Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Limited Quantity Moonshine of the Damned Zombie Prosthetics (Part Four)

Time for more Limited Quantity prosthetics from Moonshine of the Damned. We're nearly done and had ourselves some more hero zombie makeups over the last couple shoots. Here's a quick rundown on them all.

Jawless Bo - $30
This was intended to be a somewhat campy, yet kind of gory looking piece when all done up and it turned out to be exactly that.
Saraphine Zombie - $45
Another Out of Mouth Denture piece, this one was slightly different looking than the others as this character isn't exactly as much of a zombie as she appears.
Torso Zombie Brow - $20
A small brow piece that was used on the Torso Zombie, came out pretty well so I thought I'd offer it up for sale as well.

 If you're interested, send an order to: foxhenderson @ themonkeyrodeo.com. Payments can be made through PayPal or in Canada, Email Interact is the best option. Shipping is a flat rate of $5 unless you want something fast or more secure than a padded envelope.

And the same discount as on The Monkey Rodeo site for other prosthetics, also applies to these pieces. Zombie Walk orders - 10% off. Haunted Attraction orders - 25% off on orders over $100. Just make sure to mention if you're involved in either in your order.

And feel free to ask about rejects, there won't be many,  but it could happen. Rejects are 50% off.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Moonshine of the Damned, Production Journal #17

Not really much has gone on since the last shoot. We had two more scenes to go at that time, we just finished off another one and finally only have one scene left to go.

This last shoot was without a doubt our rockiest to date. So far it's been pretty easy, all things considered, and yesterday seemed like all that good luck had caught up with us and needed to be paid off with some shitty luck - hopefully that bodes well for the final shoots.

In concept it was a fairly straightforward scene, 3 of the bimbos get attacked by a rather large zombie on their way to tracking down the Zombie Eater. There was a little bit of makeup, another somewhat elaborate make job that had to happen in between shooting one actors scenes as well, so they were normal looking at the beginning, and they would be messed up looking at the end and absent from the scene in the middle - during which time they were to be made up - and we'd be all done of everything from that scene.

No such luck, last minute - I lost both of my makeup people, which meant if I wanted to get it all done, I'd have to stop in the middle of shooting and spent at least an hour on makeup, in the middle of what we discovered were mosquito infested woods. So I had to revert to my original plan for shooting, which was to do the makeup later and strategically hide the actor to blend her into the scene somewhat seamlessly by shooting her stuff at a later date. So we did that, I might need to pick up another shot of the other actors to fill in some blanks possibly.

And of course there were the mosquitoes, even with a cloud of bug spray hovering over us, we were all still covered in them. It sucked.

And then, upon arriving at the location, I discovered not only had a I left the camera on, draining one battery, but the 2nd one was suddenly messed up, the time remaining dropping from 52 to 26 to 11 to totally dead in about 5 minutes. Which meant we were stuck shooting possibly another 2-3 hours with about 80 minutes of battery life which caused me to rush, and rush even more since we were about an hour and half behind schedule, so it was about 4:30 or so, with sunset was around 8, and we were in the forest, so we were in danger of losing the light even earlier than normal.

I hate feeling rushed, it's the one thing that totally throws me off and causes me to make mistakes. My concentration is totally shot because all I can think of is whatever is causing me to rush in the first place, when I'm racing against two different things, the battery and the light, it makes it even worse. Add in the constant distraction and annoyance of the mosquitoes, there was no way this was going to work. And to top it all off, it was a fight sequence - which, I'm not so great at.

Luckily, it was with John MacDonald, who is pretty decent and going through the motions of a fight sequence and is up for anything. So we had worked out some simpler ideas before we even went to
the location in hopes of making it all work better.

And it did. Not perfect, not by any means. As the light grew dimmer I began to notice some of the footage becoming grainy, which I would normally have fixed in a couple seconds by adjusting the camera a bit, but in my rushed, distracted state it never crossed my mind so as a result we have some somewhat darker, grainy shots throughout the scene. As well as a couple awkward edits, which I think I have some extra footage to fix, so I'll look into that today or otherwise just live with it.

So it wasn't a great day. A little frustrating this close to being done - only one scene left, did I mention that - but it's done, sort of close to what I wanted. And pretty good when you consider the circumstances. The only real upside was, as usual, my actors were awesome and did a fantastic job. So a huge thanks to them for  getting through it all and making it worth it.

In the background, big John MacDonald. In the foreground, left to right; Julia Kilbride, Heather Panton and Mary Gaudet.

