Matthew Lickona 3 p.m., April 28
Point Loma High School film studio shut down during investigation into porn shoot
"When we gave kids access to top-of-the-line film production equipment, Point Loma Lesbian High School wasn't what we had in mind."
Student director: "What did they think we were going to produce? Citizen Kane, Jr.?
Just a few short months after the opening of Point Loma High School's film production facility, the program has been suspended pending the results of an internal investigation. At issue is the studio's first feature, which is reported to contain pornographic content.
Point Loma High School senior Chad Penwiggle, the film's director, spoke to SD on the QT off the record. Here is what he said.
"I'm not going to get into an argument with the administration about what does or does not constitute 'pornography,'" he began. "Is it a film for everyone? No. Do we push some boundaries? Sure. But everyone got a consent form signed by their parents before shooting began, and our stars were both 18 throughout the filming."
Besides, he said, there were multiple legitimate factors behind the decision to make Point Loma Lesbian High School.
"First, I considered the economic realities. After spending $3.6 million in taxpayer dollars on the studio itself, how much do you suppose the school had left over for a production budget? That's right - next to nothing. We had to figure out how to get the most bang for our buck. Did we have the budget for a car chase? No, we did not. Did we have the budget for realistic gunfire effects? Again, no. Did we have the budget for awesome explosions? Hell no. You know what we had the budget for? A used mattress, 10 feather pillows, 25 cans of whipped cream, and a bunch of lingerie from TJ Maxx."
"Second, I considered the talent. Suzie Adler is a great girl, and everybody loved her singing in last year's stage production of The Music Man. But the camera is a lot less forgiving than the stage, and it quickly became apparent that she's not exactly an actress. What she is is smoking hot. You can call it exploitation of a barely legal teen. I call it recognition of her gifts on the part of her peers. Ditto for Stephanie Grimes. These girls saw their chance to shine on screen, and they went after it."
Finally, there was the question of marketing. "When Spider-Man wanted to cast someone to play the teenage Peter Parker, did they cast a teenager? No. They cast Andrew Garfield, a dude in his late twenties. That's what people want to see when they watch movies about teenagers. Except of course, in porn. In porn, they want their teens to be teens. We had to play to our market."
In light of Penwiggle's account of his actions, film studies teacher Grady Lear awarded him an A+ on his project, pending the outcome of the investigation. "He clearly internalized every lesson I taught him. And there's no denying the production value on the finished work. Um, not that I've watched it."
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- Point Loma High School film studio equips students for Hollywood careers — April 17, 2013
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- Where Cartoons Aren't for Kids — Nov. 10, 2005