Deltopia — an upcoming movie based around the yearly, unsanctioned street party that occurs in the college town of Isla Vista — is raising concerns among Isla Vistans such as Spencer Brandt, board president of the Isla Vista Community Services District (IVCSD), who co-authored a letter to the directors, producers, and cast of the movie to reject its portrayal of I.V.
“We’ve had a lot of success, making the Deltopia weekend more safe, more local, and have been working toward implementing the community’s vision for that weekend, which is less police presence, less law enforcement, and more organized community activities.”Spencer Brandt
The movie, written and directed by Michael Easterling and Jaala Ruffman, tells the story of friends who travel to Deltopia after their last day of high school and is “loosely based” on real events, Deadline reported. Starring Luna Blaise, Madison Pettis, and Charlie Gillespie, the movie takes place during a 24-hour period.
Deltopia directors referred to the film as “showcas[ing] the pivotal moments that teenagers face whether beautiful or heart-breaking. Teenage rebellion is our driving force in the film, with kids uniting against ‘The Man’ and against authority,” according to Deadline.
Story highlights from the Deltopia movie Instagram include pictures of police officers, burning fires, and the caption “let’s party like it’s 2014!,” which the letter refers to as “glorifying an incomplete image of the brutality that occurred on Deltopia in 2014.”
In 2014, Deltopia celebrations led to more than 100 arrests and a state of civil unrest in I.V., and as a result, “our community’s sense of safety and security was lost,” Brandt and his co-author, UCSB student and IVCSD Vice-President Catherine Flaherty, wrote in the letter.
“It’s really unfortunate because this is exactly the kind of thing that community organizations, local government agencies, and student groups have been working to discourage for the last eight years,” Brandt said.
“We’ve had a lot of success, making the Deltopia weekend more safe, more local, and have been working toward implementing the community’s vision for that weekend, which is less police presence, less law enforcement, and more organized community activities,” Brandt continued, pointing to community festival as one envisioned example.
Brandt noted the connection between Deltopia and Del Playa, a film based on the 2014 Isla Vista shooting, calling both exploitative of “Isla Vista’s darkest hours.”
“Hollywood feels the need to exploit this traumatic time in our community for profit,” Brandt said. “To see a group of people that never communicated with anyone in our community … and who don’t seem to have their facts straight about what actually happened in the case of both of those films, I mean, it’s just really disheartening.”
The letter will be sent out for local residents, community members, and leaders to sign in a call to action and will be discussed at this Tuesday’s virtual IVCSD meeting, Brandt said, inviting residents to voice their dissent about the film.
“Unfortunately, many people in Santa Barbara County still have very negative views, and perpetuate negative stereotypes, about Isla Vista and about my friends and neighbors who live here,” Brandt said.
“I just see this as really another perpetuation of the stereotype and fuel to that fire.”