Student director brings murder mystery to campus

Moviegoers around the country will be flocking to the theaters this holiday season to catch this year’s hit movies.  However, the CLU community might have a blockbuster of its own.  California Lutheran University junior and film major Kayla Peralta has written, and is directing, an original film called, “Writer’s Block.”

“It is a murder mystery that takes place on the CLU campus,” said professor David Grannis of the communication department, who teaches the video and film production classes at CLU.

Grannis’ Advanced Cinema Production class educates students on the skills of writing, directing and producing short films.

“I took the Advanced Cinema class because this is what I want to do in the future,” said Peralta. “This class gives me the opportunity to make my own film on a more professional level. It gets me excited about future opportunities in the film industry. If I could take this class every semester, I would.”

Senior Molly Adams, producer of “Writer’s Block,” agrees.

“I took the class because my emphasis is in television and film production. I wanted to experience the highest level of production to get ready for my first job,” said Adams.

“Writer’s Block” is one of five films the Advanced Cinema class is making this semester. Each film has been a work in progress for the last six months.

Students wrote their screenplays over the summer and spent the first few weeks of the fall semester reading them and rating the plots, character development and ability to complete the filming by the end of the semester.

The students are filming their shorts with state-of-the-art equipment and putting in hours outside of class to get their final cut perfect.

“Writer’s Block” was the first of the films to be shot and was filmed on campus with some CLU actors.

“We are shooting with the Canon 5D and recording the audio separately on a flash card. Each student must put in 20 hours toward the shooting time. This is usually on weekends and evenings,” said Grannis.

Writing a movie script is a large task, even without the added pressure of filming it in a semester. However, the students are up for the challenge.

“I believe the hardest part was coming up with an idea that could be shot on campus with little to no budget and still have a story that people would be interested in seeing,” said Peralta.

Grannis agrees that producing a quality film in such a short time is difficult and getting quality actors is crucial.

“We put out ads for casting and held a casting session at the Woodland Hills campus and two more in the TV studio on the main campus,” he said.

“Writer’s Block” is a mystery that intertwines the dangers of technology and murder. Peralta takes great pride in getting every shot right – from the shade of lighting to the camera angle.

“I hope the audience walks away from the film entertained, and finds the story believable. I want it to be remembered as a short film that told a great story,” said Peralta.

Peralta and Adams have a mentor in Grannis.

Before coming to CLU, Grannis worked as a sound editor for feature films in Hollywood and his expertise in cinema production is well noted.

When asked what her favorite scene in the film is, Adams was quick to respond.

“My favorite scene is the fight scene between the protagonist and the antagonist. The angles of the cameras and the actors’ ability to make it so real,” she said.

Peralta commends the cast and crew for their work on the film.

“Without the aid of the awesome cast and crew, I would not be making this film today. It really is a team effort. All my actors except one are students. They take time out of their day to not only act in this film, but help with anything else behind the scenes. I really appreciate that,” Peralta said.

The Advanced Cinema class is a course offered to CLU students who hope to take their screen play writing, filmmaking and film production to the next level, and gives them real world, hands-on experience.


Matt O’Brien
Staff Writer
Published Nov. 28, 2012