Tickets are now on sale for Prescott Film Festival’s “Prescott on the Big Screen” – over 2 hours of short independent films shot here in Everybody’s Hometown – which includes, “Dead Votes Society.”
This is the world premiere of “Dead Votes Society” and, while we’re glad to see it up on the Big Screen , there’s an awful lot of seats in the Yavapai College Performing Arts Center. We aim to fill ’em up with fans of Prescott, comedy and zombie flicks. And we need your help to do that.
Tell your friends. Tell your neighbors. Tell that hip check-out lady at Albertson’s. We all could use a good laugh in Prescott these days and “Dead Votes Society” is probably the funniest zombie movie ever made in Yavapai County. We’re not 100% on that, but we’re pretty sure.
Call 928-458-7209 (Monday through Friday 9am-5pm) to get your tickets and support Prescott’s growing independent film community. That’s a mere $10 for 6 Prescott-made movies and you’ll avoid the long lines on the day of the show.
That’s right! This year’s Prescott Film Festivalwill feature two screenings of “Dead Votes Society,” the hilarious and chilling new zombie comedy shot in Prescott, AZ.
The “Dead Votes Society” World Premiere happens Wednesday, July 24th, starting at 6pm, at the Yavapai College Performing Arts Center. “Dead Votes Society” is part of “Prescott on the Big Screen,” a showcase of independent short films shot right here in Everybody’s Hometown. We’ll have Q and A with the film makers afterwards and a chance to meet the cast and crew.
We are super excited to announce that Dead Votes Society will make its big screen debut at the 2013 Prescott Film Festival! There are still plenty of tweaks needed to make this lil’ zombie movie as awesome as it can be, but you’ll get a chance to see it for yourself in a few short months. Stay tuned for show time and date!
A new series in which we take a look back at some of the most significant moments in the history of the enduring Zombie genre.
Chapter One: Night of the Living Dead.
The modern zombie genre can trace its big bang moment to one film; 1968’s apocalyptic indie masterpiece, Night of the Living Dead. There are older examples of on-screen zombies (take the 1932 Bela Lugosi flick White Zombie or producer Val Lewton’s I Walked with a Zombie in 1943,) but those were “voodoo”-style zombies, created by witch doctors to menace white people on Haitian plantations. All the elements of the modern zombie- walking corpses that crave human flesh and eventually overwhelm society- were invented from thin air by writer/ director George Romero and his co-screenwriter John Russo. (Romero does credit Richard Matheson’s classic novel Iam Legend for inspiration, but technically that was about a vampire plague.)
Night of the Living Dead not only laid down the bedrock elements of zombie lore (the slow-moving menace, the cannibalistic hunger, the infectious bites, the necessity of a headshot kill,) the film also set the template for the social commentary that has always been a hallmark of the genre. Zombies are a convenient stand-in for whatever anxieties are floating around in the zeitgeist at any given time. (In 1968, it was likely social unrest and Vietnam jitters.) Night also established the basic zombie film tenet that “we are the real monsters.” Human survivors are inevitably undone by petty power struggles within their little fortresses, no matter how well buttressed. The zombie menace is never as truly dangerous as Other People.
But Night’s most potent bit of social comment was, if its creators are to be believed, entirely accidental. Though they claim to have cast Duane Jones, an African-American man, as their lead only because he gave the best audition, it’s hard to imagine they were unaware of the resonance and depth this crucial casting decision would give their film. 1968 audiences would have been completely unprepared to see a black man take charge over the otherwise white survivors- and slapping the hysterical white woman must have been an especial shock. Even more remarkably, the character’s race is never once mentioned or even alluded to, making the commentary implicit rather than explicit. The audacious and unprecedented presentation of a black hero pays off in spades with the bleak, bleak irony of the film’s ending. Our protagonist survives the night of horrors only to be mistaken for a zombie by a redneck sheriff and his roving posse, who shoot him in the head and unceremoniously burn his corpse as the end credits roll.
(As forward-thinking as the film was racially, it definitely springs from a pre-feminist era. The female characters are all Mad Men-era archetypes. The Hysteric. The Nagging Wife. The Ditzy Girlfriend.)
Stylistically, the film turns what could have been drawbacks into mood-setting assets. The amateurism of the actors and the low-budget production values lend the material an unpolished, naturalistic documentary feel. Restricting almost all the action to one set saves a lot of money, but also ramps up the claustrophobia. The black-and-white cinematography and the brilliant “They’re coming to get you, Barbara” set-up primes the audience for a 1950’s drive-in throwback, before reeling them into pure 70’s nihilism and (shocking at the time, almost quaint today) violence and gore.
