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I made a realistic prop gun using a water gun

Prop Gun Before 2011

Prop Gun After 2011

Through the Frugal Filmmaker I found this guy KnopTop who has a Quick FX YouTube channel He posted this video for making a plastic gun look like old metal. All you need is black spray paint and metallic spray paint. I think his guns look better than mine, but I still thought it was pretty cool. You can check out the tutorial below:


first Matte Painting test with Final Cut and Photoshop

This is the first matte painting I have created. It was a lot more difficult than I thought to find pictures that fit with the video I shot. I tried to make it suck less by adding an explosion. My movie is supposed to take place during the apocalypse, so for my test matte painting, I tried to find pictures of rubble and bombed out buildings. I found some good pics on Google images, but I couldn’t make them work for the narrow neighborhood street I had filmed. I think matte paintings work best with wide open spaces. This gives me an idea of the kinds of locations I should be looking for when I shoot my movie.

I used Photoshop CS3 and Final Cut Pro 5, with footage shot on standard definition mini DV tape. I also watched a tutorial on matte painting I found on YouTube,

Lost My Location & the Cast & the Crew Almost Got Arrested

I had two filming dates scheduled, the first on Saturday January 9th and the second on Saturday January 16th. After a 6am call time, on Saturday January 9th, the actors playing zombies were in makeup for 4 hours. After about 10 am I began driving the actors to a small secluded field around the corner from my Mom’s house. I could only fit 3 people in my car at a time and I made 5 trips. It took about 15 minutes. After I dropped everyone off I began walking to the filming location with my camera, storyboard and bounce card. And that is as far as I got. There was a police helicopter hovering over us with a cop screaming into a loud speaker. We were instructed to lie down on the ground and put our hands on our heads. As we waited about 4 or 5 cop cars drove up and the police got out and drew their guns.

One by one, we were instructed to walk backwards with our hands on our heads. One by one we were handcuffed and put in the back of a squad car. After about 45 minutes, while the cops inspected the water guns I was using as props and talked to each of us, we were let go with a warning and told to leave. It was truly a horrible experience. Some neighbor saw us and called the cops saying we had guns. I say bullshit. There were a dozen actors in full zombie makeup, a camera, and a couple of makeup artists. It was obvious we were making a movie and some wannabe piece of shit decided to ruin it. Even the cops scared us and wasted our time for no reason. It was obvious we were making a movie. All they had to do was tell us to leave.

Anyway, the very next day, Sunday, I drove to a friend’s house in San Bernardino. It was about a 90 minute drive from the Hollywood area where I live. I thought I could film here instead and began making plans for Saturday January 16th. Then a day before the shoot, I get a text message from the makeup artist saying she and her assistants are going to cancel. The makeup artist was not happy about almost getting arrested and I’m pretty sure that’s why she quit. Unfortunately by the time I found out it was too late to find a replacement.

I’m pretty much starting all over again and though I have barely shot anything, this film is already a big pain in the ass. I go to school and work a part time job. I had a month off after fall semester and was hoping to shoot some scenes for the film and get it going. I didn’t get to film anything and I lost some money buying supplies, paying for the makeup artist, getting wardrobe for the zombies, and preparing for two film dates that got botched. The first part of the film I shot I can’t use because it really isn’t that good. I was planning on starting over again with the scenes I was going to shoot on those two Saturdays.

Oh well. I can’t afford to buy a permit in California. I’m going to have to look at filming in other states in the USA that have more affordable film permits. A place where the permits are a few hundred dollars instead of a few thousand. Anyway, I included some pics from the debacle below including everyone in handcuffs.

What could have been….. Sigh

almost getting arrested pic5

almost getting arrested pic1

almost getting arrested 4

almost getting arrested pic3

almost getting arrested pic4

almost getting arrested pic2

almost getting arrested pic7

Zombie Makeup Test

Here is a make up test I did last week. This is what the zombies will look like in future scenes. I started working with a new makeup artist who is really talented. I’ve included some pictures below too.

Zombie Ferox make up test 3

Zombie Ferox make up test 4

Prop Guns and Gun Fire

I was doing a google search to find information on prop guns, and gun fire that can be imported into Final Cut Pro, when I found this blog posting:

This blog is a great resource for DIY filmmakers. The guy who writes the blog, Scott Eggleston, mentions two resources.

1) A company called Airsoft makes great prop guns that can be purchased at this site here:

To save money, I was going to try to find if there are people out there selling used Airsoft guns.

2) Gun Fire Effects for Final Cut Pro can be created with a software program called Effects Lab Pro. It costs about $149 dollars.

Their site is:

Regarding gun fire effects, there is another site I found on my own that is completely free and a great resource, Detonation Films.

Here is a link to their site:

I purchased a copy of Effects Lab Pro. I have not tested it out yet but in the next week or so I will post some videos of what I come up with.