For most people the movie Jaws inspired a renewed appreciation for nonaquatic activities, but for Zach Graves it provided an inspiration for his own award-winning short video. Mr. Graves, an intern at Plum TV, was recently named the winner of the Vineyard Gazette’s video contest. Along with bragging rights, Mr. Graves received a $1,000 first place prize.
Mr. Graves’ film begins with a man, Mr. Graves’ best friend, J.R. Johnson, walking from the Edgartown National Bank to the Corner Store at the intersection of Main and Water streets in Edgartown. The scene was a direct homage, Mr. Graves said, to a similar scene in Jaws.
The film then takes a journey to Oz, with black and white scenes being mixed with color shots, a similar arrangement made famous in the Wizard of Oz.
“I wanted to make it all white and black and just pop once you open the Gazette and show that everybody reads the Gazette,” Mr. Graves said of his film which then proceeds to show a multitude of Islanders in various locations reading the familiar broadsheet. The scenes include a woman pulling a Gazette out of her mailbox, a man reading the paper in his armchair as his dog chews on a sandal, a reader at the Katama Airpark, and another at the Alpaca Farm.
“We went everywhere,” Mr. Graves said of shooting his film, which took all of six hours. “We went to Edgartown, we went to South Beach, we went to Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven.
“It was kind of a spur of the moment type thing. As we went around the Island, it was like, ‘Oh, we can get this, we can get that.’”
The film also features brief cameos by Gazette reporters whose screen time is intercut with footage of the people for whom they write.
“I wanted to show that there’s more to the Gazette than just the paper, kind of a behind-the-scenes [look],” Mr. Graves said of the idea.
The contest was judged by Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival (MVFF) staff.
“We got a fantastic range of entries,” said Brian Ditchfield, the MVFF managing director and a member of the jury. “This film was the standout because not only was it well made, but it also felt very Vineyard. It captured a local feel and the spirit of the Gazette.
“We had some [entries] that were very professionally made and very slick, and we had some that were very witty and we also had some that were very creative, but this one tied all those elements together,” Mr. Ditchfield continued.
Mr. Graves’ film beat out nine others for first place.
“It was hard to turn some of them down,” Mr. Ditchfield admitted. “There were young kids who did them, there were summer people and year-round folks who all made it. The rejection process is always the hardest, telling the guy he won is always the fun part.”
This was not Mr. Graves’ first film. A senior at Westfield State University in Westfield, Mass., Mr. Graves made his film debut with a documentary he and some classmates made about his school’s maintenance staff. “We wanted to show people that they [the staff] are people, too. They’re not treated well at all, so we figured we wanted to bring a light [to their issues],” Mr. Graves said.
This fall Mr. Graves travels to Ireland for a semester abroad. In the spring he will return to Westfield for his final semester of college. And after graduation?
“Who knows?” he said, before heading back to work to tape a segment at Nectar’s on Ben Taylor.
Odds are good, though, that the future has a bit of filmmaking in store for the talented director. His prize-winning video will be screened on Wednesday evening, August 31, just before the main feature at the final MVFF screening for the summer. The feature film this week is My Afternoons with Marguerite, a French comedy starring Gerard Depardieu beginning at 8 p.m. at the Chilmark Community Center.