August 2013: The Dead Mile Stories
Ashley Godick (Angelac Studio) put out a call on Facebook for zombie extras. She was running key makeup for the first episode of a web short series called The Dead Mile Stories, a supplement to K.J. Kleefield's 2012 The Dead Mile. I volunteered to shamble and Chris came along to observe.
We met makeup artist Kesar LaCroix, zombie extra Nadine Duhamel, actual actor Joel Seth, and a lot of other really cool people at the 6 AM makeup call.
After getting expertly made up by one of the talented artists on Ashley's team, we drove out to Nose Hill Park. K.J.'s adorable mom appeared with snacks, including homemade banana bread.
To build on the completed zombie makeup and to make us look a little more rotten, all the extras were coated in a spray of instant coffee. At first it smelled kind of nice. By the end of the day, I never wanted to smell instant coffee ever again.
Once the scenes featuring just the living humans were complete and they were ready to shoot the zombies, we took a little hike to the location at the top of the hill. While each zombie kill was filmed, all zombies not being killed had to quietly wait in the woods for their turn, far away from the camera and mike. Chris was handling the bounce so he got to see a lot more of the action than I did, and he wasn't even in the movie.
Due to unexpected wasp nests and occasional cyclists and joggers ("Whatcha doing? Oh, you're making a movie? Oh, neat! What? I'm in the way? Oh. Ok. Sorry." Repeat every 10 minutes) I didn't shoot my death until about 2 PM. I get my great moment in the film when I zombie-wander out of the woods behind Sasha, who whirls and slices me across the stomach with a samurai sword. I collapsed onto the gravel path about a dozen times before K.J. was happy with the take. Totally worth it.
In July 2013, we made a few ads for a friend, Ryan Chute, out on the East Coast. So far these ads aren't in full circulation yet, but hopefully that's coming soon.
Here's one where Chris took a 3D model car and had it spin around me.
And here's a quick breakdown on how Chris did the effect:
We put a lav mike on my lapel to pick up my voice. We don't have a wireless mic; the lav is plugged into a Zoom H4N, which is safety-pinned to the back of my suit jacket. The Zoom is a bit too big for the average pocket. Following making this video, we picked up a Rode SmartLav, which works with iPhone, so the setup will be lighter and easier next time.
Calgary Horror Con mentioned on one of their social media platforms that they had to make a choice: they could spend money on advertising, or they could spend money on guests. They chose to spend money on guests.
Chris and I heard about this, and Chris saw a good opportunity. Horror Con is still an intimate affair, not the colossal behemoth that is the Calgary Comic Expo, and so it's a small enough community to get in on the ground floor. He decided to help the con out by making three commercial spots for them. Below are the the ads: Meet the Family, Happy Hill, and It's Here. The first ad, Meet the Family, is near to my heart because I spit a mouthful of digestive acid in Chris's face, but I digress.
We decided to go with three short stories with a feeling of impending doom. The first two have "it's coming" as their theme, and the third ad was released the week of the con, with the theme of "it's here".
Organizers Jim Saito and Dan Doherty generously thanked us for our efforts by inviting us to the Friday night opening gala at the Calgary Tower, where we had a chance to meet the charming Tony Todd, chat up legendary scream queen Linnea Quigley, and have a great talk with actress (and brand-new director) Jessica Cameron. I circled around Bill Moseley but never quite caught him alone. The main event for Horror Con this year was a 1990 Night of the Living Dead reunion: expert makeup artist and director Tom Savini, principle actors Patricia Tallman, Bill Moseley, and Tony Todd, all attended a Saturday night screening of the film and gave a great Q&A afterward.
This'll wind up being a really long post if I go over everything that happened. Horror Con is a kickass event and it's only going to get bigger and better going forward. If you're considering going in 2014, stop considering and just get your weekend passes already.