By Abby Watkins
and Leo Shaw
The Manhattan Beach Unified School District canceled a permit on May 10 allowing for Snoop Dogg’s film “High School” to be shot at Mira Costa due to complaints about the nature of the scenes being filmed. The decision followed two days of shooting, on May 8 and 9.
“Once we learned the true subject matter of the movie, we immediately canceled the contract,” Assistant Superintendent Dr. Steve Romines said in a district statement released on May 9. “The district will not be receiving any facilities use fees for this canceled project. The district is also demanding that any footage taken not be used in the production.”
Mira Costa administrators did not initially see anything worth questioning about the filming. Vice Principal Paula Spence, who was present for both days of filming and assisted the production team in scouting locations, said she saw nothing objectionable about the content of the movie or the behavior of people on set while she was there.
“There was some questionable language, but there was no illicit activity,” Spence said. “There was nothing in the [scene descriptions] that related to drugs or alcohol.”
After receiving complaints, however, the district investigated and found the film’s subject matter to be unacceptable. On May 9, Romines subsequently contacted The Yard Entertainment and revoked the permit for any further days of shooting.
“The MBUSD Substance Abuse Prevention and Education Task Force has worked tirelessly to create a campus culture at all school sites which advocates and supports healthy lifestyle choices,” executive director of educational services Ellyn Schneider said in the district statement. “The content of this movie is clearly inconsistent with our goals as a district and a community.”
In addition to content concerns, multiple teachers have complained that offices and classrooms were vandalized and burglarized. It remains unclear whether thefts were committed by those working with the film production or people on the campus at the same time. However, the production company has offered to reimburse physical education teacher Theresa Towers for stolen items.
“It may not have been related, since there were so many people here on campus coming to watch, but we really don’t know,” Towers said. “I put out the information that my office had been gone through, and that information was forwarded to the production company. They offered to reimburse me immediately, which was very cool.”
Several students have also alleged that both people involved in the production and Mira Costa students were smoking marijuana during the shoot on May 8. However, the MBUSD and the Mira Costa administration deny that any illegal behavior occurred on campus.
“We walked right through a scene and were herded into a group of actors,” junior Luke Trimble said. “We saw their entourage smoking blunts.”
In addition, students who were on campus during filming on May 9 report being threatened with arrest by the police if they did not leave by 8 p.m.
“We were just trying to watch them film,” sophomore Lauren Fournell said. “We thought we were far away enough that it wouldn’t be a problem, but security threatened to call the police on us even though it was only 7:30 p.m.”
Prior to the start of shooting, the MBUSD was unaware of the movie’s objectionable content. Although Spence consulted with The Yard Entertainment beginning May 2, MBUSD officials hadn’t contacted the film’s producers since issuing a facility use permit.
The production company initially slated to produce the film, The Loop, contacted Romines’s office for a facilities use application, after which Facilities Coordinator Jiji Mara contacted The Loop to ensure that the content being filmed was G rated. At some point following this approval, production was switched to The Yard Entertainment. The District was unaware of this change until shooting began.
“It evolved into something else,” Romines said. “It turned out to be a film that gives a picture of high school that we don’t condone. There was a mistake in this whole process, and it was my mistake.”
To view La Vista’s complete series of articles on this issue, see here.