‘Vacancy’ comes to life

Cinematography students produce a short film to be shown at film festival


Tanya Yarian

Senior Cameraman Wayne Baker and senior Director Harutyun Maranjyan look into the camera to make sure the lighting works with the scene.

Tanya Yarian, Staff Writer

Nearly 30 students in all levels of Cinematography recently took part in creating the yearly production of a short film — the capstone project. On the afternoons of March 29-31 and April 6, students traveled to the La Crescenta Motel to apply their knowledge learned in the classroom to a real-life film production. “We had such a high rate of students dedicating their time to experience and to learn,” said Cinematography teacher Joshua Bishop.

Although many Cinema students attended the production, the three senior students in Cinema 5-6 — Mher Arutyunyan, Wayne Baker and Harutyun Maranjyan — were the leaders for this project. Bishop said that this is one of the smallest groups of advanced cinema students that have worked on the capstone project.

Lots of planning had to be done before they could start production, such as creating the story, scouting for locations and auditioning acting roles. “The script went through many different drafts and name changes and even featured some very different characters compared to the final version,” Arutyunyan said.

The final film, called Vacancy, is a murder mystery film. Arutyunyan said that it was tough finding a perfect location that would allow filming to take place, taking roughly two weeks to find the perfect location. “The overall vibe of the place fit the setting of the story we had in mind,” Arutyunyan stated.

Tanya Yarian
Junior Elena Akopyan puts makeup on the actress, Amy Rose Banas.

Students in Cinematography 1-2 and 3-4 were offered the chance to participate in making this short film. They filled out a short application describing their skills and what they were interested in. Shortly after, these students were interviewed by Arutyunyan and Maranjyan for a chance to take part in the production. Only about 30 students were chosen based on their experiences in film and their qualifications. Some were part of the lighting team, sound team or makeup team.

Each day students assisted Bishop in unloading all the equipment and had to reload it back into the cars at the end of they day. Although they had four days of filming, they were only allowed to film from 4 to 11 p.m. and had to be packed and ready to leave promptly at 11. Students had to provide their own transportation to and from the motel. Bishop also provided drinks and lunch each day from Subway, Domino’s Pizza or Panda Express.

The location was only a ten-minute drive from Clark, and the motel is a small, one-floor motel. The small rooms made it difficult for the production team to film some scenes in the rooms; therefore, only important members of the production team were allowed in the rooms during filming along with Baker, Maranjyan and the actors. “We had to remain quiet, because any small sound could be heard on the microphone,” said junior Lyanna Babakhanian who was the assistant director.

The three students in Cinema 5-6 will split the roles of editing, each taking on one section of the story. They plan on entering the film into various competitions, including the Glendale International Film Festival and the All American High School Film Festival. The film will also be showcased at Glendale High School on May 19, along with the other capstone projects from other high schools. This is the festival’s fifth year and Clark’s fourth entry to the list.

The equipment and professional actors that were hired brought the aspect of a real film set allowing students to experience the different jobs of a production team. “I truly believe this is the best type of exposure to what it’s like working in the film industry,” Bishop said.