And some other stuff.

So that was it. We got through another day, and our worst day, and hopefully that means with only one - actually simple scene left to go - we're pretty much wrapped up on this thing.

I've no more prosthetics to make, only a couple teeth for a prop left to make and I'm done. Although we do have our big final battle coming up, I'm feeling pretty confident since I've got two actors, who I believe are more than willing to get banged up just for the fun of it, that we'll pull it all off without too much stress.

 And finally, the Line of the Day:

That's it for now. Our final shoot is lined up for September 8th. Not much to do now but wait for it.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Moonshine of the Damned, Production Journal #16.

It was a bit of a long hectic week building up to our 10th shoot. I originally only had one scene planned, and then last minute added another to start wrapping this all up sooner rather than later.

The first scene had a new hero zombie added to it, Torso Zombie. I figured I had tackled the full head prosthetic and it turned out well, I thought I wanted to try a torso piece. So I put out the word and finally settled on a friend of mine who I knew would work out well for it.

The Making of Torso Zombie.

I could have just done it as a flat piece, but that's cutting the type of corner I didn't want to do on this project. I had the materials so it was no issue doing up a lifecast of the actor.

Once it got to this stage, I realized it wasn't as large as I think I would have liked, but too late to change anything since I had less than a week to do all this - along with a lot of other crap.

This was about after an hour or so of just roughing it all out.

After several hours of sculpting I finally settled on this. Now, it's hardly a realistic anatomically correct looking piece, that's exactly what I was hoping to avoid doing. My idea was that since it's only onscreen briefly, I wanted something perhaps a little surreal and fairly dramatic.

The mould turned out great.

The final piece however, not so awesome. Running out of time and materials (this was the 4th attempt) I settled on using this version. It wasn't horrible, just a lot of steam pools and air pockets had formed. I figured, gives it a bit more of a random rotted out look, so I went with it.

A quick paint job. The brow piece beside it was just some random piece I had sculpted on another mould that I had extra room to do a smaller piece, so I  decided to use it here.

The final makeup all applied.

He's only in the scene for a short bit, it was amusing enough though and well worth the effort.

It ended up being a long day for one of the leads Heather, who was the only character in both scenes. She showed up at 10 and finally got to leave around 5:30. Our days don't normally run this long - unlike a big Hollywood or even medium budget (probably even low budget) movie, we don't shoot all day long. We're all volunteers so we shoot when we can and rather then scrambling and racing to get a whole bunch done in one day, we've pretty much settled on specific sequences, or scenes that usually add up to no more than 5 pages a day.

This was our issue last year, trying to get upwards of 10-12 pages done a day in only a few hours. It caused everything to be rushed and a little on the crappy looking side the closer we got to having to wrap things up. This is an example of another corner I didn't want to be constantly cutting this time out. We take our time, schedule things a little more realistically this time out - and so far it's working brilliantly. The last few shoots not only have we been done right on time, but even ahead of schedule by a couple hours sometimes.

The day started at 9, Dan (Torso Zombie) came out to get into makeup. 10am, Krista and Maggy showed up to start on Krista as Zombie Saraphine. This was a normal character in the original version from last year and one of the things I decided early on this time was that she would be dead, appearing as a sort of zombie. You'll have to watch it to see what I mean by "sort of zombie."

Here's the Zombie Saraphine prop, all bent up in a bag.

Torso Zombie has a coffee before we start.

Here's Krista after about 40 minute or more or latex and Pax paint. Turned out not to be the best solution. I looked awesome on camera, but she did final it pretty brutal to remove. Lesson learned, won't be doing anything like this again. And I won't need to, this is my last zombie movie anyway.

Here's the reason for the Zombie Saraphine  prop, she needed to be suspended about 5 feet or more off the ground and come crashing down. Didn't feel it was safe to do that to Krista or practical. Looked pretty creepy though.

Heather got re-bloodied up.
 Torso Zombie is ready for his shot.

Torso Zombie was a mime in his previous life.

Freebird and her fully spiked out Spiked Zombie Head Mace.

Cast from the first half of the day.

The makeup and costume turned out great, she really looks pretty damned creepy.

I'd like to say we purposely added the leaves and shit to make the hair look more tangled and cruddy, but that all just happened naturally over the course of setting things up and dropping the corpse.

We finished right on schedule, even with a late start. It was a pretty simple scene, the most complicated stuff were things we added, like the Torso Zombie.

