This September, a film submitted by three Saddleback College alumni took the “Honored Film” award at the first Washougal International Film Festival. Located in Washougal, Washington, the festival brings films from all over the world in a yearly competition. Pug competed against films from Norway, Taiwan, and Israel, and others.
Pug is a story about “an underground fighter who deals with his turbulent lifestyle during the fight of his life” says producer Aaron Berry. Much like the hardships the main character of Pug had to face, developing this film was equally as difficult, especially with little money and little help from others.
In addition to producing, Berry also wrote the story and choreographed the fight scenes. Partner Reymond Villa Senor played the lead role and director/writer Gregory Alexander Pratt rounded out this talented triumvirate.
The three filmmakers first found their passion for films and acting as children growing up in Orange County. Villa Senor said that, “ever since I was a little kid, I saw the gladiator and thought I could do it.” Pratt and Berry added that they could recall talking on the phone and discovering that they shared an interest in film and writing and they just teamed up. They also all agreed that they had sacrificed a lot in order to pursue their passion. They all mentioned that relationships had suffered and that they also had problems with money and health related to stress and poor eating habits. Villa Senor mentioned that he had particularly struggled with his family because they felt it was a mistake for him to quit his job and put so much time into making a film. But none mentioned any regrets. They all agreed that nothing could be more satisfying than pursuing their passion. According to Pratt, “I wouldn’t call it a struggle, we had fun through all of the stress, and we bonded through the experience.”
The three chose the Washougal Film Festival because it was an international festival, and because they felt they had a competitive entry with Pug. They did, however, feel pressure from the competition. Pratt mentioned that, “there were a lot of quality films, a lot more than we’ve seen at Long Beach film festivals. We saw great Indian and charming French films.” He also added though that he thought the best films came from the United States, and especially from California. In particular the three mentioned the documentary film Victoria as an outstanding entry. Also they mentioned El Morte as a good action film that was made by high school students over a period of only 18 months.
In talking about their film, Berry said that the underlying theme was “life is hard, but you have to keep going.” “We showed a guy get beat down physically, emotionally, and spiritually, but he is still resilient,” Villa Senor said, Pratt added: “We paralleled the actor’s physical distress with the experiences he goes through in life.” They all feel proud of their award and plan to continue to promote their film. Berry said, “We will use Pug to help us fund other movies. We have three films currently in pre-production. Their titles are: Before the Sun meets the Earth, Julie, and, The Infamous Exploits of Jack West.”
All three of these young filmmakers agreed that their academic career at Saddleback had been helpful to them. In particular they had high praise for Charles Meyers, the head of the film department. Their unanimous advice for aspiring actors, directors and filmmakers is to be persistent and to develop thick skin. Currently their film, ‘Pug’ can be seen on Channel 39, the local Saddleback Channel. Plans are underway to broadcast on the internet as well.