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
The barn where I shot the first scenes of the film is not available any more. The guy who owns the ranch changed his mind about filming on his property. This new location is where I hope to shoot major portions of Zombie Ferox. It’s a nice open space and I can make it look like more than one location. I hope it works out.
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.
This scene began as the first part of the film. Due to a lot of unforeseen mishaps and the overall badness of the footage, this “first part” of the film is scrapped. My original post when I finished editing, and uploaded the scene, is below:
There were some mistakes made that I will avoid when I shoot more scenes for the film. First, the make up artist I worked with is a talented and very nice guy, but I found out on the day of the shoot that we were not on the same page. We discussed having make up that was an homage to Italian horror from the 1970’s. I was thinking more Lucio Fulci, but he had in mind films like Burial Ground. So my Zombies have these very cheap looking masks that are not scary, and might make you laugh, kind of like the ghouls in Burial Ground. I didn’t want the film to be a joke. You might be thinking, why didn’t I put my foot down on the day of the shoot and ask him to do something different? Well, that’s because the make up artist had a conflict and sent two students in his place, who were there to follow his directions. The two students didn’t seem experienced enough to improvise and come up with completely different zombie make up on the spot with no notice. So I bit the bullet and plowed ahead. Not matter how experienced the people you’re working with are, don’t assume they know what you want or you’ll get burned. Instead of showing a gruesome zombie feast like in a Fulci film, I had to cut REAL fast so you couldn’t get too close a look at the horrible masks.
I didn’t use squibs or hoses for blood in the film. I super imposed blood bursts over the image. I believe they were eggs filled with blood, and blown up with a charge against a white background. It doesn’t look as good as a hose, or squib, shooting out blood. It looks really fake, so from now on I will use hoses shooting out blood. Expect more gore in future scenes.
Last Wednesday, at Borders in Hollywood, Lloyd Kaufman did a book signing for his new book “Direct Your Own Damn Movie!” I’ve read and re-read his other two books many many times, “All I Need To Know About FILMMAKING I Learned From The Toxic Avenger” and “Make Your Own Damn Movie!”
After Kaufman signed my books he made me promise to write a review on Amazon, which I did. I’ve included my Amazon review below along with pics of my autographed books.
My Amazon book review for “Direct Your Own Damn Movie!” –
I just met Lloyd Kaufman tonight at a book signing at Borders in Los Angeles. After signing my copy of ‘Direct Your Own Damn Movie!’ he pleaded with me to go on Amazon and give it a good review. I’ve skimmed it on the way home and I can honestly say that this book is another great asset for the independent filmmaker just like his first two books were, which I have actually read. I have started directing a horror movie of my own, without a film crew or a budget, and I’ve found his other book “Make Your Own Damn Movie” very helpful so I know I’ll get a lot out of this one too.
The reason Lloyd Kaufman’s advice on filmmaking is such a great resource is that Lloyd is the genuine article. He is a real independent filmmaker that has experienced success and failure, but most importantly he is also a great human being. One book of his that has helped me get through the dark times is his memoir “Everything I Know About Filmmaking I Learned From The Toxic Avenger.” That book is more personal, documenting Lloyd’s struggle to become a filmmaker, its not a How-To book but it is great.
Lloyd, YOU are one of the great filmmakers. Troma films are amazing films.
thanks for the inspiration, the book from you I’m really waiting for is the one on how to do your own special effects. My horror film has a lot of gore and I have no experience with make up, so I’m working with a special effects make up artist I can barely pay, so it would be nice to know how to do it myself.