At 13 years old, Griffin Loch could already be considered a pro in the movie business.
The seventh grade SCVi student began making short films in 2008, at 5 years old, for his birthdays and has been hooked on the industry ever since.
He has done everything from directing, producing, writing, editing and starring in his own short films to creating his own special and visual effects, composing music and creating original lighting.
And now the Valencia native is working on creating his first feature-length film, “Calling the Shots,” with a group of his classmates in the Santa Clarita Valley.“The most enjoyable part so far is just being able to make a movie, it’s a dream come true,” Loch said. “It’s been an amazing experience and everyone has helped so much.”
As director, producer, writer, editor and actor in the film, Loch has a hand in all of the elements of the movie as it moves from start to finish.
“So far it’s been great fun. We get great stuff and the actors are amazing,” Loch said. “My teachers have helped me so much and the entire school… has helped us get our foot in the door.”
Loch’s creation of the feature-length film is part of his schoolwork with SCVI’s Innovation Studios, a program that allows students to build personalized curriculum based on their interests.
“I wanted to make a feature film before I go into eighth grade,” Loch said. “I’m getting all school grades based off of this film… I’m getting leadership scores for directing, computer science credit for editing and special and visual effects, and math for keeping a budget.”
Through the process, the 13-year-old learned how to raise money for equipment and supplies through a GoFundMe and calls and emails to movie stores and shops.
“It’s amazing the kind of support that people are giving toward us to put toward this production,” Loch said. “I’m really grateful for it.”
He also is learning how to navigate requesting permits from various businesses and the city of Santa Clarita to film at locations throughout the city.
“Calling the Shots”
A mix of crime, action, adventure and mystery, “Calling the Shots” follows a group of young filmmakers who decide to make a film based on a bank robbery that happened in their neighborhood.
“Then one day, the main director is off scouting a location for the next film and witnesses a murder which happens between a bank robber and a police officer,” Loch said. “He doesn’t see the police officer’s face but the police officer sees him.”
Loosely based on scenes found in Quentin Tarantino’s “The Usual Suspects” and “Reservoir Dogs,” the film includes a mix of tension and suspense with characters that mirror traits of Loch and his life.
“I wear this (suit) to school every day based off of ‘Reservoir Dogs,’” Loch said. “I put that into the film and put it as a character trait as the main character Maxwell wears a suit.”
The young cast and crew of “Calling the Shots” began filming back in April and plan to continue their weekend shoots throughout the summer.
On average, the group completes up to four scenes per day with several takes to get different camera shots and perfect characters’ lines. The group of young filmmakers said mistakes on set happen, but sometimes they make scenes more interesting and characters more intriguing.
Each of the student actors has their own favorite scenes that they loved rehearsing and performing. For seventh grade SCVi students and actors Emily Barragan, 13, Sam Grossinger, 13, a favorite scene is one where they both get sprayed with blood.
“My favorite part is the beginning of the school part when the audience meets Bart and Ferris,” said seventh grade student Cayden RoseHaley, who works as an actor and boom operator on the film. “It’s great working with Griffin over here. He’s so experienced and serious about his own interests.”
This summer, Loch plans on editing the entire film before he prepares to submit it to film festivals and distributors.
“I’m just going to keep trying and we’re going to try to put this into film festivals and get some attention out of this,” Loch said. “It’s a test run to see what I get out of it, what works with an audience, what doesn’t work with an audience.”
Friendships on, off set
Through the filmmaking experience, Loch, Barragan, Grossinger and RoseHaley developed grew closer together as they developed a way to work together as a team.
“Together we really do round off the crew. We were shooting one day and Cayden wasn’t there and it was just falling apart,” Loch said. “We, together, round off the crew completely.”
The group also relies on each other to help push them toward their goals and pursue their desired career paths in the industry.
“Before I met Griffin… I wasn’t passionate about acting or any movie stuff,” Grossinger said. “But then I started to know Griffin more and I got more passionate about it.”
Loch hopes “Calling the Shots” will act as a launching point for him as he continues to make films and work toward becoming a writer and director.
“I haven’t heard frequently that someone made their first feature film at 13,” he said. “I want to do this for the rest of my life.”
On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_