It started off as a fun family project, and now it's a short fun film called Nerd Wars! making the film festival circuit.
Diana and Willie Peña moved from Florida two years ago, leaving behind a six-bedroom house, grandparents and everything to support the acting careers of their three children: Michael 13, Nathaniel 11 and Keira 7.
As a way of getting Hollywood to notice them, they produced something with all their talents involved and Nerd Wars! is now getting rave reviews. The boys are now in Los Angeles Valley College working on a degrees in cinema arts and theaters.
The film is a Screen Actors Guild short film that's a half hour long and cost less than $10,000 to make.
Willie and Diana are producing the comedy, Michael helped write the script and has a lead role, along with younger brother Nathanie and sister Keira. It was filmed in four days.
Said Diana, "The entire family worked together in getting the film done working in together in different aspects of pre, during and post-production."
She added, "Our film is geared towards school kids, meaning we have a very young cast. We felt that by going union, we would provide a safe working environment for the children while getting better actors. And it totally paid off."
The is about what happens when the smartest kid in school suddenly faces competition from a hyper-nerd from India.
"If you look at the project, it is a pioneer in many ways," the proud mom said. "It was created by a family using their own recourses, not a huge company. The casting was done by father and mother, not a casting director, but included Alfonso Freeman, Morgan Freeman's son, as well as Lia Marie Johnson, a YouTube celebrity. The film was edited completely by Willie Pena with no training nor degree in the industry, and on top of that the distribution has being done using on-line on-demand, something very new in the industry."
So far the film was accepted as part of the "Lessons in the Dark" school sessions in Mumbai and Delhi, India. This is an educational program where films are presented to schoolchildren who then discuss what they saw in relation to issues in their lives and world.
'Nerd Wars! has an anti-bullying theme, so we are proud it was accepted! It will also be screened at the National Center for the Performing Arts in Mumbai," Diana said. "The film is currently being considered in several film festivals, and is available for rent at http://www.penatalent.com/nerdwars.html were you can also read more about it."
The film can also be found in Amazon for rental or for DVD purchase.
"I definitely commend the Peña family for their work here, especially the three Peña child actors. All of the other cast and crew involved whom I have not mentioned so far also deserve credit. Overall, Nerd Wars! is funny and entertaining and certainly well made..."—(Anthony's film review: http://www.anthonysfilmreview.com/Other/Nerd_Wars.htm)
"A-, as an adult I found myself laughing out loud various times, more so than in most full length movies. (...)For a short film that was produced with a very small budget it was very entertaining and fun to watch."—(Frank: http://www.nospoilers.net/movietitle/n/nerdwars2011.htm)
"I’m positive they (kids) will find this (movie) funny and educational." Cool Awesome Movies: http://coolawesomemovies.com/2012/01/nerd-wars/
Check out the videos above.