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.

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