Film students tackle full-length films

Three Biolans fulfill vision of creating their first feature films.

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Film students tackle full-length films

Photo Courtesy of Andy Brewster

Photo Courtesy of Andy Brewster

Photo Courtesy of Andy Brewster

Kayla Santos, Deputy Arts & Entertainment Editor

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(This story was originally published in print on Apr. 11, 2019).

Seeking variety from typical short films and miniscule projects, three Biola film students spent their summers putting their full-length scripts to screen, a feat no student has accomplished while enrolled at Biola. While senior cinema and media arts major Marco Zambrana directed “Rubaru,” and recent alumni Calen Coates and Spencer Whiteout directed “Wrapped” and “Space Waves,” respectively. These three Biolans hope to use their films to catapult into Hollywood.


Although he initially developed “Rubaru” as an outlet from some personal events, Zambrana realized he wanted to build a bigger story out of it. As “Rubaru” translates to “face-to-face” in Hindi, the film deals with honest reflections of depression and anxiety. After sharing the script with then-freshman Andy Brewster, who eventually became the film’s producer, the duo decided to pursue the film in January 2018. From finishing the script’s first draft in June 2017 to wrapping up the post-production in its final months, Zambrana has endured the ups and downs of feature film making, but says he would not trade it for the world.

“Why not try and tell a story that matters to society but also to the student body and others around us at a place where it’s perfectly okay to fail?” Zambrana said.

In the midst of the production process, Zambrana and Brewster faced many challenges. Two days before they were supposed to start shooting, they learned almost all of their locations for the first week dropped. Zambrana and Brewster also found difficulty in fundraising. Relying on crowdfunding through Indiegogo, GoFundMe and generous donations from loved ones, they were still about $2,000 short a month before production started and unsure if they would be able to feed their cast and crew.

“A lot of [fundraising] was built heavily on prayer for sure,” Brewster, now a sophomore, said.

Additionally, the cast and crew lost about $400 worth of hard drives and two weeks worth of editing after someone had broken into one of their cars. However, Zambrana and Brewster pressed on, not letting discouragement overwhelm them. As they wrap up the film before the end of the semester, the two plan to submit it to festivals before any large screenings.


Drawing inspiration from “The Goonies,” “Die Hard” and “I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore,” Coates addresses the struggle of insecurity in coming-of-age comedy “Wrapped.” With Coates as director and junior cinema and media arts major Rachel Lin as producer, the two have spent almost two years bringing the film to life, finally nearing the end of post-production.

Coates and Lin agreed that staying energized was the most difficult part about creating their movie, especially during their 17 days of filming. Because most of the scenes in the film take place at night, the cast and crew had to flip their sleep cycles. Additionally, they filmed between four to seven pages of script each day, which is double the amount most films would shoot.

With a $10,000 budget in mind, Coates and Lin fundraised through Indiegogo, advertising through Facebook and Instagram. In addition to fundraising online, they went to the Student Government Association, which voted food costs for their production. Coates and Lin raised the remaining amount from loved ones.

Coates and Lin hope to finish post-production by the end of spring, applying to as many festivals as they can. Once the film finishes its festival run, the two would like to do a public screening, where they hope viewers take away the importance of overcoming insecurity.

“It’s our hope that people walk away with a new confidence or at least see that that’s something they should be pursuing,” Lin said.


Telling the story of how friendships can change over time, Whiteout, along with the help of producer and junior cinema and media arts major Andrew Baer, are in the final months of completing “Space Waves.” With inspiration from a radio tower in his hometown, Whiteout crafted his unique coming-of-age script about two years ago, filmed the scenes last summer and plans on completing the film this year.

Similar to the cast and crew of “Rubaru” and “Wrapped,” Whiteout and Baer aimed for a budget of about $10,000, relying on donations and crowdfunding. Throughout the process of making the movie, Whiteout found collaborating with others to be the most challenging part since the cast and crew had such busy schedules.

With his first feature film nearly complete, Whiteout considers directing the film to be his most humbling experience. Thankful for the hard work the cast and crew have put in, Whiteout and Baer say they cannot wait to share the film with the rest of the world. Expecting to finish the film this year, the two plan to submit the film to festivals before having a public premiere. Because the film centers around friendship, Whiteout and Baer hope the film encourages viewers to appreciate their relationships.

“I hope that people will value their friendships more than they did before they started watching the movie,” Baer said.