Grad tells stories through short films

Filmmaking has been the passion of alumna Natalie Rodriguez since her years as a Diamond Bar High School student.

But it all started with a book. In fifth grade, Rodriguez wrote and created a book for a school project, which spurred a growing interest in writing. The fascination she had for writing slowly evolved into an enthusiasm for filmmaking.

I think my obsession with storytelling and writing more religiously as I got older only led to filmmaking,” Rodriguez said. “I grew up wanting to be a director but to be honest, I felt that was impossible because I was always a shy child and teenager.”

In a career that began as an intern for “The Conan O’Brien Show,” the 2010 alumna has directed and produced more than a dozen short films, which have screened at numerous festivals across the country.

Her most recent film, “The Extraordinary Ordinary,” premiered at the LA Diversity Film Festival in August.

The story of “The Extraordinary Ordinary,” like many of her other films, is about mental health. It follows the path of three young adults coping with their problems.

“The opportunities that many film festivals bring to films, especially ultra-low-budget feature films, is the chance to land a distribution deal and keep your fingers crossed that a distributor will love it enough to allow in new fresh blood,” Rodriguez said.

In order to reach her goal of being a filmmaker, Rodriguez took classes as a part of the Pathways Academy at DBHS. While a part of that program, Rodriguez took a film class where she learned how to shoot, write, edit and direct films. There, she created a series of short films and she continues to make them today.

After graduating, she learned more about films and improved her writing while studying radio-TV-film at Cal State University of Fullerton.

“After college, I also took screenwriting and production-producing class at the sister branch of Playhouse West,” Rodriguez said. “That was the class which motivated me to finally get up and direct my soon-to-be short film, ‘The Scars of Our Lives.’”

The filmmaker, who now has her own production company, continues to enter her films and screenplays in festivals and contests and is developing a television series, “The D.”

According to Rodriguez, there have been many obstacles along her road toward a filmmaking career, yet she always found a way to put herself back on track.

“The minute you get discouraged, go do something to remind yourself why you’re doing what you love,” Rodriguez said. “Whether that be reading a book, watching a movie or even revisiting an old work of mine.”