Tri-Cities film student returns home to kick off his career

Zac Villanueva of Richland has launched a Kickstarter campaign for his first feature film, “The Daughter,” after recently graduating from film school.

Zac Villanueva of Richland has launched a Kickstarter campaign for his first feature film, “The Daughter,” after recently graduating from film school.


Zac Villanueva was 6 when his world was turned upside down. His parents getting a divorce felt surreal, but he never imagined it could be the basis for his first feature film.

Villanueva, now 22, is from Richland and has always wanted to direct and produce movies. He recently graduated from the University of Southern California of Cinematic Arts with a degree in film.

“Reflecting back at my time at USC, the best piece of advice I got from my professors was to write the story you know,” Villanueva said in a video.

Now that Villanueva has graduated, he has an idea for a film based on his life with a split and blended family that would follow the many conflicts he saw and experienced growing up.

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Zac Villanueva of Richland is working with producer Maia Mizrahi on “The Daughter.”

His film, “The Daughter,” is loosely based on true events and follows a blended family. It focuses on a mother who is torn between keeping peace in the household and defending her daughter, who’s in trouble at school with the principal — who happens to also be her stepfather.

Villanueva decided to make the film because there are so many people who live and grow up in split households, and he wanted people to know that they’re not alone in these situations.

He believes people need to hear others’ stories to know they aren’t alone in facing those emotional struggles.

“They need to see the story. It’s not easy,” he said. “It’s OK to be frustrated”. It’s OK to not love it. It’s OK to fight it.”

Independent film making

The film crew includes multiple graduates from the USC School of Cinematic Arts, and this film will give the crew a chance to work at a professional level and to get experience as independent filmmakers, Villanueva told the Tri-City Herald.

“The hardest step to become a film director (and) filmmaker is to get that first film done,” Villanueva said. “This will be a step closer to a full-time career as a filmmaker in the future.”

When it’s finished, Villanueva hopes to have it distributed to as many film festivals as possible, and potentially make it available on a popular streaming services such as HBO or Amazon Prime.

The film will be shot in Richland, and the Los Angeles-based crew is currently in the process of making 3D modeled sets to create accurate shot lists before stepping foot on set. He’s still in the process of raising money to bring the film crew to Richland.


“The money being raised will go to transporting our Los Angeles based cast and crew to Washington, as well as providing all lodging, food, equipment and other production expenses,” Villanueva said.

They have raised almost $10,800 of their $16,000 goal on Kickstarter by Friday, and have until May 28 to raise the rest. If they don’t meet that goal by then, all donations will be returned and the film will not be made.

The crew is partnering with From the Heart productions, a nonprofit organization that is financially sponsoring the movie. As a result, all donations are tax deductible.

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Alexandria Osborne is a reporting intern from Kennewick, WA. She is pursuing a degree in journalism with a minor in creative writing at Washington State University Pullman.


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