Laila Hajjali is 28 years old and has two film certificates of achievement in cinematography and film production from PCC. Laila is producer and owner of White Pants Productions, a production company born out of PCC, and continues to work for PCC in their videography and editing department. She actively enlists students to work on her film projects; her most recent project is with PCC student Zack Peter, Sibling Warrior, a documentary film about his family’s approach to his brother’s autism through resources provided by Generation Rescue.
“I learned filmmaking in the E-building at Pasadena City College … I had some really good professors. Lindsey Jang, Peter Soto, Ron Fernando, and Stana Milanovich. All of them taught me so much when it came to filmmaking. I originally wanted to be a director going into the program but then I realized producing was more my specialty. It was in one of the advanced filmmaking classes [that] I realized I wanted to be a producer.
“In one of the advanced classes we had a group. This was the first time I had met a bunch of filmmakers who were really passionate about filmmaking. There were seven films, seven scripts that were written and three got picked. So out of the three that got picked, the director who wrote that script got to direct and everyone else had to go and pick a director to go with.
“I remember I went with Miles Alva, it was a film about Legos. I remember his pitch very well, it was great. It was a stop motion film and I remember sitting there on Thanksgiving with the director and one of the other crew members and we were literally moving piece by piece these little characters, it was so much fun. Because of that class, everyone from there I had pretty much kept in touch with and we have built a group of filmmakers that’s pretty much family.
“It was time to focus on the company so it became White Pants Productions. Now a video company, we do video and photography and we also create films, which is what we really want to do.
“The theme of company is inspiration. What inspires you, what inspires people. So anytime someone has a script idea they have to present it to me. And they usually get a five minute pitch. They present the script, they say what the film is about, about what they need, what the goals are with this film. And then if I really like the script. And I think it’s something that an audience would love, because as a producer, I have to make sure the film that I work on an audience would watch it. Because at the end of the day, that’s our end goal. To make sure we have an audience watching it. To either submit to film festivals or theaters. Or international theaters. As a producer, I have to make sure the script I’m working on is good and there’s a good team backing that as well.
“At first it’s a pay your dues kinda thing, where you work on it for free we see what you’re good at. But then we place you where we can place you. Which I think is a great networking opportunity for a lot of the students because it also helps to build the company up.
“I do believe that collaboration is very important. If you can’t collaborate with others, don’t go into this industry. Because it is not about you, it is about the collaborative process. It is about everyone. And everyone has to be on the same page. Otherwise nothing is going to get done. You can completely sabotage a film that way. I have worked on productions where a director or producer has completely sabotaged a proiect. It’s not only that, but you can lose friendships, too. It sucks, it does. But collaboration is major in this industry.”