The Writer, Django-inspired short film by Edson Oda

Last summer, teamed up with The Weinstein Co. and Columbia Pictures for the 'Django Unchained' Emerging Artist Contest, where young directors competed for the chance to meet the legendary director Quentin Tarantino.

Contestants had a few rules to follow, such as having to use portions of selected video and audio tracks, but the main goal was to impress the judge: Tarantino.

Film student Edson Oda won first place for his ingenious short film 'The Writer,' and Aaron Mitchell earned the Fan Pick for 'The 5 Colors of Death Ride Again.' The two winners talked to us about their experience, as 'Django Unchained' is set to hit theaters on Christmas Day.


“I was a big fan of (Tarantino),” said Oda. “Not just because of his films, but also because of his way of thinking. He's not the kind of person who just appreciates one kind of film or just one style. From westerns to manga, Sergio Leone to Jackie Chan. I really appreciate that.”

Oda used to think his favorite Tarantino film was 'Pulp Fiction,' but after talking to the director at Comic-Con in San Diego, he realized it's actually 'Reservoir Dogs.'

“It's a great film," he said. "I also like the story behind the movie: The story of an unknown filmmaker making his first feature.”

So how did the inspiration for 'The Writer,' which is a pretty mesmerizing short where the story is told in a very D.I.Y. comic book style, come from? Oda said he knew Tarantino shared his love of comic books.

“I thought it would be a good opportunity to work with this comic book concept,” Oda explains. “I thought it would be interesting to (combine) cinema, comic books and origami in one piece. My intention was to tell a comic book story in a cinematic way.”

He made the film entirely on his own over four days and ended up submitting the test after friends told him it was good.

If 'The Writer' is the test version, it would be cool to know what he could do with more time. Oda doesn't think about remaking his film, though. “I don't know... sometimes imperfections are charming,” he says.

Mitchell, who started making films in high school and found out about the contest through a friend, wanted his short, 'The 5 Colors of Death Rides Again,' to look like a 1960s Spaghetti Western trailer. He and a friend turned the project around in less than two weeks.

“I live in L.A. and work as your typical starving actor,” Mitchell says. “It's hard to get people on board when you say, 'Hey, we want to make a crappy, horribly edited, terrible acted 1960s Italian trailer.' They made it happen though, and through a social media push on Facebook and Twitter, their “crappy” movie won the fans over.

Meanwhile, Oda says the experience boosted his confidence and encouraged him to be himself when he’s creating.

“I don't believe that awards can change your life, but they are really good feedback on your work,” says Oda, who was recently nominated for a Latin Grammy, for a music video he made. “It's really nice because I'm seeing an evolution in my work. I hope I can keep evolving."

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