From Where We Are

Booba breaks into Hollywood

A USC production company brings its first short film to the big screen tonight.

White words on a black screen advertising Booba film with a timer that counts down until the film is released

Today, a short film made by 28 USC students will be screened at the TCL Chinese Theater in Hollywood at 7pm. Filled with horror and “mad dogs”, Booba is highly anticipated.

Mary Ahn has the story.

Grauman’s Chinese Theater, located on Hollywood Boulevard, will be screening a short horror film at 7pm. “Booba” is the product of 28 USC students and alumni, including director Gaoyang Ganjin, writer Hunter D’Ancona and producers Joe Grode and Gabby Fiszman. The team worked with the production studio, Ingsane Productions, to bring the film to life.

Director Gaoyang Ganjin speaks about how Booba got started.

GANJIN: This idea originally started, I came up with the idea originally in class. It was supposed to be for another project, but eventually what happened was I realized that the project is a little bit too big for what the school sort of allows me to make and sort of with all the restrictions. And from that point on, I sort of, I wanted to be ambitious and wanted to do something great. And and so I talked to, I met I met up with Hunter, and he completely, him and I, we completely reworked the script from the bottom up. We added so many more scenes. You know, after that, I found Joe and Gabby, which came together and produced this whole project.

The twenty-minute film is about the age-old relationship between man and a man’s best friend. Inspired by Ganjin’s dad and his dog, the director explored this thin line between companionship and control. The film visits the darker themes of relationships, even those that are seemingly as simple and straightforward as one between a human and their pet.

Screenwriter Hunter D’Ancona talks about the film’s themes.

D’ANCONA: What we’ve spoken about the film thus far. We keep using this phrase ‘fairy tale’, and I think that moniker sort of speaks to the fact that we are operating in this weird genre unto itself, but that sort of it’s sort of rationalized and created a world where all of these elements would become inherent, like this idea of a man dog, this idea of this, It’s baked in to the expectations of that kind of world. So really using genre to sort of leverage our way into the story, I think was huge.

Sid Grauman, the creator and managing director of the Chinese Theater, in 1927 spent two million dollars and eighteen months to import temple bells, pagodas, stone Heaven Dogs and other Chinese artifacts to establish it as a cultural staple of Los Angeles.

However, the Chinese Theater is not only a significant landmark in LA history, but also in film pro duction. It’s a popular location for film screenings and premieres with hand-printed stars in its forecourt and packed red carpets. From its very first premiere of Cecil B. DeMille’s “The King of Kings”, (insert amb movie sound from “The King of Kings”) the theater’s rich cinematic history brings more than four million viewers and screens dozens of film studios every year.

Even though the theater is usually home to blockbuster films, this small team of USC students was able to compete with giants. But the road to release wasn’t without some issues. Joe Grode, one of the film’s producer, speaks about how the team problem-solved throughout the process.

GRODE: But I think really the big thing was just figuring out ways, like Hunter said, we wanted to create what was in Gao’s mind and Hunter’s mind too, and it was more of a thing of how do we accomplish this? How do we use creative ways to accomplish shots that we wanted to get. And every day was really just solving a problem.

The team’s passion for Booba is palpable, not only in the end product but throughout the entire production process.

Longtime friend and USC Film and Television Production student Nicholas Buckhalter, remembers the first time Ganjin thought of the idea for his film.

BUCKHALTER: I remember one time I went over to his house and he was telling me this story about wanting to do a film about a man dog thing that lived in someone’s basement like a maestro. And I was like, ‘Okay, sure, buddy, sounds good.’ And then you know what he did for production. And then I, you know, seen earlier cuts of it up until the final cut. So, you know, really proud of that guy and for Hunter two for doing it together you know because it’s it’s you know it’s I guess relatively rare that people, you know, put so much effort into their outside projects.

From an idea that started over a year ago, Ganjin, D’Ancona, Grode, Fiszman and 24 additional USC students and alumni had to balance their coursework as well as film production to pursue their passion, Booba.

The premiere will take place from 7 to 9pm at the Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard. All students, and all horror film and dog lovers are invited to attend.

For Annenberg Media, I’m Mary Ahn.