Click here for more information about SBIFF, this year’s events schedule, festival passes and tickets.

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.