While “The Valley” enjoyed a virtual performance in July as part of the LA Shorts International Film Festival, the film by Los Gatos High School Emerson Morley made its world premiere on the big screen in front of an audience of family, friends and fans.
The 20-minute film describes the struggle of a high school student, played by Emerson, as she tries to get into her dream college despite learning disabilities. Emerson said her screenplay is based on personal experience, but that it is not autobiographical, as she has gained more support over the years than her lead actress Elsie.
“A few teachers have been by my side since my elementary school,” she told the audience during the July 22 premiere at Campbell’s Pruneyard Cinemas.
The 17-year-old filmmaker said her family was also more supportive than Elsie’s mother was in the film. She thanked her parents “for making me ambitious” and her brothers “for keeping me humble”.
Eric Morley, Emerson’s father, said in an email that he and his wife Holly were ‘overwhelmed that Emerson wrote the screenplay as a 17-year-old; money raised from friends and family for the production; the director, manufacturer and crew appointed; The shooting was completed in February and is now at the domestic and international film festival in 2021. Holly and I’s goal was actually to stay out of her way. ”
Emerson said his director found Unni Rav on Google. “It was probably not the safest way,” she admits.
Rav said he was partially attracted to Emerson’s writing because he suffers from dyslexia. His production company, Visual Narrative Films, is based in Campbell.
Due to the pandemic, a lot of preparatory work for “The Valley” was done online. Producer Pratiksha Shah said the casting was done via Zoom auditions. One actor was already nearby; Hannah Feldman, who plays Elsie’s best friend Gemma, is a classmate of Emerson’s.
“Hannah and I had bio together, which are usually Hollywood stars,” Emerson said.
Emerson said that both the screenwriter and the lead actor ‘were easier than I thought it would be’.
Shah said she was impressed that the young filmmaker was willing to trust others with her project during her production.
“Once we were in recording mode, she handed it to Unni,” the producer added.
Shah said she was also impressed by the professionalism of Emerson and Hannah when the cameras rolled. “Suddenly, two scared, giggling girls became actors,” she added.
For Emerson, the transformation was an indication of her entire filmmaking experience.
“You can do completely imperfection what you want, and it can all work out well,” she said.
For more information on “The Valley” and to watch a trailer, visit www.thevalleyshortfilm.com.