Marina del Rey filmmaker Marilyn Anderson has fun with a serious issue

By Shanee Edwards

Life lessons ensue after actor Grant McLellan tells school bullies that his dad works for the mob

Life lessons ensue after actor Grant McLellan tells school bullies that his dad works for the mob

Bullying is no laughing matter, but Marina del Rey filmmaker Marilyn Anderson is tapping family-friendly comedy to drive home a serious message.

Anderson’s feature film “How to Beat a Bully,” which began streaming online in October as part of National Bullying Prevention Month, tells the story of Cory (Grant McLellen), a 12-year-old boy who tries to avoid getting bullied by convincing other kids that his father is a hit man for the mob.

Executive producer and co-writer Anderson, who has lived in the marina for more than 20 years, describes the film as a “Home Alone”-type story and was thrilled when the movie received the Dove Foundation Seal of Approval for families.

“Here’s a way we can actually provide entertainment and fun for kids and families while dealing with this important issue. It’s meant to be enjoyable. The theme at the end is that it’s more fun being friends than being bullies,” Anderson said.

She is hosting a special screening of “How to Beat a Bully” for military veterans and their families on Sunday, Dec. 13, at the Veterans Home of California in West Los Angeles.

The issue of bullying is actually a very personal one for Anderson.

“When I was a kid in high school, I used to go down the hall and this girl would hit me every time she saw me in the hall. I actually put that in the movie, as something that happened to the mom. My writing partner, Richard Rossner, told me he was called melon-head when he was a kid, so we put that in the movie for one of the kids.”

Anderson has written for numerous television shows, including “Carol & Company” with Carol Burnett, “Fame” and “Murphy Brown,” but she’s always wanted to make movies. Though many film producers optioned her script over the years, none of them seemed able to actually get the film made. (Optioning a script is the process by which a producer pays a token sum to obtain film rights for a limited period of time, with the intention of setting up the film for production.)

Anderson knew she needed to change her strategy if she wanted to get her movie to ever see the light of day and made the risky move of not allowing any more options.

“As soon as I decided no more options, an investor called me and said, ‘Let’s go make it.’ Within six months the movie was cast and in production. Sometimes, you just have to go out and do it yourself and not rely on the promises of other people.”

In other words, stand up for yourself and not let the bully of fate take charge.

“How to Beat a Bully” is currently available to stream on Google Play and Amazon Video. To RSVP for the Sunday, Dec. 13, screening at the Veterans Home of California in West Los Angeles, call (617) 605-7750 or email Visit to read more about the film.