A feature-length film made by a team of local high schoolers premieres this weekend at a private screening in Tacoma.
Titled “The Get Rich Quick Scheme,” the movie concerns three students who make a bet with their principal to create a million-dollar business. It was produced with the help of Federal Way and Tacoma artists and was shot all over both cities. They even rented out Stadium High School as a filming location.
The director is 17-year-old Samuel L. Pierce, a burgeoning young filmmaker and junior at Stadium High School. His first feature-length film, “The Future of Us,” came out last year, and his latest release is an homage to the classic John Hughes coming-of-age comedies that were all the rage in the 1980s.
“It’s these three kids in an adult’s world, trying to figure life out, and find out what makes them happy — (and) experiencing life with money and without money,” Samuel said.
For “Get Rich Quick,” Samuel and his roughly 40-person cast and crew shot on Panasonic GH6 cameras. Decatur students Stephen Filippov (First Assistant Director) and Daniel Schomber (Second Assistant Director and Audio Engineer) were part of the team.
Federal Way filming locations include Pizza, Pasta & Co. by Gino’s in Federal Way (Formerly Gino’s Bistro), and the Silver Cloud Hotel at Point Ruston. The latter proved an opportunity to get some practice in guerilla filming.
“We were really supposed to film in the hallway, and the venue place, but we wanted an elevator (scene),” Samuel said. “So we kind of snuck around, got it really fast, and broke all the equipment down.”
The premiere of “Get Rich Quick” at Tacoma’s Grand Cinema Theater will be a private screening, but Samuel said he hopes to put on a public showing there soon. Future screening dates of the film will be posted at electricshockproductions.com.
Samuel’s journey here started, like so many other filmmakers, from becoming enchanted by the works of great filmmakers before him.
The family watched a lot of movies together and Samuel “loved watching the behind the scenes” features, his mom Lisa Pierce said.
Learning about the extravagant sets and ambitious filmmaking in hits like the Pirates of the Caribbean and Harry Potter series was exciting. (His favorite directors include Matt Damon, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, and his favorite films are Return of The Jedi, Pirates: Curse of the Black Pearl, and Big.)
“It almost just felt like home,” he said. “It made me happy.”
His first short film in fourth grade was a cop show, a primordial, experimental sort of story that kids at that age make — it probably didn’t have much of a plot, Samuel said — but it was a lot of fun.
Sixth grade is when things took off. Adam Brock, his tech teacher at Seabury Middle School in Tacoma, set Samuel up with a camera and gave him a chance to help put together on the school’s yearly music videos. By seventh grade, Samuel started writing scripts.
Last year, he released his first feature film “The Future Of Us.” It had begun life as a short film made with three friends in the middle of the pandemic. They kept expanding the story, and eventually had enough material for an 80-minute film.
Samuel has two years left before he attends the Vancouver Film School, where he’s already been recruited. His dream is to act, produce and direct his own films, especially science fiction epics, with his own film company to partner with bigger studios for those more ambitious projects.
In the meantime, he’s already started casting for his next film, which he plans to make this summer.
“My dream is to be able to go to work everyday and love what I do,” Samuel said. “This career, I think, is what that would be.”