Scott Paulson is a classically trained oboist best known as bandleader of the Teeny- Tiny Pit Orchestra, a collection of quirky toy instruments that he likes to invite audiences to pick up and play. As Exhibits & Events Coordinator at UC San Diego Library, he’s the madcap mind behind such happenings as the annual Thanksgiving Turkey Calling and the more-or-less-annual Steampunk Tea. He is also a silent film curator who is bringing a summertime Not-So-Silent Short Film Festival to the courtyard of IDEA1, a new live, work, event center in downtown San Diego.
Each evening — June 22, July 6 and Aug. 3 — will feature a themed set of short silent movies, and audience members can help create their soundtracks by choosing instruments from an array of wooden birdcalls, antique car horns, metal thunder-sheets, electronic theramins, slapsticks — the sound-makers for which slapstick comedy was named—and as Paulson says, “all the bells and whistles you can stand.”
The June 22 program, Women Film Pioneers, will include a film written by Anita Loos, who did scripts for D.W. Griffith and Douglas Fairbanks before becoming famous for her novel “Guys and Dolls.” Paulson will also introduce the work of his favorite local silent filmmaker, Mrs. R.G.S. Berger, a La Jollan who started the La Jolla Cinema League and was its resident director in the 1920s. Paulson calls the League “an amateur group with professional standards” that produced entertaining films and experimented with advanced shooting and editing techniques.
Innovative Inventors (July 6) will feature early films by Thomas Edison, and Steampunk Celluloid Soirée (August 3) will surely attract members of San Diego’s Steampunk community by showing some of Georges Meliés’ Jules Verne-inspired films and encouraging viewers to come in costume.
The Festival is co-presented by Vanguard Culture, the non-profit arts organization now headquartered at IDEA1, and the La Jolla Historical Society, whose multimedia exhibition “History in Motion: Devices & Wizardry in Early Cinema,” — curated by Scott Paulson — recently opened in La Jolla. “Silent Magic,” a selection of pieces from that exhibit, including posters, stereoscopes and magic lanterns, will be on view in the Vanguard gallery through Sept. 9.
In addition to the exhibit, movies and music at the Not-So-Silent Film Festival, a trio of extras will be offered opening night, June 22: complimentary beer and tequila tastings and take-home portraits by photographer Josue Castro.
• IF YOU GO: The Not-So-Silent Short Film Festival runs Saturday nights, 7-9 pm. June 22: Women Film Pioneers, July 6: Innovative Inventors, and Aug. 3: Steampunk Celluloid Soirée (guests arriving in costumes is encouraged.) IDEA1, 899 Park Blvd., downtown San Diego, outdoor courtyard. Event entrance on F Street. Tickets include gourmet popcorn and a cocktail: general admission $15, creative-industry professionals. $10, festival pass $30. vanguardculture.com/the-not-so-silent-short-film-fest
• More about La Jolla’s Scott Paulson:
Scott Paulson is a classically trained symphony oboist known for his musical eccentricities. Among his projects is the Teeny-Tiny Orchestra, with compositions and performances based around sound effects and offbeat instruments like toy pianos, oboe, theremin and mouth harp. Paulson also plays oboe with Orchestra Nova San Diego, baritone sax with Sue Palmer, and he works in the UC San Diego music library as UCSD Arts Library outreach coordinator. For this performance, Paulson will be playing his oboe, as well as various toy instruments.