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Wednesday, March 20 , 2019, 2:54 pm | Partly Cloudy 63º


Isla Vista Community Upset About ‘Del Playa’ Horror Film

Thousands have signed petition created against the movie’s contents

Members of the Isla Vista community are calling the planned release of a “Del Playa” horror film disturbing, distasteful and downright disrespectful for its similarities to the mass shooting and stabbing events of May 23, 2014.

The outrage flowed into the UC Santa Barbara alumni population, where it took less than a week for organizers of a change.org petition against the film’s release to nearly reach its goal of 25,000 signatures.

As of Wednesday, more than 25,000 people had signed the petition. Its creators — UCSB alumni Ian Neal and Kate Nollner — have said the intent is to educate filmmakers at Berger Bros Entertainment to the seriousness of gun violence tragedies, including the Isla Vista incident last year that left six UCSB students dead and 14 others injured.

The petition alleges “Del Playa” was created to capitalize on the deaths of students.

Berger Bros Entertainment, a multi-media production company founded in 2008, released a trailer for “Del Playa” this month under the tagline “Monsters aren’t born. They are created.”

Elliot Rodger, a 22-year-old resident who killed himself after going on a stabbing and shooting rampage around Isla Vista, wrote a manifesto explaining how years of rejection from women and peers led him to violence.

“It wasn’t out of a movie; it was real life,” said Candice Signa, a UCSB alum and wife of UC Police Lt. Mark Signa, who responded to the scene that night. “These people died and they didn’t do anything wrong. This kid who caused all this mayhem is not a hero and not a monster to be studied. He had a mental illness.

"These filmmakers who are trying to commoditize death are disgusting and deplorable.”

Director Shaun Hart posted a note on Facebook last week, dismissing that “Del Playa” was based on the real event.

“First and foremost, I would like to publicly apologize to everyone who has been offended in any way by our making of this film,” Hart wrote. “It was never our intent to monopolize on the tragic shootings in Isla Vista that took place last year. While I do admit there is the connection of Santa Barbara, this film is not about Elliot Rodger. The fictional character in the film is not meant to portray anyone in particular.

"It is meant to portray incidents that take place, not only in Santa Barbara but across the country on a daily basis.

“Our intentions were not to make light of such a serious issue, but to engage our audience in an active discussion about bullying and violence. As a graduate of UCSB and a former resident of Del Playa, that day was a knife to my heart. For me, the actions of one individual tainted a lot of good memories of an innocent time and brought darkness to a place that should only be home to the hopes and dreams of the young.

"For all touched by the tragedy at DP, know this: I stand right there with you. And share love and compassion for our fallen Gauchos.”

Hart’s Facebook page indicates he graduated from UCSB in 2007.

Some petition signers alleged in comments that their likeness was used without permission, mostly scenes from house parties where alcohol was present.

Berger Bros Entertainment CEO Josh Berger said the company could not comment on the film at this time.

According to IMDB.com, “Del Playa” was filmed in Isla Vista with a production budget of about $600,000. The trailer notes an October release date.

“We recognize that by creating a viral petition, we are giving the filmmakers an insane amount of publicity, but believe that with enough support and passion we can direct this in a positive direction,” the creators said, noting they’ve sent a list of concerns to filmmakers.

A second change.org petition was created in support of the film’s release and freedom of speech. That one has about 60 signatures.

Signa said she’s all for freedom of speech, but not when victims, families and first responders are still healing. If Hart went to UCSB, she said, he should know better.

“Sometimes people don’t stop to think about whether or not they should do something,” Signa said. “The world doesn’t need to glorify the event any more than it already has been. This is not a commodity; it’s a tragedy.”

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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