Night of the Living Dead’s seismic legacy has been dampened somewhat due to a very unfortunate clerical error. The original title, Night of the Flesh Eaters, was changed at the last minute, but the distributors failed to include the copyright notice on the new title card. According to 1960’s copyright law, this meant that the film slipped into the public domain. Legally, anyone can dub off cheap copies and sell them in the dollar bin at Walgreens and the film’s creators don’t see a dime. Lack of copyright also led to a long series of rip-offs. Not only are there numerous sequels and remakes, there are sequels to the remakes and remakes of the sequels. The film has been re-dubbed, colorized (making the zombies green for some reason,) converted to 3-D and even animated over (a somewhat interesting experiment, actually.) The most egregious tarnish to the original reportedly came from co-screenwriter John Russo himself, who put out a “30th Anniversary Edition” in 1999 that added new scenes and a new music score. (I haven’t seen this version myself, but it is universally derided.)
Despite 45 years of escalating zombie violence, the original film retains an undeniable power and still contains the ability to shock. (Gotta love the garden trowel matricide in the basement.) It’s available for streaming all over the internet (I have it playing on Hulu in another window as I write this.) Anyone with even a passing interest in this genre should definitely take the trip and see where it all began.
Click the link for the first zombie attack in movie history:
The big news this week is, of course, THE POSTER! Between the graphics magic of Tres Ikner, the mad photographic skillz of Christopher Marchetti, and the fab makeup by Penelope Davis, we feel like we’ve got a pretty damn fine looking poster.
But…that’s last week’s news. This week, the focus is on music and sound. Matt Jackson has made huge progress on the music and has been super patient with us. I confess it’s a little difficult to try and explain “suspenseful and quirky,” but Mr. Jackson ran it through his brain and has come up with some great music for the final sequence. Somehow, he’s managed to create music for the whole dealio that combines a western flavor with plenty of humor and a healthy dash of scary. I have no idea how he does it, but I’m super happy with the results.
It’s amazing how important music and the overall sound mixing is to a movie. Seriously, it can make or break a perfectly good flick. Nick Stecki is hard at work making sure the sound mix is as awesome as possible – and believe me, after the sound craziness of shooting on the Courthouse Square, we are thrilled to have him on board!
So the beat goes on and we get a little closer to completion every day. I know everyone involved in making Dead Votes Society is chomping at the bit to actually SEE the movie. All I can say is…I think it will be worth the wait.
It’s been a while since we’ve posted an update (as my Dad pointed out to me over the weekend), but it’s kind of hard to post when it’s mostly about still waiting for stuff to be finished. We’re still waiting for the music and sound mixing to be finished, and we’re still waiting on the video graphics and poster layout to be completed. I’ve been busy learning AfterEffects to deal with a green screen dealio. So the focus has been on doing what can be done and trusting (with follow up!) that the pieces of the movie still in process will all fall in place exactly as they need to.
It is a little weird. After the non-stop movin’ and groovin’ of pre-production and production, this part of the process kind of feels like swimming through molasses. So what are we doing right now, you ask? Well, there’s film festival research, website construction, pulling together all the parts for the press kit and getting the next project(s) going in development.
So yeah, still movin’ and groovin’, but more of a waltz at the mo’. Don’t worry, though. I can feel the post-pro engine revving up and we’ll be back to a full on tarantella before much longer. And, as soon as I’ve got the final poster image, we’ll be moving this blog over the the “official” website, so stay tuned!
He was this fantastic photographer who did the big league stuff – swanky shoots for catalogues, bands, etc. His studio is on the top floor of the old Masonic Temple – the ceremonial room, in fact, with thick carpet, richly ornamented ceiling, scads of cutting edge equipment, design forward furnishings, etc. I mean, if there ever was a Bond Villain who was a photographer for Paris Vogue, his lair would look a lot like this.
So, out of our league. But, it never hurts to ask. So, we did. And he said yes. We had a great shoot with the various wonderful oddball voice actors who were going to bring these radio theatre characters to life. Chris really took in that odd energy and found ways to get it in the photo. Our performers really opened up to the camera and we got some of the best photos we ever had of the group.
Here it is, years later, we’re making our first Crest Top movie, “The Dead Votes Society,” a satire about politics in Arizona, adapted by Angie, Christian and I from the original radio sketch.
Angie, as these things usually happen, HAD AN IDEA. “What if on the movie poster we had this grave and the hand of a zombie is coming up out of the grave and its making that “V for Victory” sign with its zombie fingers and we superimpose the title of the movie, “Dead Votes Society” with the V in Votes being the zombie fingers making the V for Victory sign?
Once again, we needed a really excellent photographer – since this poster will be seen at film festivals all over this great land of ours. By great good fortune, Chris Marchetti contacted us about the same time and offered his help on this project. Angie is excitedly telling our good friend, graphic designerTres Ikner about our luck working with Chris Marchetti again. He says, “I love that image. Who’s doing your poster design to go along with that image?” Angie shrugs. Tres taps his own chest and nods knowingly. Holy cats, we know the coolest people.
So, we leap into action. As producer, Angie recruits one of our zombie actors, the very expressive Cason Murphy, to be our Zombie Hand Model.
