It wasn’t your typical Saturday night at Pepperdine’s Elkins Auditorium this weekend.
The red carpet flowed notable names gathered in the VIP lounge and a movie premiere to end all movie premieres was laid upon the eyes of many a Pepperdine student alumni and friends of the family.
OK maybe there wasn’t a red carpet the VIP lounge may have been the RAC and it certainly wasn’t the first movie showing to find its way to Elkins this year.
But “Life Is Not A Musical: The Musical” the brainchild of Pepperdine seniors Zane Miller Paul Casey and Zach Garrett turned heads and wowed the capacity crowd that came out to see the work of Pepperdine’s film lovers.
A project started over a year ago “Life Is Not A Musical” began as a brainstormed title during the duo’s sophomore year slowly growing into a feature-length independent film after many ideas bailouts loans blessings and a full crop of talented Pepperdine singers actors and dancers joined forces to create a film ready for the silver screen.
“The title literally just popped into my head said Casey, who directed the movie and co-wrote the film’s script with Miller. I liked the irony of [the title]. I brought it to Zane and it was all downhill from there.”
Pam Miller Zane’s mother said:”We knew he was serious when he came to us and said ‘I think I’m going to write a musical.'”
Casey and Miller Film Studies and Advertising majors respectively were roommates their freshman year and thereby knew each other’s talents. They formed an international creative duo as Miller was in Buenos Aires during much of the creative process and later added Garrett an International Studies major to the team effectively balancing out their respective specialties.
“I had just finished a low-low-budget feature film of my own when I met Paul at a party and [was introduced to the project].” said Garrett on his short application process preceding his inclusion into the team.
“I’m not a musical guy said Casey on his rationale for bringing the idea to Miller before proceeding beyond his initial ideas. Garrett’s involvement with multiple Pepperdine fine arts ensembles also helped bolster their knowledge base.
The talent didn’t stop there.
The directorial triumvirate” (a moniker coined for them by the film’s choreographer Layla Brisco) held tryouts in fall 2009 auditioning almost 40 actors and singers evaluating their dancing ability at callbacks and narrowing the main cast to about a dozen.
“We were shocked [at the turnout] said Casey on the response to their casting call. It was at that moment we knew it no longer just an idea with potential. We realized this was going to happen.”
They also continued to enlist help throughout the filming process beginning in Spring 2010 on a “can you help? how soon?” basis for singers and dancers alike. Casey and Garrett alike noted this “student involvement” as playing a large part in the success of the final product.
Filming with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II DSLR and recording sound externally (think Glee-esque lip-syncing) after negotiations to procure donated equipment fell through the days weeks and months between Spring 2010 and December 11 were not particularly easy or cheap.
When asked where the money for the project came from Garrett responded: “Parents. Loans. Sponsorships.”
The project was spotted $4000 by both Pepperdine’s Student Government Association and Inter-Club Council$2 000 contributed by each.
Senior Chris Tolan was the driving force behind the film’s outside financial contributions and was the one who suggested they go the sponsorship route for necessary funds the production team said. As part of the deal they were considered an official “student film” and for that reason are a decidedly non-profit venture.
In such an arrangement if the film were to be sold at any price everyone involved in its production would be eligible for royalties making the process clearly not worth the hassle.
“No money will be going into our pockets from this film Garrett said.
But that’s not to say there was no positive return on the film.
Among other things, the founding of The Pepperdine Film Society was a direct product of the film, giving Pepperdine an example of the interest and dedication to the film industry.
That was one of our intentions: to show our school’s passion for film said Casey on the link between their film and the new club. It was a chance to show Pepperdine faculty and even ourselves that there’s desire and ability [on campus] to complete a big project like this one.”
Kerry Miller Zane’s father also at the premiere put things best describing his son and Colin Edge (who co-wrote the film’s six original songs) sitting at the piano deciding what would stay and what would go.
“It was just like in the movies.”