For seniors taking Film Analysis, the nightmare of essaying is a thing of the past. These students instead write, direct and produce films, which will be shown at the school’s annual film festival.
Grayson Carr and Chris Fung
Grayson and Chris are producing a currently untitled murder mystery, inspired by an experience Grayson had when he was in elementary school.
“A woman down the street promised me that when she died she’d give me a million dollars,” Grayson said. “Our film is about a kid the age I was, and instead of [not believing it], he believes it.”
According to Grayson and Chris, the boy in the movie is already “pretty damaged, so his degeneration into psychotic behavior is not too much of a stretch.”
Throughout the movie, his obsession with the money grows,” Chris said. “He focuses all his attention on the money and he eventually does something terrible.”
Rather than casting people they knew, Grayson and Chris chose to go out of their way and find a cast in order to add “realism and dimensionality.” The lead role is played by an eight-year-old named Alex.
“It adds an interesting side to it,” Grayson said. “An extra complexity that, well, sometimes we think yeah, it could be simpler, but I think the overall product will be strong because of it.”
For his Film Analysis project, Ben is writing, directing and producing a movie about a samurai, based on the concept of duels.
“In the film world, there’s this sequence that has to do with duels, whether it’s two swords or two guns,” Ben said. “There’s this whole style from their eyes—it’s really simple or really stylized. I wanted to dabble in it and see how much I could do.”
Although Ben loves the freedom of creating his own film, he still worries about the chronic problem of writer’s block.
“I know the general idea, but I don’t know the specific details,” Ben said. “I don’t know what they’ll say or how the shot will go. I want to leave some up to improv, but I’m nervous as to how it will end up.”
Being a member of Broken Box, Ben “naturally” cast Broken Box members for his film.
“I’m lucky to have such a wide variety of people to choose from, and I already know their skills,” Ben said. “They’re able to put in their own input, and I actually need that. That’s part of what the movie is about.”
Christian’s movie tells the story of a high school student named James, who runs a weekly autobiographical podcast. The film focuses on one week, when James discusses his relationships with two girls—”one’s going so well, one not so well.” The story is told through flashbacks.
For Christian, the real motivation to make this movie was to branch out from his normal genre of art films.
“In the pat I’ve created mostly experimental art movies, so I wanted to make a simple, honest story for once in my life,” Christian said. “It’s like wow, for once I’m making this movie with actors and a plot. Me being an emo loner with a camera has now evolved into this comedy movie.”
One of the greatest challenges Christian has dealt with has been editing his film.
“It’s like, oh, I’ve made this cut, but what else should I cut,” Christian said. “You start to realize that artistically some of the elements of the story are not so important—maybe they can be cut out or expressed in a different way. I have to draw the line, when it will be better for the whole project to get rid of this sequence.”
Pedro Parodi and Alex Vranas
Pedro and Alex’s film tells the story of happy couple Andrew and Andrea who enjoy an idyllic high school romance until Andrea is murdered. Andrew then “goes through a lot of sanity shifts,” according to pedro, which involve figuring out who the murderer might have been from a host of suspects including ex-boyfriends and Andrea’s math partner, who was the last to see her alive. The movie eventually culminates in a confrontation that takes place at the high school.
Pedro had the idea for the film while sitting outside the Hillview Community Center in Los Altos.
“I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to shoot a movie here?”Pedro said. “Then I picked some themes and actions and went from there. We were originally going to use Hillview for a filming location, but I did not feel like asking anyone if we could film there at night.”
Although producing the film is, according to Alex, “quite stressful,” both boys are enjoying the experience of creating their own movie.
“The most rewarding part is watching the actors deliver the dialogue and not squinting at how terrible it sounds,” Pedro said. “This means my screenplay is acceptable and the actors are performing it well. Editing a scene and watching it in its coherent fashion is pretty satisfying, too.”