As students entered their Wednesday night classes in the UTC building, members of the CSULB Film Club gathered in a cold lecture hall as the lights dimmed and “Paranormal Psychologist” began.
The newest film made by the club has been in the works since the fall 2016 semester and is now available to the public for viewing on Youtube.
The five-minute short film, written by second year history major Vanessa Bloom, follows psychologist Dr. Caldwell as he works with a trio of supernatural characters which consist of a Dracula-inspired vampire, an English werewolf with marital troubles and a banshee who is an aspiring singer. As Caldwell struggles to justify his work’s existence to a bigoted colleague named Dr. Martin, the monsters try to fit in with the world around them.
“I just like to tell stories,” Bloom said. “It’s a lot of fun for me. When I was in high school, and even before that, my sister and I would set up a camera and make short films. It was one of those things where I heard that they were accepting submissions so I decided two days before that I should submit this just to see what happens.”
Among those in attendance at Wednesday’s screening was Claudia DaSilva, a post-baccalaureate student who didn’t work on the film and was viewing it for the first time.
“I thought it was fun,” DaSilva said. “That’s the first student film I’ve actually ever seen.”
After seeing “Paranormal Psychologist,” DaSilva said that she is ready to learn and help out with any future Film Club productions that she’s around for.
After the screening, the movie’s crew shared their favorite memories from the weekend in a discussion led by the film’s sound mixer and club president Andrew Haag.
Bloom’s screenplay was chosen as the group’s film and she became the script supervisor, which meant that she was in charge of making sure continuity was maintained from scene to scene. She shared details with attendees about her experience working on the film after the screening.
“I liked being script supervisor,” Bloom said. “I got to go from department to department and learn about everything. You have to make sure that if someone puts an object down then in the next scene it’s still there and that it’s looking the same way [as it was in the shot before].”
Bloom and Haag both credited good communication and planning as factors that made for a smooth production.
“Paranormal Psychologist” director and senior film major Christopher Martinez said this was his first time doing any kind of directorial work.
“You can either take the next step or you can keep sitting in the back of the club,” Martinez said. “I was done sitting in the back of the club.”
To get the job, Martinez had to convince the members that he had a vision for the film’s look and an idea of how he would showcase the story’s theme.
Martinez cited “Scooby-Doo,” “The Exorcist” and classic monster movies such as “Dracula” and “The Wolf Man” as his inspirations. He said that it was important for the characters to resemble their famous counterparts because they were still trying to maintain some piece of their identities.
Martinez described the production as two days full of jokes in between takes as they tried to finish filming. He said the laidback vibe helped them complete their production.
“It helped with stress because laughing is the best way to get rid of stress,” Martinez said. “And if you’re always laughing while at the same time organized and prepared, then you just really have nothing to worry about.”
One of Bloom’s favorite memories from filming was seeing the actor who played the werewolf, Joshua Nicholas, improvise by bringing a back scratcher and using it during a scene.
“That was really fun to sound design because I’m trying to make it sound as dog-like as possible,” Haag said. “In sound libraries there’s always really weird stuff, there were sounds of people scratching their beards and other dry sounds. I was layering all that stuff in and it was crazy.”
The journey to completion was rigorous but gratifying for members of the CSULB Film Club, and the group is happy with their creation. The movie was previously screened at the CSULB Friday Night Shorts Fest during the spring 2017 semester and Haag said that he is considering entering it into a few film festivals.