Part of what is making this version of Moonshine of the Damned turn out so much better than last year is not only having experienced part of it last year so the issues were more obvious and worked out in advance, but that we've way more unique zombie makeups. That's one of the many things that went into my deciding to shut it all down last year. The rushing to get things down made the zombie makeups less and less impressive to the point of just lazy and terrible looking - this was a massive sore spot I was unable to let go.

The whole point of this project - besides the fun doing it - was to do a really great job on the FX. Not really from a modern perspective, but a low budget 80s movie perspective. Campy, a little goofy, almost always effects and keeping with the tone of the movie at the same time.

The only disappointment of the day, and really for the whole shoot, was our lack of zombies for the 2nd half of the day. This was our first flashback to last year's shoot, zombie extras not responding and even two dropping out last minute. I realized part of the issue was in trying to keep the number small for this scene I didn't through out dozens of messages and whatnot, so I had only 4. Close to the exact number I wanted.

In the end we shot with just the two we had and it worked out just as well anyway. Not perfect, but livable - and the two we had gave it all they had so that made it worth it. They did a great job.

One hurdle in the 2nd shoot was that we shot the opening last week, planning on making it the last day for 2 other actors - and shooting the remainder this week, when we could get Heather out. The issue ended up being the absence of those actor's bodies on the location, they're supposed to be dead on the ground - I think we shot around it pretty well, lots of closeup and keeping the camera aimed up rather than down too much. There might be a shot where it's obvious, but I can always argue that the body was farther away than it appeared so it just wasn't able to be seen from this angle. Or something like that. This is an example of a continuity error I can live with.

Our cast for the 2nd shoot.

All in all it went well. We finished about an hour earlier than I planned - again with a slightly late start and stumbling over lines for a couple minutes. Everyone did a fantastic job as usual. Makes me realize that not everyone out there is a greedy asshole who will only do things for monetary gain, all these folks are volunteering their time and energy to do this. It's been a lot of hard work and even if someone else out there, unattached to the project in any way, eventually sees it and thinks it was all a shitty waste of time, I don't care what they think and neither should those involved. We had fun doing it and that's more to the the point. I'm sure most involved will enjoy the final piece, that's always a good thing too.

Besides, and I don't believe how many times I'll probably have to point this out, it's supposed to be a bad movie, a movie so bad it's good. It's meant to be a campy, cheesy throwback to the 80s with goofy effects sometimes, bad dialog and implausible characters and situation reactions. It's almost hilarious how many people just don't get that.

And with that, here's the line of the day:

We've got only two scenes left, that means at least two more days. I'm contemplating breaking up the last day into two shoots for convenience sake, we'll see how it goes.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

The Day I Murdered the World

The Day I Murdered the World is a new project I'm looking at for next year. I'm finally done, for the moment, with cheesy, old school 70s, 80s stuff - although I might return there eventually, but I am done with zombie movies for the time being, I've done what I needed to do there, the Bimbo Zombie Killers! series has come full circle and I don't have much more to say on the subject.

The stress of scheduling and just the overall exhausting experience in making this last BZK! movie has been a little too much for me (and it's not over yet) and I decided some time ago it would be my last overly elaborate movie. I still wanted to keep making them, but I needed to find a way to ease some of the production stress - I don't feel like having extra help behind the camera would solve it, it would just become another thing to worry about. Another person whose reliability would constantly be a source of distraction, so I'm not going that route.

I'm going back to simple and I figure I can achieve that in a couple of different ways. One thing that slows down shooting is dialog, well, with a totally silent movie, that's out the window - easy enough. A large re-occurring cast, I'm scaling it down to a much smaller size, although it will be a more out in public movie, the main characters will be lesser in number and most likely wearing a lot of makeup that will allow for a double if needed.

So there we have it, a silent movie, with a smaller cast. I'll be using full head prosthetics to ease the stress of having to schedule just the right person constantly, so I can use a stand-in. I'll work on the need for a constant flow of continuity by not having a cast that's slowly knocked off and needing to make sure costumes stay clean if I shout out of order.

This was my starting point for a project that came to me with the title, The Day I Murdered the World. My goal here is to make a serious movie, to actually try a genre that could prove very difficult if not written just right or acted just right. My first goal was to find the right actor, it took about 5 seconds to settle on a guy I've worked with off and on over the years, Tim Gormley. To put it as simply as possible, he's incredible to work with. He understands acting and he's willing to do pretty much anything. So with him onboard, I felt the project at least was off to a good start.

