Students awarded with budget to shoot original film

Dynamic duo turns a five-year dream into reality.


Haven Luper-Jasso // THE CHIMES

Senior cinema and media arts major Nicholas Janzen and team overcome obstacles during pre-production.

Emily Coffey, Staff Writer

(This story was originally published in print on Feb. 20, 2020).

For senior cinema and media arts majors Nicholas Janzen and Maralisa Ortiz, a five-year dream turned into a reality when they won the grand prize for the Motion Picture Pre-production class—a budget and crew to shoot their original film. 


The film tells the story of a global student struggling with an arts project because of negative thoughts. Ortiz wrote the script during her senior year of high school, originally titling it “Boxed In” but eventually renaming it “Burst Your Bubble.” Ortiz submitted it to a Biola film script contest for high school students that year and placed. Because of this, she chose to study cinema media arts with a concentration in screenwriting.

Throughout the film, the main character’s negative thoughts appear as animated bubbles above her head that eventually change when she reaches out to family and friends who help ground her in truth. 

Janzen and Ortiz reached out to junior design major Lindsey Hayden and junior cinema media arts major Emily Tkach to draw the art projects for the film. Janzen even teases his future film entitled “The Fresno Night-Crawler” through a drawing that appears in the film. 

After reflecting on her personal life, Ortiz wrote the script about negative thoughts that stole her sense of confidence. After opening up to family and friends, Ortiz quickly learned to combat these thoughts, allowing her to live more fully. When she talked about this problem with some members of the youth ministry program where she interned, she learned her experiences were very common. 

“I talked to a bunch of girls who had similar stories and it was really crazy to me that a lot of people could relate to it,” Ortiz explained. 

Through portraying the combat against these negative thoughts in a film, she hopes audiences will feel less alone. Beyond that, she hopes viewers will realize the negative perception they have of themselves is simply not true. 


They both submitted their pieces last November— Ortiz her script, and Janzen his director’s reel. After both were chosen as finalists, Janzen connected the most with Ortiz’s script. It was a convenient match, since they had known each other for a year and half at that point. From there, both worked hard at the pitch for a week. After they pitched the film to associate professor of cinema and media arts Dean Yamada, Janzen was not confident about the film. But right before Christmas break, they received the news of their win. 

“I was ecstatic, but then I realized that this would be the hardest semester yet,” Janzen explained. 

During the first session of this semester’s Motion Picture Pre-production class, Janzen and Ortiz  met with their crew. Janzen asked everyone to email him their top three choices of positions for the film. Luckily, they had a very even spread of requests, and everyone on the crew stepped into the position they desired. This set the stage for a good team culture, according to Janzen. 

However, it has not always been smooth sailing. At the last minute, Janzen and Ortiz found they could not shoot at an on-campus classroom, so they had to outsource for a location. In addition, when an actor they had already hired demanded more money, the pre-production pressure mounted. Thankfully, the casting team stepped in immediately after the actor dropped, finding a new actor within 24 hours. 

But just as things began to run smoothly, the team faced another issue. Just last Wednesday, Janzen had to get a root canal. Luckily, his two producers—junior cinema and media arts majors Krystal Klause and Katherine Panichi—stepped in and took over his role during his surgery.  


As of now, the team is working on pre-production and will begin shooting next week, following with the post-production process until late April. After completing the film, Ortiz and Janzen will enter it in next year’s on-campus film festival and international festivals in Switzerland, South America and Mexico. Janzen also seeks to upload the film on all streaming platforms.

Although Janzen has won regional and state-wide awards for previous projects, this film serves as Janzen’s international debut—a huge stepping stone to his future career. In addition to “Burst Your Bubble,” he is releasing a horror short film on March 1 entitled “Three Kings,” which he also hopes to premiere in the future. 

As the cast and crew turn Ortiz’s script into a meaningful film, they excitedly await the moment they get to screen the film to Biolans. “Burst Your Bubble” will be released on May 2, premiering at Biola.

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