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Novice Filmmaker Just Wants a Fighting Chance to Be a Hit

As movie premieres go, the one here tonight definitely will be low key. It will be in a backyard.

But for writer-producer-director John Trujillo, 27, the first showing of his 45-minute black-and-white martial-arts film for friends and cast members is a watershed.

“It’s the beginning of the dream for me,” he said. “I’ve known I wanted to be a film maker since I was 5 years old.”

Trujillo’s movie, titled “Law of the Fist,” has been two years in the making. Filmed in Hollywood, Studio City, La Habra and Cypress, the production cost a total of $3,500, “and that includes packaging,” he said.

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Trujillo has no illusions that “Law of the Fist” will be snapped up by a Hollywood studio. “It’ll go direct to video,” he said. “I’m hoping to find a distributor.”

Martial-arts films have a devoted following, Trujillo said, and that is the audience he hopes to attract. “You know, having a cult film wouldn’t be too bad,” he said with a grin.

“Law of the Fist” is not a brainless, kick-and-scream production, he said. “Actually, my film is very plot driven. It’s about friendship. It’s the quest of one man to save a friend from going bad.”

The main actors are Joey Watson, 25, who now lives in Florida; Bryson Benninger, 26, of Huntington Beach; and Wendy Hunter, 27, of Los Angeles. In the film, Benninger and Watson are martial-arts buddies with differing views on life. Hunter is the love interest.

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“I met Bryson Benninger when I was taking karate lessons,” Trujillo said. “I met Joey Watson when we both did stunt work in Hollywood.” Hunter joined the team after reading Trujillo’s advertisement in a trade publication for a female lead.

What did the actors get for their work? “I fed them well,” Trujillo said, and won them over to his view that the film has the potential for commercial success, which would gain them more exposure.

Trujillo, a 1987 graduate of Cypress High School, studied script writing and filmmaking at UCLA Extension and has held a number of Hollywood jobs, including a 1992-93 stint as a stage production assistant on the TV comedy “Mad About You.”

A photo of the cast and crew of that hit show, with Trujillo prominent among them, is one of his many movie-memorabilia items.

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Pending his big break, the young filmmaker lives at the Marion Avenue home of his parents, Pam and Ray Trujillo. Tonight’s movie premiere will be on the patio.

Confident that his first film will be well received, John Trujillo he is already writing a sequel. “I didn’t play any role in ‘Law of the Fist,’ but I’ll do some acting in the sequel,” he said.

He’s also formed a company, Trufilm, and has a personalized California license plate with that moniker. “It’s a name I picked when I was still in grade school,” he said. “I always knew what I wanted to do with my life.”


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