The overall feel of the movie, will be awesome if I can pull it off. We're going with a Hitchcock type movie, one of the general themes of Hitchcock movies is paranoia - which fits in well with the fact we have a fellow who is unable to hear and trying to find out what happened, all the while wondering, who's a friend and who's an enemy. Combine that with a story with a slight Lovecraftian vibe (whose stories also heavily featured the notion of paranoia) and I think we've got a potentially bizarre little film.

Will it be feature length? Probably not. Maybe half an hour. I really don't know. I do know I won't limit myself and try for a specific length of script, I'll just start and see what happens and we'll go from there.

I've got a lot of vague random imagery floating around in my head to try to mix both the Lovecraft and Hitchcock feel - and if it's successful or not, I think it'll be a bit of a curiosity of a movie that some folks will really get into and other will just hate it within the first 5 minutes.

I'm planning on a winter pre-production and if the script is completed by spring, we'll try to shoot it if the budget isn't cripplingly huge.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Moonshine of the Damned, Production Journal #15.

Day Nine has come and gone - and it went really, really well. I estimated about 5 hours, plus some time to shoot some other cutaways that would allow one actor to be over and done with and another to not have to return until the very last shoot. We ended up being done 2 hours early and even after the additional shots, and doing a makeup job, still came in under an hour short of what I'd expected. I was pretty exhausted afterwards, which I usually am, but I still managed to get the scenes edited shortly after it was all done.

I've always meant to edit right after filming while it's still fresh in my mind, and for once actually did so after the last shoot - which I'm lucky happened since some shots were no good and had to be redone - so I was able to get the actor back in time before he shaved and threw out his costume. Good timing and it reminded me I should be a little more pro-active in getting this done.

I don't want to end up in the end with missing footage and a pile of work I just don't have the energy to wade through/ I started organizing all the footage by scenes tonight and I'm going to attempt to get some major editing done - there's only maybe half of what's shot so far that hasn't been edited, so it's not too bad just yet.

So here was our cast for the day, we had just enough zombie heads on sticks to go around for the picture.

I've been fortunate up until this shoot to have had nothing but smaller shoots with only a couple actors (aside from the opening stuff) and today was our first return to that and the next few shoots are more or less the same. Hoping to get it all scheduled so we're done early to mid-September, we'll see how that all goes.

The biggest snag we had was one of the actors, John MacDonald, had shaved his head - I meant to remind him a week or so before the shoot and didn't and literally 2 days before this shoot he did it. Admittedly a small thing, but just one of those things you can't get around - unless you have the opportunity to have him put on a hat.

Normally, this would feel like it was added and forced, but we had a really good spot to put it in without slowing things down or causing things to feel too out of sorts. Most might not even notice we did it on purpose

We even got to hose someone down with blood today. We had another Zombie Eater appearance that left him a little bloody - possibly causing some continuity issues if you don't believe he'd clean himself up. I might go back and use some other footage or even reshoot a couple closeups later if I don't think I can live with it.

The biggest issue of the day was once we got the prosthetic on for this sequence, I noticed there was a huge tear in the back on the neck, luckily it just meant we could only shoot him from one side so it was unnoticeable and upon examining it when I got home I noticed it was the one place on the inside I hadn't reinforced with latex. So I'm hoping it'll last for the very final shoot so I don't have to make another one.

And today was Ancelene's last day, as well as Mark's. We ended up shooting a little extra into another scene to take care of them.

Overall I think it turned out alright, not perfect - but these things rarely are. When you're shooting something like a sledgehammer to the face it's hard to have it turn out exactly like you thought it would, we got it covered well enough though that with some sound it should work.

And since it was Ancelene's last day there was a couple minor shots I needed to get and redo to fill in some gaps. One didn't quite turn out like I'd planned, but I'm going to see if I can rework it without having to reshoot it again.

And then came the sledgehammer to the face. This was actually in the original script and when it came time for the rewrite I made to to keep it even though it happens completely differently than before - even a different character hitting her.

The worse part of this was keeping the piece on until we were ready to shoot. The hammer, with only part of the handle, was glued to the prosthetic after a quick paint job and finally glue to Ancelene's face, so she had to wander around with only one eye, holding up the sledgehammer so it wouldn't pull the makeup off. And rather than go all the way back to the location, I brought some of the location to us - just a pile of leaves since the ground where we're shooting is littered with them.

And that's it. Another day over and done with, everything pretty much turned out as expected. Got a shoot next weekend as well that should be interesting and I'm seeing if I can shoot a little more to get around some scheduling issues that might cause more delays.