The AICP has announced the winners of the Lev Awards, the grand prizes in its annual Camp Kuleshov genre-swapping competition for assistants. Held last fall in five chapters across the country, the Lev – named for Russian film theorist Lev Kuleshov – is presented to the highest-rated entry in each of the competition’s three categories – Editing, Sound Design and Graphic Design.
The top winner in the Editing category was George Irizarry of Cosmo Street in New York (at left in above photo), who turned “Bicycle Thieves,” Vittorio De Sica’s riveting 1948 neo-realist drama set in post-war Italy, into a frightening sci-fi film that imagines a future where humans are decamping for a new colony in Mars and a father must find a way to take his son with him.
The Lev in Sound Design goes to Tom Morris of Heard City in New York (center) for his sound design segment of Ken Russell’s nightmarish 1980s thriller “Altered States,” in which he turns hallucinogenic scenes depicting the tortures of hell into a vacation ad for ‘Brimstone Resorts.’
And the Graphic Design Lev winner was presented to Andrew Becker of Flavor in Los Angeles (right) for his title design for Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2007 drama “There Will Be Blood.” Becker’s sequence for the film depicts drops of blood-like oil coating pages of the Bible as a visual metaphor.
Camp Kuleshov tasks assistants at AICP companies with creating new trailers that change a films’ genre; composing new sound design tracks that alter a scene’s meaning; or creating original opening title sequences for iconic films that never had one. The most recent Camp K competition was held last fall in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Dallas and Atlanta.
Judges named winners in each of the categories, and those winners then went head to head to see which would emerge with the Lev honor. The Lev winners will be formally announced at the upcoming AICP Post Awards gala event in Chicago on May 16 (tickets are now available), where they will be saluted for their accomplishments on stage.
Big Sky Edit owner and editor Chris Franklin, a member of AICP’s Camp Kuleshov Committee, was a member of the Lev awards jury and was extremely impressed with the winning entries across all three categories.
He was particularly taken with the way Irizarry took the concept of “Bicycle Thieves” in an entirely new direction with his trailer: “He flipped the idea completely, and dealt with it as a writer, not just as an editor, and that’s an important part of the skill set he’ll need in his career. I was completely floored by what he did. I didn’t expect it, and it worked.”
Franklin says the Sound Design winners were strong across the board, and that Morris’s entry took the Lev on the strength of not just its production savvy, but it’s creative approach as well: “He took that ninety-seconds of the film and applied a story to it, and that was totally unexpected. You got it from the beginning to the end, and it was executed perfectly.”
Becker’s title sequence winner stood out in a category that’s especially difficult, Franklin added. “Andrew took the true idea of the title sequence – where they’re designed to reflect the concept or story of the film – and made it his own,” he notes. “He enhanced the story with foreshadowing, by showing snippets of the film within his design template. He must have asked himself, ‘What layers can I draw out of this without giving anything away?’ This is an impressive achievement, and it’ll be a calling card for him.”
The Lev Winners React
Commenting on his Lev winner, Cosmo Street’s Irizarry says “I’m incredibly honored to receive the Editorial award from AICP. Simply winning Camp Kuleshov in New York last October was exhilarating, but to know my entry has gone farther is more than I could have hoped for. Participating in this competition has taught me to not be afraid of thinking differently about the footage you have in order to create something new. Even if your footage was shot in a specific way, if it works better somewhere else, go for it! Use all of the tools you have at your disposal to create your story and take chances. Thank you AICP and especially Cosmo Street for all the love and support.”
Heard City’s Morris had this to say: “I was thrilled! I watched all the other winning sound design entries this year, and there was a lot of really strong competition. I’ve always been a big fan of the Camp Kuleshov format. It’s a chance to present something unique and creative to your colleagues and peers, which in itself is a valuable experience. Seeing other assistants’ work is inspiring, and definitely motivates me to get better. It’s also great to get different perspectives by asking for advice and feedback during the process.
And Flavor’s Becker reports, “I’m in complete disbelief as there were some really great entries this year. I’ve known about Camp K for quite some time, but this was my first time entering. I think a great thing about it is the opportunity to have some fun. Win or lose, the most valuable aspect of the competition is just doing it for yourself. It was a great way to challenge myself creatively and engage with the larger community, and also a great opportunity to get outside of my comfort zone and explore ideas I may not have been able to do on the clock. I’m super grateful for the win!”
In addition to the prizes they received at the chapter level, each Lev winner will receive a $1,000 cash prize, courtesy of Key Code Media, and the Editing and Graphic Design winners will receive a Media Composer license, courtesy of Avid. All three Lev winners also receive complimentary tickets to the AICP Post Awards.
For more info on Camp Kuleshov, along with a full listing of all source films for each category, visit the Camp K website here. Camp K events this year were generously supported by a list of sponsors that included Avid, Key Code Media, West One Music, Musicbed, P.S. 260, Big Sky Edit and Cosmo Street.