Shopping center serves as main location for USC film competition

When real estate mogul Rick Caruso built the Grove a decade ago, he wanted to create the quintessential L.A. retail experience: part shopping, part dining and part showbiz pizazz. In July the high-profile mall moved closer to its Hollywood side by serving as the main location for three 60-second shorts shot by USC film students competing for a $10,000 prize.

Last week, after screening those films in the Grove’s courtyard, Caruso announced the winner: “History of the Grove,” a whimsical look at the mall’s historic roots and present-day glitz, directed by Andy Dulman and produced by Vanessa Pantley and Tarek Tohme.

The “Shoot It at the Grove” contest was organized in partnership with USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. The Grove underwrote the entire effort, contributing up to $18,000 in production costs to each of the three films as well the prize money. Dozens of contestants — all Trojans — submitted scripts, storyboards and budgets to a panel of judges that included Caruso and producer Jerry Weintraub.

The other two finalists were “It’s a Scene,” directed by Alan Miller and produced by David Haskell and Emily Ferenbach, and “Ladies Day Out,” directed by Aneesh Chaganty and produced by Edd Benda. All three films will be shown before the trailers on the 14 screens of the Grove’s Pacific Theaters multiplex.

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