Production Designer Penelope Davis develops a two by two shallow box that can have sod laid across the top, a slit made in the grass and a tube run up at an angle for Cason to extend his hand up through the sod. Then, Penelope puts together a zombie distressed fashion shirt and jacket sleeve, which, in combination with her application of the zombie make-up designed by Ridge Gallagher, make for a hand that looks like its coming back from the grave with something to say.
As director, I managed to find damn near the last piece of sod in Arizona. Who knew they stopped making it in winter? The folks at Evergreen Turf in Chandler, AZ were incredibly helpful with this bizarre request.
It all came together on Saturday, in that fantastical loft at the top of the Masonic Temple. Once again, it was a pleasure to watch Chris Marchetti work – his intuition with the shot is only matched by his patience as we figured out how to get an image that was at once easy to read, funny and maybe a little profound in its own silly way.
By the end of the shoot, Angie was standing next to Chris and shouting suggestions to the unseen Cason under the sod box.
“Do a sleepy V . . . do a happy V . . . do an angry V . . . ” And Cason’s zombie hand would change right in front of us as Chris clicked away.
By the time we got to “Do a Sexy V!” we knew we had it. Can’t wait to get the images to Tres for the movie poster.
* Matt Jackson working his movie music/sound magic.
Angie here. I flipped out a little when I realized we hadn’t done a blog post since December – DECEMBER!!! But the reality is that between post-production, the holidays and the general winter urge to hole up inside the house until spring, it’s no surprise.
Regardless, here’s the latest scoop: Matt Jackson is pretty much done with the music for Dead Votes. The music for the opening credits is AWESOME (as Matt said, “Nothing says ‘zombies’ like bassoons…and cows”). And the uber-pompous French horns in the theme for the “Hot Coffee!” news show is equally fantastic. Seriously, is there a more pompous sounding instrument than a French horn?!
Meanwhile, Chad Castigliano is busy working on the graphics and AfterEffects for the movie. We’re heading over to see what he’s done and do some troubleshooting later tonight. ‘Cause there are always challenges, right? Nick Stecki is kicking off the sound mixing/foley/music SFX. I can’t wait to hear what he does with that!
And while the guys are tackling those aspects of post, I’m busy learning color correction and gathering all the goodies for the website. Andrew and Christian are busy working on the trailer script and the script for the upcoming feature.
Throw in a photo shoot with photog Denise Elfenbein for head shots and a photo shoot with photog Christopher Marchetti for the poster art (next Saturday!!!) and that mostly covers the plethora of movie madness biz.
More news on Thursday – swear! But in the meantime…Viva los zombies!
* Cason Murphy did a great job on his voice over work.
Andrew and I spent most of last week at Matt’s as Dead Votes actors congo-lined through the studio to record their ADR and voice over bits. Judy Stahl had the toughest job – lots of ADR for her – which she handled with patience and persistence. I was also thrilled that we got exactly zero flack for asking folks to give up a few hours (or more, for Judy) during the hectic pre-holiday dash to come and talk, growl, and cheer into the mic. We are so lucky to have such great folks to work with!
But the coolest and most bizarre thing was watching the hubster direct. Who would have thought phrases like “More mustache!” and “Try hipster HAL (from 2001 Space Odyssey)” would be so damn effective? I wouldn’t have, but I guess that’s why Andrew is the director and I’m the producer. Kevin Goss (Blaine Walpole) changed the way he held his mouth after the “more mustache” direction and gave us exactly what we were looking for. Cason Murphy also managed to pull off not only a “Hipster HAL,” but also a “carefree Hipster HAL” voice.
As expected, there was a lot of laughter in the studio. I have no idea how other folks work on movies since this is our first, but I don’t think I’d like working on a movie where there wasn’t lots of laughter and silliness. I mean, I understand that there are serious movies that require a bit more gravity. Really, I get it. But I have to say that if I’m going to commit all the time and effort it takes to see a project through, it had damn well better be fun. So I will ALWAYS say yes to laughter on set and in studio. Always, always, always.
We’re still running flat out to get a final edit ready to hand off to Matt Jackson next week so he can get started on the sound track for Dead Votes Society. After looking at all the footage, we pretty much decided we needed to ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement) the Press Conference scene we shot at the Courthouse Square. Nick Stecki is super talented, but there are so many external noises (damn you, motorcycles! and dogs! and car alarms! and wandering saxophone players! and yes, even a horse!) that it will sound best to ADR all of Serena’s (Judy Stahl) and Blaine’s (Kevin Goss) lines.
It’s a whole new layer of post-production that the average movie goer doesn’t even think about, but we’re actually kind of excited to learn how to do it. Besides, without ADR the entire movie would be less awesome. And we’re committed to making Dead Votes as awesome as possible!
For those who wanna see how ADR is done, here is a short “Behind the Scenes” video of the folks behind ‘The Navigator” doing some ADR for their movie.