‘Bar Starz’ movie shoot turns campus into film set

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The feature-length film “Bar Starz,” which has been shooting across campus since Oct. 24, will complete production at CSUN on Oct. 18

Corner Stone Pictures, an independent production company, collaborated with OBX Capital group to produce the $4 million film that was co-written by Peter Castanik and Marc James and directed Michael Pietrzak.

Jon Knutson, president of Corner Stone Pictures, provided a summary of the movie.

“It is a satire on the bar scene,” Knutson said. “It is a slapstick hysterical type of movie. It is sort of like ‘Napoleon Dynamite’ (in that it is) produced on a low budget.”

Knutson said Jayma Mayes, who recently was in Wes Craven’s “Red Eye,” is the star of the film.

“Every generation has its ‘Bar Starz,’ from the Disco era in the 70s, (to) ‘Top Gun’ and ‘Miami Vice’ in the 80s, (to) the grunge and heavy metal in the 90s, and (now) this new movie – for the new millennium,” said Jon Myrick, production coordinator and post-production supervisor. “Bar Starz is like an ‘American Pie’ and ‘Herald and Kumar Go to White Castle’ comedy with young kids going to junior college in hopes of becoming ‘Bar Starz.’ “

According to the CSUN website, under University Corporation and licensing filming, the film on campus is costing Corner Stone Pictures more than $400,000.

The film has shot around five scenes on campus each day. The crew shot a scene in front of the Oviatt Library on Oct. 24 featuring a crazy professor who feeds pigeons and then shoots them, but Castanik said no real pigeons were hurt in the making of the film.

“(That) scene was for the first day of school and registration,” Myrick said. “It is the students first day on campus and everyone is just trying to figure out where they are.”

Castanik and James said they got inspiration for their film from working at bars and nightclubs.

“I used to work at a bar in Buffalo, New York,” Castanik said. “As a bartender, I would notice the different groups of people and the world they live in over the years. Marc and I saw the people who would go out every night and their spiky hair and decided to write a movie on it.”

Castanik came out to Los Angeles a little over a year ago when Corner Stone Pictures decided to produce the movie.

“I am 26 years old and never went to college,” Castanik said. “But I did graduate high school with honors, I guess.”

Castanik was on the set to see the story come to life.

“Another scene we will be shooting will be in the cafeteria,” Castanik said. “One of the pigeons they shoot will come through the window and someone will eat it. These shots will be establishing the movie in the beginning.”

James worked as a disc jockey at clubs in New York.

“I picked up a lot from working in the nightlife,” James said. “There are people who are living and dying to go to the bars, getting dressed up, and the lengths they go to get done up.”

Mark McDermitt, co-producer, was a part of the decision-making process on where certain scenes of the movie would be filmed.

“CSUN was the closest for us,” McDermitt said. “CSUN has the most to offer for what we need.”

“The film takes place in San Bernardino and we needed it to look rural,” McDermitt said. “We will also be shooting in a cafeteria that is closed down on campus and will be using a lot of the exterior administration buildings.”

For most CSUN students, the cast blended in with the regular students.

“We have 70 extras, and 100 cast members altogether,” said Maryellen Aviano, who is in charge of extras for the film. “The first 50 people must be from the Screen Actors Guild and the rest are non-members. Non-SAG members get paid half as much as members.”

Aviano, who used to work as a stunt woman on the “Dukes of Hazard” for six years, has been in the business for 28 years. She works as an independent contractor. Aviano is in charge of getting the extras for the movie into the appropriate attire for a scene.

“One day we may need them to dress hip and trendy,” Aviano said. “The next day may be filmed in a chemistry class and we need them to look nerdy.”

Charlie Picerni, chairman of Corner Stone Pictures and producer of the film, had a nephew who attended CSUN.

“Michael Tamburro, my nephew, died in a tragic helicopter accident in the movie business,” Picerni said. “I will be collaborating with Corner Stone to try to make a donation to the Michael Tamburro Geography Scholarship at CSUN.”

Castanik said that filming for the entire movie would wrap up by Dec. 6 for a likely release in April or May 2006.

Michael Sullivan can be reached at michael.sullivan.843@csun.edu.