Aiming for a premiere at Galaxy Theatres

Atascadero High School alum David Say returned from California State University, Northridge, two times near the end of 2019 to film his senior thesis, a short film entitled, “13.”

Say graduated from college and returned home to help his family in their popular coffee shop Malibu Brew Coffee. He is also working on premiering his movie at Galaxy Theatres Atascadero. The short was filmed in three recognizable Atascadero locations.

Say, who graduated from Atascadero in 2016, was tasked with not only writing and directing a short-film but also fully producing and funding it. Tasked with raising close to $20,000, Say found that returning home was a boon.

“We had to fundraise everything from scratch, which was another difficult project to do,” Say told The Atascadero News. “We actually came up a little short in some of our funding, but I then reached out to some people here in Atascadero, because we love the community here, and were able to get it done.”

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AHS Alum Produces and Directs Short-Film In Atascadero

Say’s family supplied craft services on film day while the City of Atascadero, Atascadero High School, and The Carlton Hotel offered helped in securing permits and keeping costs low for the former Greyhound to film.

“I reached out to Mr. Neely, who was the principal at Atascadero High School then and (Superintendent) Tom Butler, and they helped me get the permit to film at the high school for free,” Say said. “I also spoke to Terri Banish from the City, she was really kind, and helped us get a contract to film at the lake as well as Deana [Alexander] at the Carlton who let us film there as well as letting the cast and crew stay there for a great deal.”

Say’s film, which is classified as a thriller, is centered around a group of friends with one horrible secret, a prank gone wrong in high school that killed one of their friends, and rather than report it, they covered it up.

The film is set in the present day, 10 years after the incident, when the group returns to Atascadero for their 10-year high school reunion. Strange things begin happening to the friends once back in town and they end up trapped on the 13th floor of The Carlton Hotel.

“We started the project in September,” Say said. “We took about a month to write the story. Then filmed in late October around Halloween and then filmed another shoot in November.”

Apart from filming at The Carlton Hotel and Atascadero High School, Say’s film team also has scenes filmed at the Atascadero Lake Park.

The young director fell in love with film at a young age when he and his family moved from Cambodia to the United States. As a young kid with no sense of American culture, he turned to movies as his guide and looks to do the same for kids in the future.

“I was about 7- or 8-years-old, and when I came here, I didn’t know a lot of English,” he said. “So I went to school, which helped, but I pretty much learned American culture through movies and television, especially Disney movies. That taught me a lot, so I’ve taken that with me and want to be able to do it someday for other kids.”

Before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Say was engaging in talks to premiere the movie at Galaxy Theatres in Atascadero. Unfortunately, due to closures to theaters, Say was forced to put his showing on hold. He hopes to show his movie, in the city he filmed it in, someday soon.